by Adam Figman | @afigman
The Nets won another super-close one last night, coming up big in the final quarter and rallying for a home win. Off-the-bench assassin Anthony Morrow led the team with 19, Brook Lopez put up a modest 17, and the Nets hit 9 threes to secure the victory, though a relatively poor offensive performance by the Grizz and a nothing-but-rim late game-tying attempt from OJ Mayo helped ’em get it. The W makes two in a row, and four of five (!), for New Jerz.
The Magic’s goal is generally to clog the lane with Dwight Howard, diverting the opposition’s attention and allowing Orlando’s three-point shooters to get open on the outside, where they convert accordingly. Consider that goal very much accomplished yesterday, as the Magic shooters put in 16 bombs en route to an easy victory. Dwight (19 and 16) did his thing as well, while only Danny Granger (27 points) and Darren Collison (21) assisted much or at all for Indiana. The Pacers continue to free fall, having now dropped six straight.
As the Pacers drop from contention, the 76ers kept holdin’ on to their well-earned spot, handing the Raptors their ninth straight loss. Marreese Speights led Philly with 23 (17 in just the second quarter, during which the Sixers grabbed the lead), while DeMar DeRozan’s recent scoring tear continued, as he led the Raps with 29. Three straight successful contests for Philadelphia’s Finest.
The Nuggets hadn’t won in Detroit in 14 games, though that little run is finito, after Chauncey Billups scored 26 and drilled some clutch threes, leading his current squad over his former one. Rodney Stuckey left the game late in the first quarter, and with Rip Hamilton out with flu-like symptoms (and upset-with-his-coach-like symptoms, too—a brutal combo), Stuckey wasn’t replaceable. The Nugs’ seemingly fun little road trip hits Cleveland tomorrow.
Down 11 to start the fourth, the Bucks rallied back behind Earl Boykins (20 points, 11 in the final q) and Carlos Delfino (who scored all 15 of his points in the fourth), winning the last period 35-14 and securing a victory. Corey Maggette led the home team with 22, while Jamal Crawford put in 20 for the poor-shooting visitors. (As in: 41.8 percent from the floor, 73.9 percent from the stripe.) Despite the L, Atlanta has a strong five-game lead of the Knicks, comfortably seated at fifth in the East.
The only game last night that required overtime, and also the only game last night during which Kevin Durant amassed career highs in scoring (47 points!) and rebounds (18 rebounds!). Kevin Love (whose 31 points and 21 rebounds were somehow overshadowed by KD’s performance) had a solid chance to end this one in regulation, but his hook shot from about 10 feet out rimmed off, and extra time was needed. The red-hot Durant just kept sinking shots in OT, and after Corey Brewer missed a late free throw, the TWolves had a chance to win it with under seven seconds remianing but Luke Ridnour rushed, forced, and missed a three that sealed it up. The loss marks five straight for Minnesota.
The one thing we didn’t get last night (how spoiled are we?) was a huge night from rookie sensation Blake Griffin. Chuck Hayes held him down well, allowing only 14 points and 11 rebounds—do we really live in a world where those stats, from a rookie, require an “only“?—and opening the door for the Rockets to snatch the victory. (Afterwards, Hayes said: “If I keep my body on him and go strength-for-strength, muscle-for-muscle, I have a chance.” Interesting. Something tells me that wouldn’t work for most, though.) A huge fourth quarter (26-10) made all the difference, and Kyle Lowry’s game-high 20 points (Randy Foye also scored 20, a season-high for him) led Houston. Get well soon, Eric Gordon—your lack of presence is felt, it seems.
Has a mid-season coaching change ever produced such a definitive turnaround? Probably, but whatever; this is pretty damn cool. The Bobcats rolled along last night, shooting 50.6 percent from the floor and taking down the Suns on the road. Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace combined or 55, while Steve Nash’s 27 points and 15 assists weren’t enough (Christ!) for the hosts.
Right when this game was heating up in Salt Lake City, Jimmer Fredette was lighting it up elsewhere in Utah, dominating to the tune of 43 points and leading BYU over SDSU. With the hoops world tuned in, watching in amazement, many missed the Spurs defeat the Jazz, in what wasn’t such a shabby competition itself. Deron Williams put his crew on his back, dropping 39 and distributing 9, but Utah couldn’t close, and the Spurs hung on for the win. The L gives the Jazz their sixth straight defeat, but they showed a hell of a lot of effort in this one, and even hard-nosed coach Jerry Sloan acknowledged that in his post-game interview. Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 26 points in the win.
Peep these numbers: All five starters scored in double figures; 62.2 percent (!) shooting from the field; and 18 points and 17 dimes from Chris Paul. (I’ll take Things That Happen Against Golden State’s D For 1,000, Alex!) It all blended together to form a victory for the Bees, who matched a franchise record with their 10th straight W. GSW put up a bit of a fight, too, as Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis and Dorell Wright combined for 71 points off 26-41 shooting, but it wasn’t enough against the L’s hottest group. New Orleans moved to 31-16, good for third in the competitive West.
Actual Stats: Kevin Durant: 47 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Moment of the Night: The fiasco at the end of the Thunder-TWolves game seems pretty appropriate, though the Internet doesn’t seem to have blessed us with any footage of the chaos just yet. Will update when there is.
Anyone else unreasonably excited for Knicks-Heat tonight?