by Anton Kudriavtsev /@TheDiesel
On paper, the match-ups look about as exciting as Iverson practicing in Turkey. Look closer and you’ll see a lot of amazing in a lot of places.
Adding on to his outstanding week, Deron Williams dropped 24 points and 10 assists as he led his Jazz over the Hawks. The Jazz outscored the Hawks 27-10 in the 4th quarter while the Hawks gave this one away at the line, going 11-of-21, including 0-of-4 from Horford in 4th. Josh Smith had 20 points, 13 boards, and 5 assists but Paul Millsap’s corner jumper with 1:20 to play completed yet another Jazz comeback story, the 4th consecutive comeback from double digits.
D-Will, what are you doing?! First you have a game-winning layup, then beat the Heat and Magic on a back-to-back, now you’re killing Hawks like it’s hunting season? You’re in clear violation of the 2003 version of the Superstar Handbook. Section 23 clearly states that one must “take off at least 2 games a week in the regular season or can bank up to 3 games to be used during the March-April coast months.” If you keep playing this hard, the Superstar’s Association will have no choice but to ban you from the monthly cocktails at Melo’s place. Note to Melo with regards to next month’s party: the invitation lists a New York address, what’s with that?
Whenever the Thunder and Blazers meet up, there’s sure to be an explosive yet close game and this one did not disappoint. The Blazers ended the 3rd quarter with a 7-0 run and took that momentum into the 4th, starting off with a Fernandez 3-pointer, a drawn charge, then Roy drawing a foul within minutes. The Thunder responded with a few jumpers before Miller came into the game and started to dictate the Blazers’ offense. Nothing gets more old school than ‘Dre pump faking, shooting, and then tipping in his own miss. Jeff Van Gundy: “I’m gonna lose my mind if I see another player go for Andre Miller’s pump fake. Are they not watching?!”
But then Westbrook does what he usually does late in games: take over. Slicing through the zone defense and drawing fouls before handing it off to Durant for back-to-back-to-back buckets as the Thunder took a 105-100 lead with 1:42 to go. This game seemed eerily similar to the last meeting where the Blazers lost the game in crunch time, being on the receiving end of a 21-7 run. A frantic ending included Rudy missing a wide-open three-pointer that would have tied the game. Think the Frail Blazers aren’t cursed? Elliot Williams had surgery on his right knee…only to be announced that he would need another surgery on his left knee 6 weeks later. The good news is that Joe Przybilla is set to return on Tuesday. Westbrook finished with 36 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists while his Batman dropped 34. Roy led the Blazers with 24. Mark Jackson’s insight into Westbrook: “He’s one of those guys…you have to guard.” How, Mark? Just tell us how?!
Brad Miller’s game-high 23 points and 8 boards secured the win as the Rockets edged the Pacers. Basically, if Granger doesn’t shoot well, the Pacers don’t win. Danny shot 7-of-18 while James Posey had 19 points (5-of-8 from three) off the bench. Luis Scola held down Houston’s always-vacant frontcourt with 16 points and 9 boards. Genius idea: while Yao’s out for a week with a foot injury, LeBorn should demand Riley to trade Arroyo for the right to use Adelman’s 24-minute plan.
The Bobcats continued to claw their way to .500 using Gerald Wallace’s 25 points and 14 boards over the Wizards. Despite turning the ball over more times (24) than a Megadeth touring line-up, ‘Cats severely out-rebounded the Wiz (48 to 30) and earned their W with a 10-0 run in the 4th quarter. John Wall had 13 points and 11 assists but couldn’t find his shot while Andray Blatche added 22 points and 9 boards. The rest of the team played like Gilbert Arenas did something nasty in their shoes. Slightly relevant stat of the night: Wall joined Oscar Robertson as the only players with at least 7 assists in each of their first 6 career games.
