by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Five games from last night, from two tight games to start the night to one of the year’s biggest blowouts to end it. And it all started with Kyrie’s fourth-quarter theatrics against Detroit. Here we go…
Ben Gordon missed a driving layup with under 20 seconds to play and the Pistons down by 1, and Kyrie Irving and Boobie Gibson made 4 straight free throws to secure a Cavaliers win behind 32 points from Antawn Jamison. Detroit blew a 55-44 halftime lead and a 72-55 lead late in the third quarter, thanks to sub-39 percent field goal shooting and a 2-15 night for Tayshaun Prince (7 points). And the Pistons wasted yet another stellar effort from Greg Monroe, who racked up 19 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals (fantasy monster alert) and 24 points from Brandon Knight. But mostly, this game was about Irving, who led the Cavs all the way back with 17 points in the fourth quarter, part of a 25-point, 8-assist night. Alonzo Gee (13 points) capped off Cleveland’s torrid run on a dunk off his own miss with less than 30 seconds to play, giving the Cavs a 2-point lead. Gee and Kyrie combined to score 30 of Cleveland’s 35 points in the fourth. The Rookie of the Year race might be over, guys.
New Orleans has been getting frisky lately—the Hornets led by 3 at the half and made a late charge to give the Pacers a scare, but ultimately fell to Indiana in overtime. New Orleans was down by 5 as late 1:28 in the fourth quarter, but the Hornets stormed back with three consecutive buckets from Gustavo Ayon—yes, Gustavo Ayon. Still, the Pacers led 100-98 with 13.3 seconds to play, but Trevor Ariza rained a wing jumper to tie things up, before Paul George’s step-back jumper hit front iron, sending the game to overtime. It was all Indiana in the extra period, as the Pacers started OT went on a 10-0 run and held on to get their 3rd straight win, their twentieth of the season. Roy Hibbert provided the bulk of the scoring, finishing with a career-high 30 points (11-17 shooting) plus 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, while George scored 20 and Darren Collison chipped in an 18/8/6 line. For the Hornets (who lost despite shooting 53 percent), Ariza scored 21 and Jarrett Jack had 19 points and 10 assists, again as a reserve.
Miami continues to dominate, this time getting 30 points and 10 assists from Dwyane Wade, 20 points apiece from Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh, and 18, 8 and 4 from LeBron James on the way to improving to an NBA-best 26-7 on the year. Sacramento did its best to hang tough, as their new starting lineup featuring 3 guards Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans all scored 20+ points. Thomas led the Kings with 24 points, Thornton had 23 and Evans finished 21 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds, plus one of his patented long-range buzzer beaters to end the first quarter. But even with the backcourt rolling, SacTown couldn’t combat 56 percent shooting from the Heat and 11-16 shooting from DWade—his 11th straight game with a field goal percentage over 50 percent. Up next for Miami? Yup, Jeremy Lin and the Knicks come to town. Before we close the book on another Heat W, let’s play a game I like to call “What’s in Wayne’s cup?” My second-favorite game, behind “What the hell is Wayne wearing?”
Philly haters, eat your hearts out today, because the Sixers have lost 4 in a row and 6 of their last 8 games. To say the Sixers started slow against Memphis would be an understatement. Philadelphia made only 4 of 20 field goals in the first quarter, and trailed 30-10 after one. It got better—they were down 5 at halftime—but not much better, as the Sixers shot 37 percent from the field for the game, and trailed by as many as 21. Still, Philly pulled within four in the fourth quarter, but the Grizzlies finished the game on a 15-6 run, bumping their record to 19-15 on the year. Memphis didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (sub-40 percent), but outrebounded (47-36) and out-hustled the Sixers, and got a crazy overall line from Marc Gasol—15 points, 14 boards, 7 assists and 5 blocks in 43 minutes. Jrue Holiday scored 22 points, but had none in the fourth quarter, and the next leading scorer for Philadelphia was Lavoy Allen, who finished with 14. Andre Iguodala shot just 5-14 with 11 points, adding 7 assists and 5 rebounds. And consider this per CSN Philly: “Andre Iguodala has not made a basket in the fourth quarter in the 76ers’ last six games.”
Holy blowout! Only a Greg Popovich-coached team would rest its two biggest stars in the midst of an 11-game winning streak. Pop sat down Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, telling media pre-game, “We’re going to put some money in the bank; get some rest and recuperation.” The game that followed without TP and TD went about as you’d expect—the Blazers wasted no time jumping all over the Spurs, taking a 41-23 lead after the first quarter, during which they drilled 8 threes. From there, Portland continued to pour it on, opening up a ridiculous 103-65 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Put it this way, last night’s Luke Babbitt sighting lasted 10 whole minutes. Jamal Crawford stepped into the starting lineup in place of Raymond Felton and delivered 20 points and 8 assists (Felton had 16 points but still took 3 more shots than Crawford). LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 21 points and Gerald Wallace added 19, 10 and 6, while Kawhi Leonard led San Antonio with 24 points, 10 boards and 5 steals. The streak-snapping loss drops the Spurs to 23-10, while Portland is now 18-16 on the year.
Lines of the Night: Roy Hibbert’s career-high 30, DWade’s 30 and 10 dimes and Marc Gasol’s 15/14/7/5.
Dunk of the Night: Paul George gives us a preview of what All-Star Saturday Night might look like.
LeBron-to-Wade of the Night, Part I: I thought this one was sick…
LeBron-to-Wade of the Night, Part II: …then I saw this one.
Tonight: SLAM super-sub Eldon (you’ve read his blog) is covering a baker’s dozen worth of games while I’m out of commission, but I’ll meet you all back here for Thursday’s last round of pre-All-Star break NBA action. Settle in for Celtics-Thunder and Lakers-Mavs on the mothership, and keep an eye out for Nuggets-Clippers, Sixers-Rockets and Hawks-Knicks on this Wednesday evening.