by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
With the football season ending Sunday, the NBA certainly filled the void nicely thanks to the surprising play of Jeremy Lin. Despite what the media would have you believe, there are other basketball games being played around the country–and great ones at that. Last night saw 2 overtime contests, a shootout in Minnesota, and a plethora of great dunks, blocks and assists. Catch up on everything you may have missed here…
The Celtics may attribute this loss to tired legs or having to travel to Toronto a few hours after a tough overtime loss to the Lakers. But, there really is no excuse for losing to the Raptors who were playing sans Andrea Bargnani. The Celtics only scored 14 first quarter points as Toronto led from wire to wire and led by as many as 16 to snap their three game losing streak. DeMar DeRozan had a game high 21 points and Amir Johnson had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Raptors beat up the C’s down low, outscoring them 42-28 and outrebounding them 42-34–a surprising stat considering the Raps starting frontcourt consisted of Aaron Gray and Amir Johnson. The Celtics committed 13 turnovers in the first half and really never had a chance in this game. Fresh off an All-Star nod, Paul Pierce played poorly, scoring 12 points on 4-11 shooting. KG led Boston with 17 points and 8 boards. The Celtics are in danger of falling under .500; they play the Bulls Sunday and Thursday next week.
The Clippers may have lost Mr. Big Shot for the year to injury, but Chris Paul proved last night that he’s capable of hitting a few big shots of his own. In a back and forth game between two of the better teams inthe league, it came down to the final seconds of play to determine a winner. Trailing 77-76 with only a few ticks remaining, CP3 hit a turnaround 17-foot jumper that silenced a sold-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center. Paul finished the game with 24 points and 4 assists in the low scoring affair. As a team, LA shot under 40 percent from the field, including 10 percent from beyond the arc, but were able to outscore Philly in the paint 42-24. Blake Griffin had 16 points and 11 boards while Mo Williams came in and dropped 14 off the bench. The Sixers got their customary full team effort with five players scoring in double figures, but none of them scored over 12. Andre Iguodala continues to fill up the stat sheet; last night he had 12 points, 8 boards and 7 assists. For the season, he is averaging 13 points, 6.7 boards and 5.2 assists and is making management look smart for not trading him.
The hapless Wizards had no answer for Miami’s Big 3 who dominated the game en route to an easy victory down in DC. Dwayne Wade had 26 points, Chris Bosh had 24 and 11 rebounds and LeBron had 18, 9 assists and only 1 turnover. How do you compete with that? Miami had its usual package of highlight reel plays and have now won nine of their last 11. The Wizards did cut it to one point late in the third quarter before Miami ripped off a a 19-5 run to take a 15 point lead, effectively ending any hopes of a Washington win. JaVale McGee had a season high 24 points but also admitted that the Wizards were starstruck by Miami: “Sometimes, they (my teammates) see LeBron out there. They see D-Wade out there. They say: ‘Oh my God, he’s going to work on them.’ Sometimes the guys don’t go out there and play like they’re any other players.” C’Mon Son!!
With Derrick Rose looking on from the bench, the Bulls absolutely destroyed the Bobcats. Joakim Noah led the charge for Chicago leading all scorers with 17 points while grabbing 14 rebounds. Chicago is playing great basketball, having now won five straight including four in a row by at least 20 points. Carlos Boozer chipped in with 16 points and Luol Deng had 12. The Bobcats shot 33 percent from the field and only had one player score in double-digits. Charlotte has now lost 13 in a row.
Two of the biggest All-Star snubs this year are Josh Smith and Ryan Anderson. Last night they proved why. In a game that went to overtime, Josh Smith had a game high 23 points and 19 rebounds while Anderson had a team high 21 and 9 boards. Orlando scored eight straight points in the final quarter and tied the game on Dwight Howard’s (18 and 18) dunk with 1.8 seconds left. In in the extra session, Anderson hit a momentum swinging 3-pointer to cut it to one and the Magic had a chance to tie it on their next possession. But, Jason Richardson couldn’t hit his free throws and the Hawks were able to win their fifth road game in six tries.
The Pistons have now won four games in a row and last night may have been their most impressive victory to date. Detroit had five players score in double-digits including a combined 34 from Jonas Jerebko and Ben Gordon off the bench. As a team, the Pistons shot 54 percent from the field and were able to overcome their 20 turnovers by forcing the Nets into 18. Greg Monroe had another double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds as he continues to impress. Detroit scored a season-high 56 points in the paint and are averaging 51 during their current winning streak. After going on a 12-0 run in the first quarter, the Pistons never trailed again and led by as many as 30 points. They look to build on their winning streak with a game against the Wizards on Sunday.
