by Anton Kudriavtsev/@TheDiesel
What do Tony Parker, Kevin Love, and Nick Young have in common? Besides being the most awkward poker team ever, all were like Latrell Sprewell’s bills – out of control.
The Wizards pulled defeat from the jaws of victory in a heartbreaking loss to the Heat. Washington led for most of the game, with Nick Young filling it up (30 points) before his team decided to show their losing mentality and choke away the game. JaVale McGee had another ugly free-throw line dunk attempt, with a similar result as the last one. Miami was down four points with 17 seconds to play and won the game at the free throw line, as Bosh made two of three FT’s after fouled on a 3-point attempt and James Jones stole the inbounds pass to make two freebies of his own. With 7.9 seconds to play, Wade drove down the lane and game the Heat their only lead in the 4th quarter, a no-call on a Hinrich drive later and the Heat won their 12th straight win. After triple-doubling at Madison Square Garden, LeBron went for 32 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Bosh and Wade had 20 apiece. No word on exactly how many ribs Bosh broke after hugged by LeBron post-game. Not to worry, Wizards – Rashard Lewis is on his way to bring some much-needed defense!
The Spurs made it eight wins in a row as they beat the Grizzlies in overtime. With yet another close game coming down to the wire, Tony Parker got his inner clutch Argentinean guard on with 37 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter and overtime and a jumper that pushed the Spurs lead to six, getting his team the win. Zach Randolph had 24 points and 21 rebounds but his team couldn’t execute offensively down the stretch without their leading scorer Rudy Gay who was suspended by the pause police. Coach Hollins’ delightfully honest assessment: “The guy’s running down the court 900 miles an hour and spinning and all that stuff. What am I supposed to tell them? Stop him from spinning?” Anyone see the sole of Matt Bonner’s shoe disconnect itself? Not a good look for New Balance.
After two tough losses to the Celtics and Heat, they Knicks couldn’t contemplate their toughest opponent of the week – the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mo Williams literally played like it was his birthday, scoring 23 (with 14 assists) for the Cavs including a game-tying bucket to send it to overtime and snap a 10-game losing streak. Amare had 23 points but missed a fadeaway 12-footer that could have won it in OT. Each time the Knicks get a solid lead they cave in defensively and don’t win games once the offense begins to waver. They really could have used a small forward whose name rhymes with “yellow”, especially in crunch time in this game.
There is no way average NBA fans would tune into this game last season, but this season the must-see TV rookie is Blake Griffin who took his Clippers to a two game winning streak (we major!) in a win over the Bulls. Griffin muscled his way to 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists and without Joakim Noah’s hair, the Bulls had no one to defend him as his team was constantly in the bonus. Not that the Clips are big fans of taking advantage of a winning strategy. After a couple of Griffin dunks and an Eric Gordon 3-pointer, L.A. watched its seven-point lead dwindle and constantly missed open shots and free throws along the way. Baron Davis’ “FML” moment of the night: with plenty of time on the shot clock, Davis aimlessly takes a fadeaway shot that flies over the backboard. Griffin saves it, only to watch Boom Sizzle jack up an air-ball from distance. Deep breaths, Clipper fans. Derrick Rose mounted the comeback and cut up the lane with 34 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds, including driving to the lane as time expired and being fouled in the process (props to the refs for calling it). Making the first free throw to get his team within one with 0.8 remaining, Rose came up short on the second and had to watch the Clippers celebrate like they’ve won a playoff series.
After stinking up the joint in the Big Easy, the Jazz got back on the winning side of things as they beat the Bucks. Deron Williams led his team with 22 points and 11 assists in yet another comeback win, overcoming a double-digit deficit. D-Will got the best of the Bucks on the floor, with 15 of his points coming in the second half, but also won the mental battle. Brandon Jennings’ swagger took a hit after D-Will got a technical on the bench, asking Brandon if he was a rookie. “I asked him if he was a rookie. I thought he was. He took that personally, what can you do?” Williams said. Jennings plans to rebound from the personal attack by continuing to not convert easy lay-ups. Andrew Bogut led his Bucks with 19 points and 9 boards but Milwaukee couldn’t sustain the lead as they got out-rebounded and out-executed by the Jazz machine. Jerry Sloan was so happy that his teams showed toughness and rallied for a win that he pushed their morning practice all the way back to 6:45am.
Talk about a wasted effort. Kevin Love put the Wolves on his back on his way to a career night only to fall to the Nuggets. Ty Lawson had a good game, scoring 23 and dishing 9 on 50% shooting but it was Melo who came up with a clutch block to deliver the win for Denver. Love poured in the jumpers and put-backs with 43 points (including a perfect 5-of-5 from distance) and didn’t forget to clean up after himself as he pulled down 17 rebounds in the process. Kevin grabbed an offensive rebound, went up to lay it in but Melo (24 points) blocked it and J.R. Smith proceeded to roll the dice and hit a transition three that made it a 115-106 game with 1:12 left. The Wolves continued to rally, Martell Webster’s long jumper pulling them within two with 27 seconds to play but turned it over after a Melo miss and sealed their own fate, the 11th consecutive road loss. Dear Nuggets: you’re not going anywhere after he-who-shall-not-be-named-until-traded leaves, you couldn’t have given this one up to a young team who actually cares about wins?
After the two trades to shake-up their roster, the Magic dressed just eight players and lost to the Sixers despite Howard’s 26 points and 20 rebounds. With a close game at halftime, Philly pulled away in the third, led by Lou Williams’ 24 points. Orlando have now lost five of their last six games while the Sixers are 7-3 after a rough start. Stan Van Gundy didn’t appreciate the excuses: “That’s five straight games where we’ve done nothing to defend in the second half. So whatever the excuses are. I’m running out of them. I don’t believe in any of them. Go out and guard somebody.” As luck may have it, Arenas and Richardson are on the way to lock down the defensive end!
The Blazers apparently play better when their backs are against the wall, holding off the Warriors in a close win. LaMarcus Aldridge followed his career night with a 17-point and 12-rebound night while Monta Ellis led the Warriors with 26 points. Portland led as many as 15 in the second half but the Warriors came back within two late in the game. Ellis made a pair of free throws to get his team within a point but missed his final shot which would have won the game. Golden State have now lost 13 of their last 15 games.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Kevin Love – 43 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists.
I’m out like Rose’s free throw.