by Anton Kudriavtsev/@TheDiesel
Shout out from Portland! I spent my day like most sports fans would: stay in the hotel and watch wild card weekend. As we were driving through Seattle, I saw Quest’s open dome and wished I had enough time to get tickets to the game. No way the Seahawks would win, right? Don’t forget to check out plenty of hoops action from last night, and be sure to look for me in tonight’s Heat game (I’m the awesome one way up top in the Rose Garden).
The Hawks made it four in a row with a win over the Pacers, winning 8 of their last 10. Josh Smith led Atlanta with 27 points (including 14 fourth-quarter points), 10 rebounds and 6 assists. The Hawks moved the ball around the perimeter to get themselves easier shots, shooting 43% on the night including 50% from deep. Joe Johnson got back in the scoring groove of things with 24 points while Jamal Crawford scored 20 off the bench. Danny Granger led Indiana with 16. What do you guys think, will Granger get traded by Indiana?
Kevin Durant singlehandedly turned around Oklahoma City’s inconsistent ship with a game of 40 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists as he surged his Thunder over the Grizzlies. The Durantula scored 28 of his 40 points in the second half as his Robin Russell Westbrook added 22 points and 11 assists in the win. Z-Bo had 27 points and 16 rebounds for the Grizzlies but Memphis couldn’t get closer than two points (shooting 1-for-15 from deep didn’t help, either). Despite being outscored 60-38 in the paint, OKC hustled their way to out-rebounded Memphis as the Thunder grinded out the win with some key plays down the stretch including Durant’s floater and free throws.
Such is the enigma (and frustration) of the Wizards: a solid win the previous night followed by a crushing loss to the Bobcats the following night. Gerald Henderson had a career night with 19 points and 9 rebounds as he spoiled John Wall’s homecoming. Wall didn’t shoot well and had 16 points and 11 assists but also committed 5 turnovers. In addition to D.J. Augustin’s 20 points and 9 assists, the Bobcats seem to be liberated to play in a more free system under Coach Silas. “We’re not robots, we’re just playing free right now.” Stephen Jackson said.
Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half to lead his Bucks over the Nets. Kardashian boy-toy Kris Humphries had a productive night as he scored 22 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in 24 minutes to lead New Jersey in both categories. With CDR’s recently discovered steady play and balanced production from at least three starters on a nightly basis, have the Bucks began to figure things out on offense? Oh, and Brandon Jennings hasn’t even played while Milwaukee starts to become competitive. Not sure if that’s a positive or negative for the team.
The Pistons used another overtime to clinch a victory over the Sixers thanks to streaky shooting and timely shots made late in the game. Tayshaun Prince led the Detroit with 23 points but it was his clone Austin Daye who made clutch shots down the stretch, with a game-tying 3-pointer in the corner with 3.5 seconds left. While Evan Turner had a productive night with 19 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists off he bench, Jrue Holiday has gotten swallowed up in the ocean of great point guards in the league. If you look beyond the stats (and if you don’t – 15 points, 12 assists in this game), he matches up well with most guards and is recently able to get the better of them. Throw in a jump shot and some more games under his belt and he’ll be set to crack elite company.
A match-up of the league two premier point guards saw the Bulls get some revenge against the short-handed Celtics. Derrick Rose was fearless as he drove to the basket past Rondo on his way to 36 points and 5 rebounds, out-playing Rondo’s 13 points and 8 assists. Chicago had Boston on their heels for most of the night as they scrambled for loose balls and initiated contact on the offensive end while Boston went away from their sets with a lot of one-on-one play which played into the hands of the Bulls. Rose began to settle his free-throw woes with a career-high 15-of-19 night at the stripe while Carlos Boozer proved to be trusty yet again with his 22 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Pierce had 21 for the Celtics who are now 5-2 without Garnett.
What do we do? “Shoot three’s!” When do we do it? “Always!” As usual, no one is noticing the Magic rising up among the east playoff ranks, as Orlando defeated the Mavericks, their 9th straight win. The Turkish Michael Jordan had 13 points and 17 assists while Dwight finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds. The Magic rebounded from a 16-point deficit as they outscored the Mavs 37-26 in the fourth quarter. DeShawn Stevenson scored a season-high 24 points but Dallas lacks the firepower without a certain German hitting off-balance jumpers. Leading by 3 with just under 10 minutes to play, the Magic went on a 26-3 run to finish the game.
The comeback kids were back in full effect as the Jazz rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat the Rockets. Paul Millsap went into beast mode in overtime, scoring 12 of his 27 points while Al Jefferson added 24 points and 13 rebounds. On the other side of the power forward coin, Luis Scola had 24 points and 10 rebounds but his Rockets couldn’t close the game and are now on a 5-game losing streak. It really is a joy watching Deron Williams play. Though he had an off shooting night (5-of-16 from the field), D-Will orchestrates Utah’s offense masterfully, dishing 15 assists as defenders still have to respect his ice cold shot, especially late in games. The go-to dribble drive to foul line jumper is like Pierce with better strength and speed. So with him as the steady hand along with Millsap and Jefferson contributing nightly, the Jazz don’t have to fear making the playoffs.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Kevin Durant – 40 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block.
I’m out like the Saints.