by Leo Sepkowitz | @LSepkowitzSLAM
Monday night was a competitive one for underdogs. There were a couple of upsets and a few more that came close.
Nuggets 113, Thunder 115
Denver took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter, but OKC jumped ahead with a few minutes left. The Nuggets had a few chances to tie the game late, but couldn’t convert.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both went for 30 points. KD (38) added 8 boards and 6 assists while hitting 13 free throws. Westbrook (30) nearly triple-doubled, finishing with 12 boards and 7 dimes to go with 3 threes. OKC shot just 41 percent overall, but hit 13/27 threes—just shy of 50 percent.
Denver got 29 and 8 assists from Ty Lawson and 18 and 19 from JJ Hickson, but not much from the rest of the squad. It’s worth noting that Nate Robinson scored 10 points in just nine minutes, though.
Grizzlies 106, Clippers 102
This game was a battle throughout, and it went into the fourth quarter tied at 81. But the Grizz gained an 83-81 lead with 11:23 remaining and never relinquished it.
Zach Randolph, who always seems to turn his game up a notch against Blake Griffin and the Clippers, dropped 26 and 15. Marc Gasol scored 23 points with 9 boards and 8 assists. Memphis has a pretty nasty duo of its own.
LA got double-doubles from their duo, Blake Griffin (23 and 11) and Chris Paul (18 and 11). CP3 has posted at least 11 points and 10 assists in every game so far. DeAndre Jordan snagged 16 boards and Matt Barnes came off the bench for 12 points (7/7 free throws), but it wasn’t enough. Lob City shot under 40 percent from the floor.
Blazers 108, Nets 98
The Nets dropped 40 points in the first quarter last night, but slowed down considerably after that. The team finished with a 36.5 percent clip from the field, aided by Paul Pierce (2/12), Joe Johnson (4/12) and, to a lesser extent, Reggie Evans (1/4) and Jason Terry (2/7). On the bright side, Deron Williams’ replacement, Shaun Livingston, dropped 23 on 8/14 shooting in 29 minutes (and had a pretty nasty dunk) and KG posted 16 and 8 with a pair of rejections. The Nets (3-7) are not a good team right now.
Portland got big games from LaMarcus Aldridge (game-high 27 and 8), Wes Matthews (24 points, 5 treys). Damian Lillard did what he does just about every night—19 points, 9 dimes and a pair of triples. Portland has been a brutal road team in recent years, but are now 5-1 away from Rip City this season.
Bobcats 81, Bulls 86
Charlotte pulled within one with under a minute left last night in Chicago, but the Bulls scored the game’s final five points to close things out.
Luol Deng led the winning team with 21 points (10/12 from the line), while Carlos Boozer scored 12 points (5/17) with 17 rebounds. Derrick Rose made only 4/13 shots for 12 points to go along with 5 assists and 3 turnovers. Chicago shot 36 percent from the floor.
The Bobcats weren’t any sharper offensively, connecting on just 36.3 percent of their shots. Jeff Taylor led the team in scoring with 20 off the bench. Gerald Henderson went for 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, while Kemba Walker struggled and finished with 8 points (3/14), 3 boards and 3 dimes.
Despite the loss, Charlotte is still 5-6 on the season and 3-3 on the road. They’ve beaten the Knicks on the road, played Miami close for two and a half quarters and nearly won last night, too. They’re probably not a Playoff team this season, but they’re not too far off, either.
Warriors 98, Jazz 87
The Dubs led by about 20 for most of the second half before the Jazz cut into the lead in garbage time.
Stephen Curry led the way with 22 points, and David Lee (14 & 14) double-doubled while Andrew Bogut (8 points, 13 boards, 4 blocks) had a major game as well. Klay Thompson and harrison Barnes (7/10) each scored 17.
The Jazz moved to 1-11 with impressively poor performances from guys like Richard Jefferson (2/9, 1 rebound in 32 minutes), Alec Burks (0/5 in 23 minutes) and Enes Kanter (4/12, 6 rebounds, 0 blocks in 30 minutes). They’re obviously no match for this powerhouse Warriors team.
76ers 94, Mavericks 97
Philly hung with the Mavs all night, but ultimately fell short with a few minutes left before re-closing the gap in the waning seconds.
Dallas got 20+ from three guys: Monta Ellis (24 and 10 assists), Dirk Nowitzki (20 and 10 boards) and Shawn Marion (20 points and 7 bounds). They’re now a perfect 5-0 at home to open the season.
Each Sixers starter scored in double-figures, led by Evan Turner’s 26 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. He’s doing it for a bad team, but Turner is finally having the nice season most everybody has been waiting for since entered the L. He has a strong chance to be a 20-5-5 guy if he doesn’t get traded midseason. Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young each double-doubled, while Tony Wroten scored 19.
Bonus: Vintage Show Of The Day
This season, I’ll be posting a semi-random highlight video of a former baller at the bottom of my Post Ups. I stumbled onto a Scottie Pippen dunk reel this weekend and thought I’d pass it on. It’s kind of amazing how similar most of them are—he’d just stick that right arm out there and take off. #5 over Zo is my favorite.