by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Eleven games took place last night that yielded some surprising results, catch up on all the action here…
After a slow start, the Magic were finally able to get it together and pull out the victory behind Dwight Howard’s 26 points and 20 rebounds; his seventh 20-20 game of the season. Orlando has been living and dying with the three-ball so far this season, and last night they were able to escape with a win despite shooting 9-29 from beyond the arc. After an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter, Milwaukee took a 10-point lead and it looked like they were on the verge of snapping their four game losing streak. But, the Bucks completely fell apart. Orlando proceeded to go on a 14-3 run and took the lead thanks to Hedo Turkoglu’s jumper that put them up 86-85 with just under five minutes to play. Turkoglu took over in the final period of play scoring ten points and putting the team on his back while triggering a game ending 17-0 run en route to a home victory. Over the last ten minutes of play, the Bucks shot 4-20 from the field and missed their final 11 shots–they have been playing some terrible basketball as of late. Ryan Anderson continued his hot shooting, going 4-7 from 3-point and ending up with 23 points and 9 boards. Brandon Jennings, who many (myself included) felt deserved an All-Star bid, continued his struggles. Young Money went 4-20 from the field including 2-10 from three. I think a big problem for Jennings right now is he is trying to do too much instead of letting the game come to him. With Andrew Bogut out and Stephen Jackson being problematic, Jennings is taking it upon himself to shoulder the scoring load and it hasn’t been working out well. Here’s hoping he can turn it around.
Happy Birthday Mike!! For a present, the Charlotte Bobcats gave Jordan a dub–their first in 17 games. In a back and forth game that saw neither team lead by more than six points, the Bobcats won it with defense. With 1:45 left in the game, Kemba Walker (14 off the bench) made a great steal on a Leandro Barbosa breakaway, stopping T.Dot from tying the game at 90 and turning the tide in Charlotte’s favor–the Bobcats ended the game on a 6-3 run. Rookie Bismack Biyombo had a career high 7 blocks and did an admirable job of patrolling the paint throughout the game. Reggie Williams had a season-high 22 points, Corey Maggette chipped in with 16 and D.J. Augustin had 11 points and 10 dimes in the win. For the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan had a game-high 24 points, but also had 0 rebounds and 0 assists–not gonna win games like that.
Man, this one wasn’t close from the get-go. The Heat opened up the game with a 21-2 run and the game was never close as LeBron returned to Cleveland. LeBron (28 points, 5 Boards), Bosh (16, 12) and Wade (22, 6) combined for 66 points and 23 rebounds in 88 minutes in a dominating performance that helped push their road trip record to 5-1. As a team, the Heatles shot 67 percent from beyond the arc, hitting 14 of their 21 three-point attempts. During the third quarter, the Heat stretched the lead to 34 points and breezed by Cleveland in a laugher.
The Pistons have been hot as of late and their recent great play is due in part to Rodney Stuckey’s current scoring tear. Over the last four three games, Stuckey has averaged 28 points and last night he had a season-high 36. Stuckey scored in a variety of ways, shooting 12-20 from the floor and hitting 4 three-pointers. Rookie Brandon Knight had 23 points and 10 dimes and came up huge in the fourth. The former Wildcat hit a three-pointer then dished to Stuckey for another three before driving to the lane for a tough layup with a little over a minute to play. Tayshaun Prince chipped in with 22 points and 10 boards and Ben Gordon had 13 off the bench. For the Kings, rookie Isaiah Thomas made his first career start and played well scoring 13 points and dishing out 4 assists. DeMarcus Cousins got the better of Greg Monroe, going for 26 points and 15 rebounds and shut down Monroe in the process.
With Nikola Pekovic in the frontcourt alongside Kevin Love, the Timberwolves now pack a devastating 1-2 punch that can contend with any frontcourt in the league. Last night, the two big men combined for 63 points on 24-36 shooting and 29 rebounds to get a road victory. Pekovic has been beasting but KLove proved last night why he may be the best power forward in the game today. After Houston ripped off a 15-2 fourth quarter run to get within one point with 7 minutes to go, Love demanded the ball and scored 10 straight Minnesota points. Ricky Rubio had 18 points and 9 dimes but also committed 6 turnovers. Keep an eye on the Timberwolves following the All-Star break. If Pekovic can continue his strong play, they will be able to compete with anybody and if they sneak into one of the 6-8 seeds, they will give whatever team they play a headache.
