by Adam Figman | @afigman
A couple of wins later, maybe that Bobcats train is slowly turning around. In Paul Silas’ second game as head coach, the Cats defeated the Cavs at home, bringing the new HC’s record with the team to 2-0. Captain Jack dominated, scoring 38 points and hitting a couple of key buckets when the game got close (including a jumper to extend the lead when Cleveland was threatening with under two minutes remaining) to lead Charlotte to victory. DJ Augustin (28 points, 6 assists) was also great, and his improved play will be important if the Bobcats hope to actually make a Playoff run later this year. Fact is, they just don’t have the talent to afford a hole at the pg spot. Last night was a move in the right direction.
Randy Wittman might not have been thrilled he had to fill in for Flip Saunders—who left his position open for the night to be with his ailing mother—but he did a fine job nonetheless, leading the Wiz to a win, not the most common of occurrences for this young Wizards team. John Wall had returned earlier in the week, but this felt like this official comeback, as his 10-7-12-1 stat line is just about all you could ask of a rookie point man. And Washington also dominated the paint, as BFFs JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche combined for 38 points, 21 rebounds and 6 blocks.
Dorell Wright may have put up a career-high 32 points, but the Warriors need to get their Monta Ellis–Steph Curry backcourt involved if they want to victories. Those two combined for just 21 points off 8-26 shooting, while the Hawks’ well-balanced offensive attack and strong D brought this one home for them. Al Horford scored 21 and grabbed 6, while Josh Smith had a Josh Smith-like line of 22-10-5-2-2. The Hawks begin a West Coast road trip tomorrow.
The Celtics lost, which is never good, but the story that came out of last night’s game against the Pistons ran much deeper than one defeat. In the first quarter, Kevin Garnett finished a dunk, came down awkwardly on his left leg, and limped along until he left the game shortly thereafter. Boston, already without Rajon Rondo (though he should be back within a week or so), simply can’t afford to lose KG, who has been the heart and soul of the group this season. The good: Post-game, Doc Rivers sounded optimistic, and announced early x-rays came back negative, so even though KG is expected to miss some time, it won’t linger and hold him/the team down for months on end. The bad: Playing without their power forward for the subsequent three quarters, the C’s lost to a below average Pistons team led by (hey!) Tracy McGrady and his 21 points. The Celts are at home Friday against the Hornets, and chances are they’ll be without two of their starters, so it’ll be interesting to see how they carry on.
How to turn around a bad streak: Play a team on a worse streak. Pretty simple. The Lakers went into New Orleans and had their way, dominating behind Lamar Odom’s 24 and Kobe’s 20. Most of the LA starters were able to rest late, too, which seems to be increasingly necessary for these old aging geezers veterans. The Bees are facing the sure-to-be-shorthanded Celtics Friday, so that should be a decent opportunity to get back on the right track, and if they’re into that kind of thing.
Seemingly pretty pissed about that loss to the Mavs a couple nights back, the Thunder straight-up owned the Nets, running ahead in the second and third quarters and deciding against looking back. For seven contests in a row now, the Thunder have swayed back-and-forth between wins and losses, and they’ll look to finally put a little run together when they host the Hawks Friday.
The Nuggets probably read my Celtics recap and laughed. “Shorthanded! Ha! I’ll show you shorthanded!” No Melo. No Kenyon. No Nene. No Al Harrington. No worries. Chauncey Billups stepped up, scoring 36 and leading the way for the Nugs, who defeated Minny behind a 37-point fourth quarter. Ty Lawson also pitched in 19, and JR Smith did this. And, of course: Michael Beasley dropped 33, while Kevin Love went for 26 and 14. Basketball gods, if you exist, free these men.
The Heat are rolling, folks. They tallied another W last night against the Rockets, who simply had no defensive answer for Miami’s weapons: the Heat shot 58.1 percent from the field, Dwyane Wade scored 45 points, and LeBron James and Chris Bosh combined for 41 more as they upped their record to 25-9. Erik Spoelstra’s dudes are now only one game behind Boston, and with the Celts missing some talent there’s a good chance we’ll have a new no. 1 team in the East come a week or so from now.
Finally, something Evan Turner-related to write about. The rook scored 23 off 9-12 shooting, and helped lift the Sixers (along with Jrue Holiday, who dropped 25) over the Suns. Even with Vince Carter (18 points) in the lineup, Phoenix is still a step behind and is gonna need another change if they have any plans to compete in ’10-11’s postseason. Back to Turner for a second: His great game came with Andre Iguodala (right Achilles tendinitis) sidelined, and it appears there’s a growing consensus that both Turner and Iggy can’t coexist in Philly. Given that Turner is much younger, and there are other young pieces in place (Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Jodie Meeks), it seems reasonable to expect the front office to look into shipping Iguodala during the upcoming trading season. Given what AI9 is capable of, I can think of a few contenders that should jump into those talks, asap. Just saying.
Who thought the night’s best matchup would come out of Sacramento? Not you, and not I. But it happened, as these two battled down to the wire, trading hoops back-and-forth in the final minute. Down one with under 10 seconds to go, OJ Mayo hit a circus J that fell in, putting the Grizz up one with 1.5 ticks to go. It’s over, right? Nah. The Kings gave the ball to Tyreke Evans, and he made it happen, drilling a 60-or-so-foot runner as time expired in what was unquestionably one of the year’s craziest shots. Just check the Moment of the Night. That is all.
From something you never saw coming to something you did: Blake Griffin (30 points, 12 rebounds) was a beast, but the Clippers lost. I know, wild. Al Jefferson countered Professor Griff well, scoring 31 and grabbing 10, while Gordon Hayward (!) put in 17.
Actual Stats: DWade: 45 points, 7 boards, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 three-pointer.
Moment of the Night: OJ Mayo does something ridiculous. And then Tyreke Evans does something even more ridiculous. That’s about it. Check it:
No Post Up tomorrow, though I’ll be holding down the @SLAMonline Twitter account tonight for those of you who wanna follow along and talk hoops during tonight’s action. Enjoy New Years, guys and gals.