As I was surfing through the games last night, I was impressed by Kevin Love’s 16 points and 19 boards…and it was only the 3rd quarter. Love recorded the first 30-30 game since Moses Malone in 1982, finishing with 31 points and 31 rebounds in a win for this Wolves. To put that further in perspective, the Grizzlies have two centers with fewer rebounds than Love had on this night while CBS Sports took the liberty of reminding everyone who hasn’t had 31 boards all season. In 10 and a half minutes of action, the Knicks blew a 21-point lead and couldn’t recover while Beasley was beasting himself, shooting 55% en route to a 35 point night. Lost Jonas brother Danilo Gallinari led the Knicks with 25. So ladies, if you’re suffering through a break-up and need K-Love’s comfort, wait in line. There are likely 30 people ahead of you.
Don’t look now but the Raptors are actually an entertaining team. Particularly DeMar DeRozan, who is continuing it put it all together and become of the rising young stars in the league. DeRozan played great defense, covering the floor quickly and closing out shooters as if the Second Amendment was about to be repealed. Double D (that’s his official nickname form here on out) scored 13 in the 4th quarter, finishing with 26 points and 7 boards.
Jameer Nelson had 23 points and 8 assists for the Magic and Pietrus ties it up with a clutch three pointer with 28.8 seconds to go. Sonny Weems came right back with a three of his own after Jarrett Jack did his best LeIso impersonation and a solid high-screen from Bargs. Jose Calderon stole the next inbounds pass, got fouled, and sealed the game for the Raps. Interestingly for the Magic, Stan Van Gundy found the courage to break free of his standard substitutions and have Bass in for Lewis for the majority of the fourth. Why? Probably that he needed a defensive presence and rebounder in addition to the ability to make shots. You know, what a power forward should be. The Magic have lost 2 in a row and sit behind Boston in the East.
Besides Deshawn Stevenson starting which warranted more than a few double-takes, the intrigue ended there as the Mavs handled their business with a win over the Sixers. Thaddeus Young had 17 off the bench but his team wasn’t able to stop Dallas’ balanced attack, with 4 starters in double figures and JJ Barea had a season-high 19 points off the bench. Jason Kidd passes his way to over 11,000 assists, second all-time behind some Stockton guy.
Despite looking the best he has looked on the court in a week, DeMarcus Cousins (9 points, 7 boards) and Tyreke Evans (18 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists) were not able to stop the Suns’ run-and-shoot-whenever-you-feel-like offense as the Kings suffered their 4th straight loss . Nashty led the madness with 28 points, 14 assists, and 7 rebounds (sorry Bosh) and Hakim Warrick added 18 off the bench. It was a special day for Nash in more than one way as his wife gave birth to his first son earlier in the day. Congrats, Nash! A play date has been scheduled with Amar’e, who will roll off the screen and dunk the diaper into the dispenser.
The Clippers and Pistons needed some extra time to settle their battle, with Detroit escaping with the win. Twitter bully Villanueva carried his team with 30 points off the bench while Eric Gordon scored 28 for the Clips. The Pistons had a 9-0 run in overtime to earn their first road win of the season. Blake Griffin had a monster game with 18 points and 18 rebounds, but it did not impress Kevin Love in the slightest.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Kevin Love – 31 points, 31 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block.
Honorable mention: Russell Westbrook – 36 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks.
R.O.Y. Watch: Blake Griffin – 18 points, 18 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal.
The fallout from the Heat game continues to rain down like Ray Allen’s threes. Due to the American Airlines Arena being about as full as a Cavs playoff game in 2002, the Heat organization is now telling its fans how to be fans. Wait, really?! Really. On the Heat’s website, the team released a statement telling fans how to “Fan Up”. Apparently having two of the greatest players in the game is not enough to convince fans to show up. As usual, NBA fans are relentless against the Heat but the truth is the truth.
Sign of the globalized world we live in: There’s a 14-year old 7 footer in India being dubbed the next Yao Ming. Great, now our coveted new generation of frail centers are being outsourced to India. Also, not so sure “ready to follow in Yao’s footsteps” is a good headline to give this kid some love.
The Raptors face the Heat tonight while the Hornets try to remain the only undefeated team in the league as they take on the Blazers.
I’m out like Arenas’ pranks.