by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
After last night’s victory over the Heat, it’s the perfect time to jump on the Grizzlies bandwagon as the Playoffs are right around the corner. All I know is it’s awesome to have Gilbert Arenas back in the league and seeing him produce for a playoff team. Eleven games went down last night, catch up on all of ‘em below…
Kevin Durant dropped 44 and nearly won the game by himself after scoring 24 in the fourth and bringing his team back from a 24-point deficit. But, the Pacers hung tough and won their fourth straight. After the Thunder cut the lead to 11 with 11 minutes remaining, Leandro Barbosa and Danny Granger hit back-to-back three-pointers to get some much needed breathing room. Granger scored 13 of his 26 points in the final quarter to go along with 6 boards and 0 turnovers. Roy Hibbert earned a double-double with 21 points and 12 boards and Paul George scored 8 points and grabbed a team-high 16 boards. Russell Westbrook had 21 and 11, but shot a dismal 7-23 from the field while James Harden scored 10 off the bench. With the exception of Durant, Harden and Westbrook, no other OKC player scored in double-digits.
With Kyrie Irving and Anthony Parker out with injuries, the Cavs ended their nine-game losing streak by outscoring the Raptors 33-17 in the final quarter. Cleveland came out on fire in the fourth, jumping all over T.Dot with a quick 17-6 run. The Cavs then buckled down defensively, holding Toronto to only three field goals in the last six minutes of play, all of which came in the final 30 seconds. Lester Hudson, who is signed to a 10-day contract with Cleveland, had career highs of 23 points and 7 assists while Antawn Jamison scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth to go along with 8 boards. DeMar DeRozan had 28 points and a rare team-high 4 assists.
New Wizard Nene looked on from the sideline as the Nets led from wire-to-wire and never felt threatened against a beat up Washington team. Five Nets players scored in double-figures, including DWill who had 19 points and 13 assists and Gerald Wallace had 19 and 5 boards. For the Wiz, John Wall led the way with 18 points, 6 boards and 4 assists and teammate Kevin Seraphin, who got the start for Nene, had 15 and 9.
With the Pistons focused on shutting down Josh Smith and Joe Johnson, Jeff Teague took full advantage of his opportunity and tied a career-high with 24 points and dropped a season-high 11 dimes. The Hawks led by 12 with a minute left in the third before the Pistons responded with a 17-2 run that gave them an 83-80 lead with seven and a half minutes to go. Teague then took over with consecutive clean assists to JSmoove (22 points, 12 boards) and Marvin Williams (12 points) for dunks. Teague then hit a layup with three minutes left to put the Hawks up five. To cap it off, the young point guard hit Ivan Johnson (16 points) with a beautiful pass for a dunk that put the exclamation point on the game. The Pistons were led by Rodney Stuckey’s 27 points (on 8-22 shooting) and Will Bynum’s 15. ATL has now won two straight and three out of four to hold down the five seed in the Eastern Conference.
Let the “Grizzlies will be a problem in the playoffs” chatter begin. Memphis jumped out to an early lead and led the Heat by double-digits the entire second half as they cruised to an easy victory down in South Beach. The Griz led by as many as 19 in the first half and eventually led by 21 midway through the fourth quarter. The Heat did cut it to ten with five minutes left in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies firepower was too much for them and Miami never got within single digits. Seven Memphis players scored in double-figures, including Gilbert Arenas who hit four 3′s off the bench to score 12 points. Rudy Gay led the way with 17 points and Zach Randolph had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds. LeBron had 21, 6 boards and 6 assists, DWade chipped in with 20 and seven boards and Chris Bosh had 19. Last night’s loss was the first time the Heat have trailed wire-to-wire since November of 2010.
Milwaukee finds themselves in a heated battle with the Knicks for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs and nearly let one slip through the cracks against the lowly Bobcats. The Bucks found themselves trailing by one with under four minutes to go, but the backcourt duo of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Bucks a seven point lead with one minute and thirty seconds to go. Ellis finished with 25 points, Jennings had 18 and 9 dimes and Ersan Illyasova finished with a double-double of 12 points and 15 boards as the Bucks pulled to within a game of the Knicks for the eighth seed in the East. Despite a career high 31 points and 14 boards from Byron Mullens and Kemba Walker’s 18 points, 8 dimes and 7 boards, the Bobcats couldn’t pull off the victory and dropped their tenth straight game.
