by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Magic (13-35) 113, Bucks (8-38) 102
The Magic sprinted away from the Bucks and led by double digits for more than three-quarters of the game. Arron Afflalo paced Orlando with 21 points on 7-13 shooting, leading six players in double figures. Tobias Harris went for 18 off the bench and Victor Oladipo was solid all-around, going for 15 points, seven assists and five boards. Orlando shot 51.8 percent on the night and outscored Milwaukee 30-18 in the paint.
The Bucks had a balanced scoring night themselves, with four starters scoring 10 points even and a total of seven players hitting for 10 or more. Caron Butler continued his relative hot streak with 20 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo tied his career high with 15. The Bucks have dropped five games in a row and 14 of their last 15.
Hawks (24-21) 125, 76ers (15-32) 99
Atlanta dominated the 76ers, forcing countless turnovers and making the home team look as bad as analysts thought they’d be coming into the season. The Sixers hung in for a short while despite committing nine turnovers in the first quarter alone, but they could do nothing to slow the Hawks down. Atlanta shot over 50 percent on the night, racking up 36 assists on their 45 made field goals. Seven Hawks scored 10 or more points, led by Mike Scott and former Sixer Elton Brand, who both came off the bench to score 18.
With the exception of Thaddeus Young (29 points, 11-19 from the field) and Michael Carter-Williams (17 points on just nine shots) the Sixers were as inept on offense as they were on defense. They finished with 19 turnovers, shot just 36.8 percent and made 6-22 3-pointers.
Grizzlies (25-20) 94, Timberwolves (23-23) 90
Minnesota rallied in the second half to take a late lead, but Memphis was able to churn out another victory. Zach Randolph had 26 points (11-20 shooting) and 12 boards, coming out on top in a battle of two very different power forwards. Kevin Love had the more impressive numbers for Minnesota, going for 28 and 16 despite rolling his ankle in the first half. Love got some help from Kevin Martin (14 points) and super-sub J.J. Barea (12 points).
Memphis was up 16 midway through the third, but Love keyed an 18-4 run, hitting three triples and netting 14 points in that stretch to get the Wolves right back in it. The teams spent much of the fourth quarter on the seesaw, trading leads eight times in the final period alone. Memphis finally buried Minny with a Z-Bo-powered 11-2 run. Courtney Lee had 16 points for the Grizz and played some spot point guard minutes late after Mike Conley left the game with an ankle injury. Memphis has won 10 of 11 and has climbed to within a game of a Playoff spot.
Thunder (38-10) 120, Nets (20-24) 95
The streak is over: Kevin Durant didn’t top 30 points for the first time in nearly a month. The Thunder’s winning streak, however, is still intact at 10 as they demolished the Nets in Brooklyn. The Nets simply couldn’t hang with OKC, as the Thunder shot a blistering 63.6 percent from the field, the highest in the Association this season.
Despite losing his ridiculous 12-game 30-point streak, KD didn’t cool off one bit. Durant shot 10-12 in his 30 minutes, hitting an array of flat-out mean shots and scoring 26 points and picking up seven assists before sitting out the fourth quarter. The Slim Reaper finished the month of January averaging 35.9 points on 54.9 percent shooting, along with six boards and six assists. Serge Ibaka caught KD’s fever and literally could not miss, hitting all 12 of his shots en route to 25 points. All three of the Thunder’s young guns – Jeremy Lamb (12), Reggie Jackson (14) and Perry Jones (11) – hit double digits in scoring, with Jackson in particular making several plays for OKC.
The Nets were never close in this one, falling behind by 15 at the end of the first quarter and not getting within 20 after the midway point of the second quarter. Shaun Livingston led Brooklyn in scoring, while Deron Williams came off the bench, netting 14 points. Kevin Garnett went scoreless for the first time since his rookie season in 1996. Due to the Thunder missing just 28 shots on the night, the Nets set a dubious NBA record for fewest rebounds in a game with 17.
