This game began with a 10-2 Sixers run, and, it seemed, the Hawks figured they weren’t coming back from down eight—so they might as well just let it go. Philly had an 18-point lead after one, then a 32-point lead at half, and then put on cruise control, rolling to an easy victory. The Hawks just came out flat, while the 76ers were red hot, and things got ugly pretty quickly. Lou Williams, who was one of six Sixers to score in double figures, put in 20.
Last night, the Magic figured out how to something few others have accomplished: contain that Blake Griffin dude. They did so by throwing double-teams at him and keeping him away from the paint at all costs, and did so effectively, too. Dwight Howard, meanwhile, was not contained, as he scored 22 and grabbed 20 boards while leading Orlando to a W. The loss was the Clippers’ fourth straight, and they’ll try to get back on track when they play the Knicks in the World’s Most Famous Arena tonight.
It takes a lot to beat the Spurs these days, and a mild effort from the Pistons ain’t gonna cut it. San Antonio improved its League-best record to 43-8, led by Tony Parker’s 19 points and DeJuan Blair’s 18 and 12 night. The Pistons take on Cleveland tonight, while the Spurs’ crazy long road trip continues in the T-Dot tonight.
The Pacers have been great recently, going on a mini-surge since dumping Jim O’Brien and promoting Frank Vogel. And they played a solid three quarters last night, until the Heat rode LeBron back into the contest and right into a win. LBJ dropped 41—in addition to 13 boards and 8 dimes—and leading Miami behind all kinds of strong drives and powerful dunks. Neither squad played very good D, but Indiana just couldn’t make a stop down the stretch, and letting a team with that much talent gain momentum is never a good idea. Roy Hibbert contributed a solid 20 and 10 line before fouling out for Indy.
A neck-and-neck first half was followed by a landslide second, as the Bucks jumped ahead in the third and built on their lead in the fourth. Milwaukee didn’t do anything outstanding on offense, but their defense was on point, holding the Raps to 74 points on 36 percent shooting from the field. Toronto also failed to convert on a single three-point attempt. The Bucks will now hit the road, playing in DC tonight and Memphis on Friday.
During the night when Kevin Love (with 20 points and 14 rebounds) set a Timberwolves record with his 38th double-double, Minnesota came up big in the final few minutes, getting big buckets from Love and Wayne Ellington in the win. The double-doubles are cool and all, but I’m most amazed by how Kevin’s extended his range, becoming a strong and reliable three-point shooter. (He drilled a trey in the final minute to ice this one.) Even more impressive for the Wolves: They got the W sans Michael Beasley and Darko Milicic, who were both out with injuries.
There’s been talk that the Thunder will continue to struggle in close games and during moments of pressure—the result of inexperience and youth. I’m not quite sure I believe all that talk—I’d imagine Danilo Gallinari would denounce it—but they did little to quell those thoughts yesterday, as OKC was unable to convert on a number of important opportunities and ended up falling to the short-handed Grizzlies. Without Rudy Gay (back) and OJ Mayo (suspension), Zach Randolph beasted, going for 31 and 14, and Tony Allen (!) came up big, putting in 27 points.
Actual Stats: LeBron James: 41 points, 13 rebounds, 8 dimes, 3 steals, 1 block
Last Call: Keeping with the All LeBron Everything theme…