by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
There were a number of evenly-played games across the League on Friday night. The marquee matchup—Lakers at Thunder—was not one of them.
76ers (11-8) 95, Celtics (10-9) 94
Evan Turner hit just 10-of-26 shots last night, but went 1-for-1 when it mattered. Philly and Boston were tied at 89 after four quarters, so the game went into overtime. A Jeff Green three put the Cs up, 94-93, with under two minutes remaining in OT. Neither team scored until there were about three seconds left, when an Evan Turner jumper put the Sixers up. Boston had a great chance to win it at the buzzer, but Kevin Garnett passed up a makable shot, instead passing to Rajon Rondo, who was off the mark at the buzzer.
Turner totaled 26 points while grabbing 10 boards and handing out 5 assists. Thaddeus Young added 17 and 12 while Lavoy Allen chipped in with 11 boards.
For Boston, Rajon Rondo was incredible in the first half, nearly taking a triple-double into the break. He slowed down in the second half, though, and finished with “only” 16 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds. He also tacked on 3 steals and 3 blocks.It was Rondo at his best in the first two quarters. He knocked down jumpers, crashed the boards (8 in the first eleven minutes alone) and found his teammates with ease. Paul Pierce dropped 27 points, but needed 24 shots and hit just 1-of-8 from deep.
Nuggets (10-10) 92, Pacers (10-10) 89
In a battle of the Eastern Conference version of the Nuggets vs. the Western Conference version of the Pacers (young, fun, well-coached, loads of talent, don’t have a good enough go-to guy to be taken seriously), Denver won a tight one.
The Pacers led, 85-82, with over three minutes to play, when the Nuggets scored ten straight points to take a seven-point lead with a minute remaining. A Paul George three cut the deficit late, but Indy couldn’t complete the comeback.
The late three was just one of four on the night for George, who totaled 22 points, 6 boards, 6 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. He’s extremely inconsistent, but clearly immensely talented. He seems like more of a third-best player on a Championship caliber team than the lead man he’s been forced to be with Danny Granger out.
JaVale McGee continued to play well for Denver. He scored 20 points, grabbed 8 boards and blocked a shot while shooting a perfect 9-of-9 off the bench. He’s averaging 16 points and nearly 3 blocks per game in December thus far. Benchmate Corey Brewer also scored 20. The Pacers knocked down 10 of their 23 attempts from deep, but were burned in the paint, where they were outscored, 54-28.
Hawks, (11-5) 104, Wizards (2-14) 95
The Hawks are looking much more like a four-or-five seed rather than the seven-or-eight-or-nine seed I thought they’d be six weeks ago. Last night, Josh Smith went off for 23 points and 15 rebounds. Al Horford posted 14 & 14 while underratedly perfect defense-and-corner-three guy DeShawn Stevenson went off for 5 threes on 11 attempts.
Guards Devin Harris and Jeff Teague combined for 34 points and 12 assists, though they attempted 33 shots. Those two shouldn’t be shooting that much, especially Harris, who was a -6 on the floor.
Washington got a strong effort from Bradley Beal, who scored 18 points while knocking down all 6 of his free throw attempts. Kevin Seraphin came off the bench to make 9-of-16 shots on his way to 19 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Jordan Crawford had the Jordan Crawford special: 14 points on 13 shots.
Bulls (10-8) 108, Pistons (6-15) 104
Joakim Noah did his best Wilt Chamberlain impersonation last night. He dropped 30 points on 19 shots while grabbing 23 rebounds (10 offensive!!), handing out 6 assists*, blocking 2 shots and picking up 2 steals.
Carlos Boozer also shot 12-of-19, and scored 24 points along with 6 rebounds.
Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight combined for 45 of Detroit’s points, and the team shot over 51 percent from the floor for the game. They also hit 8-of-14 three-point tries and turned the ball over just 8 times.
Question: How do you lose a game with those numbers? Answer: Total 28 rebounds. (Reminder: Joakim had 23)
For the record, a late Stuckey three made this game look closer than it was. It was tight for a while, but Chicago was in control for the last four minutes.
*Fun Wilt Fact: In the 1967-68 season, Wilt led the NBA with just over 8.5 assists per game. He also both scored and rebounded 24 per game. If only they kept track of blocks back then…
Warriors (12-7) 109, Nets (11-7) 102
Somebody get Mark Jackson a Coach of the Quarter-Year trophy. The Nets led by eight points at halftime in Brooklyn, but the Warriors played an excellent second half. They held the Nets to just 39 second-half points, while scoring 54 of their own.
David Lee dominated, scoring 30 points and grabbing 15 boards. Stephen Curry was sharp all night, hitting 10-of-19 shots and 5-of-9 threes on his way to 28 points. Rookie Draymond Green had 10 rebounds off the bench, and was a +17 in his 28 minutes.
Joe Johnson scored 32 points for Brooklyn, while Deron Williams scored 23 with 8 assists. D-Will was just 2-of-10 from deep. Andray Blatche continued to give the Wizards the finger, scoring 22 points and matching Lee’s 15 rebounds. He also tallied 4 steals and a three.
