by Leo Sepkowitz | @LSepkowitzSLAM
Monday night saw the Blazers stay hot, the Pacers shut down the T-Wolves and the Spurs continue to dominate.
Knicks 91, Blazers 102
Don’t let the score fool you—the Knicks were never going to win this game. They got outscored 34-18 in the opening period, and scored just four points in the following six minutes.
The Blazers core was up to its old tricks to help Portland advance to 13-2. Damian Lillard (23 and 6), Nic Batum (23, 7 and 6), LaMarcus Aldridge (18 and 14) and Wes Matthews (17 and 6) have been incredible this season.
Meanwhile, the Knicks got 34 points and 15 boards from Carmelo Anthony but not enough from the supporting cast. Andrea Bargnani scored 16, Amar’e Stoudmire and Kenyon Martin scored 10 and Beno Udrih added 13 and 5. The problem is that those are reasonable expectations for all of those guys—the team is just a player short. Iman Shumpert seemed like a candidate to be that guy, but hasn’t shown a pulse on offense this season and went scoreless in 23 minutes last night.
Timberwolves 84, Pacers 98
Indy made a really good T-Wolves squad look mundane on Monday. The Pacers led at the end of each quarter, and put things away in the fourth by holding Minnesota to zero points in the first 4:30 of the final period.
Paul George, fresh off of being featured on the cover of SLAM 174, dropped 26 with 8 boards, 4 assists, 4 steals and 4 treys. George Hill was just as sharp, adding 26 of his own with 7 assists, 5 steals and 3 threes. Lance Stephenson added 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Minnesota got double-doubles from Kevin Love (20 & 17) and Nikola Pekovic (18 & 11), but shot sub-33 percent from the floor. Love (6/20), Corey Brewer (3/12), Kevin Martin (4/14) and JJ Barea (3/11) all had rough shooting nights. Ricky Rubio (3/9) wasn’t great either, though he did post 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals. Still, his 34.5 percent shooting this season is a pretty legitimate concern for a team that has an outside shot at contending for a title.
Celtics 96, Bobcats 86
The Cs opened up the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run and never looked back last night.
Jordan Crawford led the way for Boston with 21 points. He hit 5/11 shots (4 threes) and 7/7 from the stripe, and has given Boston really solid minutes at guard this season. Gerald Wallace came off the bench for a season-high 17 points. Brandon Bass knocked down 7/10 shots for 16 points to go with his 5 boards.
Charlotte got a big night from Kemba Walker: 28 points (11/17), 5 assists and 6 rebounds. Gerald Henderson kicked in 20, and Al Jefferson scored 14 points but managed just 3 rebounds.
Bucks 94, Pistons 113
Milwaukee looks a lot like the East’s version of the Jazz. They have a couple of front court pieces in place in Larry Sanders (injured) and John Henson and maybe Giannis Antetokounmpo, but not a whole lot else. Brandon Knight has played inconceivably horribly since coming over from Detroit (20 percent overall, 5 turnovers per game in limited action), OJ Mayo is shooting 41 percent and Nate Wolters is third on the team in minutes.
Last night, they got smoked by a mediocre Pistons team in the first half (65-34 at the break) and never bounced back.
Each Pistons starter was in double-figures, and Brandon Jennings handed out 13 dimes. Rodney Stuckey (17) and Charlie Villanueva (12) had solid nights off the bench in the blowout.
Some stat lines for the Bucks include: OJ Mayo (1/4, 25 minutes), Brandon Knight (2/7, 21 minutes), Ersan Ilyasova (1/3, 16 minutes), Zaza Pachulia (1 rebound, 17 minutes), Caron Butler (2/7, 27 minutes). This team is brutal, but at least we can all enjoy the Greek Freak’s solid night: 6 points, 4 boards and a +17 mark in 12 minutes.
Suns 92, Heat 107
Phoenix hung with the defending champs for a while last night, trailing by just seven as the fourth quarter began, but ran out of gas late.
LeBron dominated to the tune of 35 points (11/14 overall, 11/11 FTs), 5 boards and 4 assists. Dwyane Wade was huge too, double-doubling with 21 points (9/13) and 12 dimes. Ray Allen knocked down 3 threes on his way to 17 points.
Channing Frye was Phoenix’s high-man with 16 points. He hit 4 triples and grabbed 8 boards in the loss. Goran Dragic narrowly missed a triple-double with 14 points, 9 assists and 8 boards in 39 minutes.
