by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Suns (6-6) 98, Bobcats (6-7) 91
The Suns got a win with Eric Bledsoe still sidelined, riding a balanced scoring effort to the win. Five players scored in double figures for Phoenix, with Channing Frye leading the way with 20 points (5-7 from three). Even getting Al Jefferson back in the lineup after a four-game absence wasn’t enough for the Bobcats, who shot just 41.6 percent on the night.
Phoenix was out and running early, riding hot shooting and getting looks in transition on their way to an 11-point halftime lead. Frye was the high man at half as well, with 11 points on 3-4 shooting from long range. Gerald Henderson was one of the few efficient players for Charlotte, scoring 17 points on 6-12 shooting. Kemba Walker had a poor shooting night, hitting 7-18 shots for 16 points. PJ Tucker was perfect from the field for Phoenix, scoring 17 points. His only miss came on one of his three free throws.
76ers (6-8) 115, Bucks (2-9) 107 OT
Down 10 with just two minutes to go, the Sixers completed yet another comeback against Milwaukee. Spencer Hawes (25 points, 12 rebounds, 3-6 triples) hit a stupid, one-footed turnaround triple to send the game to overtime. In the OT, Evan Turner (27 points, 8 in OT, 10-18 shooting) took over to push the Sixers to victory. Caron Butler had his best game in years, dropping 38 and ended the Sixers’ rally with a late three before Hawes’ miracle.
Despite tons of turnovers early (15 in the first half, 26 for the game), the Sixers held an edge for the majority of the first half. They started the second quarter hot. Milwaukee made their run though, cutting the lead from 16 to just 2 by halftime. Butler was huge in the first half, as he scored 17 and hit a disheartening three as time expired in the half. Michael Carter-Williams had another wild line for the Sixers, going for 12 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists and 5 steals in the come-from-behind W.
Raptors (6-7) 96, Wizards (4-8) 88
The nearly let it get away, but the Raptors held off the Wizards in the T-Dot. Toronto had to weather John Wall going off for 37 points, a season-high for the highly compensated point guard. The Raptors let a big lead slip away in the third quarter, but punched right back to start the fourth. They quickly turned a 70-66 deficit into a 75-70 lead, never giving it up the rest of the way. Rudy Gay (17 points) earned his paycheck by scoring Toronto’s final 9 points.
DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson led the Raps into half, combining for 27 points on 12-16 shooting. Toronto was hot as a team, shooting 51 percent, while harrying the Wiz on the other end. Washington shot just 38 percent in the first half, with just about everyone struggling. The bench was the biggest sore thumb early, as the five reserves combined to make just one shot in the first half. The bench for the Wiz ended up scoring a whole 9 points in this one.
Bradley Beal had a rough shooting night for Washington on his way to 17 points (7-21 shooting), and Nene posted a 10 and 10. DeRozan finished with 17 for Toronto, while Jonas Valanciunas had 11 and 13 boards.
Pacers (11-1) 97, Celtics (4-10) 82
After falling behind early, the Pacers got locked in during the second half and were able to coast to a victory in Boston. It was a good day for Lance Stephenson, who posted his second triple-double of the season with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, along with 4 steals, while Paul George continued his superstar play with 27 points on 9-20 shooting.
Boston came out and surprised the Pacers in the first half, with Jordan Crawford (24 points, 6 turnovers) providing the scoring boost that he’s always in the mindset to provide. Crawford dropped 19 points, hitting all 8 of his field goal attempts. Boston hit on 59 percent of its shot as a team in the first half, as Indiana uncharacteristically allowed plenty of attempts in the lane. Despite poor shooting in the first half, the Pacers stayed close thanks to Lance Stephenson’s well-rounded play – 6 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in the half.
Things turned around pretty quickly in the third quarter, as Indiana put things right in the basketball world. Boston managed to score just 8 points in the quarter, shooting a putrid 3-13 with 9 turnovers. It was pretty much over after that, as Indiana only expanded their lead going forward. Indy got 17 apiece from it’s power forward duo of David West and Luis Scola, while Jeff Green pitched in 20 in the losing effort for the Celtics.
Hawks (8-5) 96, Pistons (4-8)89
Things are going downhill quickly in Detroit, dropping their third in four games and their second in a row to the Hawks. The Pistons’ big offseason acquisitions had horrific games: Josh Smith was pulled from the starting lineup and went scoreless in 20 minutes, while Brandon Jennings went 4-16 and had a crucial fastbreak layup swatted away by Jeff Teague, leading to a four-point swing late in the fourth. Teague finished with 18 and 9 assists, and Al Horford had 17 and 11 boards for the Hawks.
Kyle Singler, starting in place of Smith, paced the Pistons early with 14 points in the first half. But Detroit’s defensive problems persisted, as Atlanta found looks around the arc, even though they converted on just 40 percent in the first half. Detroit fought back from an 8-point hole early in the fourth to tie it up at 86, but the wheels fell off after Teague’s block and subsequent alley oop to Horford.
Spurs (11-1) 102, Grizzlies (7-6) 86
San Antonio has Memphis’ number, picking up another win against their playoff rival for their ninth straight win overall. Memphis got some bad news in this one, as reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol left the game with what’s being called a knee sprain, although rumors on Twitter were saying it could be an MCL tear that would cost Gasol 10 weeks. The Spurs finally looked like they were clicking on offense in this one, weird to say about a team that came in tied for the best record in the league. They shot 53 percent, albeit against a defense missing its lynchpin. The Grizzlies fought back into the game in the second half, but San Antonio closed the game on a 23-8 run to seal it. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 20 points, and Tiago Splitter took advantage of Marc Gasol’s absence to post 17 points.
