by Adam Figman | @afigman
Ben covered the game’s first storyline—that Derrick Favors got his first career start, albeit one followed by a quiet performance. The second is that the Nets overcame many obstacles—the main one being that they’re the Nets—to squeeze out a victory. Sasha Vujacic (hey!) found the ball in his hands with 5 seconds left, and he put in a floater that broke the 94-all tie and won the game for Jersey. Derrick Rose led the losing squad with 21 points.
Two of the East’s bottom dwellers faced off, and the Raptors came out on top behind Jose Calderon’s season-high 17 dimes. Andrea Bargnani dropped 25, while Antawn Jamison scored 32 in the losing effort. Toronto followed the “shoot better than 55 percent from the field, and you’ll probably win” strategy, and, apparently, it worked. (They shot 56.8 percent, by the way. That’ll do it, more often than not.)
You don’t expect a team led by a rookie to be too hot on the road, but 0-17—well, that’s pretty damn cold. John Wall did manage 18 points and 14 assists, but the Sixers outlasted the Wiz in the final quarter and came out on top. Philly guards Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams each went for 26, and Andres Nocioni put up a smooth 10 and 10 double-double.
Even with Andrew Bogut on the floor, the Bucks couln’t contain Dwight Howard (28 points, 13 boards), who fueled the Magic offensively and defensively in the W. All Orlando starters scored in double figures (as did sixth man JJ Redick), and the Magic won their seventh straight as they continue to cruise. We were bouncing around potential Eastern Conference Playoff matchups yesterday in the SLAM Dome, and the most likely scenario seems to be the Magic overcoming the Bulls and earning the third spot, while the Knicks hold ground and maintain the sixth spot, giving us the Knicks-Magic battle we somehow never got in the 90s. Color me excited.
The night’s premier matchup lived up to the hype, and it better have, given that Coach Popovich started planning for this one at some point during the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s Knicks-Spurs game. Down nine with just under a minute to go, the Spurs charged back, getting stop after stop and hoop after hoop until they were down 2 with the ball and about 7 ticks left. Butt Manu Ginobili’s final shot over Paul Pierce, well, didn’t get over Pierce, and the C’s hung on. Rajon Rondo—who’s very much back, if you haven’t noticed—scored 12, dished 22, and stole 6, while Ray Allen led Boston with 31 points off 13-16 shooting.
No Stephen Jackson. No Gerald Wallace. No big deal. DJ Augustin scored 8 points in the game’s final 2:08 seconds during OT to lead the Cats–who overcame a 35-point, 15-rebound night from Kevin Love—to victory. Paul Silas showed a lot of love for his starting pg, and it paid off handsomely, which was a sight to see on a Charlotte team that’s had its share of point guard problems in the past.
The Warriors were down after three quarters, but they overcame that petty problem with a 38-point fourth quarter and some quality offensive chemistry. The Hornets, meanwhile, seem to be lacking that little factor, as Chris Paul (24 points, 13 dimes) continues to put up numbers in losing efforts. Remember that point when the Bees had one of the League’s best records and everyone thought this might be their season? Yeah, me neither.
As both of these two are fighting over the same Playoff spot (eighth in the Left Coast), this one was bound to be heated. And even though Kevin Martin answered the call to the tune of a 45-point showing, his teammates didn’t do the same, as his squad fell to the Blazers. The Rockets couldn’t get the ball in Martin’s hands as time was expiring, and Courtney Lee forced up a three that had no shot as the clock hit double zeros.
Every other contending East Coast team—including the Knicks,who are behind them in the standings—seems to have more buzz than the Hawks, but if they can put up nights like this on a regular basis, don’t sleep on ’em. Joe Johnson scored 28 (and put in 5 threes), and Jamal Crawford dropped 26 as Atlanta easily handled Utah on the road. The Jazz shot only 39.4 percent, which isn’t gonna cut it when the Hawks have all of their pieces moving accordingly.
We expect Blake Griffin to put up huge numbers—which he did (22 points, 18 boards)—and to throw down some monster jams—which he did (expect a video post or two later today)—but we don’t expect the Clippers to actually, you know, win. But hey. DeAndre Jordan (14 points, 20 rebounds) added some assistance, as the Clips led for most of the game and held on in the final quarter. Funny how the commentator in the video recap I just checked out described LAC as “red hot,” even though they were on a two-game losing streak and have now won just three of five, but I guess low standards are a must when discussing these guys. They now stand at 11-24.
I constantly waver on tons of NBA-related things every day, but this much I’m pretty confident about: the Lakers will be just fine. They’re old, and it’s a long season, but they’ll be back in postseason form before you and I know it. Last night was decent assurance of that, as they defeated a relatively solid Suns team on the road. Kobe Bryant headed the balanced effort with 24, while Jared Dudley led the losing group with 21. The Suns, meanwhile, well—the jury’s out on whether or not they’ll be alright. At this point, a Steve Nash trade might be looming, it appears. Anyone know of any good potential suitors?
Actual Stats: Kevin Love: 35 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 threes.
Moment of the Night: Sasha!
(Yeah, no footage of the end of Celtics-Spurs up yet. Will update if any pops up later today. Back tomorrow, folks.)