by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Five games on tap, here we go…
Dwight Howard only played 25 minutes, but he scored 14 points, making him the all-time franchise leader in scoring for Orlando, passing Nick Anderson for No. 1. Meanwhile, Ryan Anderson scored 24 points, including 5 threes, and the Magic held the Pacers to just 8 team assists and forced them into 19 turnovers. Still, this game was tied at 45 at halftime. Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger scored 16 points apiece, but Indiana shot 32 percent in the second half as Orlando built a 20-point lead. Interesting stat from this game, via the AP recap: Orlando’s 46 percent shooting is the first time that a Pacers’ home opponent shot better than 40 percent this season. And that came a night after the Magic couldn’t hit anything against the Celtics. Indiana, after taking two of three on a Western Conference road trip, lost to Orlando last night and now faces a four-day stretch against Chicago, Boston and Orlando again.
The Knicks won a game by 33 points after dropping 6 in a row. And this was Carmelo Anthony’s stat line:
He did not leave with an injury. That was legitimately his game from last night—0-for-7 with 1 point—and New York still won. That’s a career low for Melo (well, duh…), and just the second time he’s scored less than 10 points since joining the Knicks fans who were about ready to hurt themselves. My first thought: the Bobcats must really, really be terrible (perhaps worse even than my Wiz?). Second thought: good for the Knicks. Tyson Chandler was an absolute animal inside against Charlotte, going for 20 and 17, and Landry Fields and Amar’e Stoudemire both scored 18 points for the Knicks, who shot 50 percent from the field while holding the ‘Cats to a miserable 33 percent shooting clip. The Knicks outrebounded the Bobcats 53 to 33, and had 14 dunks (6 from Chandler). DJ Augustin sat out with a nagging toe injury, and Kemba Walker scored a game-high 22 in his place, but Charlotte was really never in this game, after New York played a near-flawless first half and never looked back.
Still no DWade, still no big deal. Or, in other words, “we like playing Cleveland.” Chris Bosh dropped 35 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, his fourth 30+ point game already this year. LeBron James chipped in 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists and the Heat won despite 50 percent shooting from the Cavaliers. Cleveland turned the ball over 20 times, but only 3 of those came via Kyrie Irving, the man tabbed to replace James as face of the franchise. Irving led the Cavs with 17 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, but the next leading scorer was Samardo Samuels, with 15 off the bench. Give credit to Cleveland for keeping this one close the whole way, never trailing by more than 8 points and pulling to within 3 on two occasions in crunch time. But Miami found their fourth quarter scorer in Bosh, and put the pesky Cavs behind them to improve to 12-5 on the year. And from the highlight department, LeBron and Alzono Gee (of all people, right?) traded ferocious second-half dunks.
After missing 6 straight games with a calf injury, Andrea Bargnani returned in a big way for the Raptors, scoring 36 points (including a ridiculous 18 in the third quarter alone) en route to snapping Toronto’s eight-game losing streak, and an eight-season long losing streak against Phoenix. Toronto, now 5-13, trailed by as many as 14 points early, but stormed back with a 10-0 run in the third quarter, and made 8 of 15 three-pointers (4 for Bargani and 3 for Leandro Barbosa). A Jared Dudley dunk brought the Suns within 2 with 23 seconds to play, but Bargnani poured in a pair of free throws to ice the game. New Toronto starter James Johnson scored 18 points and had 10 rebounds, and Barbosa scored 19, while Jose Calderon racked up 11 assists—the first on an oop to DeMar Derozan. The Suns got big games as usual from Steve Nash (17 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds) and Marcin “Double-Double Machine” Gortat, who finished with 21 points and 11 boards, but fell to 6-11 on the year.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 23 points and Marcus Camby grabbed an incredible 22 rebounds to go with 5 blocked shots, as the Blazers finally ended a seven-game Grizzlies winning streak. The rest of the League thanks them. Portland is now 11-7 and 8-1 at home after holding Memphis to 38 percent field goal shooting and outrebounding the Grizz 50-39. Memphis went up 43-42 on back-to-back Rudy Gay dunks, but the Blazers took a 4-point lead into halftime. Portland made 30 of 36 free throws, and at one point in the fourth quarter led by 20 points. OJ Mayo scored 20 points to pace the Grizzlies in 28 bench minutes—Gay was the leading scorer among Memphis starters with just 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting. The rest of the starting lineup? Try these shooting nights on for size: Marc Gasol 2-7, Mike Conley 3-13, Tony Allen 4-10, and Mareese Speights 1-6. The Grizz visit the Clippers on Thursday in primetime.
Line of the Night: Andrea Bargnani scored 36, Chris Bosh 35, Marcus Camby had a crazy 22 boards and 5 blocks, and Steve Nash dropped 17/14/7, but Tyson Chandler’s 20 points and 17 rebounds were huge in the Knicks’ win, on a night when Melo scored 1 whole point.
Moment of the Night: Orlando gets back on track, and Howard becomes the Magic’s all-time leading scorer.
Dunk of the Night: Tyson Chandler, and the foul. “You know, he never did that here.”
Tonight: A whopping 13 games on tonight, which means I’m going to be up past my bed time. NBATV has Bulls-Pacers and Clippers-Lakers, while Randy Wittman will make his Wizards coaching debut against the Bobcats (lucky him). Other games to keep an eye on include Atlanta at San Antonio, Minnesota at Dallas and for sheer entertainment value, Denver at Sacramento.