by Jay Wallis | @JayWallis11
Grizzlies 112 (15-18), Pistons 84 (14-20)
The Pistons defensive woes continue, as they have now given up more than 105 points in seven of their last eight games. Strong play from Memphis forwards Zach Randolph (16 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists), Ed Davis (17 points, 11 rebounds, 17 minutes) and Jon Leuer (career-high 23 points, 8 rebounds, 21 minutes) helped the Grizzlies finish their current road trip 2-1. The Grizzlies outplayed the more renowned Pistons frontcourt, outrebounding them 59-43. In potentially his last game with the Grizzlies (rumors say he will be traded to the Boston Celtics for Courtney Lee), Jerryd Bayless (10 points, 5 assists, 0 turnovers) gave Mike Conley (15 points, 6 assists) some valuable rest on the bench. Andre Drummond (15 points, 14 rebounds) had himself another double-double, as he currently leads the Eastern Conference in that category (24 double-doubles). Brandon Jennings (4 points, 11 assists, 2-14 from the field, 0-6 on 3-pointers) had a miserable day shooting the ball. And he wouldn’t stop shooting. Greg Monroe (19 points, 8 rebounds) led the Pistons in scoring. This game was decided in the 2nd half, when Memphis outscored Detroit 61-28. The Memphis bench outscored the Pistons bench 52-19, providing a big spark in this 2nd half blowout. Jennings also missed all seven of his shot attempts and only had 1 assist in these final 24 minutes.
Pacers 82 (27-6), Cavaliers 78 (11-23)
As Frank Vogel put it, “No style points tonight. None. Zero.” The Pacers had to battle all night to sustain their League-best record while the Irving-less Cavs found a way to achieve a moral victory. After a Danny Granger (10 points, 3 rebounds) 3-pointer at the start of the 4th quarter, the Pacers led 74-58 and seemed to be in control. However, after a Cleveland timeout, Anthony Bennett (6 points, 3 rebounds, 12 minutes) and Dion Waiters (14 points, 5 assists) combined to scored the 16 points for the Cavaliers and pulled their team within 1, 75-74. Roy Hibbert (15 points, 6 rebounds) then had a big putback and two made free throws in the closing minutes of this game. Indiana let its defense do the rest of the work. C.J. Miles (21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) and Paul George (16 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds) led their respective teams in scoring on the night. The Pacers have now won 7 of their last 8 games and look to be a serious contender in the East.
Heat 102 (26-8), Raptors 97 (16-16)
They might have fallen short against the Heat, but the confident Raptors fought very hard, hung with an elite Heat team and showcased a refined offense. However, Toronto only had 5 of their 24 assists in the final 18 minutes, failing to execute late in this game. By avoiding defeat, LeBron James (30 points, 5 assists, 12-18 from the field) and the Heat ended the Raptors’ 5-game winning streak and have still not lost back-to-back games since March 2011. DeMar DeRozan (26 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds) continued his fantastic season while Amir Johnson (17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks) provided the grittiness the Raptors needed. However, a major downfall for the Raptors was their free throw shooting, as they shot 12-21 from the line while the Heat shot 23-27. James didn’t get much help from his teammates, but Michael Beasley (17 points, 7-12 from the field) gave Miami 20 productive minutes. He might not have the quantity of statistics that he had his first time in Miami, but Beasley certainly has more quality stats, slowly becoming the Heat’s scoring punch off the bench. Behind 100-97 in the final minute, Kyle Lowry (14 points, 9 assists, 3 steals) just missed a 3-pointer that would have sent this one to overtime. James then closed this one out by making 2 free throws. Lowry has had at least 9 assists in seven of the last eight games—the Raptors have gone 6-2 over these 8.
Warriors 112 (23-13), Wizards 96 (14-17)
Stephen Curry (14 points, 10 assists) and Golden State struggled early on, but started scoring in bunches, eventually cruising to a victory to extend their winning streak to nine games. After 2 Martell Webster (11 points, 5 rebounds) free throws early in the 2nd quarter, the Wizards held a 38-28 lead over the Warriors. Curry only had 1 assist up to this point in the game. Behind 7 2nd quarter points from Andre Iguodala (9 points, 4 rebounds), the Warriors were able to tie this one up by halftime. Then one of those “bunches” came fast. Over the first 9 minutes of the second half, the Warriors went on a commanding 30-5 run and never looked back the rest of the way. Quality mid-range shooting from David Lee (21 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists) and long-range shooting from Klay Thompson (26 points, 6-9 on 3-pointers) were major reasons the Warriors ran away with a game that was competitive for 24 minutes. John Wall (14 points, 10 assists, 3 steals) had his 11th double-double of the season. By game’s end, the Warriors shot 50.6 percent from the field, 40.9 percent on 3-pointers and 85 percent on free throws. When the Warriors are making their shots at this rate, it is difficult to slow them down. After finally reaching .500 (9-9) in early December, the Wizards followed that by losing 4 straight. Since beating Detroit last Monday and reclaiming that .500 record (14-14), they have since lost three in a row.
