by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Eleven games last night including a tremendous showdown in Utah between the Jazz and Heat…
In a back and forth game that came down to the wire, it was Rudy Gay’s 23 points and career-high tying 13 rebounds that put Memphis over the hump and helped them pull out a victory north of the border. After trailing by as many as nine in the first half, the Grizzlies battled back in the third quarter and took a 56-52 lead thanks to a quick 11-0 run to start the third. The Raptors opened up the fourth with an 11-2 run, putting them ahead by seven with a little under ten minutes left in the game. But, Memphis got a strong scoring surge thanks to a Mike Conley’s (21/5 assists) jumper, two free throws from OJ Mayo (16 off the bench) and a Rudy Gay three point-play that put the Griz ahead 95-93 with 3 minutes left. With 40 seconds remaining, Aaron Gray hit one of two from the stripe to put his team up one before Gay responded with a jumper that put the Grizzlies up one. With time running out, Linas Kleiza drew iron and OJ Mayo found a streaking Tony Allen (Gucci!) for a fast break layup. Jose Calderon got a great look from the top of the key that would have tied the game up but drew iron and the Grizzlies escaped with the dub.
After beating the defending champs earlier this week, New Jersey completely unraveled and the Celtics won their third straight, beating up on the hapless Nets at the TD Garden. The C’s led by as many as 26 points and Boston ran away with this one thanks to The Truth’s 27 points and 8 assists and KG’s 20 points and 10 boards. Boston shot 52 percent from the field and had 35 assists on 45 field goals, including 13 from Rajon Rondo. The Celtics are now one game over .500 heading into their battle with the Knicks on Sunday afternoon. Brook Lopez had 28 points but only 3 boards.
The Hawks stormed back from a fifteen-point third quarter deficit thanks to Jannero Pargo’s 11-point fourth quarter and Vladamir Radmanovic’s go-ahead 3-pointer, and the Hawks were able to hold off the hard-luck Bucks in Atlanta. The Hawks’ bench scored 32 of the team’s 34 third-quarter points which was huge with Joe Johnson sidelined with knee troubles. ATL also won the battle in the paint, outrebounding Milwaukee 51-43 and outscoring them inside 46-32 thanks to Josh Smith’s 24-point, 19-rebound performance–think he’s still bitter over that All-Star snub? Brandon Jennings, who has been struggling something serious lately, had 34 points (5-8 from behind the arc) and 9 dimes and Drew Gooden had 26 and 10 boards but it wasn’t enough as Milwaukee let this one slip through their grips.
With Kyrie Irving on the bench due to an illness, the Cavs had no answer for Derrick Rose. The reigning-MVP exploded for 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter and helped Chicago build a 24-point lead to win their 12th game in 14 tries. Rose also had 9 assists to go along with his 19 points. Luol Deng led all scorers with 24 points and Carols Boozer grabbed 11 boards as the Bulls cruised to an easy victory on the road. In the two times theses teams have played each other this season, either Irving or Rose has been sidelined and fans are still waiting to see these two go at each other.
After skidding into the All-Star break and dropping a tough one to the Thunder earlier this week, the Sixers got a nice win at home against the Warriors on the 50th anniverasry of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. After being outrebounded 56-39 on Tuesday night by the Thunder, Philly reversed that trend by beating the Warriors on the glass 51-39 behind Elton Brand’s 14 boards. Philly was able to snap their four-game home losing streak behind Lou Williams’ 25 points on 9-15 shooting off the bench. Early in the fourth, Illadelph ripped off a 10-2 run to extend a 75-65 lead to a 85-67 lead to put the game out of reach for good. Andre Iguodala filled up the stat sheet once again with 12 points, 11 boards and 6 assists. Monta Ellis got off to a hot start, but the Sixers were able to put the clamps down and he finished with 20 while David Lee led the Warriors charge with 24 points and 15 boards.
With Dirk Nowitzki nursing an ailing back, the Mavs have now lost to both New Jersey and New Orleans this week and have gotten off to a slow start in the second half of the season. Chris Kaman had another nice outing with 20 points and 13 boards and looks like he could potentially be serious trade bait. Xavier Henry had the best game of his Hornets career with a career high 19 points on 8-12 shooting coming off the bench. The Mavericks got within one in the second quarter thanks to a 14-2 run, but the Hornets showed great grit and perseverance and never let up despite a close fourth quarter. Rodrigue Beaubois got the start over Vince Carter and responded with a 25-point, 4-steal performance. Despite missing Emeka Okafor, Carl Landry and Trevor Ariza due to injury, the Hornets still dominated the boards, outrebounding the Mavs 50-34, which proved to be the difference in the game. Dallas has now lost 4 straight and have to turn things around; losing back-to-back games against Jersey and ‘Nawlins is unacceptable for a team of their caliber.
