by Jay Wallis | @JayWallis11
Kings 124 (13-22), Cavaliers 80 (13-24)
The Kings not only claimed their first three-game winning streak this season, but they also let their fans enjoy the League’s largest margin of victory in the 2013-14 season. This was also the third largest margin of victory in Kings franchise history. C.J. Miles (14 points, 3-3 on 3-pointers) converted an and-one early in the 2nd quarter to give the Cavaliers their largest lead of the night, 35-30. And after recently acquired Luol Deng (12 points, 5 rebounds) made a jump shot to start the third quarter, Cleveland was still within reaching distance, only trailing 59-52. Then the onslaught begun. Of the next 41 points scored in this game, the Kings would have 32 of them. DeMarcus Cousins (16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks), Rudy Gay (20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Isaiah Thomas (26 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) scored 25 of these 32 points, as they started showing some chemistry between the three of them. Thomas played especially well on the night, easily outperforming Kyrie Irving (7 points, 5 assists). The Kings would go on to win the fourth quarter 35-19, as Jimmer Fredette (13 points, 3-5 on 3-pointers) took advantage of his garbage minutes, playing the entire final quarter. The Cavaliers looked out of sync all night and only shot 38.8 percent from the field. They still are in reaching distance of the East playoffs, but they’ll need to work on having less no-shows as the season moves along. Sacramento will now go on a six-game road trip that starts in Indiana (29-7) on Tuesday.
Grizzlies 108 (17-19), Hawks 101 (20-18)
Coming off big wins against the Pacers and Rockets, the Hawks seemed to have been gathering their footing since trying to find it after losing Al Horford for the season. However, they allowed point guard-power forward duo Mike Conley (21 points, 13 assists, 4 steals) and Zach Randolph (18 points, 12 rebounds) to trip them up as they both posted big double-doubles. Atlanta’s own point guard-power forward duo of Jeff Teague (20 points, 5 assists, 5 turnovers) and Paul Millsap (21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) played well but couldn’t stop Conley down the stretch, as he scored or assisted on all but two baskets in these final 12 minutes. Conley showed off a perfect example of what it means to “be an orchestrator,” having 8 points and 6 assists in the fourth quarter. Kyle Korver’s (9 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) streak is still intact, as he has made at least one 3-pointer in 107 consecutive games. New starter Courtney Lee (15 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks) has looked good since being picked up by the Grizzlies, getting more minutes in each successive game. He also allowed Mike Miller (15 points, 3-5 on 3-pointers) to go to a more comfortable role, coming in off the bench.
Spurs 104 (29-8), Timberwolves 86 (18-19)
Eight Spurs had at least 7 points as San Antonio has now won its last four games and seven of its last eight. Kawhi Leonard (17 points, 6 rebounds, 8-11 from the field) led the way while Tim Duncan (15, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks) and Tony Parker (14 points, season-high 10 assists) remained the constants for the team. When the offense seemed to lose its rhythm, Parker would effectively take control of the pace and flow. (Will the Spurs ever become too old? As in ever?) After Kevin Love (14 points, 7 rebounds, 3-14 from the field) went 2-2 from the charity stripe with 1:49 left in the first half, the Timberwolves tied the game, 47-47. Nikola Pekovic (22 points, 6 rebounds) had kept the game manageable up to this point. Toward the end of the third quarter, Ricky Rubio (7 points, 8 assists) made a reverse layup to cut the deficit to 71-68 and remain in striking distance. Then the Spurs defense clamped down to close this one out. During a final quarter in which Minnesota only put up 15 points, from 6:52 to 3:14, the Timberwolves did not score a single point. There’s no one player that acted as the defensive presence since coach Popovich makes his entire team play a system defense. Alexey Shved (11 points, 3-4 on 3-pointers) had a solid performance, giving the Timberwolves some production off the bench. He has now scored in double-figures in four of his last six games. Minnesota has missed its last nine attempts to break the .500 mark—Kevin Love can’t be too happy about that…