by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
The Yankees and Red Sox will have to wait. New York and Boston have a basketball rivalry to deal with first.
Lou Williams had a look at a game-tying 3-pointer with just under 20 seconds remaining, but his jumper drew front iron and the Sixers continued their slow decline, closing out their 2011-12 home schedule with an L. In the words of the immortal Rasheed Wallace, “both teams played hard,” but Indiana in particular continued its torrid play of late, winning its fifth game in a row and 10th in the last 11—this time behind a game-high 24 points from Danny Granger (6 threes) and Roy Hibbert’s 15×13 double-double. Andre Iguodala led five Sixers in double figures with 23 points (on 13 shots), 7 rebounds and 6 assists, but even with a last-minute push Philly lost its 3rd in a row and 7th in the last 9 games—the Sixers are just 1.5 games up on Milwaukee for the 8-seed in the East.
It sounds like Kyrie Irving could play Wednesday after sitting out since April 3 with a shoulder injury—and lord knows the Cavs miss him. Last night, Detroit laid the second-worst beatdown of this NBA season, shooting 60 percent from the field and leading 100-50 after three quarters. A 23-point halftime lead ballooned when the Pistons scored the first 16 points of the third quarter, and from there the rout was on. Rookie point guard Brandon Knight finished with 28 points and 7 assists and Greg Monroe filled the box score with 12 points, 13 boards, 4 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks—to name just 2 of the 12 Pistons players that scored in the game. Cleveland’s atrocious night was thanks in large part to an 0-10 shooting night out of Antawn Jamison (3 points), the team’s leading scorer sans Kyrie.
Where to begin with this one—Carmelo’s triple-double? Paul Pierce’s 43 points? New York raining three-pointers? Steve friggin’ Novak? Under the bright lights of MSG, the Celtics and Knicks put on a show, though it wasn’t always close. ‘Melo messed around and put up 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, carving up the Cs left and right. He and the Knicks scored a ridiculous 72 points in the first half behind 14 long balls, and finished one trey short of a franchise record, with 19 three-pointers on the night. None were bigger than the pair that Novak (25 points, 8 threes) drilled in crunch time of the fourth to keep New York out in front. JR Smith had 25 off the bench, too, while Tyson Chandler added 20 and the Knicks improved to 14-5 under Mike Woodson. Boston fell out of a 3-way tie for fourth-place in the East and squandered a chance at clinching the Atlantic division. It’d be hard to pin this one on Pierce, though, whose 43 points came on 11-19 field goal shooting and 17-18 at the charity stripe. Kevin Garnett scored 20 and Rajon Rondo had 13 dimes to go with 13 points, but the Knicks were straight-up unconscious from 3-point land.
Tied at 82 as late as 2:40 to play in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies finished the game on a 9-2 run to take home the victory and close to within 2 games of the Clippers for the No. 4 seed in the West. Rudy Gay scored 7 of those final 9 points, part of his 28-point, 9-rebound effort, while Mike Conley and Zach Randolph each chipped in 16 for Memphis. As for the Timberwolves, this marked their 11th straight loss—and 27th straight defeat in the month of April, dating back to last season. With Kevin Love still on the mend, JJ Barea has picked up his play—he scored a season-high 28 points, plus had 8 assists and 5 rebounds for Minny—but even with his energy flowing, the Wolves only managed to score 28 points the entire second half.
Often times, NBA games are decided by a single quarter. This would be one of those times, as the Spurs dominated the second quarter, shooting 71 percent, scoring 20 points in the paint and 36 overall (to just 19 for the Lakers). San Antonio used an 18-0 run midway through the second quarter to take a 63-47 lead into halftime. The Spurs continued to roll after the half, riding a 29-point (14-20 shooting), 13-assist effort from Tony Parker and another vintage Tim Duncan game. TD finished with 19 points and 8 rebounds, and even got up once to dunk on McBob’s face (see below). Hopefully, we’ve all stopped sleeping on the Spurs, who are now a half-game up on Oklahoma City for the No. 1 seed in the West, and whose 20-6 record since the All-Star break is the best in the NBA. The Lakers, meanwhile, were led by Andrew Bynum’s 21 and 7, but had a 4-game winning streak snapped and now sit just a half-game up on the Clippers for the 3-seed.
Line of the Night: With a nod to Paul Pierce’s 43, it wouldn’t be right to award the LON to anyone but ‘Melo, whose 35-12-10 triple-double was his first since 2007.
Moment of the Night: Melo’s 3×2 highlights, featuring Novak and the rest of the Knicks.
Dunk of the Night: Who cares if it didn’t count? Paul George is still out there proving that he got robbed in the Dunk Contest this year. And Tim Duncan turns back the clock on Josh McRoberts. Move aside, young fella!
Tonight: A crazy 14-game schedule on tap for Wednesday, during most of which I’ll be in Jersey for Nets-Knicks. Apologies in advance for a light Post Up tomorrow—you all will have to be my eyes out there, so you can fill me in on anything major that goes down while I’m at The Rock.