by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Nuggets (10-6) 112, Raptors (6-10) 98
The Denver bench dominated the Raptors for their sixth straight W, winning the battle of the reserves 72-16 en route to a Nuggets victory. Nate Robinson led the way with 23 points in just 24 minutes off the pine, hitting consecutive threes late in the fourth to push the lead from five points to 11 for Denver, sealing the win.
Rudy Gay was Toronto’s top scorer with 23 points, but needed 23 shots to get there. That’s the sixth time this season that Gay has taken as many or more shots than he scored points. Gay’s 10-23 shooting performance actually raised his field goal percentage to 38.6 percent on the season. DeMar DeRozan suffered through a similarly inefficient game, shooting 5-14 for his 17 points. Jonas Valanciunas was the lone bright spot for Toronto, posting a line of 18 points, 16 boards and 3 rejections.
Denver’s starters were mostly quiet, but the bench blew things open. Evan Fournier had a +6 rating in his six minutes, and every other reserve that played was +15 or better. Timofey Mozgov was huge, going for 16 points and 15 boards, and throwing in a vicious rejection of Rudy Gay for one of his 2 blocks.
Pacers (16-1) 105, Clippers (12-6) 100
Indiana picked up a road win over a Western Conference contender, and the Clippers suffered a big loss after the defeat. Paul George was excellent as usual, pouring in 27 points and chipping in six rebounds and five assists. David West chipped in 24 points, scoring 14 of them in the third quarter, where Indy pushed its lead as high as 12 points. The Pacers have now won seven straight as they extended the best start in team history.
News broke after the game that JJ Redick, the Clippers’ third-leading scorer, has a broken bone in his shooting hand and a ligament tear, and will miss 6-8 weeks. It’s even more of a concern as Chris Paul (17 points, 10 assists) nurses a sore hamstring that caused him to miss the previous game and clearly limited him in this one. Paul was 0-3 in the fourth quarter, where he’s usually a killer. Blake Griffin (16 points, 12 boards) didn’t even register a field goal attempt in the final frame. That speaks volumes of the Pacers’ dominant defense, and might give a clue as to how the Clippers will have to adjust without Redick.
Pistons (7-10) 115, 76ers (6-12) 100
Andre Drummond dominated Philadelphia with an Olajuwon-like line of 31 points, 19 rebounds and six steals, while swatting two shots for good measure. One downside for Drummond was his free throw shooting, as usual. After his 7-18 effort in this one, Drummond is now making just 28.6 percent of his shots from the stripe. Compare that to his 63.6 percent clip from the field.
The Sixers have now lost 12 of 15 after their 3-0 start, which should surprise no one. Thaddeus Young (24 points) and Evan Turner (20 points) both put up decent individual stat lines, but Philly shot just over 43 percent from the field and coughed up the rock 20 times.
Brandon Jennings would probably like to forget about his 7-16 shooting in this one, but he did dish out 12 assists and wound up putting up 20 points for the Pistons. Josh Smith pitched in another 20, knocking in 3-5 three-point attempts. Smith made the only two shots he tried in the paint, but still managed to go 8-14 overall.
Warriors (10-8) 115, Kings (4-11) 113
The Warriors pulled off a last-second win, needing an Andrew Bogut block of Isaiah Thomas’ layup attempt to hold on. DeMarcus Cousins (24 points in 21 minutes) dropped in two hook shots, both to tie the game up for the Kings in the final minute, but Steph Curry (36 points, 10 assists) was fouled on a layup attempt with under 10 seconds to go to put the Dubs ahead for good.
Cousins, who was in foul trouble much of the game, was dominant while he was on the court. He made 10-13 shots from the floor and got to the line to make 4-5 attempts. Stepping up with Cousins on the bench was Patrick Patterson, who was a perfect 8-8 from the field for 18 points to go along with seven boards. Thomas was a scoring dynamo off the bench as usual, scoring 19 and shaking off two straight games of scoring in single digits.
