by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
At this point, there’s no way the Raptors can bring back Andrea Bargnani, right? They look so much better without him in the lineup and his return to the starting five will more than likely be nothing but a hindrance on the young core’s development. Terrence Ross scored a career-high 26 points, shooting an efficient 8-14 in under 25 minutes of play. DeMar DeRozan scored 24, Ed Davis dropped 19 and Jose Calderon dished out 13 assists in the blowout win. The Raptors have now won eight out of nine and last night’s win kicked off a season-high six game homestand. Think they can make some noise in the East heading into the All-Star Break? Dame Lillard scored 18 points but turned the ball over 7 times and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 14 and grabbed 10 boards to lead the Blazers.
With Joakim Noah out due to the flu, Carlos Boozer stepped up big time for Chicago and led the Bulls with a season-high 31 points and 11 boards. Along with Boozer, the Bulls frontcourt took advantage of an injured and undersized Magic front line as Boozer, Luol Deng (23 points) and Taj Gibson (21) combined for 75 points in the win. The Bulls led by as many as 18 in the third quarter but the Magic closed the quarter on a 13-6 lead to give them momentum heading into the fourth. In the final quarter, Jameer Nelson (32 points) scored five straight points and Nik Vucevic (2o points, 12 boards) hit back-to-back layups to cut the deficit to two with just over five minutes to go. Chicago responded with an 8-0 run of their own to make it a double-digit game but the Magic crawled back to cut the deficit to two with 11 seconds to go. Nelson had a chance to tie but his floater found iron and Deng grabbed the rebound to seal the game.
Two bad teams played a game that came down to the wire last night in Cleveland. Boogie Cousins scored 18 points and grabbed 16 boards and Jason Thompson dropped 19 and grabbed 10 boards to lead the Kings. The Cavs led 53-52 at the half but the Kings dominated the third, taking a 10-point lead before Cleveland cut the deficit to three heading into the fourth. Dion Waiters’ (2o points off the bench) dunk early in the fourth put the Cavs up 77-76 and the teams played neck and neck down the stretch. Down 90-89 after Kyrie Irving’s (22 points, 6 dimes) free throws with under minute to go, the Kings got a huge lift from John Salmons who hit a corner three to put Sacramento up for good. Alonzo Gee chipped in with 16 points, 10 boards and 6 dimes for Cleveland. The road win was Sacramento’s first in seven tries. The Cavs are now 3-11 at Quicken Loans Arena.
After a tough start to the season, Paul George has really come around and is playing the best ball of his young career. George scored an effortless 29 points and grabbed 14 boards to lead Nap Town over the Wizards and the Pacers have now won eight of their last ten. The Pacers jumped out to an early 24-7 lead and led wire-to-wire. The Wizards threatened in the third quarter after a 10-4 run made it a two point game. But George cooly led the Pacers back to a double-digit lead and the Wiz never got close again. D.J. Augustin scored 19 points and dished out 6 assists for Indiana. Jordan Crawford (20 points, 7 assists) and Kevin Seraphin (16 points, 9 boards) led the Wizards.
It may have only been a ten-point game at the end, but trust, this game wasn’t even close until the last four and a half minutes. The Grizzlies were up by as many as 18 but saw the deficit close to five after a late Boston run with five minutes to go. Over the next three minutes, the Grizzlies held their opponent scoreless and ended the game on an 11-5 run for an easy victory. Mike Conley led the way with 23 points, 9 assists and 6 boards while Rudy Gay scored 19, grabbed 6 boards and dished out 5 assists. Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 17 points and Avery Bradley made his return to the starting lineup but was ineffective.
