Honest question: What the hell happened to Atlanta? They jumped out to a great start a month ago, but have now dropped seven of their last nine, and stand at a mediocre 8-7. Not that I expected them to win out, but such a sudden drop-off seems strange to me. Anyway, they fought back all game to erase a 10-point first-quarter Nets lead, and did so, but couldn’t finish in extra time. Brook Lopez had 32 points and 9 boards, while Devin Harris went for 27 point and 9 dimes—and also missed an end-of-regulation buzzer-beater that would’ve sealed it. The struggling Hawks were led by Jamal Crawford, who dropped 21, and they’ll attempt to rebound in Washington tomorrow night.
I think we need to collectively welcome back John Wall. SLAM’s new cover star came off the bench and scored 25 points—including three late free throws that forced overtime—and led the Wiz to their second OT win over Philly this season. JaVale McGee beasted for 24 and 18 (plus 4 blocks), and Gilbert Arenas scored 18 but lost 8 turnovers. I’d guess that’s just some rust wearing off, though. Andre Iguodala had a near-triple double (23-11-8), and the Sixers shot 46.2 percent, but it didn’t matter—JW ran that town last night. Think it might be time to get him back in the starting lineup.
After the Knicks jumped out to a lead that stretched to 16 points, the ‘Cats stormed back, but weren’t able to close out and NY held on for the win. Weird to live in a world where New York’s finest doesn’t blow those leads (as they’ve done consistently for the past, um, decade?), but I think I like it. For what it’s worth, the Knicks did deserve this one—they shot 52.1 percent from the floor and 96 percent (!) from the line. (Danilo Gallinari has now hit 43 consecutive freebies, one away from Chris Duhon’s team record.) (No, that’s not a typo.) Toney Douglas scored 22, and Amar’e Stoudemire dropped 17 and grabbed 7 rebounds. Charlotte was led by DJ Augustin (I wrote an In Your Face on him in SLAM 144—check it out, no promo.), who scored 24 and swiped 4 steals. These two squads play again tonight, this time down in North Carolina.
Gonna go ahead and hop in the Pacers Will Make the Playoffs bangwagon before it fills up. That’s happening. This was an even bigger blowout than it appears, as Cleveland came back from down 27 after three to make the final score somewhat respectable. Indiana now stands at 7-6, good for second in the Central. They’ve got Oklahoma City tomorrow, while the Cavs host Milwaukee tonight.
All Dirk Nowitzki Everything, for the most part. Dirk had 42 points, including 15 in the last quarter and four clutch free throws in the final minute. The other Mavs didn’t do too much statistically (and were only 30-78 from the field), though they were still able to hang on. Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince both scored 19 for the Pistons, who are in Memphis tonight.
Last night’s NBA TV “Fan Night” game was a good one, though the Bulls ultimately couldn’t keep up with the Lakers’ plethora of offensive weapons. Shannon Brown tied his season high with 21, and Lamar Odom went for an effective 21 and 8. Pau Gasol was Joakimed into a rough 12-point performance, but L.A. was deep enough to maintain without a big game from him. Derrick Rose dropped a cool 30 (plus 8 dimes), though it wasn’t enough. No time for Chicago to dwell on it, though, as they’ll be expected to bounce back in Phoenix tonight.
Performance of the Night: Dirk Nowitzki: 42 points, 12 rebounds, 3 threes, 2 blocks.
Moment of the Night: With time running out and his team down three, John Wall saw Jrue Holiday coming in for the foul, so he tossed the ball towards the hoop in hopes he’d get a shooting foul called. It worked, of course. Always nice to see young’ns pull veteran moves with ease.
Enjoy that turkey tomorrow, folks. I’ll be back Friday to recap Thursday night’s TNT double-header. See y’all then.