by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Royal Flush — “Worldwide”
New York got a much needed win over the upstart Hornets in yesterday’s matinee game. The Knicks got off to another slow start defensively, allowing 29 points in the first quarter, but regrouped and refocused heading into the second. In the second, Melo scored 18 of his game-high 27 (he also grabbed 7 boards) and the Knicks outscored the Hornets 27-12 to take a 49-41 lead into the half. The Hornets came back in the third to cut the deficit to five but the Knicks came out on fire in the fourth quarter. Steve Novak (9 points) and Chris Copeland (aka Citizen Cope) hit back-to-back threes to trigger an 11-o run that gave the Knicks a deciding 16-point lead. Melo has now scored at least 20 points in 24 straight games. Citizen Cope hit four three’s en route to 22 points and Tyson Chandler grabbed 14 boards. Eric Gordon led the Hornets with 22 points and Ant Davis scored 13 and grabbed 8 boards. The Knicks play Detroit in London on Thursday. WHY?
Milwaukee seems to have Toronto’s number as yesterday afternoon’s victory marked the eighth consecutive time they have beaten the Raptors. Toronto jumped out to a 20-point first quarter lead with Jose Calderon doing most of the damage by scoring 15 early points. The wheels fell off in the second, though when the Raps shot 27 percent from the field and turned the ball over 10 times to allow Milwaukee to cut the deficit to two heading into halftime. The two teams battled back and forth in the third, tying the score three different times before the Raptors gave themselves a little bit of breathing room with a four-point lead heading into the fourth. The fourth quarter was close until Larry Sanders came through with a huge block with just over three minutes to go that gave the Bucks all momentum. From that point on, Milwaukee outscored Toronto 15-5 to earn a ten-point victory. Brandon Jennings scored 19 points and dished out 10 assists, Monta Ellis scored 17, John Henson scored 19 off the bench and Sanders scored 11 and grabbed 8 boards. DeMar DeRozan scored 23, Amir Johnson had a season-high 22 points and 14 boards, Ed Davis scored 20 and grabbed 12 and Calderon finished with 21 and 8 dimes.
Indiana’s vaunted defense was once again putting in work through the first three quarters but the Pacers fell apart in the fourth as Brooklyn came back to win its sixth straight. Down six heading into the final quarter, the Nets finally found their stroke and quickly reeled off a 17-0 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a nine-point lead and effectively ended the game. The Pacers went ice cold from the field in the fourth, shooting 3-22 for the quarter, and saw their early defensive effort go to waste. Deron Williams scored 22 points, dished out 9 assists and grabbed 5 boards while Joe Johnson scored 20. David West scored 27 and Paul George scored 15 and grabbed 12 boards.
The Spurs beat down on the overmatched Timberwolves who are now 0-8 when scoring less than 90 points. Tony Parker scored 20 points, Gary Neal came off the bench for 15 and Tim Duncan scored 12 points, grabbed 9 boards and blocked 7 shots in the win. The T’Wolves cut the lead to ten in the fourth but Pop light a fire under his team’s ass after being ejected for two technicals. His team responded by going on a 9-0 run and extending the lead to 19. J.J. Barea led the Wolves with 15 points and 6 dimes.
The Nuggets won their fifth straight over the Warriors to improve to 14-2 at home as they continue to roll through the winter. The Warriors led 87-79 heading into the fourth quarter but put forth an impressive defensive effort to stall the Warriors offense while they attacked on offense. Denver opened the quarter on an 18-2 run in a four and a half minute span to take a nine-point lead. The Warriors eventually cut the deficit back down to three but it was too little too late as Corey Brewer (13 points) quickly hit a three and Danilo Gallinari (21 points) came through with the putback dunk to put an emphatic stamp on this one. Wilson Chandler made his return (!) and provided a spark off the bench, finishing with 14 points and 6 boards. Ty Lawson scored 20 and dished out 5 assists and Dre Iguodala finished with 10 points, 6 assists, 5 steals and 3 boards. Steph Curry finished with 29 (only 9 in the second half) and 7 assists while David Lee scored 23, grabbed 13 boards and dished out 6 assists.
The Blazers gave the Thunder all they could handle and nearly pulled off a late comeback, but the Thunder prevailed and ended Portland’s nine-game home win streak. With three and half minutes left in the game, Russ Westbrook (18 points on 5-21 shooting, 9 dimes) nailed a three to put the Thunder up ten, and it looked like like this one was well on its way to being over. But the Blazers wouldn’t go away and went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to four with just under two minutes to go. The two played to a stalemate for the next minute and a half until Nicolas Batum (21 points, 7 boards) hit a three to cut OKC’s lead to one. On the next possession, Kendrick Perkins (3 points, 12 boards) missed the first of two free throws and the Blazers called a timeout after he hit the second. The ball went to LaMarcus Aldridge (33 points, 11 boards) who’s 20-foot fade-away drew iron with under two seconds to go. The Blazers were forced to foul and Westbrook hit both of his free throws to put the game out of reach. Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha each sat with an injury. Kevin Durant tied Aldridge’s game-high with 33 points. He also had 2 blocks. Dame Lillard finished with 9 points on 3-14 shooting and 9 dimes.
The Lakers ended their six-game skid with a blowout victory over the lowly Cavs. Dwight Howard finished with 22 points and 14 boards in his first game back from a torn labrum, Kobe Bryant dropped 23 and Steve Nash chipped in with 10 points and 9 dimes. This one was over early as they took a 37-18 lead in the first quarter and continued to pour it on the rest of the contest. Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 15 points and 7 dimes while Dion Waiters chipped in with 15 off the bench.