by Jake Fischer / @JakeLFischer
Bucks (11-45) 130, Sixers (15-42) 110
When the two worst teams in the NBA square off, it should at least be competitive, right? Wrong. While the Sixers continued to unload their best players during Thursday’s trade deadline, the Bucks might have gotten better, swapping Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. Sessions was solid in his second game as a Buck, dropping 16 points and dishing 5 assists in 28 minutes off the bench. “Coach talked about finishing the season strong,” Sessions told FoxSports after the game. “We know we’re out of a playoff spot, but we’ve got to take these 27, or 28 games to learn and build for next year.” There might be something there, O.J. Mayo looked like he was playing inspired basketball for the first time in a while, Monday, dropping 25 points off the bench.
The Sixers, on the other hand, just don’t play defense. This performance will certainly drop them below the Bucks and leave Philly 29th in the league in defensive efficiency, just better than Utah.
Warriors (35-22) 104, Pistons (23-34) 96
Golden State strolled into Dunk City and Klay Thompson gave the Pistons a little taste of their own medicine early in the first quarter. (HINT: Watch Kyle Singler’s reaction):
After the Warriors’ bench sat down, the entire team chipped in while Steph Curry was a little off, shooting 6-15. Four other players scored in double figures, especially Jermaine O’Neal. The big man was phenomenal in 27 minutes after starting for an injured David Lee. O’Neal continues to turn back the clock, tonight finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. When you watch Golden State, however, you still have to wonder where Harrison Barnes fits in with this team. The offense comes to a screeching halt when Mark Jackson tried to post him up and he’s not an elite enough three-point shooter to spread the floor. Time will tell if he sticks in the Bay Area past this season.
Mavericks (35-23) 110, Knicks (21-36) 108
Dirk Nowitzki has widely been considered the greatest-shooting big man of all-time. Monday night, he might’ve received the greatest game-winning shooter’s roll of all-time.
If you weren’t watching closely, Dirk’s jumper, from his classic high-post, banked off the backboard and literally hit every part of the rim before it fell through. The Mavs’ win at MSG overshadowed yet another tremendous performance from Carmelo Anthony this season, who finished with 44 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists. That’s pretty much been the story of the year for Melo, as the Knicks are now 10 games back from the 3-seeded Raptors and 10 games up on the last-place Bucks, or stuck in no-man’s land. Melo’s averaged 41.3 points per game over the Knicks’ last four games in the midst of a career-year. Over this last stretch, New York has gone 1-3 and the Knicks are now just 21-36 in the season in which Melo is posting a career-best 25.1 PER, good for eighth-best in the League.
Clippers (39-20) 123, Pelicans (23-33) 110
Man, has it been fun seeing Blake Griffin develop into such a dangerous passer out of the high-post. He only finished with 3 assists on Monday, but his alley-oop to DeAndre Jordan in the first quarter was filthy. The rest of the way the Clippers’ offense was on cruise control. Entering the night second in the L in offensive efficiency, the Clips rolled with seven different players reaching double-figures, with Jamal Crawford leading the way. JCrossover drilled seven 3-pointers en route to his team-high 24 points.
On the other side, Anthony Davis looked like a freak out on the court, finishing with 26 points and 11 rebounds. He was relentless getting to the line and hit 12 of 13 free throws at the stripe. But, The Brow still posted a -22 +/- on the game, the worst on is team. Perhaps New Orleans’ offense focuses too much on the big man and takes away from his teammates. Still, that may be too critical on a second-year player who’s not in the best situation.
Celtics (19-38-TK) 110, Jazz (20-36) 98
In the second snooze fest of the night, Utah rolled past the visiting Celtics in the second NBA matchup between Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward. The two former Butler Bulldogs now stand 1-1 in the pros. Hayward was excellent at distributing the ball on Monday, finishing with 10 assists, 8 points and 4 rebounds. But Jazz were able to end their six-game losing streak on the shoulders of Alec Burks. The TK-year shooting guard finished with 21 points and 4 assists off the bench to lead Utah. Burks is averaging 19.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game over his last five.