by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
In only five Saturday night games, the Nuggets stayed hot, the Warriors stayed cold and the Bobcats stayed really, really, really cold.
Nuggets (33-18) 111, Cavaliers (16-35) 103
Denver had won eight straight games going into Cleveland, and pulled out a relatively closed one on Saturday. The first half was tight (the Cavs led by two after one), but the Nuggets were up double-figures for most of the fourth.
In typical Nuggets fashion, seven guys scored at least ten points and nobody scored 20. Danilo Gallinari led the way with 19 points, and he added on 9 boards and 3 treys. Kenneth Faried went for 17 and 7 and Andre Iguodala scored 14 points with 7 assists and 4 boards.
The Nuggets may struggle with their half court offense against elite Playoff teams, but they can certainly get hot. They will be a very interesting team to watch in the postseason.
Kyrie Irving scored 26 for the Cavs, who had a three-game win streak snapped. Alonzo Gee dropped 20, but Marreese Speights, who has been playing great for Cleveland, made only 1-of-10 shots from the floor.
76ers (22-27) 87, Bobcats (11-39) 76
The Bobcats are scary bad. They started the season 7-5, but are 4-34 since. Last night, Philly dominated the second half after a close first two quarters.
Jrue Holiday led the team with 20, but Lavoy Allen was the real story. The big man shot 7-of-16 from the floor for 14 points and grabbed a massive 22 rebounds. Half of them came on the offensive glass, and the Sixers ended up winning the rebounding battle 60-40.
Evan Turner double-doubled with 16 and 10, and Spencer Hawes scored 17 points with 9 rebounds.
Ramon Sessions, who has been consistent for Charlotte this year, scored 20 points off the bench. Kemba Walker had a brutal night against Jrue, shooting 2-of-9 from the floor for 6 points. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was just as bad, connecting on only 1-of-6 shots.
Pistons (20-32) 105, Bucks (25-24) 100
It was pretty weird to me that nobody wanted Jose Calderon when the Raptors were facilitating the Rudy Gay trade. The Pistons aren’t going anywhere, but they picked up a pretty damn good point guard for Tayshaun Prince’s ugly contract. Last night, Calderon led the Pistons to an upset road win by shooting 10-of-13 (3-of-4 from deep) for 23 points with 10 dimes, 5 boards and 3 steals.
Detroit trailed 100-98 with under a minute left before Calderon tied the game and Charlie Villanueva put Detroit ahead with a big three against his former team.
Villanueva, who is suddenly hot and seeing minutes for the Pistons, hit 7-of-13 shots for 18 points. He also grabbed 13 boards in 25 minutes off the bench. Greg Monroe double-doubled with 14 and 13.
The Bucks got 26 points out of Brandon Jennings, but he was cold late and ultimately made only 8-of-27 shots. Monta Ellis hit just 3-of-9 shots, and while Milwaukee has been surprisingly solid this year, they can’t really overcome inefficient shooting nights from two of the streakiest guards in the League. That’s a problem.
Ersan Ilyasova (15 & 10) and Samuel Dalembert (14 & 12) both double-doubled in the loss. Larry Sanders missed another game with a back injury, but shouldn’t be out too much longer.
Mavericks (22-28) 116, Warriors (30-21) 91
Golden State forgot to bring their A-Game to Dallas last night. Or their B-Game. They were outscored by 14 in the first quarter and 12 in the second quarter, putting them in a huge hole they couldn’t dig out of.
Shawn Marion had a big game for the Mavs, scoring 26 points (11/16) with 11 rebounds. He’d be a nice piece for a contending team, but they’d have to pay him about $9 million next season. I don’t think he’s going anywhere. OJ Mayo added 19 points and 9 dimes, and Darren Collison scored 18.
Nobody played very well for the Warriors, who were without Jarrett Jack. Stephen Curry shot just 8-of-23 for 18 points, Klay Thompson scored 11 points on 14 shots, David Lee posted 10 points, 6 boards and 3 turnovers and Harrison Barnes scored only 10.
The Warriors have now lost four straight games, and I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come in the second half for them. They got off to a great start, but teams can fall out of the Playoff race quickly in the West if they’re not careful. Perhaps no team in the League needs a weekend off more than the Ws.
Kings (18-33) 120, Jazz (28-24) 109
Homecourt advantage is an amazing thing. The Kings are 15 games under .500 and the Jazz are 4 games over .500 for the season. Yet with last night’s win, Sacto moved to 13-12 at home, while the Jazz fell to 9-18 on the road. Utah’s road woes are going make it especially tough to upset a top-seed if they reach the postseason.
Three Kings scored at least 21. Isaiah Thomas led the team with 25, Jason Thompson (9/11) scored 21 with 7 rebounds and Marcus Thornton came off the bench for 24. DeMarcus Cousins, who’s either overrated, underrated, lazy, stuck on a bad team, dominant, a distraction off-the-court, a top-3 center, a position-less ball-hog or all of the above—I can’t tell, shot 4-of-9 for 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Alec Burks was Utah’s high-man with 24. He’s failed to make a real impact in his first two seasons, but the Jazz could really use another productive wing player alongside Gordon Hayward. The 12th overall pick in 2011, it’s about time he shapes into at least a semi-reliable scorer. Al Jefferson (16 points) and Paul Millsap (6 points) were unusually quiet, and combined for only 11 rebounds.