Another All-Star snub had a big game in this one as Brandon Jennings scored 24 points, dropped 8 dimes, and grabbed 5 boards; though he only shot 8-23 from the field. The Bucks were able to overcome a 15 point deficit on the road and escaped Cleveland with a win in overtime. The Cavs had a chance to end it in regulation but Antawn Jamison, who was having his best game of the season with 34 points and 11 boards, left 2 points at the stripe and the game went to OT. The Bucks were able to hold Jamison scoreless over the last 7 and a half minutes allowing Milwaukee to crawl back into it. In the extra session, Drew Gooden scored 6 of his 19 points and took a huge charge with 11.8 seconds remaining to seal the win. The Cavs were playing without rookie sensation Kyrie Irving who is sidelined with concussion like symptoms.
Kobe Bryant definitely knows who Jeremy Lin is now. The NBA’s newest sensation continued his stellar play with a 38 point , 7 assist effort and had the Garden crowd in hysterics. Lin’s rise has been both mystifying and meteoric and the entire country is swept up in the Linsanity. With Lin at the helm, the Knicks have now won 4 straight and look reinvigorated. Against the Lakers, he did it all. He torched LA offensively, but his biggest play came on the defensive end. Late in the game with the Lakers threatening, Lin stepped in front of Matt Barnes and took a game-sealing charge. Jared Jeffries, who has benefited more than anyone from Lin’s play, scored 11 points and grabbed 9 boards. Iman Shumpert made a few big plays in the fourth and finished with 12 points. For the Lakers, Kobe had 34 and 10 boards, but those numbers are deceiving. The Mamba shot 11-29 from the field and benefited from a few phantom calls that allowed him to go 11-13 from the stripe. Linsanity: 1, Black Mamba:0.
In yet another great game that saw 18 lead changes and 17 ties, the Grizzlies got a team high 21 points from Rudy Gay and squeaked by the Pacers. The game pitted first time All-Stars Marc Gasol and Roy Hibbert against one another and Gasol came away the victor. Gasol scored 15 points, grabbed 7 boards and dropped 5 dimes while holding Hibbert to 5 points. Gasol was the X-factor for the Grizz, hitting clutch free throws and making big defensive stops down the stretch to help his team put away Indy. For the Pacers, David West had a 22 point, 13 rebound double-double and Danny Granger scored 19. The game was tied after the first, second and third quarters before Gasol’s takeover in the fourth quarter.
When a team finds itself in the middle of a two game losing streak, a trip to New Orleans is usually the remedy. Portland got a game high 31 points and 8 assists off the bench from Jamal Crawford while Ray Felton scored 18 and dropped 6 dimes. For the fifth time in the last six games, the Hornets led at halftime but couldn’t put a team away in the second half. Trevor Ariza did all he could scoring 23 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing 5 assists in 46 minutes of play but it wasn’t enough. I’m officially putting an APB out for Eric Gordon.
Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Love put on a great show out in Minnesota last night, matching each other bucket for bucket. The reigning Finals MVP had 33 points while KLove had 32 to go along with 12 boards in his first game back from a two-game suspension. The Mavs led by as many as 17 late in the third before Minnesota went on a 16-3 run to cut Dallas’ lead to three. But, the defending champs roared right back with a 14-4 run of their own before ultimately leading by 14 with five and a half minutes left. JET scored 16 off the bench and JKidd chipped in with 8 points and 10 assists–but it was all about Dirk for Dallas. For the T’Wolves, Michael Beasley had 10 points off the bench and Ricky Rubio had 10 points and 8 dimes. Minnesota may have found a quality center in Nikola Pekovic who had 10 points and 9 rebounds last night. Per 48 minutes, the big man is averaging 19.4 points an 10.4 boards–take that for whatever it’s worth.
The Thunder have short memories. After last night’s win against the Jazz, OKC is now 5-1 after losing and 7-2 on the second or third night of a back-to-back-(to-back). The Jazz played the Thunder tough until a 16-4 Thunder run in the third put the game out of reach. Kevin Durant finished with 19 points, Serge Ibaka had 16 and 11 boards and Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 28 points. After a hot start, the Jazz are now 13-12 and have cooled off considerably. Despite boasting one of the best young frontcourts in the L, Utah was outrebounded 46-32 in the paint and were outmuscled down low. Coach Ty Corbin needs to get his group refocused before next week’s three game road swing.
Stat Line of the Night: Jeremy Lin with 38 points, 7 dimes, 4 rebounds and 1,000 editorial pieces.
Play of the Night: CP3 for the win.
Dunks of the Night: SKYenga
Derrick Williams with the tip-slam.
KD down the lane.
DWade to LBJ.
Tonight: 8 games on the schedule including an interesting matchup between the Nuggets and the Pacers, a Western Conference showdown between the Blazers and the Mavs, and Rubiomania meets Linsanity in a game that might break the internet. Catch y’all tomorrow.