San Antonio hit 57.5 percent from the field in the first half, good for a 51-37 lead. Parker was doing his usual thing, getting into the paint and even drilling a corner three for his 9 first half points. Memphis won the battle on the glass early, but couldn’t hit from the field and turned the ball over 10 times in the first half (14 overall). Mike Conley stepped up big for Memphis, dropping 28 points. Zach Randolph did what he could without his front court tag-team partner, posting 16 and 10. Manu Ginobili was a spark off the bench, scoring 15 points and dishing out 7 assists.
Timberwolves (8-6) 111, Nets (3-9) 81
Ohhhh boy. Playing without Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Jason Terry, Brooklyn got roasted in Minnesota. This game got out of hand for the short-handed Nets very quickly. Like, down-10-less-than-10-minutes-in quickly. Kevin Love had 10 boards in the first quarter alone, and the Wolves powered ahead in the first half despite shooting just 40 percent by turning the ball over 10 fewer times than Brooklyn. Minnesota would go on to stretch their lead as far as 36 points. Even without a couple of its best players, that’s not good. Kevin Garnett managed just 8 points and 8 rebounds in his return to the Twin Cities, and looked very much the part of a player on his last legs. Love finished with 17 and 16 for the Wolves in just 28 minutes, and all five Minnesota starters scored in double figures. Just to illustrate how far apart these teams are: Brooklyn had 20 turnovers and 7 assists; Minnesota had 28 assists and 8 turnovers.
Pelicans (6-6) 104, Cavaliers (4-9) 100
The Pelicans came flying out of a 12-point hole late in the fourth quarter, riding their most talented lineup of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis down the stretch. Davis scored 6 points in a 14-2 run to close it, while Holiday (15 points, 11 dimes) and Anderson (13 points, 3-5 from deep) hit threes while Evans (19 points, 10 boards) scored at the rim. Basically, this lineup did what it was expected to do when it was assembled in the offseason. Kyrie Irving had a chance to tie it up late in the game, but got tangled up in Davis’ web as he approached the rim. Irving finished with 22 points on 9-22 shooting, while Davis posted 17 points, 13 boards, 3 blocks and 2 steals.
Mavericks (9-4) 103, Jazz (1-12) 93
The hapless Jazz didn’t stand a chance against the deadly Dallas offense. Monta Ellis hit for 26, while Dirk Nowitzki and Sam Dalembert each had 18 for Dallas. Utah, down 25 at one point, clawed back to draw within 5 points late in the fourth quarter. Dallas pushed back though, with Dirk and Monta scoring the final 8 for the Mavs.
The Mavs jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter and grew it from there. Dallas shot a blistering 59 percent in the first half, while the Jazz connected on just 39 percent. Monta Ellis connected on 4-8 shots for 13 points in the first half, while Dirk chipped in another 8. Every Mavs starter was +17 or better in the first half, and finished at least +10. Marvin Williams was resurrected for Utah, scoring 19 points off the bench, while former dunk contest champ Jeremy Evans was also effective in going 7-7 as a reserve.
Trail Blazers (11-2) 98, Bulls (6-5) 95
Portland dug itself out of a big hole early, fighting back against the Bulls to win its ninth straight. That’s not the story from this one, though. Derrick Rose, in his 11th game back after sitting out an entire season, left this game with a right knee injury (not the knee that caused him to miss last season). After the game, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose felt he couldn’t push off the knee. Rose was seen leaving the locker room on crutches.
Back to Portland’s comeback: After the Bulls rushed out to a 15-point halftime lead, with Rose (20 points) and Luol Deng leading the rush, Portland started to chip away. Wes Matthews (28 points, 10 in the third) was a big part of the turnaround. In the fourth, the score went back and forth. Damian Lillard (20 points) hit two threes and Nic Batum (17 points, 8 boards, 5 steals) knocked one in as well to keep Chicago from edging away. Matthews then drilled a long two with a minute and a half to go to give the Blazers the lead for good.
Rose, despite some poor shooting, had 17 points at half and was as aggressive as ever, earning 7 free throws in the first half. Deng (15 and 14 boards) struggled shooting again, going just 6-17.
Lakers (6-7) 102, Warriors (8-5) 95
Injuries got the best of the Warriors. Already playing without Steph Curry, they lost Andre Iguodala to a hamstring pull in the third quarter as the Lakers rolled to a big win at home. Pau Gasol, donating $1,000 to relief in the Philippines for each point he scored, put on a vintage performance: 24 points and 10 rebounds. There weren’t many positives for the Warriors in this one. On top of Iggy’s injury, they shot just 41.5 percent from the field, and two of their big names, David Lee (21 points, 7-17 shooting) and Klay Thompson (19 points, 6-20), both had inefficient nights without their point guard. The lone bright spot was the play of Harrison Barnes, who scored 20 points on 9-13 shooting, hitting 7 of his 9 made field goals in the paint. Steve Blake remained a steady presence for LA, with 14 points, while Nick Young swagged his way to 21 points off the pine.