by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
A little Jeff Teague action to kick off your Monday:
The Knicks continued their impressive start by dismantling their Division foe at the Garden. Just as they did against the Heat, the Knicks jumped all over Philly early leading by eight after one and pushing the deficit to 13 at the half. Much like they did in their first game of the season, the Knicks killed their opponent from three-point range. New York hit 11 three’s (including four from J.R. Smith who finished with 20 points) on 27 attempts and have now made 30 three-pointers over a two-game span–a new NBA record.
New York led by as many as 17 in the second half and got another strong overall defensive effort, notching 12 steals and forcing 18 turnovers. Everyone knows that Mike Woodson demands effort from his players on the defensive end but no one knew what to expect or what he was going to get with this roster. Well, from a small sample size, it looks like Woodson is getting through to his guys and they are turning up the energy on defense which has led to two easy wins.
Carmelo Anthony was balling on both ends of the floor, showing a dizzying array of offensive moves and set the tone defensively with a newfound aggressiveness and focus (he even dove into the crowd for a loose ball!). His defensive performance was far from perfect and he did get caught sleeping a few times but for the first time in what seems like his entire career, Carmelo is showing interest on defense. Offensively, Melo finished with 27 points (10-18), 5 boards and 2 blocks.
Overall, the Sixers guard play was poor. Jrue Holiday had a solid game scoring-wise with 27 points but he also committed 6 turnovers. Backup guards Maalik Wayans and Royal Ivey, who got extended playing time after Jason Richardson went down with an ankle injury, combined to shoot 0-6 with two assists. The Sixers have a chance to make up for yesterday’s loss as they face the Knicks again tonight in Philly.
— Carmelo Anthony passed Kiki Vandeweghe on the All-Time scoring list. He now ranks 93rd.
— Paging Andrew Bynum. Andrew Bynum to center court, please.
— Woodson played 12 Knicks yesterday and only one (Steve Novak) finished with a “negative” in the +/- category. Not a single Sixers player finished in the “positive”.
I’m gonna let everyone know early: I am a huge Kyle Lowry fan. Unfortunately he’s playing for a Raptors team that doesn’t get a ton of press and will continue to remain one of the League’s best kept secrets, but best believe this kid can ball something serious. In last night’s drubbing of Minnesota, Lowry had 22 points (8-10), 7 boards, 5 dimes and 3 steals which is light work for him at this point.
The Timberwolves beat themselves from the get go committing 16 turnovers in the first half and allowing the home team to go on a 12-4 run over the final 3 minutes to take a 56-47 lead into the half. In the third, Minnesota took better control of the ball and cut the lead to six behind 13 combined points from Kirilenko and Pekovic.
Landry Fields kicked off the fourth quarter with a dunk and the Raptors proceeded to score nine of the quarter’s first 12 points. T Dot eventually pushed the lead to 12 on an Alan Anderson (18 off the bench) three-pointer with a little under nine minutes to go. The lead proved to be insurmountable and the Raptors notched their first win of the season.
— DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points and it looks as if he and Lowry are forming an explosive backcourt north of the border.
— JJ Barea left the game with a concussion after being kicked in the head by teammate Dante Cunningham.
— Toronto has beaten Minnesota 15 out of the last 16 times they have played each other.
— Minnesota’s 24 turnovers led to 32 Raptors points.
Break up the Magic!
With Phoenix up 71-60 and threatening to pull away, the Magic broke off a 26-5 run in the third quarter to go up by ten. In the third, the Magic outscored Phoenix 40-20 and nailed six jumpers from behind the arc. Phoenix never got close again and the Magic are now 2-0.
The most surprising part of last night’s blowout victory was the fact that the Magic did it without starters Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu who are each battling injuries. In their places were former Celtic E’Twaun Moore and DeQuan Jones. Moore played particularly well scoring 15 points and dropping 6 dimes in the win.
One thing is for sure, the Magic are going to play hard this year for new coach Jacque Vaughn. They have a huge chip on their shoulder and will be bringing it every night. Will they keep up this current level of play? I’m doubt it, sooner or later they will be exposed inside but they won’t roll over for anyone and will be a tough out this season.
— In a surprising stat, the Magic have outscored their opponent by a combined 34 points in the paint through the first two games.
— Afflalo and Big Baby Davis each finished with 22 points in the win.
— Orlando finished 9-11 from three and were led by JJ Redick’s 24 off the bench.
— After the game, Mike Beasley said, “It might be better for them that they don’t have Dwight Howard.” Word, Be Easy?
No Josh Smith, no problem for the Hawks out in Oklahoma City last night. Sidelined by an injury, Smith didn’t even make the trip (that’s your cue J-Smoove trade conspiracists). Luckily his teammates picked up the slack and dealt OKC their second loss of the season. Al Horford came up huge with 23 points and 12 boards while Lou Williams came off the bench and dropped 19 (14 in the fourth) on 5-14 shooting.
The game was close throughout and the Thunder could had chances to win but they fell apart in the fourth quarter. During the final frame, OKC shot a putrid 35 percent and turned the ball over six times. Kevin Martin, who finished with 28, brought the Thunder within two after nailing his sixth three-pointer of the game. That would be the last time Martin shot the ball as he remained scoreless over the final four minutes of the game. With Martin neutralized, the Hawks outscored the Thunder 29-21 to pull away for the early road victory.
— Kevin Durant fell just shy of his first career triple-double with 22-points, 12 boards and 8 dimes but he also had 6 turnovers.
— Russell Westbrook’s struggles continue. The explosive point guard shot just 5-18 from the field for 14 points. He had a crucial turnover late in the game and missed a wide open three that would have given the Thunder hope. On the bright side, he had 9 assists.
— Atlanta forced 20 turnovers and didn’t allow the Thunder to get out in transition–they only scored 12 fast break points.
— KD has been seeing some time at the point, expect that to continue.
Now this is the complete and utter domination people were expecting when the Lakers acquired Dwight Howard. Albeit, it was against a Pistons team that looked liked they had no interest in playing the sport of basketball last night but nevertheless, the Lakers put their first mark in the win column with an impressive showing in LA.
LA destroyed the Pistons in the paint and Dwight Howard was able to do whatever he wanted going for 28 points on 12-14 shooting while snatching 7 boards. As a team, Los Angeles outscored Detroit 56-34 in the paint and outrebounded them 46-33. LA led from wire to wire and were up by as many as 36. There really isn’t too much of a story with this game except that the Lakers kicked major, major ass.
Now it will be up to LA to keep it up against Utah, who boasts a tough front court, and start to build momentum and tally wins while Steve Nash gets healthy.
— Kobe finished with 15 points, 7 boards and 8 dimes, playing facilitator while Howard went to work.
— Second year guy Darius Morris gave the Lakers good minutes last night. Look for him to get more opportunities now that the Lakers are thin at the point.