by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his game-high 26 (to go along with 8 dimes and 6 boards) in the first half to lead the Cavs to a close win over the Wizards. After falling behind by 12 early, the Cavs fought back and cut the lead to two heading into the break. In the third, Shelvin Mack (6 points, 7 assists, 6 boards)–who was called up from the D-League–hit back-to-back three’s to cap a 12-0 run that gave D.C. a 62-53 lead with 7 minutes left in the third. The Cavs wouldn’t go away, though and tied the score at 68 heading into the fourth. In the final quarter, the Cavs broke off a 9-0 run while holding the Wizards scoreless for four and a half minutes to take an 82-79 with three and a half minutes left. After Emeka Okafor (17 points, 10 boards) tied the game up at 82 with 46.2 seconds left, Tristan Thompson (season-high 15 points, 12 boards) hit a bucket and was fouled with 24 seconds left put the Cavs up three to seal the deal.
The Bobcats are free falling and lost their 16th straight to the Heat last night. The ‘Cats fought hard, fighting back from a 17-point halftime deficit to cut the lead to two after a Gerald Henderson (14 points, 7 boards, 4 dimes) three-point play with 7 minutes left. But they couldn’t complete the comeback as Miami pulled away late. After fumbling away the lead, the Heat turned it up late it in the fourth and broke off an 11-3 run led by LeBron James (27 points on 19 shots, 12 boards, 8 dimes) and Dwyane Wade (29 points, 9 boards, 5 assists) to make it a ten-point game. Despite their best efforts, the Bobcats didn’t have enough left in the tank and continued their painful losing streak. Kemba Walker scored 29 and dished out 6 assists, and Ramon Sessions scored 19 off the bench.
Behind a season-high 29 points and 8 dimes by Greivis Vasquez and a career-high 29 points from Robin Lopez, the Hornets snapped their 11-game losing streak with a close win over the Magic. After shooting 60 percent in the first half, Orlando cooled off in the second half and the Hornets were able to open up a 10-point lead in the third quarter before the Magic cut it to two heading into the fourth. In the fourth, Nikola Vucevic (19 points, 9 boards) hit two free throws with just under four minutes to go to give Orlando their first lead since the second quarter. Down the stretch, the game was decided on free throws and defense. After Vasquez hit a floater in the lane to give his team a 95-94 lead, Arron Afflalo (14 points, 6-14 shooting) had his shot blocked by Lopez. On the next possession, Vasquez had his shot blocked by E’Twaun Moore but Moore stepped on the line trying to gather the ball to give possession back to the Hornets with 25 seconds left. After being fouled, Vasquez hit two free throws to ice the game. Jameer Nelson scored 28 points and dropped 10 dimes while Ant Davis scored 12 and grabbed 11 boards.
Bulls (15-12), Pacers (16-12) — Postponed
Last night, Josh Smith showed why he is one of the most versatile players in the game today. Smith finished with 31 points (13-25), 10 boards and 6 assists in 48 minutes of play but went cold down the stretch, missing his last seven shots. Up by 22 in the fourth, the Hawks let their guard down and allowed the Pistons to storm back behind a combined 26 points from Will Bynum (31 points) and Charlie Villanueva in the fourth. With four seconds left in regulation, Austin Daye hit a three-pointer to give Detroit a 101-100 lead. The Pistons fouled Al Horford (22 points, 10 boards) on the next possession and Horford went on to hit one of two at the line to force OT. In the first overtime session, both teams grinded out points and Jeff Teague (17 points, 11 dimes) tied it up at 108 with free throws. In the second overtime, Teague hit a three with just under three minutes left and Atlanta held on for the win.
The Nets are searching for answers after losing their fifth in six games to the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Bucks shot 10-17 from three while the Nets shot 4-21 from behind the arc as Milwaukee used their three-point prowess to grab a win. Brandon Jennings led the way with 25 points (9-15) and Monta Ellis scored 20, dished out 7 assists and had a season-high 6 steals. In the fourth, the Nets–who were playing without Deron Williams due to injury–cut the deficit to four with just under nine minutes to go. The Bucks got back on track and used a barrage of threes from Ersan Ilyasova (17 points, 11 boards), Ellis and Mike Dunleavy (17 points) to trigger a 21-9 run that put the Nets away for good.
With Rudy Gay sidelined due to personal reasons, Dorrell Wright–who was starting in place for Jason Richardson–took advantage and went off for a season-high 28 points to lead the Sixers to a solid road victory against the Grizz. Wright put together a spectacular stat line, shooting 8-11 from the field, 5-8 from three and 7-8 from the stripe while grabbing 6 boards and blocking 2 shots. Doug Collins only played three of his reserves but the Sixers bench still managed to outscore Grizzlies’ 38-19 behind 20 points and 9 boards from Spencer Hawes and 12 from Swaggy P. In the fourth, the Grizzlies cut the deficit to two with 10 and a half minutes left but the Sixers went on a 13-0 run over the next two and half minutes to take a 15-point lead that they held on to until the end. Zach Randolph scored 23 points and grabbed 9 boards, Marc Gasol scored 18, grabbed 8 boards and dropped 8 dimes. Jrue Holiday scored 18 and dropped 9 dimes and Thad Young chipped in with 13 of his own.