The Splash Brothers, Curry and Klay Thompson, provided most of the punch for Golden State. They combined to make 13-19 triples, and Thompson dropped in 28 points. Golden State broke up a two-game losing patch, and Curry’s 14 made field goals tied his season high. Toughest cover in the NBA? It’s got to be close when you can do this:
Heat (14-3) 99, Bobcats (8-10) 98
Trailing by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter, Miami came roaring back to hand the Bobcats their third loss in the their past four games. The Heat’s comeback was keyed by Chris Bosh (22 points, 8-13 shooting, nine rebounds), who scored 13 straight Miami points in a 2:30 stretch late in the fourth quarter, including three straight treys, to turn a six-point hole into a 93-91 lead.
The Bobcats staked themselves to their lead on the backs of Kemba Walker (27 points, six assists) and Gerald Henderson (17 points), who combined for 15 points in the third. Charlotte turned the ball over five times in the fourth and couldn’t stop the Heat, who put up 38 points in the final quarter.
LeBron James continued his remarkable (even for him) season, scoring 26 points on 8-13 shooting. He’s now shooting just under 60 percent from the field and a ridiculous 49 percent from three. While he’s scoring about a point less than his career average, he’s averaging his fewest field goal attempts per game (15.7), more than two fewer than his previous low from last season. He’s also playing his fewest minutes per game since coming into the league. Bow down, NBA.
Thunder (12-3) 113, Timberwovles (9-10) 103
Oklahoma City waited until early in the fourth quarter to take its first lead of the game, but the Thunder sprinted away from Minnesota down the stretch. Kevin Durant put up a beauty of a line for OKC, registering his first triple-double of the season with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. He also chipped in four steals and four blocks, the first time in his career he’s ever registered four of each.
After the game was tied at 2-2, Minny led all the way until there was 10:25 remaining in the game. From that point, Jeremy Lamb hit a triple to give OKC that first lead, and Reggie Jackson scored seven straight for the Thunder to push the lead.
Kevin Martin overcame a subpar shooting night to score 24 points (6-16 from the field, 4-8 from three, 6-16 overall) in his first game back in Oklahoma City. Nikola Pekovic posted a 22-10 double-double, and Kevin Love had 16 and 12 of his own. Jackson had 18 points (8-11 shooting) off the bench for the Thunder, while Russell Westbrook had a solid night with 19 points (7-15).
Pelicans (8-8) 103, Knicks (3-13) 99
The Pelicans handed the Knicks their ninth straight defeat, but it was New Orleans that suffered the biggest loss on Sunday. Ryan Anderson knocked down seven threes on his way to 31 points in the victory, but the Pelicans lost Anthony Davis to what’s being called a non-displaced left hand fracture. The team didn’t give any timeframe for how long Davis would be out after the game.
The Pellies and Knicks went back and forth all afternoon, with the lead changing hands 17 times. New Orleans went down 93-88 after a Tim Hardaway Jr. three ball, but scored the next 10 points to pull ahead for good. Tyreke Evans earned his money in the fourth, scoring 10 of his 24 points in the quarter to help key the Pelicans. Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as he played more than 40 minutes for the sixth straight game. Hardaway pitched in a career-high 21 and hit five threes. The Knicks are now 10 games under .500, and the countdown to Mike Woodson’s firing is on.
Trail Blazers (14-3) 114, Lakers (9-9) 108
Portland went up big on several occasions, the Lakers battled back each time, but the Blazers had enough to hang on at the end. LA missed its first eight shots and fell behind 21-4 in the first quarter, then went down by 20 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Lakers got within three points by halftime, and worked it to 101-100 with about three minutes left in the game. Damian Lillard (26 points, 9 assists, 4-9 from deep) and Wesley Matthews (17 points, 4-8 from the field, 3-5 from three) drilled long-range jumpers to push the Blazers to a safe margin.
Pau Gasol suffered through another rough night in his up-and-down season, going 3-15 from the field for his six points before sitting out the fourth quarter. The Spaniard plans to undergo an MRI on his troublesome ankle. Xavier Henry scored 27 off the bench, shooting 8-11, while Nick Young poured in another 17 for the Lakers. LaMarcus Aldridge kept up his stellar play for Portland, leading the team with 27 and pulling down nine boards. He’s now averaging 22.4 points and 9.5 rebounds, both career highs. By the looks of it, LMA will be heading to his third straight All-Star Game this winter. If this was indeed the Lakers’ last game without a certain No. 24, they’re in decent position to make a push when their franchise player returns.