Ray Felton led the Blazers with 30 points, including 16 during a ridiculous third quarter that saw the much maligned Felton hit three 3′s and score a three-point play all during a 16-0 run Portland run. Despite Felton’s tremendous performance, it was LaMarcus Aldridge who played the hero in overtime. After Dirk Nowitzki grabbed a missed Felton 3-pointer, the reigning Finals MVP committed a costly turnover that gave the Blazers the ball back with 3.7 seconds left in the overtime period. After a timeout, Aldridge caught the ball on the inbounds took a few dribbles then did his best Dirk impression with a 16-foot step back jumper over Brendan Haywood that gave the Blazers the win. Aldridge finished with a double-double of 25 points and 12 boards and Jamal Crawford chipped in with 14 off the pine. For Dallas, Dirk led the way with 23 points, 14 boards and a single, untimely turnover. Portland has now won two in a row for the first time since January 23 and 24.
With last night’s 25-point drubbing of the Hornets, the Spurs have now won ten straight games and find themselves in first place in the West after OKC dropped one to Indiana earlier in the evening. The Spurs absolutely dominated New Orleans and shot just under 61 percent from the field and had six players score in double-figures. Tim Duncan scored 19 points and grabbed 6 boards while Manu Ginobili had 14 off the bench. The Spurs’ bench combined for 64 points in the victory. In his second game back from a knee injury, Eric Gordon scored 31 points.
The Nuggets scored the last nine points of the fourth quarter to earn an important home victory over the Suns. With the win, Denver now owns the tiebreaker against Phoenix and has sole possession of the seventh seed in the West. Denver went on a 16-6 run to start the second half to take a double-digit lead, but the Suns clawed their way back and regained the lead after a pair of free throws from Steve Nash. Al Harrington (23 points), who has taken a leadership role on this young Nuggets team, then scored the last five points of the third before hitting two straight 3′s to give his team a seven-point cushion. Phoenix then responded with a 13-1 run that gave them a 92-87 lead midway through the fourth before the Nuggets buckled down defensively and outscored the Suns 18-7 down the stretch. Aaron Afflalo led all scorers with 30 points and Andre Miller finished with 15 points and 7 assists off the bench. Shannon Brown finished with 18 points and Steve Nash had a double-double with 14 points and 11 dimes.
After missing the last game with a sprained ankle, Devin Harris returned to the Jazz lineup and scored a season-high 28 points while dishing out 5 dimes. Harris hit back-to-back three-pointers in the fourth to trigger a 12-3 run that helped the Jazz pull away from the Warriors in Salt Lake City. Al Jefferson finished with 30 points and 11 boards and Gordon Hayward chipped in with 14. For the Warriors, David Lee had a double-double with 26 points and 12 boards and Klay Thompson finished with 23 points and 5 boards.
The Lakers gave the Rockets everything they had, but Houston kept responding and eventually gutted out a tough victory on the road. Six Rockets players scored in double figures including Luis Scola who had 25, Marcus Camby who finished with 12 points and 11 boards and Goran Dragic who bested Ramon Sessions with 26 points and 11 dimes. The Rockets were up 80-75 in the third when Andrew Bynum (19 points, 7 boards) earned himself a tech after being upset over a hard Samuel Dalembert foul. In the fourth, Bynum was assessed another tech after running his mouth to the Rockets bench and was ejected from the game. After being ejected, the Rockets took full advantage and Scola dropped 10 points over the last two minutes and forty seconds to propel the Rockets to victory. For the Lakers, Kobe dropped 28 points on 8-20 shooting, Metta World Peace finished with 23 and Pau Gasol had a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.
Stat Line of the Night: A lot of big numbers but I’m showing love to Jeff Teague who had a career-high 24 points and a season-high 11 dimes.
Play of the Night: LaMarcus Aldridge with the step-back game winner.
Dunks of the Night: Brandan Wright with the sick windmill alley.
Durantula puts it on Roy Hibbert’s head.
Tonight: Nine games on deck, including some big ones between Boston and Indiana, Dallas and Memphis and Orlando and Philly. Catch y’all tomorrow, Peace!