by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Super Bowl Sunday is upon us and I am counting down the minutes until the Giants hit the field. Before you get on with the festivities be sure to catch up on all the action that went down last night…GO GIANTS.
And just like that, the Lizards are back like they left something. In a game that was never close, the Clippers led wire to wire and embarrassed the Wizards on their home court. Blake Griffin did his thing as usual, finishing 2 assists shy of a triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists. As a team, Los Angeles dominated in the paint. They outrebounded D.C. 53-32 and outscored the Wiz 56-32. This game got ugly in the second half as the Wizards scored just 4 points in the six minutes of the third quarter and eventually trailed by 36 points in an absolute rout. Five Clippers scored in double figures including Mo Williams who had 17 off the bench, DeAndre Jordan who had 18 and 11 and Caron Butler who finished with 14. It was just brought to my attention the other night that as fans, we have been robbed of close to 100 games of Blake Griffin. 100 games! Can you imagine how many incredible dunks he would have had in that span? That’s 100 games of potential dunks like these. Damn.
One night after being dismantled by the Heat, the Sixers came out and got a great overall team effort and defeated the Hawks in their first game away from home in over a week. Once again, it was the Night Shift that came through for Philly in a win. The Sixers bench combined for 44 points thanks to 14 apiece from Lou Williams and Thad Young and 15 from Nicola Vucevic. Most importantly, Spencer Hawes returned for Illadelph after missing 10 missing and played well scoring 14 points and grabbing 5 boards. After extending the lead to 20 in the third quarter, Philadelphia was able to keep the Hawks at bay for the rest of the game. The Hawks never got within 10 points despite 21 from Jeff Teague and Ivan Johnson’s first career double-double (14 and 13). The Hawks left 9 points at the stripe and were outscored 54-38 in the paint, two stats that really hurt them during their comeback effort.
This was a hard fought, physical game between two Eastern Conference heavyweights. But, let’s hope that tonight’s game in Indy is way more crisp than last night’s. Indy and Orlando combined for 41 turnovers, 8 technical fouls and neither team shot higher than 40 percent from the field. Dwight Howard scored 27 points and hit 6 of his 9 free throws to lead the Magic in the victory. Jason Richardson chipped in with 17 and Ryan Anderson had 12 but other than that, the rest of the Magic were very underwhelming. For Indy, Tyler Hansbrough had a season high 17 points and grabbed 7 boards and my main man Paul George filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. The Pacers cut the lead to one with 7 and a half minutes left in the game but proceeded to miss 18 of their next 20 shots which ended any chances of winning. When teams are forced to play this many games in a short period of time, a poor offensive performance like this is expected every once in a while.
It was pure Linsanity at Madison Square Garden last night as reserve point guard Jeremy Lin logged heavy minutes and led the Knicks to a much needed dub. Lin came off the bench and scored 25 points, dropped 7 dimes and grabbed 5 boards–all career bests. To channel Knicks commentator Walt Frazier, Lin was “slicing and dicing” and “swooping and hooping” through the Nets defense and had the Garden crowd inhysterics. With the game tied throughout most of the fourth quarter, Lin erupted. The Harvard grad scored 12 points and couldn’t be stopped by anyone on the Nets roster. It was really a fun moment for a team that has been struggling so much. The entire Knicks Bench was rooting for him and Melo couldn’t wipe the smile from his face throughout the final minutes of the game. Can the performance be duplicated? That remains to be seen. But, as we all know, D’Antoni doesn’t need a world-beater point guard to run his system–just look what he did to guys like Ray Felton and Chris Duhon…especially Chris Duhon. Lin has a high basketball IQ and knows how to run a pick and roll, two crucial elements to D’Antoni’s system. More than likely last night was a serendipitous event, but you never know especially the way this season has been going. #LINNING.
Greg Monroe was in full on beast mode last night and led the Pistons to a hard fought victory over the Hornets. Monroe had 24 points and tied his season high by snatching 16 boards to earn his seventh double-double in eight games. The Pistons outscored the Hornets 52-36 in the paint thanks to the frontcourt duo of Monroe and Jason Maxiell who had 10 points . Rookie Brandon Knight broke his nose in the first quarter but fellow rook Walker Russell Jr. filled in admirably scoring 9 points and dropping 4 dimes in 33 minutes of play. Trevor Ariza led all scorers with 26 points to go along with 7 boards and 4 assists. Jarrett Jack, who has quietly been having a nice year, sat out with a sore knee. In his absence, Greivis Vasquez got the start and scored 14 points, grabbed 6 boards and dished out 9 assists but also had 4 turnovers.
Dirk recently said that he doesn’t fear any team out West. Well, maybe Dirk should worry about beating non-contending Eastern Conference teams before he worries about the rest of the West. Kyrie Irving capped off his 20 point, 7 assist performance by shaking Delonte West and hitting an incredible layup with 15.8 seconds left to put the Mavs away for good. The Cavs trailed by 8 at the half, but came out in the third and scored 13 straight points to ultimately take a 70-64 lead into the final quarter of play. Anderson Varejao had another impressive double-double with 17 points and 17 rebounds–dude has been going hard in the paint this season. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 24 points and 8 boards but couldn’t will his team to victory and the Mavs have now lost two straight to Eastern Conference teams. The Mavs committed 21 turnovers compared to the Cavs 9 and even though they hit close to 50 percent of their buckets, they shot themselves in the foot with so many turnovers.
