by Anton Kudriavtsev /@TheDiesel
A bit of a slow night in the League, but all you need to do is sit back and take in a smooth six pack of NBA action.
The internal drama of the Pistons continued as the team scratched out a win against the Jazz. Detroit were led by Rodney Stuckey’s 28 points while Austin Daye scored 11 of his 18 points in the 4th quarter including a key triple that tied the game. This is purely the eye test, but Daye’s hit more clutch shots this season than any recent rookie. Paul Millsap had 23 points and 11 rebounds but the Jazz were frozen out on the boards late in the game as Will Bynum’s converted 3-point play put the Pistons up for good. Devin Harris looked comfortable in his new job with 17 points and 12 assists and he did get contribution from most of the Jazz faithful but turnovers killed any momentum they had down the stretch. At least temporarily, the Pistons showed what they could accomplish when they play with (positive) energy.
The Celtics won their first game after their infamous trade, beating the Clippers in L.A. Paul Pierce led the way with 24 points as the veterans rallied in the 2nd half after trailing for much of the first two quarters. Incorporating Nenad “chair shot” Krstic and Jeff Green in their first games as Celtics, the team got off to an uneasy start with unfamiliar faces replacing Perkins’ mean but lovable mug. Green scored just 7 points in 18 minutes while Krstic had 9 points and 6 boards. At least in the short-term, Celtics fans saw what they had feared: replacing a defensive enforcer with a center who struggles to rebound on an already poor rebounding team and a role player who’s playing like…well, a role player. On one semi-fast break, Rondo (2 points, 11 assists) stopped and found the two new players in the lane but after each fumbled the ball on previous possessions, decided to pull back and play more conservatively. On a more positive note, no one is as happy about Delonte West‘s return as I am, great to see him starting to get productive for Boston. On the Clippers’ side of things, Blake Griffin handled his business with 21 points and 11 rebounds including an alley-oop so powerful that Bosh felt the impact in Miami, flying 10 feet in the air, and crashing against a wall made of unmet expectations. Randy Foye deserves your respect, and he deserves it yesterday. Foye was easily the best player for L.A., as he scored 32 points and dished 7 assists for a team desperately needing a playmaker since the departure of Baron Davis (someone should check that Kia, maybe he’s still there). Jeff Green expected to see green, but not this kind of green. Upon his introduction to the team, I have no doubt that KG barked at him like a veteran at a maximum security prison, just to make sure he knows his place. Between Pierce looking like he’s about to cry and KG acting like someone passed away, it’s safe to say the Celtics miss Perkins.
The Mavs made short work of the Wizards led by Jason Terry’s 25 points and Tyson Chandler’s season-high 23 points and 13 rebounds. John Wall had 24 points and 5 assists but also turned it over 4 times as Washington has lost 15 of their last 16 games. Dallas led by 8 points with 3:19 to play when Wall sped through for three straight lay-ups but missed both free throws that could have tied the game. After a Chandler tip-in, the Mavs iced the game at the line and have now won 15 of their last 16 games.
The words “Grizzlies” and “cruise” are rarely used together (unless one of them is speeding) but that is exactly what Memphis accomplished with a win over the Kings. Zach Randolph put up 23 points and 12 rebounds but it was the balanced attack that was key for the Grizzlies’ success, with 5 players in double figures including Marc Gasol’s 21 points. Memphis shot 55 percent from the field and showed depth in their roster as they set out for a playoff push for the first time in 5 years. Randolph and Gasol helped the Grizzlies gain a 78-46 scoring advantage in the paint and out-rebounded them to hold control of the game. Beno Udrih scored 24 points for the Kings but the rest of the team didn’t follow suit as Sacramento falls to 2-10 in February.
Taking on the Nets for the first time since the team’s trade, the Rockets beat the Nets led by Kevin Martin’s 30 points. It’s safe to say that Deron Williams’ game can blend in anywhere, as he had 15 points and a season-high 17 assists but shot just 3 of 12 from the field and committed 4 turnovers in the loss. The remaining Nets season will surely be bumpy, but going through ups-and-downs is a lot better with a point guard like D-Will.
The Bulls are starting to gel as they work Joakim Noah back into their rotation, beating the Bucks to earn their 6th win in 7 games. Noah played his usual brand of hustle basketball, getting his team extra possessions with 17 feisty rebounds as Luol Deng’s 19 points helped Chicago pull away. Luc Richards Mbah a Moute (try saying that one time fast) scored a season-high 16 points but the rest of the Bucks were flatter than Twilight’s characters as Milwaukee shot just 38 percent from the field. Kyle Korver (11 points) put the game away with a triple then a jumper for good measure. Starting to play their most consistent basketball as they get healthy, the Bulls look to throw a wrench into the East in the playoffs this season.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Randy Foye – 32 points, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 important Clipper.