by Anton Kudriavtsev/ @TheDiesel
Despite a sore back, Dwyane Wade led the Heat with a triple-double of 22 points (on 55% shooting), 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a victory over the Bobcats. LeBron added 19 while Eddie House hit three consecutive 3’s early in the 4th quarter to keep Charlotte at bay. Whose House is it? Well, it’s probably LeBron’s but Eddie definitely has a room in it. Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson carried the load for the Bobcats, scoring 25 apiece but the team ran out of energy late in the game as they only hit 7 of 20 shots in the final quarter. In addition to scoring, Jackson played good defense on James and Wade but his near-highlight came as he crossed over LeBron but missed a jumper that would have given the fans a huge reason to cheer. As painful as it was for Cleveland fans to see LeBron continue to play well in a different jersey, since when is Big Z scoring in double figures? Back in his late Cavs days, any night Z scored more than 9 points was a reason for a playoff-type celebration. The Bobcats host a tough back-to-back with the Mavs on Sunday and Boston on Monday.
Ray Allen’s quest to beat Reggie Miller’s 3-point record currently has him just 5 made three’s away. The three-pointer played a significant role in a game that saw Jason Kidd hit a three with 2.5 seconds to play to put his Mavs over the Celtics. As Boston led by one point with 15 seconds to play, Garnett missed an 18-footer which gave Dallas the possession. As Dallas went to Dirk (29 points), he crab dribbled before passing to Kidd, who did a mini pump-fake as Allen (24 points) flew past on the closeout. Now wide open with the game on the line, Kidd launches and buries the go-ahead bucket. After some free throws from Nowitzki, Rondo‘s alley-oop pass to KG was too high and now the Mavs find themselves in 2nd place in the Western conference. After leading by 6 with less than 3 minutes to play, Boston never scored again as they missed a number of opportunities to finish the game. When did Tyson Chandler become an offensive virtuoso? Granted, he’s not showing us Dirk-like jump shots, but after his separation from the best point guard in the league, I fully expected him to regress into a below-average role player. Chandler has scored 18 points in the last 5 games, with 14 in this one to go with 15 rebounds. Having said all that, getting blocked by Ray Allen is not a good look. The Celtics take on the Magic on Sunday.
Knicks 98, Sixers 100
Don’t look now, but Philadelphia have decided to try winning games. The Sixers are 7-3 including tonight’s clutch victory over the slumping Knicks. Elton Brand had a season-high 33 points as his team rallied in a close 4th quarter to inch just 3 games below .500 in the standings. Riding a 15-0 Sixer run, Andre Iguodala hit key shots as his 18 points came with a career-high 16 assists while New York couldn’t buy a bucket for over 6 minutes of game time. Raymond Felton had 26 points but his Knicks struggled, shooting just 40% in the game and falling apart when it mattered most. Shawne “UFC figher-in-training” Williams hit a 3-pointer to pull the Knicks within 2 points but missed a potential game-tying shot as time ran out. The New York Knicks are like pizza – it tastes delicious when hot, very average when cold. The Sixers are battling the Knicks for the 6th seed and the chance to get dismantled by the Bulls in the playoffs.
Mere hours after being announced Yao’s stand-in at the All-Star game, Kevin Love recorded his 35th straight double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds as his Wolves lost to the Raptors. Toronto snapped a 13-game losing streak led by Andrea Bargnani’s 30 points and a strong game from Amir Johnson (19 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists). The Raptors led by 10 early in the 4th quarter before a 10-2 run by the Wolves to slice the lead to 2 before the Raptors turned to their usual clutch strategy of shooting long jumpers until Jay Triano pretends to have better plans by calling a time-out. Is Sebastian Telfair ready to break out? He had 16 points tonight, if given more playing time, Bassy can be a single-double waiting to happen.
After getting their hearts torn out, stomped on, then mockingly dribbled for 20 seconds before launching it into the net, Dwight Howard led his Magic with 22 points and 15 rebounds with a win over the Wizards. Dwight started out blazing more than Eric Spoelstra’s hot seat, making his first 10 field goals and didn’t miss until the end of the 3rd quarter as he lead the Magic on a key 9-0 run that extended their lead for good. As much credit as Nick Young gets for scoring (17 points tonight), he tends to get caught up in his own heat check and get tunnel vision for the rest of the game. On one play, he opted for a leaning hook shot instead of passing to a wide-open Rashard Lewis. Speaking of which, this Rashard kid is going places if he only gets a chance to play for contender one of these years. As fun as it was to watch John Wall (14 points, 5 assists) speed through Orlando’s guards that were maybe considered “tough” 6 years ago, seeing him ejected with under 2:30 to play was not. Head up, Johnny – not everyone can be like Blake.
With just 3 road victories under their belts, the Clippers had every right to want to get their 4th as they faced the Hawks in Atlanta. After a solid 1st quarter by L.A., Atlanta put on their defensive hard hats and focused in on slowing down Blake Griffin’s path of destruction with either Horford or Josh Smith using the baseline to their advantage while an extra Hawk would either double-team Griffin or make a play on the ball with a steal. With this plan in place, Griffin managed to go for a quiet night of 19 points and 11 rebounds while the reserves for the Clippers did the most damage in the rotation. It’s official: Baron Davis cares this season. Davis led the way with 22 points and 13 assists including a fast-break dish that he would usually pass up on just a few seasons ago. With Al Horford solidifying his All-Star status (23 points, 12 rebounds, stellar defense), Jamal Crawford single-handedly pushed the Hawks lead into double figures as he scored 16 points in the 3rd quarter alone, finishing with 34 in the game. In the closing minutes, Griffin committed a flagrant foul on Horford who sank two free throws with 0.6 seconds remaining to give Atlanta the win.
