by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Spurs (28-8) 112, Mavericks (20-16) 90
With both teams playing the second night of a back-to-back set, you would think it would be the Spurs taking it easy, especially considering this game was played on national TV (hey, Gregg Popovich). Well, the Spurs did get to kick their feet up in this one, but only after they finished running the Mavericks out of the gym. Tony Parker put up 25 points and 7 assists, Tim Duncan had 16 and 13 boards and only one Spur played even 30 minutes in the blowout as the stars got a fourth-quarter rest.
Dallas allowed the Spurs to shoot 51.6 percent while going cold from the field themselves, shooting just 41.9 percent from the field. Dirk Nowitzki struggled, scoring just 8 points on 3-14 shooting. Monta Ellis was one of just two Mavs in double figures, netting 21 on 10-18 shooting. Vince Carter was the other, scoring 14 and turning the clock back with a nice dunk in the first half.
For San Antonio, Marco Belinelli kept up his remarkable season off the bench. The Italian sharpshooter dropped 17 on 6-9 shooting, including 2-3 from deep. He’s shooting an even 50 percent on threes for the season, just the latest shooter that Pop has turned into a real weapon.
Raptors (17-17) 112, Pistons (14-22) 91
Toronto’s losing ways didn’t last long as they dominated the second half to score a win at home over Detroit. After trailing by four points at half, the Raptors won the second half, a time when the Pistons have struggled all season, by a whopping 62-37. Kyle Lowry led the Raps with 21 points and 9 assists while DeMar DeRozan bounced back from starting the game 0-9 from the floor to score 19. Terrence Ross, who has been locked in for the past month, kept up his fantastic shooting on corner threes, going 2-5 from the corners and 5-10 in total from deep to score 17.
The Pistons pulled their typical brick-laying act, shooting 39.5 percent from the floor. Brandon Jennings scored 22 points to lead the team, but he shot 6-19 to get there. Andre Drummond dominated the glass with 16 boards but only managed 6 points. No surprise, but Drummond is in the top-5 in the League, averaging 12.6 RPG.
Hawks (19-17) 97, Pacers (28-7) 87
The Hawks jumped on Indiana early, starting the game on a 12-0 run, and never let the Pacers fight their way back as they rolled to a win. Indiana was playing the dreaded fourth-game-in-five-nights and it showed, as they shot just 40 percent from the field. Kyle Korver led Atlanta with 17 points, and four players scored between 15 and 17 for the Hawks.
Atlanta keeps treading water without their star center, Al Horford. Starting Pero Antic (16 points, 3-6 from three) as something of a stretch 5, the Hawks have managed to go 3-4 without their All Star. In the weak Eastern conference, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Atlanta hold their Playoff spot even without Horford.
Paul George led the Pacers with 28 points (11-25 shooting), but everyone else struggled. Already missing Lance Stephenson, a late scratch with a knee injury, the rest of the Pacers went missing in action. Roy Hibbert had just 2 points (1-8 shooting) and 4 boards, and David West didn’t crack double figures in scoring either (8 points, 13 rebounds). Danny Granger did have 14 points as he got the start in Lance’s place.
Nets (14-21) 102, Warriors (24-14) 98
Visibly exhausted at the tail end of their East Coast trip, the Warriors still did everything in their power to keep their winning streak going and end their trip undefeated. Fatigue got the best of them, though, as the Nets put an end to Golden State’s 10-game winning streak. The Warriors couldn’t hit a shot down the stretch, going nearly four minutes without a made field goal as they watched a 93-89 lead evaporate and disappear. Steph Curry (34 points, 7 assists) did everything he could to try to pull out the win, hitting several shots as time wound down, but the Warriors just didn’t have enough to overcome the Nets.
Joe Johnson led Brooklyn with 27 points, but Kevin Garnett (13 points) was huge in the final quarter, where he scored 11 of his points. To put things in (a very sad) perspective, he’s matched that point total in just four other games this season. Despite their many injuries, Brooklyn has actually put together a nice stretch, winning four straight and five of seven. The Nets also got a solid effort from Andray Blatche, who dropped in 17 off the bench.
The Warriors were sloppy with the ball as per usual, especially Curry (7 TOs). Steph had a chance to knot things up with 12 seconds to go, but coughed it up to KG (he lives!). Although Curry came back to hit three free throws followed by a jumper with his foot on the line, that turnover was the final nail for the Warriors. David Lee (20 points, 9-14 shooting, 7 rebounds) gave Curry a helping hand, but most of the squad struggled on the night.
Wizards (16-17) 102, Pelicans (15-19) 96
The Pelicans made a valiant effort to come back on the Wizards after trailing big in the second half, but fell short as they dropped their third in a row. The Wiz were led by Trevor Ariza (21 points, 10 rebounds) and John Wall (20 points) as they continued their strong play on the road. They’ve now won six of their past seven games away from the nation’s capital as they continue their slow climb to .500.