It had to end sometime, but I don’t think anybody expected it to be against the Hornets. Plagued by poor shooting and turnovers, the Knicks drooped one to the second worst team in the league at the Garden. As a team, New York shot 4-24 from behind the arc, 19-29 from the stripe, committed 21 turnovers and trailed wire to wire against the visiting Hornets, who were sporting those atrocious Mardi Gras jerseys. Jeremy Lin notched 26 points and 5 dimes but also had 9 turnovers; his 45 turnovers in seven starts is an NBA record. The Hornets did all they could to give the game away allowing the Knicks to erase a 13-point deficit to get within two points late in the game. But, Gustavo Ayon (13 and 11) hit a layup to make it a 4 point game and ‘Nawlins hit their free throws late to seal the victory. Trevor Ariza finished with 25 points and 8 boards and Greivis Vasquez, who was starting in place of Jarrett Jack, finished with a strong line of 15 points and 11 dimes. Chris Kaman remembered that he is in the middle of a contract year and had a 12-point, 8-rebound, 6-assist performance. Melo should return on Sunday against the Mavs and new signees J.R. Smith and Baron Davis may play as early as next week.
Lacking a true crunch time scorer hurts Philadelphia in games like these. After scoring 51 in the first half, Philly couldn’t buy a bucket and shot 9-42 in the second allowing the Mavericks to get back in the game. The Sixers only scored 24 points in the second half while Dirk scored 24 himself over the third and fourth quarters. The reigning Finals MVP finished with 28 points and 12 boards while Jason Kidd finished 1-point, 2-assists and 1-rebound shy of his 107th career triple-double. Philly’s bench put on another strong performance combining for 42 points but the starting backcourt of Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday shot 0-12. When the Sixers went ice cold in the second half, they had no one to turn to for a bucket. This is a “team” in the truest sense of the word, but they don’t have a guy who can takeover when they are struggling offensively and I think that will hurt them in the playoffs.
James Harden was electric off the bench going for 25 points as the Thunder blew by the visiting Warriors. The game was settled in the second quarter as the Thunder scored 38 points taking a double-digit lead into intermission. The thunder held the Warriors to 35 percent shooting and behind Harden’s 25, OKC’s bench outscored Golden State’s 51-31. Kevin Durant had a great overall game, posting a stat line of 23 points, 10 boards and 6 dimes. Unfortunately, both Monta Ellis and Russell Westbrook left the game with ankle injuries; let’s hope neither injury is serious and both return quickly. For the Warriors, David Lee led the charge with 23 points and 6 boards but the team’s woeful shooting caused them to get run over on the road.
Up by 23 points, it looked like the Grizzlies were going to waltz through the second half to an easy dub. Not so fast. Corey Brewer scored 18 third quarter points and brought his team back within striking distance. Brewer finished with a game-high 26 points and was the reason why the Nuggets were in this game in the fourth quarter. After trailing 60-43 at the half, the Nuggets scratched and clawed their way back into the game and eventually took a 91-90 lead with 4 and a half minutes to go. But, the Grizzlies used a little luck and positioning to sneak away with a dub. Trailing 102-101 in the waning seconds of the game, Rudy Gay hoisted a shot from the corner that rimmed out. Fortunately, Dante Cunningham was in perfect position for the tip-in with 0.2 seconds left and the Grizzlies pulled off the victory.
Al Jefferson was in straight beast mode in the first half of last night’s game. The Jazz center scored 26 over the first two quarters including 14 straight in the second; he finished with 34 points and 12 boards. The Jazz absolutely destroyed the Wiz inside, outscoring them 70-44 behind Jefferson and Paul Millsap’s 14 and 12. Utah led by 12 at the half and scored 38 points in the third quarter to snap their two-game losing streak. John Wall did all he could, scoring 24 points and Jordan Crawford had 21 off the bench but D.C. couldn’t overcome Jefferson’s dominating performance.
Kobe Bryant plays his best ball against the Suns. Last night, Bryant scored 18 of his game-high 36 in the third quarter as he helped the Lakers pull away from a pesky Phoenix team. Bryant also grabbed the 6,000th board of his impressive career in the third quarter–a big congratulations to him. The Lakers outmatched Phoenix inside outscoring them 54-38 and Matt Barnes had a season-high 17 off the bench in the blowout victory. For the Suns, Marcin Gortat continued his strong play with 21 points and 16 boards as he continues in his bid for Most Improved Player. Steve Nash had 11 points and 17 dimes but the Suns had no match for Kobe.
Stat Line of the Night: The combo of Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love who combined for 63 points and 29 rebounds–scary.
Play of the Night: Right place, right time.
Dunks of the Night: Kevin Durant to the Beard.
Russell Westbrook explodes to the hoop.
DeRozan down the lane.
Shannon Brown with the tip-slam.
Assists of the Night: Euro Swag.
Tonight: Abe is covering for me tomorrow night. Only 4 games on deck, hope everybody enjoys. Catch y’all next week.