by Anton Kudriavtsev /@TheDiesel
Without Amar’e (bum toe), the Wilson Chandler and the Knicks stepped up with a win over the Nets. Chandler led New York in scoring with 21 points but on 21 attempts. I can’t help but think that the Melo trade rumours have affected his play, which is a shame since he’s the Knicks’ best all-around player. The rest of the roster contributed, with Toney Douglas dropping 19 off the bench and Landry Fields (14 points) hit 3 big three-point shots in the 4th quarter. The Nets didn’t rotate to protect the 3-point shot which is like going hunting without bullets, and Brook Lopez regressed from his big game with 19 points and just 4 boards. Fields and the bench opened the 4th quarter with an 11-2 run which put the Knicks up 11, but New Jersey came back to within one point with 7 minutes to play. Three-pointers rained back and forth, before Fields nailed a triple that put NY up 4 with under 3 minutes to play. I can’t find a video, but after fields hit his last shot, his celebration warranted a re-wind. Fields now hits 64.5% of his three-pointers in the 4th quarter (20 of 31).
The Bobcats saw their playoff hopes glimmer after Stephen Jackson delivered a game-winning jumper to beat the Hawks. Charlotte trailed by as many as 22 points in the game, but kept fighting and shooting through their woes into a close 4th quarter. The last 3 minutes of the game is must-watch League Pass TV/Broadband, as the teams went back and forth. Josh Smith (28 points) posterized Najera on the break and tied the game with a free throw with 3:00 to play. The Hawks went to iso-Joe Johnson but he missed a jumper with the game tied at 86. SJax (32 points) knew it was time, stepped up and drained a fade away jumper over a double-team to win it for the Bobcats. Feel-good stat of the night: Shaun Livingston scored a season-high 22 points. Always have to root for players coming back from serious injury.
The San Antonio Spurs were mad at their performance against the Sixers the previous night and took out their frustrations against the Wizards. To call this game a blowout would not do justice to the term, as Tony Parker (18 points, 8 assists) led the charge and had the Spurs executing with Robocop precision. To put it in perspective, the Spurs scored 71 points in a loss to the Sixers on Friday night and had 72 against the Wizards by halftime. San Antonio shot 58% from the field, including 13-of-25 from distance and led by as many as 41 points. By laws of mathematics, someone technically had to lead the Wizards in scoring, and that “honour” fell to Andray Blatche and Cartier Martin with 16 points. For those wondering, the Wizards are still winless on the road and take that record to Cleveland against a Cavs team that hasn’t won back-to-back games since the Simpsons were considered fresh.
The Sixers received contributions from everyone and their ball boy as they cruised over the Wolves. Thaddeus Young scored 18 points, but the Sixers played great unselfish basketball with 24 total assists led by Andre Iguodala’s 15 points and 7 assists. Kevin Love had 16 point and 13 rebounds but his team shot just 36% from the field. No ball movement, ample turnovers, and defence that made Sasha Vujacic look like Gary Payton became the downfall of the Wolves on this night.
The latest attempt to showcase a 1-on-1 point guard battle in a team game saw Derrick Rose lead his Bulls over Chris Paul’s Hornets. The game was predictable early with Rose going 2-of-7 and Paul 2-of-4 in a low-scoring affair. Rose ruled the transition game (though the Hornets tried to slow him down by clogging the lane), while Paul took defenders off the dribble in the half court. CP3 had a nice crossover and behind the back bounce pass, but finished just 3-of-10 in the game for a total of 15 points and 6 assists. Rose picked up his game in the 2nd half, finishing with 23 points and 6 assists including a perfect trip to the free throw line (8-of-8). While Rose has shot 53 times in the last two games, the Bulls don’t have a serviceable shooting guard to take some of those jumpers. Both teams shot about 40% through halftime when Marcus Thornton hit two straight triples to lead the Hornets with 24 points off the bench. While Chicago was down 12 in the 3rd, they out-scored the Hornets 25-14 in the 4th quarter, capped off by a soaring off-balance jumper along the baseline by Rose.
Is it 2001 because someone just hit me on my Peja. The ghost of Peja Stojakovic re-surfaced to go for 22 points as the Mavs beat the Rockets. For those keeping track, this is the first productive night for Peja since Gasol had short hair. The Mavs shot 61% to lead by 13 at halftime as Dirk Nowitzki went 8-for-16 from the field for 22 points and 6 rebounds. Kyle Lowrly led Houston with 26 points and 8 assists but the Rockets had the task of climbing out of a 23-point deficit and their comeback attempt came too late. Lowry cut the gap to 3 points with 2:18 to play but Dirk’s jumper and Kidd’s lay-up put the game away for good. Stojakovic also tied Dale Ellis in 4th place all-time in 3-pointers made. Post-game, Dirk walked by Peja being interviewed and weighed in: “There’s a Peja sighting, baby! There he is!” Dallas faithful have to be wondering if Peja can stay healthy and hit enough shots to push the Mavs closer to their goal.
Danny Granger scored 14 of his 30 points in the 4th quarter as his Pacers overtook the Bucks. Granger sank two 3-pointers that helped the Pacers put the game away on a 14-0 run with under 4 minutes to play (Milwaukee didn’t help the cause by missing 12 straight shots during the same time). The Bucks continued their season-long offensive woes, with Carlos Delfino picking up the slack by scoring 21 points off the bench. Either interim coach Frank Vogel (7-1 since taking over) is letting his team play to their strengths, or they’re simply playing weak opponents but the Pacers’ 4th quarter shut-out shows growth for young and promising team.
Though the score indicates otherwise, the Thunder had control of the game from the 1st quarter as they led and won over the Kings to win their 4th in five games. Kevin Durant scored 10 of his team-high 35 points in the 4th quarter and Russell Westbrook added 22 points and 7 assists. Tyreke Evans had 30 points and 9 rebounds, but his 6 turnovers pointed to a problem for the Kings as they committed 18 turnovers in the game. KD stepped back and drilled a jumper that put his team up 6 with 47 seconds left but Tyreke had one last rally. After Evans converted a fast break layup and hit 2 free throws to cut the lead to 2 points, Durant missed both of his free throws which gave the Kings back with 5 seconds to go. Evans missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer as the Thunder came away with the victory. Check out Eric Maynor’s half-court shot to beat the 1st quarter buzzer.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Stephen Jackson – 32 points, 1 game-winner.
I’m out like Peja’s back.