by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Four games from last night, and while they were entertaining as usual (thanks TNT!), the biggest news of the night was the naming of the All-Star reserves for the East and West squads. And, since this is my party blog and I do what I want here, I’d like to give you my picks—just one of a baker’s dozen worth of ballots that made up the official SLAMonline list. Here’s who I would have had in Orlando. Keep in mind my NBA watching has been schizophrenic this season as I try to keep you all abreast of every game at once. But for what it’s worth, here goes, with ones who did not make it in italics:
East: Andre Iguodala, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings, Kyrie Irving, Ryan Anderson
West: Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Russell Westbrook, Paul Millsap, Ty Lawson, Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay
Sure, this rivalry was more fun a few years ago, but even with more years on their bodies, Celtics-Lakers is always a fun watch. Then again, both teams shot sub-40 percent last night and a combined 7-34 from three-point range. All you need to know is Boston head coach Doc Rivers had this to say after the game, “I thought this was an awful game.” More awful for his team, in the end. Kobe Bryant scored 27 points (11-24 FGs), Pau Gasol had 25 points and 14 boards, and Andrew Bynum had 16 and 17 as L.A. edged Boston in overtime. The Lakers are 15-11 after seeing Kevin Garnett take a season-high 23 shots—he only made 6, finishing with 12 points. To end the fourth quarter, a Kobe jumper drew iron but Gasol was there for the tip-in, and the Celtics’ final chance with the ball ended with a Mickael Pietrus fadeaway from 35 feet out. Yeah, what a way to send it to overtime! It’s at that point that my Twitter timeline provided some laughs:
In OT, Bynum tipped in a Kobe miss to take a 1-point lead after a pair of Pierce jumpers. On the game’s last possession, another Pierce J rimmed out, and Gasol blocked a seemingly wide-open Ray Allen putback that would have allowed the Cs to come away with a sneaky buzzer-beater. The Cs (14-11) were led by 22 points from Allen and an 18/9/7 line from Pierce.
Denver entered halftime with a 4-point lead, but Golden State won the third quarter 37-20 and got a season-high 36 points from Stephen Curry to improve to 9-14. Curry had 33 through 3 quarters, and his line included 7 boards and 7 dimes, while Klay Thompson added 19 points off the bench and the Warriors shot 52 percent from the field in taking down the suddenly reeling Nuggets. That’s five losses in a row for Denver, clearly still struggling to find a rhythm without Danilo Gallinari’s 17 ppg. Five straight is the longest losing streak in five season for the Nuggs (15-12, 7-7 at home), who were led in scoring by Arron Afflalo’s 26 points, 15 from Nene and 10 rebounds and 8 points from Kenneth Faried, who remains in the staring lineup. The Warriors stepped up on D, finishing with a ridiculous 14 blocks (to Denver’s 1), including 5 from Ekpe Udoh, who played played 21 minutes, scored 0 points on 3 shot attempts and picked up 5 fouls. It wasn’t pretty, but the Ws got it done.
Channing Frye scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Steve Nash had a very Nashean night, with 14 points (7-7 shooting) and 13 assists, but the Suns could only muster 13 points in the fourth quarter and the Rockets bench outscored Phoenix’s 57-13. In fact, Houston’s bench scored more points than the Suns’ bench played minutes (56). Houston is now 16-11, led last night by Luis Scola’s 16 points, 14 apiece from Kyle Lowry and Patrick Patterson, and an 11-point, 11-assist game off the bench from Goran Dragic. Coach Kevin McHale has now essentially thrown his normal player rotation out the window in consecutive games—the Rockets reserves played so much that Kevin Martin (18.7 ppg) logged just 13 minutes and scored 2 points, while all five guys who came in off the bench scored in double figures.
In the fight to save a city’s franchise, prime time TV games are pretty important, which is probably why the Kings put on a show for a national audience. It was fun to watch, but Sacramento is still 10-16 and remarkably underwhelming when not in the spotlight. That said, give them credit for a huge W last night over the Thunder. OKC turned the ball over 6 times in the fourth quarter (23 in the game) to allow the Kings to come back from an 8-point deficit and come out on top. SacTown finished off the game with nine free throws, and despite not registering a field goal over the last 2 minutes, beat the best team in the West. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 60 points (33 for Russy, 27 for KD) and Serge “Insert Nickname Here” Ibaka had 10 blocks, but Oklahoma City couldn’t execute down the stretch. That, and they had all they could handle with Tyreke Evans (22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals) and DeMarcus Cousins (19×9) doing work, and Marcus Thornton (15 points) hitting a couple clutch threes in the game’s waning moments. Poor OKC, only 20-6 on the year with the loss. Although, I would point out that it’s concerning to have Ls to the Wiz and Kings.
Line of the Night: Stephen Curry — 36 Pts (13-17 FG, 6-9 3PT), 7 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Blk
Dunks of the Night: Channing Frye on Samuel Dalembert, Nene on Dominic McGuire and Russell Westbrook on no one in particular slash the entire city of Sacramento. Lawd.
Funny of the Night: The Celtics are some weird dudes, eh?
Tonight: A dozen games on tap on Friday night, which means our man Pete’s social plans will have to wait. It all starts with a handful of entertaining early games, including Clippers-Sixers, Hawks-Magic, and yes, Heat-Wizards! ESPN’s doubleheader has Lakers-Knicks at MSG for Part I—will the Linsanity continue??—and Part II features Jazz-Thunder in the battle of teams without an ‘s’ at the end of their mascot name. I’m staying away from my computer for the weekend and hoping NYC’s weather wil be nice enough to get in a run of my own. Suggest y’all do the same!