Thunder 119 (27-7), Celtics 96 (13-21)
Kevin Durant (21 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) didn’t have the type of performance like he did against the Timberwolves on Saturday, but he didn’t need to with the help he got from Westbrook’s replacement. Reggie Jackson (27 points, 9-12 from the field) had a career-high 27 points before the 4th quarter even began, including a lay-up at the end of the 3rd quarter to give the Thunder a 14-point lead going into the 4th quarter. Jeff Green (19 points, 3-5 on 3-pointers) and the Celtics never got within single-digits the rest of the way. Playing his former team, Kendrick Perkins (12 points, 6 rebounds) looked like the Kendrick Perkins from a former team. The big man reached double-digit points for the first time since February 22 of last year. The Celtics starting backcourt held their own, as Avery Bradley (19 points, 5 rebounds) and Jordan Crawford (17 points, 7 assists) put up good numbers. Jared Sullinger (9 points, 3-11 from the field, 5 offensive rebounds) and the Celtics did grab 12 offensive rebounds but only shot 1-10 on second chance opportunities. Serge Ibaka (17 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks) had his 15th double-double of the season, which matches how many he had all of last season. The Thunder continue their easy part of the schedule, facing the Jazz (11-25), Nuggets (16-17), Bucks (7-26) and Grizzlies (15-18) over the next 4 games.
Knicks 92 (11-22), Mavericks 80 (19-15)
The Mavs played quite possibly their worst half of the season Sunday night. Being down 52-35 to the Knicks, Monta Ellis (13 points, 2 steals) and the Mavs had just 3 assists and seemed to have no interest in moving the ball. They were also outrebounded 28-19 during these 24 minutes. After Carmelo Anthony (19 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) shot 5-9 in the 1st quarter, Dallas tried doubling him in the 2nd quarter but then his teammates stepped up. Kenyon Martin (14 points, 6 rebounds), Tim Hardaway Jr. (10 points, 12 minutes) and Amare Stoudemire (11 points, 7 rebounds) all played well coming off the bench, combining to shoot 15-23 from the field. During this dreadful 1st half, Dirk Nowitzki (18 points, 9 rebounds, 6-11 from the field) even vented and screamed at his Mavs bench, “What the (bleep) are we doing?” Dirk himself missed four free throws in this 1st half, and the last time he missed more free throws in a game was December 2004. Samuel Dalembert was a DNP-CD because he was late to Saturday’s practice, per Rick Carlisle. Even though the Mavs found a way to trim the deficit down to 6, 82-76, late in this game, they never showed the energy or ability to score that would be required to win this game. When Shawn Marion (2 points, 1-6 from the field) isn’t able to give 110 percent on both ends of the floor—especially on the defensive end—the Mavs turn into the team Dirk thinks they are. The Knicks competed their rodeo road trip 2-1, competing in all three contests. (Also—who knew J.R. Smith could be so stealthy?)
Nuggets 137 (16-17), Lakers 115 (14-20)
After being passed on as the successor to Phil Jackson, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw must have enjoyed his first return to Los Angeles. Denver used a fast pace and a balanced scoring attack to take down the Lakers and score a season-high 137 points in 48 minutes of basketball. Ty Lawson (20 points, 12 assists) led the way for the Nuggets, helping his team outscore the Lakers 30-9 in fast break points. Lawson’s backup, Nate Robinson (21 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 0 turnovers), also played one of his best games of the season, looking like Nate the Great from the Bulls postseason. There were seven total Nuggets that scored in double-figures, while Pau Gasol (25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks), Jodie Meeks (23 points) and Nick Young (21 points) did everything they could to keep their team in this game. Kenneth Faried (17 points, 7 defensive rebounds, 6 offensive rebounds) did a good job crashing the boards on both ends of the floor all night and Timofey Mozgov (20 points, 7 rebounds) had a solid night. Oh, and if you haven’t heard of him yet, Kendall Marshall (9 points, 17 assists, 6 rebounds) is yet another product of a D’Antoni system. He may struggle to make his teams play defense, but D’Antoni certainly has a system to point guards’ liking. The Nuggets had 44 points in the 4th quarter alone, extending an already double-digit lead to 22. Andre Miller has still not returned to the Nuggets.