Kevin Love had 25 points and 25 boards in the T’Wolves win, but the real story of the game was Love stepping on the face of Luis Scola. The two had exchanged in physical play all night and it looked like tempers boiled over in the second half as Love stomped on Scola heading up court after a rebound. The question now is how much time will Love miss? This could be a huge blow the Timberwolves who are now sitting at .500 and will miss their superstar who will no doubt miss some time due to suspension. Besides that unfortunate act, the game was highly entertaining and competitive. Houston cut it to three points twice in the fourth quarter, but Luke Ridnour hit a pair of huge 3-pointers to help put the Rockets away. Houston, who was playing their first of six games on the road, got 24 points apiece from Scola and Kyle Lowry, who also had 11 assists. For Minnesota, Ridnour finished with 22 points while Ricky Rubio had a double-double with 13 points and 11 dimes. Thanks to last night’s win, Minnesota is now .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2007.
Derrick Rose wasted no time in this one. The reigning MVP matched Milwaukee’s entire team output in the first quarter with 16 points as the Bulls jumped out to a 14 point lead and never looked back. By halftime the Bulls led 67-43 and the Bucks never got within 17 in the second half. Rose finished the game with 26 points, 13 boards, 7 assists and snatched Brandon Jennings’ soul straight from his body. The Bulls hit 14 3-pointers, including 4 from Kyle Korver and 3 each from Luol Deng, DRose and C.J. Watson. Deng had 21 points and 9 boards and Korver had 18 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. For the Bucks, rookie Tobias Harris had a career-high 19 points and Drew Gooden continued his hot play with 24 points.
One night after coming from behind to defeat the Grizzlies, the Thunder dropped one in San Antonio proving just how hard it is to win in the Western Conference especially on a back to back. Tony Parker had himself a game last night. Not only did Parker become the Spurs all-time assist leader, he also shot 16-29 and scored a game high 42 points to lead the Spurs. San Antonio took a 10 point lead into halftime then proceeded to blow the game open in the second half and led by as many as 24. Six Thunder players scored in double digits including Kevin Durant who had 22, Westbrook who finished with 18 and James Harden who dropped 19. But, OKC couldn’t contain Parker who stole the show and led the charge against the NBA’s best team (record wise).
Earl Watson triggered a 14-0 fourth quarter Utah run scoring 8 points and dropping 6 dimes while nursing a sprained ankle. The Jazz were able to beat the Lakers inside as they outscored the Lakers 52-40 in the paint and outrebounded them 50-42. Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 18 points and 13 boards while frontcourt mate Paul Millsap chipped in with 16 points and 13 rebounds of his own. The Lakers frontcourt matched the physicality of Jeffeson and Millsap as Bynum and Gasol combined for 45 points and 28 rebounds but they had no answer or Earl Watson in the fourth. Watson was everywhere in the fourth. One trip down the court he was stealing the ball from Pau Gasol and dishing to Derrick Favors for the bucket. Then the next he threw an alley-oop to C.J. Watson and finally, he capped off a 14-0 run with a 3-pointer that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Kobe had 26 for the Lakers but L.A. continues to struggle on the road.
With Phoenix leading 75-74 with 9 minutes left, Robin Lopez caught fire and scored 9 straight points to put the Bobcats away. Michael Redd got the start in the place of the injured Jared Dudley and led the Suns with 17 points. It was great to see Redd out there playing significant minutes. He has had such a roller-coaster ride the last few years and it would be awesome to see him come out and give the Suns solid minutes this season. It’s hard not to root for him. Marcin Gortat had another double-double with 12 points and 12 boards and absolutely destroyed Tyrus Thomas. D.J. Augustin sat last night and Kemba Walker got the start and led all scorers with 22 points. Unfortunately, the injury decimated Bobcats lost their 11th straight game and now sit at 3-21. Oh well, at least next year’s draft class is loaded.
In a wildly entertaining game, the Kings were able to hold off the pesky Warriors for an overtime win at home. Defense didn’t seem to be that important to either of these teams as some big numbers were posted. Boogie Cousins turned in the first 20-20 game of his career and ‘Reke Evans got busy to the tune of 26 points and 9 assists. Marcus Thornton had 28 points (18 in the third quarter) in his second game back from injury and John Salmons and and Jason Thompson combined for 29 points. Dorrell Wright was unstoppable in the first half going for 19 points and hitting 3 three pointers while Klay Thompson chipped in with a career high 16 points off the bench. Sacramento led 87-76 heading into the fourth quarter but couldn’t keep the Warriors down. Golden State’s bench sparked a late rally and took a 99-97 lead thanks to Brandon Rush’s big dunk. Nate Rob, who has been a tremendous pickup for the Warriors, had 20 points off the bench and played great for them down the stretch. In overtime it was all Kings though as the Warriors couldn’t continue their hot shooting and only scored 4 points in the extra session.
The Blazers front office must have been seriously regretting not offering Nicolas Batum a contract extension earlier this season. Batum scored a career-high 33 points and set a franchise record with 9 three pointers in only 25 minutes of play. The game was close in the third quarter as the Nuggets cut the lead to 2, but the Blazers went on a 26-10 run to break the game wide open and cruise to victory. LaMarcus Aldridge had another huge game with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists and helped Portland improve to 11-1 at the Rose Garden. For Denver, Danilo Gallinari had 20 points and Ty Lawson dropped 16 points to go along with 5 assists but it wasn’t enough as Denver dropped their fourth straight.
Stat Line of the Night: How could I possibly give it to anyone but Jeremy Lin. 25 points, 7 assists, and 5 boards in 33 minutes–plus The Post Up’s Stat Line of the Night Award, something he will undoubtedly cherish forever.
Moment of the Night: Tony Parker becomes the Spurs All-Time assist leader.
Dunks of the Night: DeAndre Jordan catches the alley.
Marcin Gortat. Smash.
Tonight: Only two games on deck for today. Boston takes on Memphis and Toronto travels to Miami. Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday everybody!