by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
So many guys are injured right now, All-Star Weekend can’t get here soon enough.
With last night’s win over the Bulls, the Pacers are now tied with Chicago for first place in the Central Division. The final deficit was only ten but it wasn’t even that close for much of the second half as the Pacers dominated. Indiana went on a 15-4 third quarter run that gave them a 12-point lead with 4:13 left to go. The Bulls didn’t get closer than four the rest of the game as Indiana won their third straight overall and 14th straight game at home. David West beasted with 29 points and 9 boards, Paul George finished with 21 points, 11 boards, 5 dimes 2 steals and 2 blocks while George Hill chipped in with 22 points and 6 dimes. Marco Belinelli led the Bulls with a season-high 24 points off the bench while Kirk Hinrich and Joakim Noah looked on with injuries.
The Magic scored a pitiful 61 points on 33.8 percent shooting to lose their tenth straight game. In their defense, the Magic played without JJ Redick, Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson, Dequan Jones, Big Baby Davis and Al Harrington who were all hurt. The Sixers led by as many as 20 and were led to their third straight victory by Spencer Hawes’ 21 points and 14 rebounds and Jrue Holiday’s 13 points and 14 dimes. E’Twaun Moore scored 18 and Nik Vucevic grabbed 14 boards in the loss.
Already missing Chris Paul with a knee injury, the Clips were dealt another blow when Blake Griffin was scratched from the lineup right before tip-off with a hamstring injury. The injury ended his streak of 197 consecutive games played. The Wizards showed no sympathy to a depleted Clippers team and pulled off a big victory in front of their ecstatic home crowd. Nene (15 points, 7 boards) helped trigger a late 7-0 run that carried the Wizards to victory. First Nene grabbed his own rebound after missing a free throw to set up a Trevor Ariza 3-pointer. Then he grabbed another offensive rebound on the next possession and found Garrett Temple (15 points) for a jumper that put the Wiz up eight and the game out of reach. Martell Webster scored 21 and John Wall finished with 13 points and 8 dimes. Jamal Crawford scored 28 off the bench, Eric Bledsoe finished with 17 points and 9 assists and DeAndre Jordan snatched a career-high 22 boards. Each game the Clippers lose with CP3 on the bench only boosts his MVP case but also makes me wonder if the so-called “great” coaching job by Vinny Del Negro was a mirage.
The Knicks continue to beat up on their current stretch of weak opponents, this time with an easy 14-point dub over Detroit. New York started the game with a 16-4 run and continued to pour it on, leading by 21 at the half. Carmelo Anthony scored 27 and grabbed 7 boards, STAT scored 20 off the bench and Tyson Chandler grabbed 20 boards for the third straight game–the first Knick to do so since Willis Reed. New Piston Jose Calderon led the team in scoring with 15 points and Greg Monroe scored 13, grabbed 10 boards and blocked 3 shots.
The Bobcats gave the Heat everything they had but Miami proved to be too strong down the stretch as Charlotte’s miserable season rolls on. Charlotte led the Heat 74-73 with 7:45 left but Miami finally got it together and ripped off an 8-0 run to take the lead for good. LeBron shot 13-14 from the field to finish with 31 points. He also dropped 8 dimes, grabbed 8 boards and had 2 steals–this dude is seriously unreal. Chris Bosh scored 23 points and Dwyane Wade chipped in with 20 points and 12 boards. Ramon Sessions led the Bobcats with 18 points and Ben Gordon scored 16.
Russ Westbrook dropped 24 and 7 dimes, KD scored 24 and grabbed 10 boards and the Thunder smacked around the Mavs in Oklahoma City. OKC led by as many as 33, were up by at least 20 points throughout the second half and rested their starters in the fourth. Shawn Marion led Dallas with 23 points and 3 steals.
The Blazers led wire-to-wire but nearly let this one slip away in game one of their six-game road trip. With time running down, Ricky Rubio swung the ball to Dante Cunningham. Cunningham, who scored a career-high 23 points, pump faked, took one dribble and launched a 19-foot jump shot that missed everything–a play that pretty much sums up the Wolves season. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points and grabbed 13 boards, Wes Matthews scored 22 and Dame Lillard dropped 21 and 6 dimes. Ricky Rubio had the best game of his injury-riddled season with 15 points and 14 dimes (including 10 in the fourth quarter) and J.J. Barea chipped in with 17 off the bench.
Up 82-75 with four and a half minutes remaining, the Kings showed their youth and squandered the lead, eventually losing in overtime to the home team Jazz. Utah went on an 8-0 run to take a one-point lead with 2:40 left. The Kings hit two free throws to tie it up at 84 and Reke Evans (20 points) had a shot to win it but his three-pointer with 16 seconds left missed the mark. Al Jefferson’s (15 points, 12 boards) three at the buzzer missed and some free basketball went down in Utah. In the extra session, Randy Foye (20 points, 6 assists) scored six points to lead the Jazz to a victory. Alec Burks scored a season-high 14 points for the Jazz and Derrick Favors finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Jason Thompson scored 23 points and grabbed 10 boards and DeMarcus Cousins scored 10 and grabbed 6 boards before being ejected at halftime.