by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
With about 3 minutes left in the third overtime of Mavs-Jazz, I let out a yawn. And yet, 4 NBA games were still hanging in the balance. I guess that’s why I get paid the big bucks, fellas. Let’s get it…
If not for a slip-up on Sunday, this would have marked Atlanta’s 8th straight win over the Raptors. That said, the Hawks will take the 1-1 split for the home-and-home after a bad loss on the first leg. Last night, Jeff Teague racked up 19 points and 10 assists against the Raps’ back-up point guards, Ivan Johnson bullied (can he do it in any other fashion?) his way to 21 points off the pine and the Hawks stayed tied with Orlando for the No. 5 seed in the East. Joe Johnson (6-13, 18 points), Josh Smith (15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) and former Raptors star Tracy McGrady (9 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter) helped ATL’s cause, which was aided in large part by a 28-5 advantage on fast break points. Toronto’s DeMar Derozan continued his solid play of late, leading all scorers with 22 points.
Ew! I didn’t watch a single second of this game, but I’m told that this is indeed the final score. More gross things: New Orleans shot 34 percent from the field, Charlotte shot 30 percent. The Hornets were 1-11 from 3-point range, the Bobcats were 1-16 from deep. The ‘Cats also missed 10 free throws. In the third quarter, the teams shot a combined 6-40 (15 percent) from the floor. After three quarters, the game was tied at 47. Seriously. Had Gerald Henderson (27 points) and Greivis Vasquez (20) not been around, who knows how few points we may have seen. Keep this in mind, too—should the Bobcats lose their remaining games, that will be the all-time worst winning percentage for a season in NBA history.
Ryan Andersen stepped up in the absence of Glen Davis and Dwight Howard, scoring 26 points and grabbing 16 rebounds to lead the Magic to a second straight win, this time over the reeling Sixers. Orlando’s rag-tag lineup (which included Daniel Orton as a starter) scored 40 points in the second quarter—the most given up in one quarter all season by Philly, the League’s No. 1 defense. The Magic found a way to outrebound the Sixers 46 to 30 despite missing the bulk of their frontcourt, and improved to 3-4 without Howard. Both teams were hot from the field (both over 50 percent shooting) and both point guards played well, as Jameer Nelson dropped 13 dimes and 16 points and Jrue Holiday had 18 and 8 assists, but it was Jameer’s Orlando squad that came out on top.
When a team jumps out to a 32-7 lead to start a game, it’s usually a bit tough to come back (unless the team with the lead is the Wizards, but let’s not go there). That’s exactly what the Pacers did, while Minnesota missed 10 of its first 11 shots to open the ballgame. Without Kevin Love to deal with down low, Indiana’s bigs took advantage and torched the Wolves—David West scored a game-high 22 points and had 10 rebounds and Roy Hibbert swatted away 5 shots to go with his 12×11 double-double on the night. The Pacers won the rebounding battle handily (58-45) and held the Wolves to 37 percent shooting and, coincidentally, led by 37 points at one point. It’s the 10th time in 11 games that Indy’s scored 100+ points, while JJ Barea’s 14 points and 9 dimes was the best Minny could find on offense.
On a night when Deron Williams and Dwyane Wade both got DNPs due to rest, it’s only right that LeBron James took center stage. Until the final minutes of the game, it looked like the New Jersey would pick up its most improbable upset victory of the season. But LeBron checked in midway through the fourth and flipped the switch—he scored the final 17 points for the Heat over the last 5:35 of the ball game, part of a 37-point, 7-assists, 6-rebound effort for The King. His driving lay-in over Kris Humphries with 51 seconds gave Miami its first lead of the entire game (after trailing by as many as 13 in the second half) and that’s about the time the “MVP!” chants began from the heavy Heat crowd in Newark. From there, it was all academic. LBJ’s crazy finish ruined a big night for Hump (29 points), MarShon Brooks (who tied a career-high with 24 points) and the Nets, who shot 50 percent from the field. Not to be forgotten, Chris Bosh added 22 points and 15 rebounds for good measure. Peep the 17-point finish from Bron Bron below:
Sure, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng didn’t play. And sure, the Wizards ought to be more concerned about ping-pong balls. But let me enjoy this one, okay? Kevin Seraphin—briefly property of the Bulls, only to be traded for nothing more than cap space—led Washington with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. The Wizards outscored the Bulls 48-22 in the paint and 20-2 on fast break points in the win, just the 7th home loss for Chicago this season. Both teams shot 38 percent on the night, and both had 15+ turnovers, but the Wiz used a 13-0 run to grab the lead in the fourth quarter, and held off a furious comeback in the waning moments from the Bulls to escape Chi-Town with the W. CJ Watson (17 points, 8 rebounds) hit a 3 with 16.5 seconds left to get the Bulls within 1, and he had a look at another trey with under 5 ticks to go, but it fell short. Whew.