Mavericks (27-21) 107, Kings (15-31) 103
Dirk Nowitzki put the Mavericks on his back down the stretch, carrying Dallas to a narrow victory over the Kings. Dirk scored 12 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, helping to pull the Mavs out of a five-point hole and into the lead. Monta Ellis (20 points, 6-10 shooting) did his part to close out the game, scoring Dallas’ final five points. The Mavericks didn’t shoot well from deep – just 10.5 percent – but made their only two 3-pointers of the game in the fourth.
Rudy Gay went off for Sacto, scoring 35 on 10-16 shooting, while helping to stake the Kings to a 13-point lead late in the third before going cold in the fourth, where they suffered through a three-minute scoring drought. In addition to his efficient scoring night, Rudy pulled down 12 boards and passed out six assists. The Kings got 19 from Isaiah Thomas, but no one else hit double figures in scoring.
Raptors (25-21) 100, Nuggets (22-23) 90
The Raptors picked up their first win in Denver in a decade, using a spurt in the third quarter to pull away. Newly minted All-Star DeMar DeRozan was the game’s top scorer with 19 points, although he shot 6-17 from the field to get there. The final margin is a little misleading, as Toronto went up by as many as 25 in the fourth quarter before garbage time. Kyle Lowry didn’t respond to his All-Star snub as strongly as some of his fellow excluded peers, managing just 13 points and six assists. Terrence Ross went for 18 and showed off some dunk contest-worthy material.
Randy Foye flipped the switch from 3-point gunner to point man with Ty Lawson out again, dishing out 16 assists to go with his 10 points. He struggled with the added ball-handling responsibilities, committing eight of the Nuggets’ 25 turnovers. Evan Fournier had 18 points and seven turnovers, while J.J. Hickson put up 18 and 13 boards.
Bobcats (21-27) 110, Lakers (16-31) 100
Charlotte walked into Staples and dropped the Lakers, led by a dominant effort by another near-miss All-Star. Al Jefferson destroyed the Lakers’ lackluster front court, going for 40 points on 18-32 shooting, tying his career high, along with 18 boards. Charlotte led by double digits for the majority of the second half, holding the Lakers at bay. The one time L.A. got it under 10 in the second half, Big Al scored eight straight Bobcat points to put an end to any thought of a Laker comeback. Gerald Henderson scored 20 in support, while Ramon Sessions handed out 13 assists.
Pau Gasol has 24 for the Lakers, tweaking his groin in the process, while Nick Young netted 21 off the bench. Kendall Marshall continues his career resurrection under Mike D’Antoni, going for a double double with 10 points and 12 assists. L.A. shot just 38.7 percent in dropping their sixth straight and now have the sixth-worth record in the League.
Warriors (29-19) 95, Jazz (16-30) 90
Golden State looked to be in trouble on the second night of a back-to-back, but all is well when Stephen Curry gets hot. Steph went off for 44 points (14-26 shooting, 8-13 from deep), splashing in 17 points in the third quarter and another 13 in the fourth quarter, including three triples in the final frame. The Warriors rode Curry’s hot hand to overcome an eight-point deficit in the fourth. They also had to fight off their own shooting woes; the Warriors hit just 37.5 percent from the field, including a 3-20 night from Klay Thompson (11 points). Luckily, Curry had Andrew Bogut running with him. The Aussie put up 16 points on 8-11 shooting while controlling the paint, corralling 17 rebounds and blocking three shots, including a stuff of Gordon Hayward the preserve the lead in the fourth for Golden State.
The Jazz got a couple of unexpected boosts off the bench. Alec Burks flashed a varied game, hitting for 26 points, while Diante Garrett scored 13 points on 6-8 shooting. Both got heavy minutes in place of Trey Burke, who was saddled with foul trouble all night and fouled out in just 22 minutes. The Jazz honored legendary coach Jerry Sloan on Friday, raising his “jersey” with the number 1223 on it, the number of wins he rang up as coach of the Jazz.