by Adam Figman | @afigman
For the Cavs, the problem with setting records for consecutive losses–apart from, you know, losing a whole bunch of games–is that squads are so determined not to be the team that actually gets beaten, they end up gunning for the Cavs, as if they’re a contender or something. So regardless of the fact that Cleveland couldn’t get a W when they were being completely ignored, now they’ll have to do so with every opponent trying even harder to keep this streak alive. That’d explain last night, when the Pistons visited Ohio and came away unscathed, defeating the Cavs relatively easily. Rodney Stuckey led Detroit with 22, while Antawn Jamison dropped that same number for Cleveland. The Cavs have now lost 26 in a row, tying them with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the longest losing streak amongst teams playing, um, any major pro sport. Yeah, it’s like that. Don’t shoot the messenger.
The two organizations that utilized mid-season coaching changes to turn their respective seasons around faced off last night, and, with both of them fighting to sneak into the Eastern Conference Playoffs, plenty was on the line. Despite a strong Charlotte fourth quarter, the Pacers hung on, after Stephen Jackson tried and failed to draw contact from Darren Collison during a three-point attempt as the clock expired. (For what it’s worth, there was some contact, but no foul was called.) For Indy, Roy Hibbert’s hot streak persisted, as he scored 29 and grabbed 10, and Danny Granger dropped a cool 25. With the win, the Pacers grabbed that eight spot, and they now stand only a single game up on the Bobcats.
Pretty simply: When Chris Paul is off, the Hornets don’t win. Well, true, they almost did, but still. Paul shot 4-15, with only 9 points, and missed what would’ve been a game-winning three at the end of overtime as the Bees fell to the Nets. David West did a decent job making up for Paul’s (lack of) scoring, putting in 32 and snatching 15 boards in the loss. But New Jersey grinded out the victory, receiving a combined 45 points from Brook Lopez and Sasha Vujacic. The L was the Hornets’ fourth straight, knocking them down to 32-22.
Yeah, it would’ve been slightly more impressive if the Wizards had done this on the road–but then it probably would’ve happened differently. Regardless, the Wiz broke an eight-game losing streak, outplaying the Bucks en route to the win. Nick Young poured in 26 stylish points, while JaVale McGee did his thing to the tune of 16 points and 17 boards.
The Magic seem to be fading in and out, but it’d be tough to blame any of the “out” on Dwight Howard. Dude beasted once again last night, dropping 30 and rebounding 17, leading the Magic to the victory. The Sixers threatened late, coming as close as two, but couldn’t foul with the game only one possession away and the clock under 20 seconds, and Orlando got a bucket that sealed things up. All five Magic starters scored in double figures in the win.
The thing about teams with League-leading records is that they have who, when needed, can step up and fill in when the superstars aren’t getting it done. See: Blair, Dejaun, and the 28 points he scored last night in helping the Spurs defeat the Raps. Sixteen of those 28 came in the fourth, when San Antonio outscored Toronto 30-16 and went on one of those runs that just can’t be stopped–well, at least when you’re the Raptors and they’re the Spurs. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each contributed a mild 16 points to the W.
You’d think Carlos Boozer might want to show up his old squad, by shutting them down and putting up some huge numbers. Nope. Not only did Booz not show out the way he should’ve, but nobody outside of Derrick Rose really assisted much of anything last night. But DRose did enough, scoring 29 and distributing 7, carrying the Bulls to the win. They only shot 39.8 percent as a team, which kinda sums it up–except for the part where they won, that is. But big shots down the stretch can generally make that happen, and Chicago just did enough during the game’s most important moments to get the victory.
Well, Blake Griffin didn’t Mozgov anyone, but he did accomplish something he didn’t the last time he played in MSG: earn his team a victory. The Clips straight up outplayed the Knicks last night, as the ‘Bockers brought little energy and were outmatched from the start. They made a nice run late, but a variety of Randy Foye (24 points) jumpers (yeah, I don’t know) shut down any chance of them sealing that comeback. Griffin played decently, scored 21 and rebounding 6, while Amar’e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 23.
Allowing the Kings to almost beat them isn’t the best look for the Mavs, but a W is a W, and Dallas pulled one out, barely. The Kings stayed right there with them through 48, but a Tyreke Evans game-saving attempt at the end got nothing but air, as the Mavs held on. JJ Barea was huge (OK, be nice) in the game, scoring 15 of his 20 in the final quarter.
Usually when the Nuggets have possession, and are in dire need of a bucket, they know who should have the ball in his hands. Well, down two and with under 10 seconds to go, JR Smith brought the ball up the court, and, um, Nene received a pass and took a game-tying attempt. Needless to say, he missed it, and Carmelo Anthony was (rightfully) none too happy he never got a chance to tie or win the tilt in the final seconds. The Warriors escaped with the win, getting a whopping 37 points from Monta Ellis, along with another 23 from Dorell Wright. Dorell also shot 4-11 from three, and he’s gonna need to step that up if he plans to overcome the Pierces and Allens and Durants in the three-point shooting contest next week.
Actual Stats: David West: 32 points, 15 boards, 5 dimes, 3 steals