by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Last night, the Knicks proved they need Melo, the Heat got back on track, the Bobcats continued their downfall and OJ Mayo had a career night.
Clippers 117 (13-6), Suns 99 (7-14)
The Clippers led by just two points entering the fourth quarter, but erupted in the final period. They outscored Phoenix, 32-16, in the last 12 minutes, including a 9-2 run to open the quarter.
Blake Griffin led the game with 24 points, and tacked on 8 boards, 4 assists and 4 steals for LA. Chris Paul double-doubled with 16 and 11, while Jamal Crawford dropped 21 off the bench.
Michael Beasley and Luis Scola were both strong off the Suns bench, combining to shoot 15-for-22 with 39 points. Phoenix played well offensively, but got killed in the paint (64-32), which was the difference.
Heat (13-5) 106, Hornets (5-14) 90
New Orleans actually led after the first quarter last night, but trailed by 14 entering halftime. The Heat never let up in the second half. LeBron James (11-for-16) and Dwyane Wade (9-for-12) combined for 50 points. Ray Allen and Shane Battier each scored 11 points off the Miami bench.
Ryan Anderson knocked down 4 threes on his way to 24 points for the Hornets. Robin Lopez added 20 and 8 boards. Miami hit 58 percent of their shots versus 45 percent for New Orleans.
Warriors (13-7) 101, Wizards (2-15) 97
Washington nearly picked up their third win of the season last night. They trailed by just one point entering the fourth quarter, and that deficit remained with 8 seconds left after a Bradley Beal three-pointer. A pair of Stephen Curry free throws put the Warriors up, 99-96. Golden State wisely fouled Beal on the following possession, not allowing Washington a chance to tie with a three.
Beal hit the first free throw and missed the second, and the Wizards actually got the offensive rebound. However, a Festus Ezeli block won the game for Golden State.
Beal played well for the second time in as many nights, scoring 17 points with 6 boards and 6 assists. Jordan Crawford dropped 22 off the bench for the Wizards. The offense was solid (42.5 percent from the field, 9 threes, only 8 turnovers), but the Wiz got out-rebounded by 20.
Golden State got 20+ points from three guys—David Lee (24, 17 boards), Stephen Curry (22) and Klay Thompson (23). Carl Landry and Draymond Green combined for 17 boards off the bench.
This game was as close as it looks—that is to say, not even remotely close. San Antonio handled Charlotte in the first three quarters, and just couldn’t be stopped all night. For the second straight night, at least 12 Spurs scored—an amazing feat.
Danny Green led the team with 23 points, and was lights out from deep, going 7-for-9. Tony Parker added 22 points and 9 dimes. The team as a whole shot a better percentage from deep (55.9) than they did overall from the floor (55.6)
Kemba Walker was Charlotte’s lone bright spot, as he scored 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist posted 8 points, 6 assists, 5 boards and 3 blocks.
Celtics (11-9) 92, 76ers (11-9) 79
It’s amazing that this game was competitive considering that Philly scored 28 points in the entire first half. Their starters shot 7-of-33 in the first two quarters, but turned things around in the third quarter. They cut a 20-point halftime deficit down to 13 entering the fourth, but couldn’t get it any closer from there.
A strong second half allowed Thaddeus Young to finish with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Lavoy Allen led the team with 9 boards.
For Boston, four players scored in double-figures. Kevin Garnett led the team with 19 points. Rajon Rondo totaled 7 points, 11 assists, 9 boards and 3 steals. Paul Pierce wasn’t particularly sharp, but did become just the fifth Celtic to reach 4,000 assists.
Philly actually had more rebounds than Boston, fewer turnovers and more free throws, but just couldn’t get their shots to fall.
Pistons (7-15) 104, Cavaliers (4-17) 97
Brandon Knight was the star in Cleveland last night, dropping 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting. He drained 5 threes, grabbed 7 boards and handed out 5 assists. Four other Pistons scored in double-figures.
The Cavs got a great game from Jeremy Pargo, who scored 24 points. He’s been a sweet surprise since Kyrie Irving’s injury. Anderson Varejao continued his amazing season, tallying 16 points, 13 boards and 2 blocks. Rookie Tyler Zeller scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds off the bench.
The game was close most of the way, but a 15-5 fourth quarter run for Detroit put it away.
Bulls (11-8) 93, Knicks (14-5) 85
Playing without Carmelo Anthony once again, the Knicks were unable to continue their scorching hot three-point shooting last night. They hit 8-of-23 from deep—not a bad mark, but not good enough to win without Melo, either. The real problem was that Raymond Felton and JR Smith combined to shoot 13-for-44. Felton alone attempted 30 shots.
The Bulls led by two points after three quarters, but sealed the game late. They turned a three-point lead with 1:55 left into a nine-point advantage a minute later. Luol Deng led Chicago with 22 points, while Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah both double-doubled.
Atlanta picked up a prove-it win last night. They’ve been playing well all season, but are still considered one of the worst Eastern Conference likely playoff teams. However, they outscored the Grizzlies, 32-13, in the third quarter and held on in the fourth on Saturday night.
Josh Smith led the way with 24 points. Lou Williams, who has been disappointing so far this season, dropped a big 21 off the bench. Al Horford double-doubled with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
The Grizzlies got nice games out of Zach Randolph (18 & 13) and Marc Gasol (18, 8 & 5). However, Rudy Gay connected on just 7-of-25 shots.
Mavericks (10-10) 116, Rockets (9-10) 109
The Mavs closed Saturday night’s game out on a 20-9 run and picked up a road W in Houston.
OJ Mayo was incredible for Dallas, knocking down 15-of-26 shots on his way to 40 points. Chris Kaman added 20 points and 8 boards. Vince Carter and Darren Collison each scored 12 points off the bench.
James Harden was just as good as Mayo, as he scored 39 points, including 4 threes and 15-of-16 free throws, and added 9 assists and 6 boards. 30 of his points came in the first half. Chandler Parsons played well, too, scoring 18 points with 10 rebounds.
Sacramento picked up a surprisingly easy win in Portland last night. The Kings outscored the Blazers by 12 in the first quarter, but the lead was cut to two going into halftime. But they came out firing in the third quarter, and regained a 12-point lead after three.
Six Kings were in double-figures, including DeMarcus Cousins (12 boards) and John Salmons (11 dimes, 3 threes), who each scored a game-high 19 points. Each Sacramento starter had at least one steal, and Marcus Thornton recorded 4 off the bench. The Kings shot better percentages from the field, the free throw line and downtown, and also scored more points in the paint, grabbed more rebounds and committed fewer fouls and turnovers than Portland. That’s beating a team soundly.
Portland got solid efforts from LaMarcus Aldridge and JJ Hickson, who both double-doubled, but not much from the rest of the team. Nicolas Batum scored five points for the second straight game.