by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Last night, the Bulls pulled out a tough win in Boston, Kevin Durant dropped 52 in a thrilling win and John Wall’s Wizards won in Denver.
Bulls (23-15) 100, Celtics (20-19) 99
Anybody who watched this game knows Boston should have won. They trailed by eight entering the fourth quarter, but led by three with 20 seconds left after a Kevin Garnett jumper. Rajon Rondo wisely followed Kirk Hinrich on the following Chicago possession, and Hinrich split a pair of free throws.
Boston could have sealed the game with an effective possession, but a missed foul call led to a jump ball between Joakim Noah and Paul Pierce. Noah tipped the ball to Marco Belinelli, who brought it up-court but was stripped by Rondo. Luckily, the ball bounced right to Hinrich, who promptly knocked down a game-tying jumper. KG couldn’t win the game with a contested shot at the buzzer.
With 12 seconds left in OT the Cs led by one after a clutch Jason Terry bucket, but it was Belinelli who wound up playing hero. He hit a jumper falling down with three seconds left, and Boston couldn’t pull off the miracle with no timeouts left.
Belinelli finished with 10 points off the bench. Carlos Boozer went off for 19 and 20, and is averaging 24 points and 11 boards over eight games so far in January. Noah double-doubled with 14 and 13.
Rondo led the game with 30 points, though he fouled out late. Garnett and Pierce combined to make only 10-of-33 attempts from the field. Jared Sullinger was awesome off the bench, grabbing 15 rebounds in 38 minutes.
Nets (24-16) 94, Hawks (22-17) 89
This was a tight game the whole way, as the two teams scored the same amount of points in each of the first three quarters. A sweet Josh Smith throw-down cut a three-point Brooklyn lead down to one late in the game, but the Nets were able to hang on from there.
Deron Williams led Brooklyn with 24 points. He only made 7-of-19 shots, but was a perfect 7-of-7 from the stripe. He added 7 dimes. Brook Lopez went for 20 points, and blocked one shot—a crucial one against Jeff Teague with under a minute remaining. Joe Johnson added 18 against his former team, and Reggie Evans posted the Reggie Evans Special: 20 boards and 2 field goal attempts in 29 minutes.
Teague led the Hawks with 21 points and 10 dimes. Smith made just 5-of-15 shots, and his field goal percentage is currently down for the third straight season.
76ers (17-23) 108, Raptors (14-26) 101
Toronto seemed to have this game in control early on, but blew it late. A 17-point halftime lead was cut to two with only a few seconds left, and after a Jose Calderon turnover led to a Jrue Holiday bucket, the Sixers tied things up and sent the game into overtime.
Philly dominated OT, as Toronto managed just five points in the extra period.
Jrue was amazing for Philadelphia, finishing with 33 points (13/23) and 14 assists. Thaddeus Young was great too, making 13-of-19 shots on his way to 27 points and 14 rebounds.
Toronto’s leading scorers were Ed Davis, Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross, who each scored 18. Davis added 10 boards and 6 assists in the loss. Kyle Lowry made just 3-of-11 shots off the bench, but tallied 11 assists.
Even with the win, the disappointing Sixers lead the miserable Raptors by just three games in the standings.
Bobcats (10-29) 106, Magic (14-25) 100
Orlando trimmed a 12-point halftime deficit to five entering the fourth quarter, but got outplayed in the final period. Charlotte led by around 10 for most of the fourth.
Kemba Walker paced the ‘Cats with 25 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Gerald Henderson was very efficient, making 8-of-11 shots for 17 points. Ramon Sessions made only 4 of his 13 shot attempts, but finished with 15 points off the bench.
Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 23, and Jameer Nelson dropped 22. Glen Davis, working his way back from injury, scored 4 points with 8 rebounds in 24 minutes.
Pacers (25-16) 105, Rockets (21-20) 95
I bet you didn’t know that Indiana is 16-3 at home this season (I didn’t either). Last night, they were led by breakout stud Paul George’s 31 points. He made 7-of-10 from downtown (11-of-19 overall), and added 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals and a block. He’s an absolute beast.
David West added 20 points, 11 boards and 7 dimes for Indiana, and has really been great this season while trying to fill Danny Granger’s shoes. George Hill scored 15 in the win.
Houston got 22 and 12 from Omer Asik, but it wasn’t enough. James Harden (5-of-19—credit George’s D) and Jeremy Lin (4-of-7, 3 assists, 3 turnovers) both struggled to get things going. Houston’s been up and down all season, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can find enough consistency to snag a Playoff spot in the West.
Grizzlies (25-13) 85, Kings (15-25) 69
Any time a team scores 85 and wins by double-digits, you know it was an ugly game for the opponent. Sacramento made just 34.1 percent of their shots last night, including 2-of-10 from downtown. DeMarcus Cousins was solid with 22 points and 12 rebounds, but his teammates did nothing. Tyreke Evans (3/10), Isaiah Thomas (4/12), Jason Thompson (1/6), Thomas Robinson (1/5), Marcus Thornton (1/6) and Jimmer Fredette (0/4) were all terrible.
Memphis got double-digit scoring from each of their starters. Marc Gasol led the way with 18 points and 10 boards. The Grizz didn’t play the most offensively sound game, either, but they played well enough to get the win.
Spurs (31-11) 95, Warriors (23-15) 88
Golden State led by one point at halftime, but couldn’t hang on in San Antonio. The Spurs led by five at the end of three and sealed the victory by closing on a 13-6 run.
San Antonio was led by Tony Parker (25 points, 8 assists) and Tim Duncan (24 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks). Duncan has been awesome this year, averaging 17 points, 9.5 boards and 2.8 blocks per contest in semi-limited minutes. Tiago Splitter added 19 and 9.
David Lee, Jarrett Jack (10 dimes) and Klay Thompson each eclipsed 20 points for the Ws. Carl Landry dropped 15 off the bench, but a 1-of-5 shooting performance from Harrison Barnes hurt. They’ll need guys like Barnes to step up in Stephen Curry’s absence.
Wizards (8-29) 112, Nuggets (24-18) 108
The Wiz had a bunch of guys contribute offensively and won the rebounding battle in Denver, leading to a surprising win. Bradley Beal was the team’s high-scorer with 23 points, but John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Kevin Seraphin, Emeka Okafor and Martell Webster joined him with at least 10 points. No Wizards player grabbed more than 8 rebounds, but they beat Denver by 11 on the glass.
The Nuggets had multiple chances to win or tie in the game’s final minute, but couldn’t convert. Ty Lawson scored 29, and Corey Brewer and Andre Miller each added 17 off the bench. JaVale McGee struggled in 14 minutes against his former team.
Thunder (32-8) 117, Mavericks (17-24) 114
This was a truly great game. OKC led by nine starting the fourth quarter, but Dallas quickly sliced the deficit to three. The Thunder led by three with five seconds left when OJ Mayo hit a beautiful triple to tie the game. Kevin Durant then had a chance to win it for Oklahoma City, but couldn’t knock down a tough jumper.
In overtime, the Thunder led by two with Russell Westbrook at the free throw line and just a few seconds remaining. He split the free throws, giving Dallas a prayer late. Vince Carter got a three-point attempt off at the buzzer, but couldn’t knock it down.
Durant was absolutely at his best, dropping a career-high 52, including what turned out to be the game-winner in overtime. He made all 21 of his free throw attempts, and added 5 threes and 9 boards. Westbrook wasn’t quite as good, but still had a big game. He made 12-of-26 shots and finished with 31 points.
Air Canada (remember that?) was huge for Dallas, dropping 29 points off the bench. He knocked down 4 treys on the night. Elton Brand double-doubled off the bench, and Dirk Nowitzki scored 18.