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back didn’t phase the Rockets who were carried to their fifth-straight victory by 17 fourth quarter points from James Harden in Minnesota. The Wolves went on a 25-6 run that spanned the second and third quarters to take a 60-46 lead but the Rockets were able to cut the lead to three heading into the fourth. Down the stretch, Harden came through with two huge buckets to propel the Rockets to victory. With 39 seconds left, Harden drove to the rack for the score to give Houston a one-point lead. On the next possession, J.J. Barea–who led the Wolves with 18 points–was stripped by Carlos Delfino on his way to the basket and Harden scored on the other end for the final basket of the game. The key to the victory was slowing the front court duo of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. The two were held to a combined nine points on 4-21 shooting and grabbed 19 boards.
The Spurs shut down the Raptors with their defense and got a solid, balanced offensive attack to cruise to an easy dub. Tim Duncan scored 15 points in 27 minutes, Manu Ginobili scored 14 off the bench and Tony Parker scored 13 as the Spurs starters averaged 24 minutes for the game. Toronto stayed close and trailed by four with four minutes left in the third quarter but San Antonio locked them down defensively, allowing just two shots over the next three and a half minutes while going on a 13-2 run to push the lead to 15 going into the fourth. In the final quarter, the Spurs outscored the Raptors 30-23 to seal the blowout.
Coming into the game on a five-game win streak, the Lakers were feeling confident playing against a West Coast foe. But the Nuggets are the type of team that gives the Lakers problems and LA had no answer for their offensive attack as Denver scored a ridiculous 126 points. Kobe did everything he could and dropped 40 points (man, Bean has a man possessed this season) but the Nuggets were firing on all cylinders. Corey Brewer scored a career-high 27 points off the bench, Kenneth Faried scored 21 and grabbed 15 boards and Dre Iguodala was all Dre Iguodala-like with 17 points, 11 boards and 7 assists. The Lakers made it close in the fourth, cutting a 15-point deficit to seven with about five minutes left. Ron Artest had a chance to cut it to five but missed a layup and Gallinari responded with a three to give the Nuggs an insurmountable double-digit lead. Ty Lawson dropped 14 dimes and Steve Nash handed out 8. Dwight Howard was ejected midway through the third quarter for a flagrant 2 foul.
Golden State continues to impress and after last night’s victory over Utah, their road record now sits at an outstanding 11-6. Steph Curry scored 23 points, grabbed 8 boards and dropped 7 dimes while David Lee chipped in with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Right before halftime, the Warriors turned their two-point lead into a 12-point lead thanks to a 12-2 run. The Warriors guard triumvirate of Klay Thompson (15 points, 3 steals), Curry and Jarrett Jack (15 points) led the charge and the Jazz never got closer than ten the rest of the game. Al Jefferson led Utah with 18 points and 10 boards.
With Melo and Ray Felton joining Iman Shumpert and STAT on the bench due to injury, Jason Kidd turned back the clock with 23 points and 8 dimes while J.R. Smith scored 27 to help the Knicks withstand a career-high 36-point outburst from Jared Dudley and win in the desert. The teams battled back-and-forth for much of the game, exchanging leads throughout, but a few savvy plays by Kidd and big shots by Smith down the stretch helped the short-handed Knicks escape with a win.
After Dudley hit two freebies to give the Suns a two-point lead with 35 seconds left, Smith hit a tough 15-foot fadeaway jumper from just inside the top of the key to tie it at 97 with 10 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Telfair tried to hit a wide open Marcin Gortat (13 points, 9 boards) with a bounce pass that would have put the Suns up for good, but Kidd stepped in front and deflected the pass. Telfair scurried for the ball but stepped out of bounds giving the Knicks a chance with a second left. On the inbounds play, Kidd hit Smith who hit a 21-foot corner jumper that looked money the whole way and gave the fans a little salsa dance as he exited the court the hero. Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 12 boards for New York.
With DeMarcus Cousins off the floor, JJ. Hickson and LaMarcus Aldridge dominated inside en route to an easy Portland dub. Hickson notched his ninth-straight double-double with 17 points and 14 boards while LA had 28 points and 12 boards. The Blazers led almost the whole way and led by as many as 26 points as they went over .500. Dame Lillard scored 17 and dropped 11 dimes, Nic Batum scored 18, grabbed 6 boards and dished out 5 assists and rookie Will Barton scored 14. John Salmons led the Kings with 19.