Quick PSA: As the regular season comes to a close, you’ll see a few new faces helping out with the Post Up over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be back soon; try not to miss me too much.—Adam Figman
by Cris Jones / @HeirJones
The once-sinking ship named the San Antonio Spurs appears to be afloat again. Tony Parker led the way with 26 points, while Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan added 18 and 17, respectively. Josh Smith, who missed the game with a sore knee, was clearly missed as the Spurs out-rebounded the Hawks 39-25. Joe Johnson (21-2-1) and Jamal Crawford’s (20-2-1) nearly identical lines were just not enough to overpower a Spurs squad that now has a 3.5 game lead over the L.A. Lakers.
The Jazz followed up a disappointing loss to the lowly Kings Sunday with a shocking win over the Lakers last night. The day after his alma mater, the Butler Bulldogs, had one of the worst shooting performances ever, Gordon Hayward poured in a career-high 22 points on the Lakers. Paced by Kobe Bryant’s 20 points on 6-18 shooting, the Lakers shot an abysmal 37.8 percent from the field, yet they were only down by 1 with six seconds in regulation. During the final possession, Bryant failed to—excuse me—Bryant’s hands failed to muster up a game-winning attempt, and the Jazz escaped Staples as the victors.
If the first half of this game was an indication of how Philly would play against the Celtics in the Playoffs, then Sixers’ fans could not ask for much more. But an extremely cold second-half left the Sixers with no chance to defeat a Celtics’ squad that boasted a balanced attack. The Celts’ defense bottled up the Sixers to begin the third period, and held the Sixers to 29 percent shooting in the second half. Jrue Holiday started off hot with 11 points in the first quarter, but was held scoreless for the rest of the contest. In what was his first taste of extended minutes in some time, Evan Turner led all players in scoring with 21 points. Although the Sixers signed Antonio Daniels as a backup guard to help smooth over the loss of Lou Williams, Turner was given the reins, and performed well. Rajon Rondo added 16 points, and dished out 13 in the win.
This loss all but ended the Bobcats’ hopes of snatching the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. And losing to Cleveland when you are in dire need of a win should end your Playoff hopes. The Bobcats’ D.J. Augustin led all comers with 22 points, but it wasn’t enough as seven Cavalier players scored double figures. JJ Hickson scored 16 and grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds.
Despite a mediocre 19-3-4 performance from Derrick Rose, the Bulls held off the pesky Suns in a game that came down to the final possession. The Suns trailed by as many as 22, yet found themselves down 3 with 13 seconds to play. However, the Suns never got around to attempting the possibly game-tying shot. This must have been a recurring theme in the League last night. (Hey, I wrote that one without calling Derrick Rose a you-know-what candidate.)
This one was ugly as both teams shot under 40 percent from the field. No Bucks starter scored double figures, while the Magic bench players combined for 10 points. Just ugly. However, Dwight Howard had his usual Dwight Howard-esque performance with 18 points and 17 boards. The “live by the three, die by the three” Magic shot 2-21 from beyond the arc, yet still squeezed this one out. Drew Gooden led all Bucks players in scoring with 18 points off the bench.
John Wall played every minute, except for two, and led all scorers and distributors with 26 and 12. Wall and his backcourt mate Jordan Crawford combined for 43 points on 12-32 shooting from the field. Andray Blatche had another solid outing with 26, 10, and an unusually high 6 steals. Rodney Stuckey was, again, a DNP’er. Hopefully he’s not on your fantasy team.
The D’Antoni Era lives as the Knicks scored 78 points in the first half, and coasted to a victory over the Raptors. Toronto looked content with trading baskets with the Knicks, who shot 15-27 from three-point land in this contest. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire scored 23 each, while Toney Douglas provided 28 points in just 26 minutes off the bench. Demar Derozan’s 36 and 10, and Ed Davis’ 22 and 13 did not equal enough for the Raptors to overcome the Knicks offensive barrage.
This one was a setback for the Grizz in their road to winning five straight and clinching a playoff spot. Mike Conley paced Memphis with 20 points, while Marc Gasol followed up with 14 and 15 rebounds. Blake Griffin 15 points and 14 boards. This contest ended with a little controversy as two officials made dissenting calls on an Eric Bledsoe drive that appeared to be a charge. Since the officiating crew could not decide whether the play was a charge or block, they agreed on a jump ball. The Clippers won the tip with 5.3 seconds, and Mo Williams dribbled out the clock for a Clippers win.
Barring an epic collapse by Memphis or New Orleans, it is safe to say that Houston fans can defer all playoff hopes to the 2011-12 season after last night’s loss to the Kings. Sacramento shot 53 percent from the field, even while going 1-11 from three. DeMarcus Cousins and Samuel Dalembert combined for 30 rebounds and 36 points. The Kings are 7-3 in their last 10.
Kevin Durant gave the Denver crowd a taste of what they are sure to see in a playoff preview match up last night. And Nuggets fans left the arena feeling a little salty as Durant dropped 32, and ripped down 9 rebounds. Ty Lawson led all Denver scorers with 28. The Nuggets cut the Thunder’s lead down to as little as 4 late in the fourth quarter, but the it just was not enough. A seven-game series between these two teams will not disappoint.
Side note: Timofey Mozgov left the game in the first half with a leg injury, and did not return.
Portland scored 87 points. Monta Ellis (30), Stephen Curry (28), and David Lee (29) combined for 87 points. Lee also snatched down 20 rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge had a 17-12 night to lead the Blazers. Every Portland player scored, except for Marcus Camby. The Warriors shot exactly 50 percent from the field, netting 41-82 attempts.
Deron Williams dissected the Timberwolves defense with 21 assists to go along with his 18 points. Brook Lopez scored 30 and pulled down 12, count ‘em, 12 rebounds! But maybe the absence of Kevin Love could explain Lopez’s sudden desire for rebounds, as Sasha Vujacic added 10 boards of his own. Anthony Randolph managed to score 20 and grab 10 off the bench in just under 30 minutes of action.