For the second straight night, these two locked horns, battling for position in the Western Conference standings, and for the second straight night, Denver came out on top. It’s officially time for concern—and possible panic—in Houston, as the Rockets have dropped 4 straight (and 4 in a row at home) and are on the verge of being left behind come Playoff time. Arron Afflalo scored 26 points, Ty Lawson had 25 and Andre Miller came off the bench to dish out 13 assists for the Nuggets, who rallied back from an 11-point first-quarter deficit and held off a late push from Houston. Even so, after Afflalo split a pair of free throws with less than 5 seconds left, Chandler Parsons (21 points) had a chance to tie the game, but his desperation 3-pointer rimmed out.
Yep, 3 overtimes. Let’s get you caught up real quick, in video form—here’s how the fourth quarter and the first overtime ended, courtesy of Paul Millsap and Dirk Nowitzki:
The Mavericks fell behind by 3 in the third overtime, before Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki each missed potential game-tying deep jumpers and the Jazz came away with the marathon victory over the defending champs. The win kept Utah’s dwindling Playoff hopes alive, and it produced some freaky stats—starting with monster games from Dirk (40 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and Al Jefferson (28 points, 26 rebounds). The teams hit a combined 26 threes and 9 players played 45+ minutes. Incredibly, the teams only combined for 66 points in the paint and Utah won despite turning the ball over 21 times. It seemed like—as sloppy as this game was for the most part—every single big shot hit bottom, until the final seconds.
Phoenix desperately needed this win to stay alive for a Playoff spot. Portland put Luke Babbitt and Jonny Flynn in the starting lineup. The differing agendas led to a predictable outcome, as the Suns sped out to a double-digit lead after one quarter and never looked back, riding 20 points and 10 rebounds from Marcin Gortat to the win. Steve Nash needed only three quarters to dish out 13 dimes, helping Phoenix shoot an absolutely insane 60 percent from the floor on the night. Six players scored in double figures, the Suns were up by 20 after the third and they cruised to win No. 4 over their last 6 games. JJ Hickson and Jamal Crawford each scored 22 points to lead the Blazers. PDX is clearly a different team without Aldridge, Felton and Batum.
There’s the Nick Young that the Clippers traded for—Swaggy P scored 19 points off the bench on 7-10 shooting, helping the Clippers take down Oklahoma City for the third time this season. Lob Angeles locked down on defense, allowing the Thunder to score just 25 points in the entire second half. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 24 points but needed 18 shots to get there and turned the ball over 5 times, while Russell Westbrook could muster only 9 points on 6-14 shooting (zero free throw attempts) and had 5 turnovers of his own. Neither KD nor Russ scored a single point in the third quarter, when OKC was outscored 23-14. In that period, the Clippers experimented with a zone defense and upped their weakside help on Durant, forcing OKC into bad, longrange shots. The Thunder made just 5 of 22 three-point attempts and shot 38 percent form the field.
OKC’s loss gave San Antonio the opportunity to slide into the top spot in the West by just a fraction, and the Spurs did just that with a blowout victory over the Warriors. Could this win have been any more classic Spurs? Gregg Popovich continues to rest his stud players—even in-game. Tim Duncan played only 12 minutes, and was 5-8 with 13 points, while Tony Parker (8 points, 5dimes) and Manu Ginobili (12 points) didn’t play much either—TD and Manu hung out on the bench together for most of the second half. Heck, with a 32-point lead, the Spurs didn’t miss ‘em. Nate Robinson scored a season-high 30 points and rookie Klay Thompson had 29, but the Warriors simply cannot beat the Spurs—that was the Dubs’ 14th straight L against San Antonio.
Lines of the Night: Dirk (40 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) and Al Jeff (28 points, 26 rebounds) had a stat-battle over 3 OTs in Utah.
Dunks of the Night: James Johnson, Shannon Brown and Vinsanity delivered big throwdowns on Monday.
Tonight: TNT has Celtics-Knicks at 8 and Spurs-Lakers at 10:30, the best of a 5-game schedule for Tuesday.