THE BATTLE OF TH…yeah, nevermind. With the relatively easy win in Jersey, the Knicks move to 10-9, which is their best 19-game opening since they were also 10-9 to start ’01-02. Amar’e Stoudemire beasted for 35 and 9, though he didn’t do too well on the other end, allowing Bropez to score 36. Besides that little tidbit, this one was all New York, as Wilson Chandler went for 27 and 11 and Raymond Felton continued to come to his own—he dropped 21 to go along with 10 dimes.
The Sixers—who shot exactly 10 percent better than the Blazers—might not have had the better stat lines (no one scored more than Elton Brand’s 18, and no one rebounded more than Brand’s 7), but they did what was needed to get the win. Philly was behind by eight late in the third, but turned on the jets and rode Brand and Jrue Holiday in the fourth, storming ahead and dominating the last quarter. Portland has now dropped four in a row, and it’s not gonna get any easier—they’re in Boston tonight.
(Segue game proper.) Led by Rajon Rondo’s 23 points and 12 assists, the Celts went into Cleveland and had their way, jumping ahead in the second quarter and cruising from there. Kevin Garnett went for, while Big Baby scored 17 and grabbed 11. The Cavs need to hurry up and get back to work, because they welcome the King back tomorrow night. Don’t know if “welcome” is the best term to describe what’ll take place, but that’s OK.
(Also, I’ll give the Cavs a day off from the comic sans torture. Seems like they had a rough enough night, you know?)
Damn, where can a dude get a close game? This one was kind of tight, until the Magic had their way early in the fourth, and then, well, it wasn’t. Rashard Lewis scored 20, and Dwight Howard only had 9 in 40 minutes, which I can’t really explain. Didn’t matter too much, I guess. Orlando’s now won four in a row, meaning tonight’s game in Chicago should be a good one.
The Pacers are suddenly a lively squad, while the Kings haven’t exactly fit that description this season, which showed. Sacto simply had no answer for Danny Granger, who scored 37. Indiana’s now won four out of five (that one L was an overtime loss in OKC), but they’ve got a tough stretch ahead, as their road trip continues with Utah tonight and Phoenix on Friday.
Game of the night! By a lot. These two battled back and forth all game, but the Grizz, behind Mike Conley’s 28 points (see guys, worth every penny), were able to hold on. Kobe Bryant dropped 29, and the only mandatory point of discussion here is the contest’s last 10 seconds, which I’m saving for MOTN…so check below for more on that. The Lakers have now lost three in a row (panic!), but will try to get that sorted out in Houston tonight. A prediction: They will.
How far in advance is it appropriate for opposing big men to circle Golden State on their schedules? Two weeks? One month? A year? Something tells me Tim Duncan was looking forward to this one, and he proved it, recording a 15-18-11 line—his first triple-double since 2003. The Spurs rolled, of course, and Manu Ginobili’s mid-career resurgence continued, as he led the team with 27. Steph Curry managed to put in 32, but it was a lost cause—this competition was all but wrapped up by the time the fourth quarter began.
Performance of the Night: Timmy D: 15 points, 18 boards, 11 dimes, 2 blocks.
Moment of the Night: (The video below is a full game highlight, but this link should take you straight to the vid’s crucial moment.) A quick recap: Lakers ball, down two. Seven seconds to go. Kobe pushes the ball up the court. Opts against the timeout, instead trying to get to the rim and maybe get an open look or draw a foul. No luck. Dishes it out to RonRon, who, instead of giving it back to Kobe for a final shot, forces a jumper over Rudy Gay—all while Kobe is standing at the top of the key, flailing his arms and asking for the ball back. Said jumper never gets fully over Gay, who blocks the ball before the clock expires. Game, blouses. Was it the right move by Artest? Should he have returned it to Bryant? Tough to tell, and even tougher to know what you’d do in the situation, with the clock ticking and the spotlight shining.