by Anton Kudriavtsev /@TheDiesel
The battle for the basement standings was waged in L.A. as the Clippers came out on top against the Cavs. Blake Griffin had one of the better all-around performances of his young career with 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists with Eric Gordon scoring 29 points in his return. J.J. Hickson led Cleveland with 28 point and 9 rebounds but the rest of the roster continually made Cavs fans weep. From Sessions playing like Ramon Sessions to trying to draw a charge against guards on the perimeter (really, Hollins?), it was a tough game to watch. Since about six people watched the game, no one can back me up when I say that the refereeing was terrible against Cleveland (not that it would make much of a difference). The best part of Griffin’s 1st quarter dunk is DeAndre Jordan holding back Hickson and yelling “C’mon Blake!” Teamwork personified.
The Celtics regained their winning ways with a comeback victory against the Hornets. Trailing by 15 early in the third, Boston relied on its strong bench as they went on a 23-6 run sparked by the play of Glen Davis (20 points) and Delonte West(9 points) who was 4 of 5 from the field in the stretch. In the 4th, Kevin Garnett hit a jumper to give Boston a 4-point lead with less than a minute to play and while David West (32 points) banked in a lay-up, the Celtics closed the game out with clutch free throws from Davis and Ray Allen (20 points). Though Chris Paul had 15 assists and 7 rebounds, he scored just 4 points and did not have a field goal the entire game, finishing 0-for-9 from the floor.
The Miami Heat feasted on some chicken Nuggets as LeBron and Wade combined for 65 points in the win. Chris Bosh registered his 5th consecutive double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds but the biggest story for Miami was the injury to much-maligned Mario Chalmers who left the game late in the 1st quarter. Though Denver cut the lead to 4 points late in the game, the Heat never trailed while J.R. Smith led the Nuggets with 27 points off the bench. While Mike Bibby was effective (14 points), this means that Miami is without a backup point guard until Chalmers returns but his starting job might be taken by that point (pun intended).
Tony Allen scored 19 points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds as his Grizzlies rolled over the Pacers. Danny Granger and Darren Collison both scored 17 points for Indiana but Allen locked Granger down into a 5-of-15 shooting night as the Pacers shot just 36% from the field. Memphis surged ahead in the 2nd quarter with a 29-11 run to build up their lead and Indiana never broke double digits the rest of the way.
Without Duncan in the line-up, the Spurs still cruised past the Bobcats led by Steve Novak’s 19 points off the bench. The Bobcats struggled without Stephen Jackson, shooting just 29% early in the game and trailing by as many as 26 points. The Spurs officially listed Duncan as “trop vieux” on their pregame injury report, which means “too old.”
The Blazers earned their 3rd straight victory, surged by Wes Matthews and Gerald Wallace as they topped the Sixers. Matthews scored 17 of his 28 points in the 1st quarter while Wallace closed the game late, capping off his virtuso performance of 25 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 4 steals. Though the Sixer bench scored 59 points (Lou Williams leading with 24), Philadelphia trailed the whole game before pulling within three but Portland responded with a 9-0 run. The Blazers moved within a half-game behind Denver for the 5th seed but face winning teams in its last 10 of 13 remaining games. With Crash getting back to playing his All-Star caliber game and the Blazers rounding into form, can they get past the first round to make their fans forget about “you know who”? As it stands, they would play Dallas without homecourt in the first round.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Blake Griffin – 30 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists.
I’m out like Paul’s shot chart.