Rockets 93, Grizzlies 86
Memphis looked ready to grind out a win without Marc Gasol last night, but then allowed Houston to explode for 38 points in the fourth quarter.
Even without James Harden, the Rockets essentially couldn’t be stopped in the fourth. It was a balanced effort, as Chandler Parsons finished with 17 points on 8/9 shooting, Omri Casspi scored 16, Dwight Howard added 15, Jeremy Lin dropped 14 and Terrence Jones managed double-digit points for the fifth straight game.
The Grizz looked good for a while before falling apart defensively. Still, the offensive attack is pretty lame without Gasol. Tayshaun Prince led the team with 16 points, Mike Conley shot just 2/14 (with 10 assists) and Z-Bo was held to 13 and 6. Tony Allen (15 points, 6 steals) and Kosta Koufos (13 rebounds, including 7 on the offensive glass) stepped up, but still, this team looks bad without its best player.
Pelicans 93, Spurs 112
Anybody wanna guess what the Spurs record is this season at home? How about overall? If you guessed a perfect 7-0 in San Antonio and a nearly-as-pretty 13-1 in ’13-14, you’d be right! (Sorry, no prizes.)
Last night, they simply rolled over another team with really efficient basketball. Only two players took 10 or more shots: Boris Diaw and Patty Mills. How many other teams can win by 20 with their 8th- and 9th-best guys taking the most shots?
Manu Ginobili (6/7, 16 points), Marco Belinelli (5/7, 14 points), Tony Parker (5/8, 14 & 7), Kawhi Leonard (7 & 11), Tim Duncan (4/8, 10 points) and Tiago Splitter (5/6, 11 & 6) were all solid. The Spurs hit nearly 55 percent of its shots overall and 10/25 from deep.
Meanwhile, the Pelicans struggled offensively and had a three-game win streak snapped. NOLA shot just 38 percent from the field and 2/15 from beyond the arc. Nobody really got it going except for Ryan Anderson, who needed 15 shots to score 17 points. Anthony Davis had an off night with 10 points, 6 boards and 4 blocks (his D seemingly never slumps), Jrue Holiday made only 6/17 attempts (but tallied 9 boards and 7 dimes) and Tyreke Evans shot only 5/14 (with 9 boards).
Nuggets 110, Mavericks 96
The Nuggets are now 7-6 after a 1-4 start to the season. A handful of guys stepped up last night, including JJ Hickson (22 and 8), Ty Lawson (19 and 11) and Nate Robinson (17). It’s easy to what the formula is here—balanced scoring, good ball movement and strong rebounding to get the transition offense moving. On Monday night, Denver managed more assists, rebounds and fast break points than the Mavs.
Dallas’ defense pretty much takes them out of games in which the offense doesn’t catch fire. Last night, the O was solid—18 from Dirk, 22 from Monta Ellis and 13 and 12 from Shawn Marion, but it still wasn’t enough. On the bright side, DeJaun Blair started over Sam Dalembert, and responded with 10 points and 8 boards in 19 minutes. He may be due for a bigger role going forward.
Bulls 83, Jazz 89 (OT)
Bad, bad news for the Bulls. They opened up the post-Rose Era 2.0 with a blowout loss to the Clippers on Sunday, and dropped a game to the League’s worst squad last night.
Chicago had just 56 points through three quarters, but managed to erase an eight-point deficit and force overtime. Unfortunately, it took them more than three and a half minutes to score in OT.
Utah got at least 10 points from each starter, led by Marvin Williams’ 17 and 9 boards. Gordon Hayward double-doubled with 15 points and 12 assists, and kicked in 6 rebounds and a steal.
The Bulls had big performances from two guys: Luol Deng (24 points, 10 boards) and Carlos Boozer (26 and 16). Joakim Noah also double-doubled with 10 points and 13 rebounds, but nobody else showed up.
Kirk Hinrich incredibly managed 1 point in 36 minutes, and Mike Dunleavy was just as bad, making one shot in 36 minutes. The Bulls made 1/13 threes, and, needless to say, are in major trouble this season.
They’re far less prepared for Rose’s injury than they were last season, when they at least had Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli to shoulder some of the ball-handling load. The Dunleavy signing was a bad one, and there’s essentially no depth at guard behind him. It’s foolish to overreact to two games, but this might not be a Playoff team, even in the pathetic East.
Bonus: Vintage Show Of The Day
This season, I’ll be posting a semi-random highlight video of a former baller at the bottom of my Post Ups. Today, the honor goes to one of the great Big Threes of the ’90s: Run TMC. Enjoy this NB90’s segment on the Golden State trio.