The Wizards led by 17 at half after a 33-16 second quarter and were up 21 to start the fourth, but New Orleans got back into the game thanks to Anthony Davis (21 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks), who scored 10 in the fourth to pull the Pellies within six points, as close as they’d get. Eric Gordon netted 23 on 9-18 shooting, but no other Pelican offered much help.
Rockets (23-13) 113, Lakers (14-22) 99
The Lakers looked like they were on track to get to 2-0 against their former future franchise center. James Harden made sure that didn’t happen, helping the Rockets blow things wide open in the third quarter. After the Lakers were up five at halftime, Houston dominated the third quarter, 33-15, effectively ending things. Harden (38 points, 5 steals) scored 17 in the quarter, getting to the basket at will and raining in a few jumpers for good measure. Dwight Howard had 20 points and 13 boards against his former team, although he did not shoot well from the field (5-14) or free throw line (10-24).
Pau Gasol keeps upping his value for the Lakers, as he went for 21 and 13 in this one, while Nick Young pitched in 25 points off the bench. Kendall Marshall fell back to human levels of play, scoring just 5 points (2-13 shooting) and dishing out 8 assists.
Suns (21-13) 104, Timberwolves (17-18) 103
The Suns shocked Minnesota late, overcoming a nine-point hole with 4:30 to go to pull out a last-second win. Down a point in the final seconds, Phoenix was scrambling to find a good shot. After nearly losing the ball, Markieff Morris found Gerald Green (14 points) cutting down into the corner. Green rose up (really high) and sank the baseline jumper to complete the Suns comeback. Kevin Martin (20 points) left a layup short as time expired, as Minnesota dropped to 0-10 in games decided by four points or less.
Goran Dragic (26 points, 9 assists) was the engine that powered the Suns’ comeback. The point guard scored 12 in the fourth and picked up two of his assists to boot. He’s putting up All-Star numbers, averaging 19 and 6 with a Player Efficiency Rating over 20. Channing Frye, who is criminally overlooked, scored 20 and knocked down 5-10 threes for Phoenix.
Minnesota did almost enough to win, but committed a few bad fouls and went under a few too many screens on the Suns’ shooters in the fourth quarter. Kevin Love had 15 and 12, but was brutal shooting the ball (4-20). He complemented his ugly shooting night with some ugly words about his teammates’ effort after the game. Nikola Pekovic added a double double as well (17 and 12) and Ricky Rubio stuffed his stat sheet as per usual (7 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists) but committed a costly turnover and committed one of those fouls in the last minute of the game.
Trail Blazers (27-9) 110, Magic (10-25) 94
Looking at the final score, you would never guess Portland actually trailed heading into the final quarter. Outscoring your opponent by 20 in the fourth makes things look pretty rosy, though. The Trail Blazers went off late, scoring 39 in the final 12 minutes as Nicolas Batum (14 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists) notched his second triple double of the season in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge chugged along with a 36-point night, also grabbing 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Orlando stayed in the game and even held a decent lead early thanks to the shooting of Arron Afflalo (22 points on just 7-14 from the field). They also got a double double from Jameer Nelson (17 points, 10 assists), but simply couldn’t withstand the Blazers’ shooting barrage in the fourth. Portland made over 60 percent (17-28) of its shots in the quarter and shot 47.4 percent for the game. Orlando dropped its fifth straight, but got more solid minutes from rookie Victor Oladipo as he continues to impress.
Clippers (25-13) 111, Celtics (13-23) 105
The Clippers held on in a close one to help Doc Rivers go to 2-0 against his former team. Blake Griffin’s excellent play has kept up without Chris Paul in the lineup; he went for 29 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists in this one. Oh, and he also destroyed Kris Humprhies with one of his patented throw-in dunk things. Get well soon, Kris.
The Clippers didn’t really assert themselves until late, trailing midway through the third before starting to pull away. Boston got 24 points apiece from Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford, while Crawford also handed out 8 assists. For L.A., Darren Collison filled in for CP3 and put up 15 points and 6 assists, not bad for a guy who couldn’t find minutes for the point guard-hungry Mavs last season. The Clips also got 26 from Jamal Crawford in a starting role, but he needed 26 shots to get there.
Back to Blake, though. Over his last 13 games, Griffin’s averaging 25.7 points and 11 boards. While his rebounding has dropped a bit in the three games Paul has missed, Griffin has stepped up his playmaking, averaging 5.3 assists per game – two more than his season average. He’s also throwing outlet passes like he’s Kevin Love. Blake has plenty of critics, but he’s doing his best to silence them with his play.