by Adam Figman | @afigman
Not long after the Bucks appeared ready to call it a season, they reignited fan excitement by defeating a Knicks squad that looked confused and, at times, overwhelmed. Despite all the talk and player admissions that the ‘Bockers need to man up on the defensive end, they were continually outworked by Milwaukee’s offense, which was led by a strong 30-point, 11-rebound performance from Carlos Delfino. The Knicks’ O didn’t exactly make up for the team’s defensive lapses, as it shot 38.6 percent and received just 26 collective points from every player not named Stoudemire, Billups or Anthony. Brandon Jennings‘ almost triple-double (14 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists) was vital, and his clutch J in the final minute helped seal things up, as Milwaukee moved back to within a game and a half of postseason positioning.
So that mini Nets-could-make-the-Playoffs rant I had the other day is moot. Probably should’ve seen that coming. The Wiz shot 51.9 percent from the field and earned a decent home victory, led by John Wall (26 points, 8 dimes) and red-hot rookie Jordan Crawford (21 points). Nets forward Kris Humphries notched a nice 18-and-17 performance in the loss.
Led by Al Horford (18 points), all Hawks starters scored in double figures as ATL held off Detroit and picked up the win. The Hawks’ six-game homestand ends tomorrow against the top-ranked Bulls.
Something about this clip sums up the entire game. Or maybe I was just looking for an excuse to link to that video. Either way. Blake Griffin dropped 17, but was mostly contained, as he fouled out in the middle of the fourth and watched from the sidelines as his team was defeated by the Steve Nash-led Suns. Nash had 23 points and 13 assists, while Channing Frye contributed 19 points in the win.
I’m using this space for some much-needed Samuel Dalembert appreciation. Dude put up 26 points and 17 rebounds, leading the Kings over the Wolves with yet another fantasy hoops explosion. All I’m saying is, if Dalembert is a free agent in your fantasy league, your fantasy league isn’t much of a fantasy league at all. Sorry if that offends. Also, Marcus Thornton with the 23-8-9 near-triple-double. Pick him up while you’re at it, too.
Competing for the ninth spot and the rights to still not be in position to make the postseason, the Rockets knocked off the Jazz behind Kyle Lowry‘s first triple-double (28-11-10) of the year. Kevin Martin also added 34, and Houston pulled a W despite shooting just 40.2 percent from the floor. They also won despite allowing all five Utah starters to score in double figures, led by Paul Millsap, who dropped 35 and snatched 10. Also, Al Jefferson: 17 points, 19 rebounds.
Putting himself in the right place at the right time, Amir Johnson finished a lay-in that fell through with just 1.3 seconds to go, which would turn out to be the game-winning bucket that closed a tight, back-and-forth contest in OKC. The Thunder attempted a counter by inbounding the ball to Kevin Durant (20 points, 5 boards), but his turnaround J was way off, and his squad fell to a weak Toronto team. Andrea Bargnani and James Harden both scored the game-high of 23.
The Mavs turned a 13-point lead into a 28-point one in the final quarter, cruising to the home victory and getting the team back on track after a rough loss to in-state rival Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki led all players with 20, while the Warriors were just dreadful in many, many aspects of basketball yesterday. (Though they did outscore Dallas in in the paint, 28-24, somehow.) The Mavericks have one more home contest against the TWolves on Thursday before they hit the road; the Warriors are off to San Antonio tonight.
After sputtering during the second and third quarters, the Lakers—and Kobe Bryant, more than anyone—came alive in the final segment, making the needed stops and hitting clutch jumpers when they counted most. Derek Fisher drained a J with 10 ticks remaining that sealed it up, and the Lakers earned their fourth win in as many games. Kobe led L.A. with 20; Nicolas Batum dropped the game-high of 25.
Last Call: The aforementioned Blake Griffin almost-highlight: