by Anton Kudriavtsev/@TheDiesel
The post-LeBron Return-a-Thon ushers in a new era of yawns. Did anything really significant happen last night? Stern, you do realize that you can’t rollover game-winning shots for next season, right? Only one thing to do now- count down the days for LeBron’s re-Return to Cleveland in March! What will happen?! Probably nothing, but let us hype it up anyway! On to the games.
The Blazers lost their 6th straight loss in a row as they fell to the Wizards on “score like it’s college basketball” night at the Verizon center. Washington used their best defensive game of the season as Portland struggled to score and get stops in the second half. LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 15 boards and Andray Blatche held it down for the Wiz with 19 points and 9 boards. A dark time for a once-bright future of a franchise. Not exactly a satisfying win for the Wizards, either. Any truth to the Arenas-to-Florida rumours? The Magic must have been thinking: “Wow, Dwight’s getting the ball a lot this year, this needs to change immediately. We need a guy that can shoot the 3…from just inside half-court. It really stretches the floor for us.”
The Bobcats choked, then un-choked themselves to pull out a win over the Nets in overtime. Stephen Jackson, fresh off an orderly disagreement with the refs, scored 25 points including four straight free throws in the last 30 seconds in OT to hold on to the lead. Travis Outlaw led the Nets with 21 points and 6 boards but the Nets ran some horrible offense down the stretch with no defense to make up for it. Maybe Avery Johnson told them to “play with confidence” in his broken telephone voice and the players heard “play like horseradish”.
Eventually without their franchise player the Thunder would have to lose and they did so against the mighty Raptors. Andrea Bargnani (yes, that Andrea!) scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as his Raps put forth a good defensive effort, holding the Thunder to 36% shooting in the final two quarters. Russell Westbrook had an off-shooting night (9-19, 20 points, 7 assists but 5 turnovers) and there wasn’t enough offense to keep the young Thunder in it. Raptors announcers – annoying? Or the most annoying announcers in the NBA?
Without 4 rotation players, the Magic still somehow managed to blow out the Pistons. Brandon Bass stepped up with a career-high 27 points with Carter adding 25. If there was ever a preseason championship or an award for beating teams you’re supposed to beat yet still accomplishing it in a surprising way, the Magic would win it every time. Anoxeria survivor Tayshuan Prince led the Pistons with 30 points but they only managed to get three offensive rebounds with Howard out. C’mon, sons!
The Hawks grinded their way to their 5th win in a row with a victory over the Sixers. Al Horford (15 points, 13 rebounds) rallied his team back in it with a three-point play, sparking a late 21-3 to steal the game. Elton Brand had 16 points and 14 rebounds in a disjointed Philly line-up. Doug Collins started Meeks over Turner but the rotation is about as clean cut as Gasol’s man mane. Would someone trade for Iguodala already? I want to see him dunking for a contender. The Hawks take their talents to South Beach tonight to take on the Miami Heat.
The Celtics took care of business by roughing it up inside with a win over the Bulls. Shakespearean enthusiast Kevin Garnett had 20 points and a season-high 17 rebounds as he barked his way over Joakim Noah (14 points, 10 rebounds). Noah called KG “mean” and “ugly” and assured fans that “(he) will not get a Christmas gift from me…Where is the love?” Really, Joakim? You calling others ugly is like Paris Hilton calling for abstinence. Keep talking and your hustling reputation will be replaced by the chiwawa who whines a little too much. Speaking of ass-ists, Rondo continued to pass it like prison money with 19 assists to go with 12 points. Derrick Rose had 20 points and 8 assists but his franchise-helping eyebrow Carlos Boozer was limited to 21 minutes, contributing 12 points as he continues to mend BagGate.
The Rockets are back! Using their twin turbo of Kyle Lowry (career-high 28 points) and Kevin Martin (28 points), Houston boosted past the Grizzlies despite Gay’s 29 points. Even Brad Miller stopped spitting his chewing tobacco long enough to get into the act with 23 points. “You’re always going to be surprised when you have an offense run like that,” Adelman said, “especially when we couldn’t make a shot in shoot around”. See kids? Shoot-arounds are for losers!
Amar’e Stoudemire put up 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead his Knicks over the Hornets. I know an athletic kangaroo can probably drop 25 a game in D’Antoni’s offensive system, but I still have to give it up for STAT’s relative consistency this season. Don’t look now but the Knicks have found their franchise point guard. Raymond Felton continues his solid play with 17 points and 13 assists. The Hornets were led by Ariza’s 21 points which is usually not a good sign, especially when he takes 21 shots. Hey Trevor, Kobe called – he wants his shots back.
Surprised that the night’s official Boring Bowl cracked triple digits, the Spurs rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat the Wolves. Duncan scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds as he led the fourth quarter charge, with Parker and Hill adding 20 of their own. For the Wolves, Beasley had 28 while Love finished with 25 and 18 (one of those is points, the other is rebounds but with Love you never know which one is which).
Got an appetite for destruction and you’re a small Frye. Channing must have been bumping that track to pump himself up for a 29-point night, leading his Suns over the Pacers. The Suns played some good defense, leading to Indiana’s 25 turnovers and limiting them to just 37 second-half points. Brandon Rush led the Pacers with 21 points in the loss.
Sir Blake Griffin of the valley of the Angeles! Save us from this un-eventful night, I beseech thee. Even Blakezilla had a quiet (for his standards) night with 17 points and 12 rebounds as his Clippers fell to the Nuggets. Someone managed to sneak in the replacement refs, since that’s the only way Denver shot 59 free throws. Carmelo free-throw competitioned his way to 26 points while Eric Gordon had 24 for the Clips.
Jason Thompson, leading scorer. None of those four words belong in that sentence yet it was Thompson who scored a team-high 19 points for the Kings in a rout versus the Lakers. Los Angeles snapped their 4-game losing streak and used a balanced attack with six players in double figures, Bryant leading with 22 points and 4 assists.
Who you gonna call? Streakbusters! The Dirkmeister got his groove on to the tune of 26 points and 6 rebounds as his Mavericks stopped the Jazz’s seven-game win streak. The Mavs have now stopped some impressive win streaks, including Boston, New Orleans, OKC, and San Antonio. For the Jazz, their fearless leader shot just 4 of 13 shots with 4 turnovers, Millsap’s 21 points not nearly enough for a well-rounded Dallas scoring punch.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Amar’e Stoudemire – 34 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block.
So did anything actually happen in 13 NBA games? Let’s hope Atlanta/Miami give us a somewhat competitive game.
I’m out like excitement last night.