Kevin Martin dropped 35 points on 10-15 shooting, including six three-pointers, but only had three points in the fourth and the Rockets lost a rare home game to Denver last night. The Nuggets were able to hold off the Rockets thanks to a 33-17 advantage in second-chance points and 19 offensive rebounds that proved to be the difference in a highly competitive matchup. Denver, who is still missing key pieces due to injury, was led by Ty Lawson who had 22 points and a career-high 15 dimes and rookie Kenneth Faried who had 16 points and 11 boards (six offensive). Aaron Afflalo had a big second half, scoring 16 points on 7-10 shooting and grabbed 3 boards and dished out 2 assists. The Nugs are now 2-0 since the All-Star break and could continue to climb up the Western Conference standings once they are at full strength.
Second-half of the season, same results for the Bobcats. Charlotte shot 37 percent from the field and only two players scored in double-digits as they got romped on the road. Tony Parker played less than 30 minutes and had 15 points on 7-11 shooting. Tim Duncan had 14, Richard Jefferson had 14, and Matt Bonner had 14 as the Spurs made light work of the Bobcats.
The Heat stormed back from an 18-point deficit, LeBron James had 35 points, 10 boards and 6 dimes, Dwayne Wade had 31 points and 6 boards. Devin Harris hit a huge shot and free throw to stop Miami’s furious fourth quarter comeback triggered by James and win the game to snap Miami’s nine-game winning streak. But none of that matters. All people will be talking about for the next 24 hours is LeBron James deferring to a teammate on the last possession of the game. After Harris put the Jazz up one with 4 seconds remaining, LeBron caught the ball on the inbounds, drove to the left, and dished to a wide open Udonis Haslem who bricked a 15-foot jumper as the time ran out. Was it the right play? I’d say yes. Haslem was WIDE open and LeBron, no doubt, would have had to hit a contested shot. But, LeBron was on fire in the fourth and he needs to take that shot at the end of the game if he wants to be the leader of his team. Well, SportsCenter will be unwatchable this weekend; just let the man live.
In an ugly game that saw both teams shoot under 40 percent, Grant Hill blocked a Chris Paul 3-point attempt late in the game, then hit a layup on the other end to seal the deal in Phoenix. Jared Dudley finished with 22 points, 7 boards and 4 boards, Martin Gortat finished with 18 points and 14 boards and Grant Hill chipped in with 14 points to lead the Suns. The Clippers finished with only 13 total assists and they never got clicking offensively. Blake Griffin finished with 17 points and 7 boards, Chris Paul had 16 and 5 assists, and Kenyon Martin had 14 and 8 off the bench. The Suns opened up an 11 point lead in the third quarter thanks to a Markief Morris 3-pointer with 10 seconds left in the quarter. But, the Clippers rallied back and tied the game at 70 with four minutes to play. The Suns then got a great block from Marcin Gortat and clutch free throws from Jared Dudley to take the lead and eventually put the game away for good.
Kobe Bryant, mask and all, scored 38 points and the Lakers were able to hold off a pesky Sacramento team for a win at the Staples Center last night. Trailing 94-74 in the fourth, the Kings reeled off a 21-6 run, triggered by a few long-range Jimmer Fredette jumpers, to cut the L.A. lead to five. But, Kobe and Metta World Peace each hit big 3-pointers down the stretch to finally put the game out of reach. Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 15 boards and Pau Gaol chipped in with 15 and 7 and the Lakers shot 0ver 50 percent from the field to defeat the Kings. The Lakers host the Heat on Sunday in what promises to be a great game.
Stat Line of the Night: The Heat may have lost, but LeBron’s stat line was ridiculous: 35 points, 10 boards, 6 dimes.
Play of the Night: Devin Harris with the game winning shot, and free throw. That dude in the white button down on the Jazz bench was hype!
Dunks of the Night: LeBron down the lane.
James Johnson bangs on Rudy Gay.
Throwback Moment of the Night: Fascinating Wilt Chamberlain interview.
Tonight: 7 games on deck, including a Kyrie – John Wall showdown and a battle between two of the best young power forwards as Minnesota and Portland tip-off. Catch y’all tomorrow, peace!