Tayshaun Prince scored 22 points to snap the Pistons’ 4-game losing streak with a win over the Nets. Anthony Morrow had 22 points New Jersey, but Detroit shot 55% in the first half and never trailed in the second, with Greg Monroe contributing a career-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. Even though Monroe has as much chance to win Rookie of the Year as J.R. Smith does turning down a contested jumper, Greg did average 10.5 points on 58% shooting, with 8.5 boards and 1.8 steals in January.
Talk about missed opportunities. The Cavs lost their 23rd straight game, trying the futility of the 1995-1996 Vancouver Grizzlies (as I type this, I shake my fist at Big Country). Cleveland kept it close in the first three quarters, maintaining a slim and uneasy lead before the Grizzlies put together 13 unanswered points in the 4th quarter, led by Zach Randolph’s 29 points and 13 rebounds. When is J.J. Hickson going to score 31 points and grab 15 rebounds again? Most importantly – when will the pain stop? Tonight, Cleveland silently weeps.
If there’s one thing the Oklahoma City Thunder learned from their series with the Lakers last year, it’s that a game is never over until the final buzzer sounds. That might explain their cool confidence as they trailed the Suns in the 4th quarter, either that or the fact that the Suns’ starting center has the muscle mass of an oyster. In any case, the Thunder ripped off a rapid-fire 12-5 run in the closing two and a half minutes as Jeff Green led the way with 28 points while Serge Ibaka (!) chipped in 18 points (9-of-10) shooting. Vince Carter scored a season-high 33 for the Suns, who fall 2 games under .500. For those wondering, Vinsanity 2K11 basically means hoisting up a lot of three’s early (that’ll make them forget about last year’s Magic/Celtics series, Vince!), followed by disappearance in the 4th quarter. After Nash’s free throws put Phoenix up 3 with 2:38 to play, OKC surged to an 8-1 run as Westbrook (19 points, 11 assists) hit a jumper in the lane. Nash answered with a lay-up to cut the lead to 2, but Westbrook and Durant (24 points) sealed the game at the free throw line. Did KD travel? Gentry post-game: “Just give them the game.” If he did, consider it evening the score after last year’s no-call against the Jazz.
One night after Antonio McIce and the Spurs got by the Lakers, the competition that the Kings gave was a lot less stiff. With 6 players in double figures (how dare you have a good game, Splitter?!), Tony Parker led the way with 25 points and 7 assists. I don’t see how Tim Duncan makes through airport security, there must be metal under that human flesh. Playing just 13 minutes, Duncan still managed to put up 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists before relaxing in a bath of motor oil for the rest of the game. On the Kings’ side, Tyreke Evans had 25 points and 5 assists but Sacramento fell behind early as they trailed by as many as 24 points in the 3rd. A 9-0 mini-run and some garbage time later, and the Kings dropped their 11th consecutive game to the Spurs. San Antonio are now 2-1 on their Rodeo road trip.
After firing ex-head coach and movie villain lookalike Jim O’Brien, the Pacers extended their win streak to three games with a win over the Blazers. Danny Granger led the way with 25 points and 9 rebounds as Indiana limited the Blazers to just 36% shooting. The Pacers also held Aldridge, the team’s top scorer, to just 14 points and 10 rebounds while Rudy Fernandez found his shooting stroke with 19 points off the bench. Side note: all Rudy highlights should come with this music in the background. Keys to the game included the rebounding battle which the Pacers won (58-39) and free-throws where Indiana held a 33-18 advantage. If you find yourself in a position of being the interim coach, there are only two things you need to do: say nothing to the media, and let your team do whatever they want on the offensive end. The Pacers are averaging 107 points under interim coach Frank Vogel. Not to worry, that number will come down to the 80’s if Mike Brown gets hired.
Deron Williams thought about not coming back. Why bother returning to an under-achieving Jazz team? Despite Jefferson playing better as the season progresses, he still hasn’t realized that Williams’ “I’m going to make you an All-Star” quote was more of a motivational tool than a guarantee to think about while he receive Deron’s entry passes. Deron came back because he’s their leader. Williams’ return saw him score 26 points and dish 12 assists while Jefferson scored 28 and grabbed 10 boards. On Denver’s side, Nene tied his career-high with 28 as Anthony added 31. The game became more physical down the stretch, as J.R. Smith and Raja Bell (20 points) argued over whose superstar will leave town first. With Utah leading by 5 with 6:45 to play, Smith was ejected after a flagrant 2 foul on Bell and the Nuggets didn’t get any closer than 6 points the rest of the way.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Dwyane Wade – 22 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists.
It’s no secret that Ron Artest is one of a kind. With his career winding down, Artest claims he’d like to try out for either the NFL or the CFL in Canada if he doesn’t make it. Also, this clip of Artest playing beach football with his Twitter followers? No, not weird at all.
Who’s looking forward to the Lottery? What about the Kwame Brown lottery?
I’m out like Yao’s All-Star weekend plans.