by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Ten games for your enjoyment last night: some were great, some were duds. Catch up on all the action here…
It took a huge fourth quarter from John Lucas for the Bulls to pull out a victory over the Raptors north of the border. Lucas scored all 13 of his points in the final period of play as Chicago outscored Toronto 32-13 in the fourth en route to a double-digit win–their fourth in five games sans reigning MVP Derrick Rose. Lucas has now scored in double-digits in three of the past five games compared to just six times in the previous 44. Kyle Korver also had a big fourth, scoring all ten of his points late in the game, helping Chi-Town come back from a 12-point halftime deficit. Luol Deng had 17 points and 10 boards, C.J. Watson had 15 and Ronnie Brewer had 12 as Chicago has gotten contributions from every healthy player during Rose’s stint on the bench. Toronto was led by DeMar DeRozan’s game-high 23 points and 6 boards (0 assists) and James Johnson’s 16-point, 6-rebound effort.
If you were to tell me that the Knicks were going to score 82 points in a game and win a month ago, I would have never believed it. But that’s exactly what they did last night on the road against the Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia 76ers. The Knicks jumped out to an early lead, lost it, tightened up defensively, gained the lead back and eventually pulled out the win. New York held Philly to under 40 percent shooting from the field, outrebounded them 47-39 and outscored them 32-20 in the paint. STAT shot 8-14 from the firled and finished with 21 points and 9 boards–he looked like the Amare Stoudemire of yesteryear for the first time this season last night. Jeremy Lin scored 16 in the fourth to finish with 18 (on 4-17 shooting) and Melo finished with 10 as the Knicks now sit one game below .500. Philadelphia started the game 0-14 from the field and were playing catchup for most of the contest. Jrue Holiday had 16 while Jodie Meeks, Lou Will, and Andre Iguodala each had 13.
The Orlando Magic dominated from start to finish against the Suns after being held to an embarrassing 59 points against Chicago earlier this week. Dwight Howard had 28 points and 16 boards and shut out his former backup Marcin Gortat–Phoenix’s leading scorer and rebounder. Ryan Anderson had a game-high 29 points and helped Orlando jump out to a lead that was as big as 22 at one point. Gortat was manhandled by Howard and finished with 4 points and 9 boards, and the Suns, who have been hot as of late, stumbled on the road. Jared Dudley led the Suns with 17 while Steve Nash had an uncharacteristic 2 assists.
Both Deron Williams and Avery Johnson were given two technical fouls and ejected from the game, so the outcome of this one was no surprise. After the two were tossed, the Wizards gained momentum and turned an eight-point lead into a 15-point lead and held the Nets at bay to get the win. Nene made his Wizards debut and played well, notching a double-double with 22 points and 10 boards. John Wall had 12 points and 8 assists and Jordan Crawford finished with a game-high 23. Despite his ejection, DWill still led the Nets in scoring with 17 points.
Joe Johnson was ice-cold for most of the game; but he came through when his team needed him most. Johnson, who finished with 22 points, forced the overtime period with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer then scored seven points in the extra session–including the game winner–to help ATL escape with the victory. Josh Smith had another huge game for Atlanta, this time going for 32 points and 17 rebounds; dude has been on a tear since the All-Star break. Kyrie Irving damn near beat the Hawks by his lonesome with a 29-point, 9-rebound, 9-assist performance–he has been lighting up the Hawks this season. Antawn Jamison finished with 23 points and 12 boards, but the Cavs couldn’t overcome a 19-7 turnover deficit that ended up killing them in the end.
Klay Thompson scored a career-high 27 points and David Lee chipped in with a double-double of 25 and 11 as the Warriors got their first victory since trading Monta Ellis to the Bucks. Up just five with seven and a half minutes remaining and momentum swinging in New Orleans’ favor, Mark Jackson called a timeout and the Warriors responded with an 8-0 run to put the game out of reach for good. Brandon Rush hit four 3′s and chipped in with 16 off the bench. Jarrett Jack had a triple-double with 17 points, 11 assists and 10 boards and Xavier Henry and Chris Kaman each had 13; but it wasn’t enough even though the team shot just under 50 percent from the field for the game.
The Thunder used a 66-point first half to build a 16-point lead and were able to nullify an 11-0 Clippers run in the second half with a 12-2 fourth quarter run of their own. OKC used that run to pull out the win against an exhausted Clippers team who is in the midst of a brutal eight-game-in-eleven-days stretch. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 32 and Derek Fisher played nearly 20 minutes and finished with five points, one board, one assist, and one block in his Thunder debut. Russ Westbrook had 19 and Serge Ibaka finished with 15 as OKC dominated in the paint, outscoring LA 44-22 inside. Los Angeles was led by Randy Foye’s 23 and Chris Paul had 13 points and 10 assists, but shot just 3-12 from the field. As a team, Los Angeles shot a woeful 36 percent which allowed Oklahoma City to cruise to an easy victory at home.
The Spurs led by as many as 23 points, but they didn’t walk away unscathed. Tony Parker, who should be getting serious consideration for MVP, left the game with tightness in his left hamstring in the first quarter. There is no timetable for his return as of yet. Fortunately, long-time running mate Tim Duncan picked up the slack by scoring 21 points and grabbing 15 boards; Duncan has found the fountain of youth in recent games. Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal each had 16 off the pine and rookie Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and 9 boards in a team high 38 minutes. Kevin Love had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds and J.J. Barea had 18 points and 11 dimes off the bench, but the T’Wolves got killed on the boards; they were outrebounded 56-41.
Ben Gordon hit an incredible nine three-pointers and finished with 45 points and 8 assists, but he couldn’t do it himself as the Pistons lost a heartbreaker on the road to the Nuggets. JaVale McGee came up huge off the bench for Denver, scoring 15 points and grabbing 7 boards and finished with a tip-slam off of a missed Aaron Afflalo free throw to put Denver ahead for good. Afflalo finished with 23 and Ty Lawson had 25 points and 6 assists. Brandon Knight finished with 16 points and Greg Monroe had another double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.
The Lakers snapped Dallas’ four-game winning streak behind huge performances from Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. The Mamba finished with 30 points and Gasol had 27 and 9 boards–but the biggest contribution may have come from brand new Laker Ramon Sessions. Sessions scored 17 points and dropped 9 dimes and looked like the answer at point guard that the Lakers have so desperately been looking for. The Lakers used a 10-4 run early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach and ended up making light work of their rivals. Starters Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood each missed their third straight game, and Dirk Nowitzki did all he could with 26 points adn 10 boards but the Lakers were on FIRE, shooting just under 60 percent from the field for the game.
Stat Line of the Night: Ben Gordon with 45 points (9 threes!) and 8 assists.
Play of the Night: JaVale McGee with the tip-slam for the win.
Dunk of the Night: Jordan Crawford goes coast-to-coast for the banger.
Tonight: Abe is back to take you through six games. Peace!