LeBron James finished one assist shy of a triple-double with 32 points, 12 boards and 9 assists as the Heat held off a resilient Mavs team to win in overtime. Dallas jumped out to an early 18-7 lead and were up by double-digits for much of the first half until Miami put together a 16-6 run in the second quarter. The two teams were tied in the third quarter but the Heat went on a 14-5 run to put Miami up 78-69. The Mavs wouldn’t go away and ripped off an 8-0 run of their own, capped by Vince Carter’s (15 points, 9 boards) three-pointer which cut the deficit to one. In the fourth, the Mavs seized control after Dirk (19 points, 6 boards) hit a three with under four minutes to go to put Dallas up six. The Heat came back and were down one when James hit Shane Battier for a three to make it a 103-101 game. With time winding down, Dirk scored from the right side of the lane to tie the game up and send to overtime. In the extra session, the Mavs ran out of gas and the Heat scored the first seven points to run away with it and hand Dallas their sixth overtime loss of the season. O.J. Mayo scored 30 and dished out 6 assists. Dwyane Wade scored 28 and grabbed 10 boards and Ray Allen chipped in with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
The Spurs were far and away the better team last night in Milwaukee. San Antonio was up by 23 in the third quarter before the Bucks made things interesting by cutting the deficit to single digits after a Brandon Jennings jumper (31 points, 5 assists). With the Bucks threatening, Pop put his starters back in and they immediately went to work. First Danny Green hit a three, then Duncan (28 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks) found Tiago Splitter for a layup followed by a Tony Parker (23 points, 11 assists) three and just like that, the Spurs went on a 10-0 run and were up by 19 and this one was over.
Patrick Patterson’s big fourth quarter helped the Rockets get past a Hornets team who played gritty throughout. Patterson scored 13 of his 15 points and grabbed 5 of his 10 rebounds to lead the Rockets in crunch time of the bench. The Hornets were down eight heading into the fourth but tied it up at 82 after a Ryan Anderson swished a three with seven minutes to go. The Rockets than went on a 7-2 run to regain control as Houston won its seventh out of its last nine. James Harden scored 31 and Omer Asik scored a career-high tying 21 points and grabbed 8 boards. Greivis Vasquez led the Hornets with 15 points and 14 dimes and Ryan Anderson scored 18–including 12 in the fourth.
The Nets jumped out to a 23-point lead then did everything they could to lose the lead before blowing out OKC in the fourth. Brooklyn had its usual third quarter meltdown and were outscored by the Thunder 27-15 as OKC stormed back to tie the game at 85 with seven minutes to go. Instead of folding under pressure, the Nets regrouped and went on a 10-1 run to push the lead back to nine. After that, they buckled down defensively, allowing just eight points over the final seven minutes while scoring 25 to cruise to a victory. Joe Johnson scored a season-high 33 points, Deron Williams scored 19 and dropped 13 dimes and Brook Lopez dropped 25. Kevin Durant scored 27 before being ejected in the fourth for arguing and Russell Westbrook scored 26 and dished out 10 assists.
Utah continued their dominance at home with a 22-point victory over Minnesota last night. Six different Jazz players scored in double figures including Gordon Hayward (17), Jamaal Tinsley (12, 6 boards), and Paul Millsap (14). The Wolves were down eight at the half and had a chance to make it competitive but crumbled in the third quarter. Minnesota missed their first nine shots of the third quarter and the Jazz took advantage with an 11-0 run. Utah continued to pour it on and were up by 20 and waltzed to the finish line. Kevin Love shot 4-14 for 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Wolves.
The Sixers made a late run but were playing their second game of a back-to-back on the road and ran out of gas allowing the Suns to hold them off for a victory. Philly went on a 17-6 run in the second quarter to turn a seven-point deficit into a four point lead. The Suns fought back in the third and went on an 8-2 run to start the second half to take the lead for good. Luis Scola scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half to help Phoenix snap their six-game losing streak. Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 16 points, 10 dimes and 2 blocks.
Steph Curry and David Lee provided a devastating 1-2 combo as the Warriors beat down the Clippers to cut LA’s Pacific Division lead to 2.5 games. Curry scored 31 points and dropped 8 dimes while David Lee notched his league-leading 14th game of at least 20 and 10 with 24 points and 13 boards. Lee severely outplayed Blake Griffin who finished with 10 points on 2-11 shooting and 6 boards. Klay Thompson hit a career-high five three-pointers to finish with 19 points. The Clippers were down 26-8 to start the game and never got close after that. Lob City did eventually cut it to ten in the fourth quarter but the Warriors rediscovered their range and led by 23. Jamal Crawford scored 24 off the bench, Matt Barnes scored 19 and Chris Paul scored 23 and dished out 6 assists.