by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
D.J. Augustin got his first start of the season and made the most of his opportunity by scoring 17 points–including 7 down the stretch–on 4-9 shooting to go along with 6 dimes as the Pacers erased a twelve-point deficit to get a solid win over Memphis. The Grizzlies held a 57-47 lead in the third quarter but Frank Vogel inserted the Hansbrough bros into the game and the two fueled a 14-2 run to help the Pacers take a 70-69 lead in the fourth. The Grizzlies still had a chance to regain the lead but crumbled down the stretch and were plagued by turnovers. Paul George (21 points) had a steal and a dunk and after Memphis turned the ball over on the next possession, David West (13 points, 9 boards) was fouled and hit two free throws to give Indiana the lead for good. Memphis cut the deficit to one with 30 seconds left but Augustin and Lance Stephenson hit six free throws to keep the Grizz at bay. Despite the loss, Memphis dominated inside with Zach Randolph going for 20 points and 15 boards.
After losing 18-straight games to end 2012, the Bobcats rang in the New Year on a winning note by defeating the Bulls in Chicago. Charlotte never trailed and were led by Kemba Walker’s 18 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists and Gerald Henderson’s 16 on 6-11 shooting. Down by 11 in the third, Chicago fought back to tie the game at 65. But after their run, they went ice cold from the field as the Bobcats scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter while holding Chicago without a basket until the six and a half minutes into the quarter. Charlotte survived despite shooting 21-38 from the line for the game thanks to Chicago’s 35 percent shooting effort. Luol Deng led all scorers with 20 points to go along with 12 rebounds and Carlos Boozer notched a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double in a losing effort.
The Heat may have won the game but it was Nik Vucevic’s amazing individual effort that will have people talking today. Vucevic played like a man possessed and set the new-franchise record for rebounds with 29 to go along with 20 points. Despite his incredible effort, it still wasn’t enough because LeBron James was unstoppable. James scored 36 points, dropped 11 dimes and grabbed 8 boards in 48 minutes of play and scored the go-ahead bucket with a minute left in overtime. LeBron drove to the hole and hit a clutch layup in the extra session to put Miami up 108-106. James went on to miss a shot from the top of the key on Miami’s next possession to give the Magic a chance to tie but J.J. Redick (23 points, 5 assists) threw an errant cross-court pass that was picked off by Dwyane Wade (21 points on 9-21 shooting) who sealed the game with a breakaway dunk. Arron Afflalo scored 28 and Chris Bosh chipped in with 22 but only grabbed 4 boards as Vucevic abused him on the glass.
Behind 28 points and 5 assists from James Harden and season highs of 22 points and 8 dimes from Carlos Delfino, the Rockets dismantled the Hawks in Houston for a much needed win. The Hawks jumped out to an early 27-26 lead after one but Houston got hot from three and went on a 32-10 run to make it a 58-37 game. Atlanta wouldn’t go down without a fight, though and cut the lead to single digits on three different occasions. But each time they did, Delfino came through with a huge three-pointer. After the Hawks cut the deficit to five and made it a 102-97 game late, Delfino hit a dagger three to help push this game to blowout status. Lou WIlliams continued his hot play since being inserted into the starting lineup with 21 points and Josh Smith finished with 17 points, 7 boards and 4 blocks.
Guess what, Nets fans? Avery Johnson wasn’t the issue. Brooklyn scored five points in the third quarter as San Antonio crushed the Nets for their season-best sixth straight victory. San Antonio outscored Brooklyn 30-5 in the third and took a 33-point lead into the fourth quarter. Tony Parker scored 20 points on 9-13 shooting in 25 minutes, Tim Duncan scored 15 and Tiago Splitter shot 5-7 for ten points. San Antonio outscored Brooklyn 56-32 in the paint.
Oklahoma City served Phoenix their ninth-straight road loss thanks to 30 points from Kevin Durant and 24 points, 9 dimes and 7 boards from Russell Westbrook. The Thunder had a balanced offensive attack as five different players scored in double figures to help the cause. When that happens, the Thunder are 13-0 on the year. With the Thunder up by eight with under five minutes left to go in the game, Westbrook made a tremendous steal, sprinted down the court and found Serge Ibaka for the dunk to break the game open. The Suns only scored two points over the next four minutes and a seven point game turned into a rout. Luis Scola scored 24 points, Goran Dragic scored 16 and dished 8 assists and Marcin Gortat notched a 12-10 double-double.