The Nets relied too heavily on jumpers down the stretch, something they’ll hope to avoid upon Brook Lopez’s return from injury. They have not performed well in the second half all season, proving they have plenty of gelling to do before they can be considered a threat to Miami.
Grizzlies (14-3) 96, Hornets (5-13) 89
The Hornets may not win many games, but the Pelicans just might. New Orleans has been a surprisingly tough out this season, and that’s without Anthony Davis. They gave the Grizzlies a run for their money last night, as Memphis led by just four with 2:39 left after an Austin Rivers bucket. From there, though, Memphis closed the game on a 5-0 run.
Rudy Gay led the game with 28 points, and tacked on 8 boards, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 threes. Marc Gasol went for 13 & 9, while his postmate Zach Randolph went for 15 & 7. Mike Conley and Tony Allen combined for 8 steals. Please comment with a better defensive backcourt if you can think of one.
New Orleans got 15 points each from Ryan Anderson, Brian Roberts and Rivers. Greivis Vasquez handed out 8 assists, but went just 2-for-6 from the floor. Davis’ injury is really a shame.
Timberwolves (9-9) 91, Cavaliers (4-16) 73
The Cavs got K-Love-d last night. The big man went 10-of-19 from the floor, including 2-of-5 from deep. and tacked on 14-of-18 free throws. Add it all up, and you got a 36-point night. Love also grabbed 13 boards. Luke Ridnour was the team’s second-highest scorer with 12.
Alonzo Gee led the Cavaliers with 16 points. Minnesota made 21 more free throws than Cleveland and won by 18.
Bucks (9-9) 108, Bobcats (7-11) 93
The Bobcats are in full-fizzle mode. They’ve dropped six straight games, and their fast start is well in the rear-view mirror. They got blown out despite allowing Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to combine for just 28 points on 27 shots.
Larry Sanders, now starting because I called for it in last week’s Post Up, scored 8 points, grabbed 10 boards and blocked 5 shots for Milwaukee. Serge Ibaka better watch his back. There’s another freakish shot-blocker in the NBA.
Charlotte got 19 points from Gerald Henderson, though he was a -10 while on the floor. A 59-45 rebounding differential in favor of Milwaukee spelled trouble for the Bobcats. Making 18-of-32 free throws didn’t help the Cats, either.
Spurs (16-4) 114, Rockets (9-9) 92
San Antonio led by 12 at halftime last night in what was never a close game. Six Spurs—Tony Parker (17), Tim Duncan (12 rebounds), Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili—scored in double-figures. Amazingly, all 13 Spurs scored at least two points.
James Harden was great, scoring 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting, but nobody else did much for the Rockets. Patrick Patterson was the only other starter in double-digits, but needed 14 shots to score 10 points. Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin combined to shoot 2-for-15. Weirdly, the team was a solid 11-for-33 from three-point range.
Jazz (11-10) 131, Raptors (4-16) 99
I think Nerlens Noel would look pretty good in Raptors purple—don’t you? The Raptors look a lot like the NBA’s worst team (at least the Wizards can blame their awfulness on John Wall’s absence), and got demolished last night in Utah. They led by four points after the first quarter before being outscored by 15, 8 and 13 in the following three quarters, respectively.
The typically offensively-mediocre Jazz got double-digit points from eight players. Mo Williams totaled 10 assists, while Paul Millsap had game-highs in points and boards with 20 & 10. The Jazz knocked down 13-of-23 three-point attempts, which was the big difference. Marvin Williams, Randy Foye and DeMarre Carroll each hit 3 threes.
I didn’t know it was possible to only be out-rebounded by 10, hit 7 threes, shoot above 40 percent and get to the line 31 times and lose by more than 30, but the Raptors figured out a way to do it.
Thunder (16-4) 114, Lakers (9-11) 108
Kobe-KD was, unfortunately, decided in the second quarter. The Thunder dropped 41 in the second period, giving them a 14-point lead at halftime. The Lakers made things slightly interesting late in the fourth, but never actually threatened a comeback.
OKC got 36 points from Kevin Durant and 33 from Russell Westbrook. The great duo did most of the team’s damage and played nearly the entire game. Scott Brooks wasn’t going to let LA back in the game.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 35 points, and handed out 7 assists. Dwight Howard dominated Kendrick Perkins (0 & 0, 23 minutes) to the tune of 23 points and 18 boards. However, Kobe and Howard combined for 11 turnovers. Jodie Meeks scored 17 points off the bench.
Kings (6-12) 91, Magic (7-12) 82
Orlando led by two points entering the fourth quarter before blowing this one. A 68-64 lead turned into a 70-79 deficit for the Magic, who were just dominated in the final period.
DeMarcus Cousins scored 17 points and snagged 14 boards for Sacto, but he was just 5/13 from the field and turned the ball over 4 times. He’s an amazing young talent, but is averaging 16.6 points per game on 15.4 shot attempts. As a frame of reference, Marc Gasol averages 15.6 points on just 11.2 shots per game.
Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette combined for 32 points off the Sacramento bench. Surprisingly, the two made just 1-of-8 three-point tries between them.
Glen Davis led the Magic with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Jameer Nelson scored 17 points with 6 assists and 3 threes.