by Adam Figman | @afigman
How fun is this year’s East? Just when it looked like the Hawks might fade out and the Bulls would streak to the top, this happens, and now ATL is coming off as a legitimate contender. Weird how that works. Al Horford didn’t let the Joakim Noah/Carlos Boozer combo hold him back, as he scored a career-high 31 (plus 16 boards), and finished a pick-and-roll late in the game that gave the Hawks the lead for good. The Bulls had a chance to tie it with clocking ticking down, but both Derrick Rose (12 points, 12 dimes) and Kyle Korver (6 points) missed open looks. So, the question is, if the Hawks can take down the Bulls, who most think at least could take down Miami or Boston, then should we take ATL serious as a threat out East? You tell me.
Taking advantage of a good opportunity for a rebound game, the Spurs defeated the Cavs with ease last night. George Hill scored 22 for San Antonio, who picked up its 50th victory and upped its League-high record to 50-11. They’re now five games up on the NBA’s next in line, which, in my humble little opinion, is completely wild. Who the hell saw this coming?
Down 20 in the third quarter, the Wiz looked down and out, but stormed back in the fourth, if only to mock the fans that might’ve bounced from the arena a little early. The Warriors still managed to win, sealing Washington off after three late free throws from Steph Curry, who scored 29 points and distributed 9 assists. The hot-shooting Nick Young led all scorers with 31.
The last time these two met, a Kevin Garnett shot to Channing Frye’s nuts upped the stakes, leading Alvin Gentry to say he “lost a little respect” for KG. Well Garnett seems to have remembered, and he’s still none too happy about it. He took out his anger yesterday, scoring a game-high 28 points and pulling 11 boards. The Celts cruised to the W, as Rajon Rondo went for 16 points and 15 dimes, while Ray Allen dropped 19. Boston welcomes the Warriors to town tomorrow.
After a tough loss in Orlando, the Knicks needed some lovin’, and they got it by crushing the Bees at home. Amar’e Stoudemire (24 points) and Carmelo Anthony (22) both meshed well, while Jared Jeffries‘ return was very Jared Jeffries-esque, meaning there’s no way I can prove he played well by using a simple box score. Chris Paul, who appears to be in a small funk or just entirely unfocused these days, scored only 4, and usual Knick-killer Jarrett Jack led all Hornets with 21. The Bees are now off to Memphis, while the Bockers host the Cavs Friday night.
Kevin Love: 20 points, 20 boards (!). Jonny Flynn: 8 points, 14 dimes (!!). Anthony Randolph: 19 points, 10 boards (!!!!!). And the TWolves won, taking down the Pistons while shooting 52.6 percent from the floor. Strangely enough, Minny has now defeated three of their last five opponents on the road, which, along with Love’s domination, is a small thing to be proud of amidst an otherwise rough season.
This game was a massacre, but it’s what took place while the game was already completely out of hand that’ll make the news. With his squad up 21 late in the third, Kevin Durant rolled one of those skinny ankles of his, and went down hard with what appeared to be a sprain of sorts. After some solid deadline moves, the last thing the Thunder need is to lose KD for any significant amount of time, so hopefully that won’t be much of a problem. Durant and Russ Westbrook both scored 21 in the win.
At their best, even sans Melo, the Nuggets are still nice. Like, really, really nice. Every Nugget played (and scored), as Denver ran all over Charlotte, dominating them by 40 points and getting double-digit scoring numbers from seven players. They don’t have any real star (um, anymore), but with all that depth, would anybody really want to play the Nuggets in the Playoffs, assuming they hold their ground? Personally, I don’t think so, because these dudes are damn dangerous. The Nugs are now off to Utah, where they play the Jazz tonight.
Following a pair of losses, the Blazers responded by taking down the lowly Kings in Sacramento. Wesley Matthews scored 11 of his 21 in the final quarter, LaMarcus Aldridge went for 20 and 10, and Gerald Wallace put in 16 points as he continues to work his way into his new squad’s rotation. Portland currently sits between Denver and New Orleans at sixth in the West, which seems like a reasonable spot for the Blazers to be situated in. Another team that could unexpectedly make some Playoff noise.
Welcome back, Eric Gordon. In his first contest back after missing 18 games, EG dropped 24, scoring 9 of them in the final five minutes and leading the Clips to a win over the Rockets. Houston hit a few shots late to keep it close, but Kyle Lowry couldn’t get off a decent game-tying attempt with the final possession, and the Rockets lost for the first time in six games. The Clippers are playing for fun and experience at this point, but the Rockets still have a chance to make a postseason push, which means losses like this aren’t gonna cut it.
Last Call: It’s pretty rare that DRose gets denied at the hoop, but this one time, Marvin Williams got the better of him. Peep: