It’s a little too soon to start the “Here they come!” campaign, but credit where it’s due: the new-look Heat outplayed the Wizards (sans John Wall) last night. Each member of The Three put up numbers: LeBron James scored 30, Dwyane Wade came alive after a rough first half to put in 26, and Chris Bosh dropped a mild 20 to go along with 7 boards. Washington is no Boston, but this was a much-needed W after a series of disappointing performances. Expect the “They still can’t beat a good team” talk to continue until, well, they beat a good team.
A quick moment of truth: The NBA hasn’t blown me off my feet thus far. A lot of the League’s best storylines will take the entirety of the season/postseason to develop (the Lakers quest for three, the Celtics trying to hold up, etc.), and this whole Miami thing isn’t dull, but is getting such an overwhelming amount of coverage (not complaining, just saying) that an alternative is needed. And you know what’s been really helpful in that department these past few weeks? The consistently awesome battles between Western Conference contenders.
They’ve been so damn exciting. And this one was a great example: the resurgent Chris Paul-led Hornets against Kevin Durant and Co.—though we might need to start calling them Russell Westbrook and Co., because it was Russ who put the team on his back and gunned straight for CP3’s neck in the last few minutes, scoring 12 of his 25 in the final last six minutes and earning his squad the W. The former Bruin stormed into the “Top Point Guard” conversation, draining clutch jumpers and taking it to the rim time after time with the hunger of an up-and-coming battle emcee. Westbrook also had 11 dimes, while KD dropped in 26. For the Bees, Paul had 17 points and 14 assists, while Emeka Okafor scored 13, grabbed 11, and swatted 4. New Orleans has now lost four out of five, but will look to turn that bad fortune around when they host Charlotte tomorrow night.
Via Daryl Morey himself: Our performance very tough to take-entire Rockets nation(fans/players/coaches/mngmt)is in pain.Working to turn around.Brad was a bright spot
I’ll admit I thought about leaving it at that and moving on to the next game, but I’ll do a little more recapping for you fine readers (see how much we love you?). These two were separated by only seven at half, but a Dallas/Caron Butler third-quarter run (Butler scored 13 of his 19 in the quarter) all but sealed it up. Dirk Nowitzki also continued to make fantasy owners happy with 20 points, 10 boards and 3 blocks. As noted by Morey above, the Rockets ain’t looking too hot, but the Mavs are: They’ve now won six in a row, and have taken down some top-notch rosters in the process. They’ll go for a seventh at home against Minnesota tomorrow.
Against the banged-up Bucks (who played without Andrew Bogut, Drew Gooden, Corey Maggette and Carlos Delfino), the Jazz pretty much had their way, inching ahead quarter after quarter until a fourth-quarter explosion wrapped it up. Deron Williams went for 22 to go along with 10 dimes, while Al Jefferson and Andrei Kirilenko each had 4 blocks (I don’t know—seems noteworthy). Brandon Jennings scored 27 on 8-20 from the field, but didn’t do much distributing (4 assists), and Milwaukee’s 34.7 percent shooting from the floor didn’t cut it against a solid Jazz squad. Like the Mavs, Utah is now on a six-game winning streak, and they’ll also be trying to keep that flowing tomorrow night when they take on the Pacers.
Performance of the Night: Russ Westbrook: 25 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 steals.
Moment of the Night: Not seeing any great video out yet, so I’ll let Mr. Westbrook continue to dominate this space and provide him with another MOTN award. Previously I had Russ right behind CP3, Deron, DRose, Rondo and Steve Nash on my Best PG list, but as of late he’s made a hell of a case to move up. Where would you rank him?