by Anton Kudriavtsev/@TheDiesel
The Hawks were able to turn around a ship of poor effort in a win over the Knicks. Atlanta got out to an early lead and maintained sharp play as they snap New York’s five-game winning streak. Jamal Crawford led the Hawks with 21 points off the bench and was helped by Al Horford’s 17 points and 9 rebounds. As Mike Fratello broke it down, the Knicks made elementary mistakes such as not picking up their defensive assignments after substitutions which further solidified Atlanta’s run game. The Hawks kept their energy levels up, turnovers down, and took advantage of some poor execution on the part of the Knicks. Amar’e finished with 24 points and 10 boards.
Without John Wall in the line-up, Gilbert Arenas and Nick Young were given a very temporary licenses to shoot against the Magic. Arenas and Young combined for 62 points (31 and 21, respectively) in an entirely winnable game for the Wizards. Washington led by one point with 13 seconds to go but Dwight Howard was able to corral a Nelson miss and bank in the game-winning bucket. Howard’s 32 points are a season-high and he should be proud of his offensive advancement, as in previous season the center would be almost demoted to a 4th quarter role player. He also scored the last six points in the game for the Magic.
The Cavaliers fought to another hard-earned win as they defeated the Grizzlies. Mo Williams led all scorers with 25 points, in addition to his 12 assists. Memphis collectively fell apart in the last two quarters, with Zach Randolph limited to 13 points on 6-for-16 shooting. As the Cavs outscored the Grizz 30-16 in the 4th quarter, the momentum swung in their favour and they didn’t look back. Cavs head coach Byron Scott has emphasized a more running approach to the offense, as evident by the Bolt-like drills during training camp which the players have admitted to giving them more lift in the 4th quarter of games. The dividends have begun to pay off as Cleveland took a 24-8 fast-break advantage.
The Sixers were able to win in a rarely convincing manner, topping the Nets. Jrue Holiday led Philly with 20 points and 13 assists while Brook Lopez had a mini break-out game for New Jersey with 25 points and 6 rebounds. The Sixers held off a late surge by the Nets by turning up the tempo of their defense, using the length of Thaddeus Young and Iguodala to lock down the perimeter. Execution wise, the story favoured Philly with 29 team assists and only 5 turnovers.
Who said Monta Ellis is selfish? Ellis had 26 points, 10 assists, 7 steals, and 4 rebounds as he led his Warriors over the Wolves. Golden State shot over 50% from the floor and forced 21 Minnesota turnovers (including 16 steals) on their way to an 8-9 record. David Lee returned from whatever monsters rule Wilson Chandler’s mouth and had a 10 point, 6 rebound night. For the Wolves, Beasley led the team in scoring again with 28 points, and Love added 21points and 22 rebounds. The Warriors dominated from the 3rd quarter onwards, with a 60% shooting in the quarter and capitalizing on lazy passes from the Wolves. Dorrell Wright also had a career-high 30 points (including a franchise-best 9 three-pointers made). With Lee fully healthy, I’m looking forward to what this Golden State team can put together in terms of a playoff push later in the season.