by Adam Figman | @afigman
Despite Evan Turner’s struggles this season, the Sixers have plenty to look forward to. And by “plenty,” I mean “the next few years of Jrue Holiday.” Slightly under the radar, Jrue has been producing well this season, and last night his first career triple-double (11-10-11) helped Philly defeat the Nets in Jersey. Lou Williams, who seems well adapted to his role as off-the-bench assassin, scored a game-high 26, while Elton Brand put up a 15-and-10 double-double. The Sixers will now ready themselves for a home-and-home with the Knicks, and the Nets are off to Detroit.
‘Tis the week for last minute All-Star statements, and Joe Johnson made a hell of a pitch, scoring 37 and propelling the Hawks to a victory over Toronto. That 37 marks his season high, but the 14 in the final quarter were most important, sparking a late run that solidified the lead and the win. The Hawks shot 55.3 percent from the floor in the W, which put their record at 31-18, now tied with Orlando for fourth in the conference.
After blowing a late lead and falling to the Pacers, the Cavs are now a single L away from tying the single-season consecutive loss record. Rough. Not so rough is the Pacers getting their second straight win under a brand spankin’ new coach. Danny Granger led them with 23, while Darren Collison scored 22 and dished out 9. And if you’re the Bobcats, this is the part where you fear for your Playoff positioning. Or just start to win more. Either one.
Hey! OK then. Doing what they can to hold onto that eighth spot, the Cats took care of the Pistons last night, led by Stephen Jackson and his masterful 39-point scoring outburst. He was Charlotte’s first and last offensive option, but when he’s converting at that rate (14-26 from the floor, 8-10 from the line), it’s hard to say that was a bad strategy at all. The Bobcats’ record is now 21-27, which, somehow, is good enough for postseason play in the top-heavy Eastern Conference.
Early in the game, the Knicks looked like the Mavs of old, running the ball up and down the floor, converting on open shots, throwing down alley-oops, and just taking advantage of some up-and-down basketball. But later on, the Mavs looked like the Knicks of recent, utilizing the pick-and-roll, going bonanza from three, and running a quick and effective offense that New York had no counter (or defense) for. The Mavs rolled along from there, as Dirk Nowitzki dropped 29 in the win. Danilo Gallinari was the most successful Knickerbocker, scoring 27, while Amar’e Stoudemire put in 21—all in the first half. The Mavs are off to Boston, where they play the C’s tomorrow night.
Kevin Love (1o points, 10 boards) kept his double-double streak alive, but that was about the only positive news, as the TWolves were otherwise dominated by a stronger Grizzlies team. Zach Randolph muscled his way to 23 points and 13 boards, while Rudy Gay put up a strong 22-7-7 line. And don’t look now, but Memphis is heating up, having won four in a row and with what should be an easy one against Cleveland tomorrow night. The Grizz are now only a half game back of the Blazers, with the rights to sneak into the Playoffs via that always-coveted eighth spot on the line.
Following his slow start (relatively speaking), Kevin Durant is officially burning up. How many more games like these before we throw his name back into the MVP race? (Wait, it’s already back in? Yeah? Alright, cool.) Anyway, let me elaborate on “games like these”: 43 points, 10 boards, 5 assists, 5 threes, and a number of down-the-stretch buckets to lead the Thunder over the Hornets. Chris Paul had to leave the game early on after rolling his ankle, but he was able to return, providing 15 points and 6 dimes in the loss.
I’ve written before in this space about how, despite injury after injury, the Blazers always seem to find ways to win. Well last night they finally lost a piece that was too integral, as guard Wesley Matthews went down in the second quarter, and with it so did the Blazers chances of a earning a win. The Nuggets had their way with Portland in the second half, dominating both quarters and getting a combined 62 points from Nene, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Denver also shot 51.9 percent from the floor in the victory.
This whole “limited minutes” thing is really not working out for Brandon Jennings, and when things don’t work out for Brandon Jennings, they rarely work out for the Bucks. The Young Buck scored just 6 points in slightly under 25 minutes, as Milwaukee shot 31.1 percent (eek) from the field and couldn’t even reach the 80-point landmark last night. Phoenix, meanwhile, converted 50 percent of their shots, led by Marcin Gortat (again!) and his game-high 19.
The night’s closest game was a down-to-the-final-second battle, one in which the Rockets squeaked out a win—barely. After a Kevin Martin and-1 put the Rockets up one with under seven ticks to go, the Jazz failed to counter, as CJ Miles’ game-winning attempt rimmed out and Utah’s chances fell with it. With Deron Williams still sidelined—despite Earl Watson’s decent impersonation (his line read 11-9-8)—the Jazz just didn’t have the necessary firepower. For Houston, the win comes on the heels of a three-game losing streak.
Also: Sometimes I try to imagine what our society would look like without laws. It’s tough to know for sure, but I’m pretty sure this is the sight of true anarchy. Take a look for yourself, but beware: Boy, it’s scary out there! (Copyright: Kevin McAllister)
In a game headlined by stars like Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin, you’d expect nothing but jaw-to-the-floor excitement. And, in a sense, that’s what we got, as both guys put up nice numbers (32 points apiece) and showed off some sick athleticism. What we didn’t get was a super competitive contest, because, as we’re starting to learn, the Bulls are damn good. They easily took down the Clips, and now sit tied with Miami for second in the East. Given their problems with injuries all season, that’s crazy impressive. Chicago’s road trip continues in Golden State Saturday.
Actual Stats: Kevin Durant: 43 points, 10 rebounds, 5 dimes, 5 threes.
Last Call: I linked to this earlier in the post, but it deserves double link-love. It’s that sick. Peep: