by Jay Wallis | @JayWallis11
Lakers 112 (16-25), Raptors 106 (20-19)
The Lakers put together back-to-back wins for the first time since late December thanks to the hot and clutch shooting from Nick Young (29 points, 5-7 on 3-pointers) on Sunday. Young made 5 3-pointers for the second time this season as the entire team shot 12-22 (54.5 percent) from deep. Six Raptors scored in double-figures as DeMar DeRozan (23 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) and Kyle Lowry (21 points, 9 assists) led the way. While Pau Gasol (22 points, 9 rebounds) had a nice game down low, Kendall Marshall (10 points, 11 assists) continued to be yet another lucky point guard taking advantage of a Mike D’antoni offensive system. Marshall is averaging 13 ppg and 12.2 apg over the last nine games; no other player in the League has more assists during that span. In his first start of the season, Ryan Kelly (17 points, 5 rebounds) held his own. Toronto scored the first 12 points of the 2nd half and led 70-54 with 7:49 left in the 3rd quarter. Behind plenty of Young free throws and 3-pointers, the Lakers closed out the quarter on a 28-11 run, taking an 82-81 lead into the final twelve minutes. After back-and-forth play for most of the 4th quarter, Young again made some big shots, scoring the final 7 points for the Lakers. The Raptors controlled the interior, outrebounding the Lakers 47-31 and outscoring them in the paint 52-40. But the Lakers’ perimeter shooting and free throw shooting (26-28) was too much to handle.
Magic 93 (11-30), Celtics 91 (14-28)
The Orlando Magic picked up their first win of 2014, and it didn’t come easily. Arron Afflalo (20 points, career-high 13 rebounds, 6 assists) made a game-tying layup with just over a minute to go before Jameer Nelson (16 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds) and Tobias Harris (18 points, 7 rebounds) each knocked down a pair of free throws to grab the down-to-the-wire win. The Celtics point guards—Rajon Rondo (6 points , 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Phil Pressey (2 points, 5 assists, 3 steals)—were the only Boston players making an effort to pass the ball as their teammates only had 7 total assists. Jeff Green (22 points, 13-15 on free throws) lived at the line all night, continually attacking the basket. Boston looked good early on, jumping out to a quick 20-9 lead as the Magic just couldn’t make any of their shots. But thanks to some big buckets from Kyle O’Quinn (10 points, 9 rebounds), who scored the final 7 Magic points in the 1st quarter, Orlando fought its way back. The rest of the game remained very even, as neither team led by more than one possession in the final quarter. Boston stayed in this game despite shooting 36.7 percent from the field.
Thunder 108 (31-10), Kings 93 (14-25)
Kevin Durant (30 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks) helped lead the Thunder to an easy win over the Kings. Durant has now scored 30 points in seven straight games, the longest such streak in his career. Without Westbrook, Durant has taken the reins of this team and taken the lead in the MVP race. Isaiah Thomas (career-high 38 points, 6 assists) had a spectacular performance but cooled off down the stretch, only scoring 11 of his 38 in the 2nd half. It was during the 3rd quarter that the Thunder pulled away, going on a 27-10 run over an eight-minute span. Reggie Jackson (16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) played well during this stretch, scoring 10 of the team’s 27 points. Serge Ibaka (20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks) has scored at least 20 points in three consecutive games. DeMarcus Cousins (16 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Jason Thompson (11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) each had a double-double as the Kings actually outscored the Thunder 54-38 in the paint. But Sacramento turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 34 points for the Thunder. After the game had been all but decided, Rudy Gay (6 points, 4 assists) was ejected in the 4th quarter after arguing with the official. OKC is currently one game back of San Antonio for the best record in the West.
Spurs 110 (32-9), Bucks 82 (7-33)
This was a matchup between one of the best teams and one of the worst teams in the League. The final score was indicative of this disparity. Brandon Knight (21 points, 8-16 from the field) scored the first 6 points for the Bucks, as they grabbed a 6-3 lead in the first few minutes. It all went downhill that point forward. Tim Duncan (11 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks) and the Spurs would finish the quarter outscoring Milwaukee 26-10, including a 15-0 run to close out the quarter. They outscored the Bucks in all four quarters and ended up winning this one with ease. Larry Sanders (10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals) still hasn’t come into form while John Henson (10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks) looked good coming off the bench. For the Spurs, they were without Tony Parker due to a shin contusion and Patty Mills (20 points, 7 assists, 4-6 on 3-pointers) filled in quite nicely, leading San Antonio in scoring. Jeff Ayres (13 points, 6 rebounds, 14 minutes) played efficiently during his short time on the floor and brought some athleticism and excitement. Gary Neal (3 points, 1-8 from the field) didn’t play well against his former team as the Spurs were better in almost every statistical category possible.
Suns 117 (23-17), Nuggets 103 (20-20)
Channing Frye (30 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 12-16 from the field) was close to achieving a career-high in points but was cut short when Alex Len (9 points, 6 rebounds) subbed him out early in the 4th quarter. Frye has always been able to shoot the long ball, as he did against the Nuggets. But as he’s been doing all season long, Frye has been getting in the lane as well. The Suns led from the opening tipoff to the end of the game, as Goran Dragic (15 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds) and Markieff Morris (16 points, 6 rebounds) also put together good games. Leandro Barbosa (13 points, 4 rebounds) hasn’t looked this good since he was playing for Phoenix in 2010. Ty Lawson (17 points, 14 assists) had another great game while Anthony Randolph (season-high 19 points, 22 minutes) tried to make up for the awful performance from Kenneth Faried (3 points, 3 rebounds, 1-5 from the field). Denver used the long ball to continually get within reaching distance throughout the night but could never take hold of the lead.