by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Behind 30 points, 13 boards and 8 dimes from Josh Smith, the Hawks snapped a six-game road losing streak with a double-digit dub over Charlotte. The Hawks led comfortably for much of the game (they were up by as many as 17) but the Bobcats cut the deficit to seven with under six minutes to go. ATL responded with a Johan Petro three-pointer and a long jumper from Smith to push the lead back to double-digits and cruised to the finish. Kyle Korver hit five three-pointer’s to finish with 21 points and Ivan Johnson chipped in with 12 points and 15 boards. Ramon Sessions scored a season-high 27 points for a Charlotte team that has not won at home since November. Remember when Charlotte was kind of good at the beginning of the season?
LeBron James continued his masterful season with a 31-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound performance and Dwyane Wade scored 35 and dished out 7 assists as the Heat overcame a 15-point deficit for an overtime win against the Raptors. The final seven minutes of regulation were a back and forth affair with neither team leading by more than three points. Jose Calderon (17 points) hit a three with just under two minutes left to give the Raptors a 105-103 lead but Chris Bosh (12 points, 12 boards) tied it up with a jumper on the next possession. Calderon then hit another three but LeBron came right back and hit a three to tie. DeMar DeRozan (12 points, 7 assists) had a chance to give Toronto the lead with 20 seconds left but missed a layup. LeBron had a chance to win it for Miami but his jumper hit iron and the game went to OT. In the extra session, the Heat went on a 13-2 run that was capped by a Ray Allen (18 off the bench) three-pointer with a minute left that sealed the game. Alan Anderson led the Raptors with 20 points.
On the eve of the All-Star Reserves selection, Joakim Noah made a play late that may swing a few voters. With the score tied and the clock winding down, Marco Belinelli missed a baseline jumper. As the ball was heading out of bounds, Noah made a great hustle play to save the ball and it landed right in Belinelli’s hands for a layup and a foul to give the Bulls a three-point lead and another tough win. Noah finished with 10 points and 18 boards, Jimmy Butler scored 18 and grabbed 9 rebounds and Carlos Boozer scored 16.
Dwight Howard left the game with an apparent shoulder injury and the Lakers dropped their fourth straight game to the Grizz. Memphis got a huge lift from their bench and were led by Darrell Arthur who finished with 20 points and 9 boards. Tony Wroten, who got extended minutes thanks to yesterday’s trade that shortened the Grizzlies’ bench, impressed with 9 points, 5 boards and a steal. Mike Conley shot 9-14 for 19 points and dished out 6 dimes and Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay each finished with double-doubles. Kobe led LA with 29 points on 11-23 shooting.
In a matchup between two teams that love to push the rock, the Nuggets came out on top by forcing 22 turnovers. The Nuggets defensive efforts paid off in the second half when they forced five turnovers en route to a 21-5 run that turned a 57-57 tie into a 78-62 Denver lead. The win was George Karl’s 1,100th. Salute to that man. Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 21 points and 7 dimes, Wilson Chandler scored 20 off the bench and Andre Iguodala did his usual damage with 14 points, 6 boards, 5 assists and 3 steals. James Harden led the Rockets with 23 points and 7 assists but also committed 7 turnovers.
Brook Lopez came out hot early, scoring 10 of his 22 points in the first six minutes, and the Nets opened up a quick 12-point lead. After allowing the Wolves to come back and cut the deficit to two early in the fourth quarter, C.J. Watson torched J.J. Barea with nine-straight points to push Brooklyn’s lead back to nine and ensure victory. The Nets led wire-to-wire and earned their first victory in Minnesota in over a decade. Deron Williams scored 18, dropped 8 dimes and grabbed 6 boards and Joe Johnson scored 18. Andrei Kirilenko led Minnesota with 15 points and 6 boards.
The Spurs led 87-86 with five and a half minutes left in the game when Al-Farouq Aminu was called for two straight goaltending calls. The calls helped trigger a 14-3 run by San Antonio that gave the Spurs a 101-89 lead with under two minutes to play. The Hornets mounted a comeback but it was too little, too late as San Antonio won their sixth straight and improved their home record to an NBA-best 19-2. With Tim Duncan taking the night off to rest, Tiago Splitter held it down in the paint with 25 points and 7 boards. Tony Parker scored 24 and dropped 13 dimes. Eric Gordon scored all 17 of his points in the first half and Greivis Vasquez scored 15 points while handing out 11 assists.
The Jazz watched a 22-point lead whittle away as the Wizards crawled with two in the fourth quarter to make what should have been a blowout a close game. When D.C. made it close, the Jazz buckled down defensively and after Jordan Crawford’s layup with four minutes left made it a five-point game, the Jazz only allowed two baskets the rest of the way to get the home victory. Paul Millsap led the way with 16 points and 15 boards while Gordon Hayward chipped in with 15 off the bench. John Wall scored 14 and dished out 8 assists while Martell Webster scored 15.
Lindsey Hunter got the first win of his NBA head coaching career under his belt thanks to a big fourth quarter from Michael Beasley. The former Kansas State player scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and helped Phoenix outscore the Kings 32-19 in the final frame to get the double-digit victory. Luis Scola scored 21 points and grabbed 7 boards, and Goran Dragic finished with a 12-point, 11-assist double-double. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 15 points and 15 boards, Thomas Robinson scored 12 and grabbed 14 rebounds while ‘Reke Evans finished with 16.
The Blazers ended their six-game losing streak to improve to .500 with a blowout victory over the Pacers. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points, Dame Lillard added 20 points and 8 dimes and J.J. Hickson finished with 14 points and 13 boards as Portland shot 56 percent from the field. The Blazers led comfortably throughout and were up by 17 early in the fourth quarter, a lead they eventually pushed to 20 for the easy win. Paul George scored 22 points and grabbed 7 boards while David West finished with 21 points.
Kevin Durant and Steph Curry battled back and forth all night but it was Curry who got the last laugh as the Warriors got the win. Durant finished with 33 points, 9 dimes and 5 boards while Curry dropped 31 and 7 dimes. Carl Landry (20 points, 7 rebounds) made it a 97-94 game in favor of the Warriors with two and a half minutes remaining but Kendrick Perkins tipped in a rebound on the other end to make it a one-point game. Jarrett Jack responded with a shot over Durant but KD responded with two free throws to cut it back to one but David Lee’s (22 points, 12 boards) layup on the other end pushed it back to three. With under 20 seconds to go and the Thunder down two, Curry missed an open three-pointer to give the Thunder a chance to tie or win. Durant, who played great all night, made a critical turnover when his slip pass to Kendrick Perkins was intercepted by Curry which all but sealed the Warriors’ victory.