by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
I know. I had every Lin pun available at my disposal for today’s Post Up title. But I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t. I can’t make a joke out of this dude anymore, because he won’t stop being ridiculously good. If he doesn’t somehow make it into the Rookie-Sophomore game (or whatever we’re calling it this year), someone in the NBA offices is effing up. As of last night, you can add “clutch” to his list of quality basketball traits. Let’s get it, with apologies for slightly more brief recaps today—a combination of the fact that JLin will most likely be the only thing discussed, and the fact that the SLAM pick-up run had me behind. You know how it go!
Jeremy. Lin. The ridiculousness continues for the Knicks, who stormed back from a 17-point deficit to beat the Raptors in dramatic fashion. After Lin tied the game at 87 with a minute to go on a three-point play on a drive to the hoop, he held the ball in his hands on the next possession with the clock winding down. With 5 seconds to play, he made his move, taking a dribble at Jose Calderon and pulling up for the game-winning three. It was cold-blooded. It was Hibachi-esque. It was…awesome. The trey with 0.5 seconds on the game clock capped off a 27-point, 11-assist night for Lin, and gave the Knicks their sixth straight win—New York is undefeated in the Lin era. Sure, he had 8 turnovers, and sure, Calderon gave him the business for most of the game until the Knicks switched Iman Shumpert onto him in the second half (Calderon: 25 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals), but you know what? That’ll all be forgotten. JLin led the Knicks back in the fourth quarter, Shumpert locked down Calderon, and New York (14-15) welcomed Amar’e Stoudemire (21 points but shot just 8-22 from the field) back with a W.
LeBron James nearly had a triple-double and the Heat became the first NBA team in 33 years to win three road games on three straight days, riding The King’s 23 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals to victory. By the way, they won all three by double digits. Miami (now 23-7) jumped all over Indiana early, outscoring the Pacers 33-16 in the first quarter and leading 68-39 by halftime. It didn’t help the Pacers’ cause that Danny Granger left in the first quarter with an apparent sprained ankle after contributing just 3 points. Six Indiana players scored in double figures, but a few weren’t who you’d expect: bench men Dahntay Jones (10), AJ Price (12) and Tyler Hansbrough (11) all finished with double-digit games. Dwyane Wade added 16 to help LBJ, Chris Bosh had 13 and 7, and Norris Cole racked up 20 points in extended bench minutes. Good for him.
Tim Duncan had 18 points, 13 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocked shots and Manu Ginobili—who scored only 1 point in 25 minutes—made a big defensive play down the stretch as the Spurs got past the lowly Pistons to improve to 20-9 on the year. Manu drew a charge on Tayshaun Prince in a tie game with just under 1:30 left to play, and Ben Gordon put the game further out of reach for Detroit by getting a technical foul with 21 seconds remaining. It’s the eighth straight victory for San Antonio, which now sits in the No. 2 slot in the West behind only Oklahoma City. The Spurs ruined a big night for Ben Wallace, who played in his 1,055th career game. Why is that significant? Big Ben has now played in more NBA games than any other undrafted player in the history of the League. It might also have been the last time Duncan and Wallace ever face one another, since the two teams aren’t scheduled to play again this season.
At one point, the Bulls led by 19 points in the fourth quarter. Then, all of a sudden it was just a two-point lead. Ugly as it was, the Bulls pulled it out without Derrick Rose yet again, improving to 24-7 and 10-1 at home. Marcus Thornton (23 points) hit a three with under 15 seconds to play to make it 117-115, but Chicago salted the game away with clutch free throw shooting from Luol Deng and Kyle Korver. Deng led the Rose-less Bulls with 23 points, 7 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists and Chicago shot 52 percent as a team. Sacramento got big performances from Thornton, Tyreke Evans (27 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists) and DeMarcus Cousins (28 points, 17 boards), but the Bulls got 22 and 11 from Joakim Noah and 18 points off the bench from Kyle Korver to drop the Kings to 10-18 (3-13 on the road). Chicago got 33 assists even without DRose. Oh, and Sacramento is at New York tonight. Kings guards, meet Mr. Lin.
The Grizzlies are now 2-0 against the Rockets this season after holding Houston to 39 percent shooting and holding Kevin Martin to exactly 0 points on 0-3 shooting in his 18 spare minutes. It’s the first time in his career that KMart has been held scoreless as a starter, and he’s now scored fewer than 10 points in five of his last six games (before that stretch, he was averaging 21 ppg this year). Word to Tony Allen. Oh, and last season Martin averaged more than 31 ppg against the Grizz. Memphis, meanwhile, shot 48 percent last night and found a Big Three of their own, even in the extended absence of Z-Bo. They are Mike Conley (team-high 21 points), Rudy Gay (20 points, 8 rebounds) and Marc Gasol (18 and 7). The Rockets cut the deficit to five in the fourth quarter but Gay canned a trey to put the game out of reach for good. Houston heads home to host OKC tonight, while Memphis is in New Jersey on Wednesday.
The Jazz came in tired (on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back) and the Thunder came in rested (3 days of rest), so this result is really no surprise. And while Kevin Durant got his 21, James Harden scored 22 and Russell Westbrook had 16 points, it was the dominant play on the inside of Serge Ibaka that helped blow Utah out of the building. How about 16 points on 7-8 shooting, 10 rebounds and 6 blocked shots for the Serge Protector? In related news, the Jazz shot just 36 percent to the Thunder’s 55 percent clip, and were outscored in the paint 60-42. Al Jefferson led the team in scoring with 15 points, but no one else on the Jazz did, well, anything. Gordon Hayward, for one, scored zilch on 0-6 shooting in his 16 minutes of action (glad I just picked him up for my fantasy team). But this is no surprise, since the Thunder simply do not lose at home: 10-1 this year in OKC.
Head coach Alvin Gentry held Steve Nash and Grant Hill out of this game for some rest. It’s at that point we probably could have handed Denver the win. The Nuggs snapped a five-game home losing streak behind 20 points from Arron Afflalo, 17 from Ty Lawson and 16 from Chris Andersen, of all guys. Even Kennethe Faried managed to put up 13 and 9. Denver held a 30-point advantage on points in the paint and had six players in double figure scoring. Phoenix’s Michael Redd scored 20 points (3 threes), rookie Markieff Morris led the team in scoring with 21 and Machine Gortat did his double-double thing with 10 and 14, but without Nash the Suns were fighting an uphill battle—they shot 33 percent, their worst in a game since ’06. This block is a nice metaphor for the game as a whole. Whatup, Birdman.
Two minutes into this one, Blazers fans everywhere gasped, as LaMarcus Aldridge fell awkwardly, spraining his ankle and forcing him out of the remainder of the game (X-rays were negative, but still). With LMA out of the picture, the Wizards smelled blood, and fed the hottest of hot hands in Nick Young, who finished with 35 points, including 7 three-pointers. If not for Young’s monster night—and a 29-point, 9-assist night from John Wall—the story here would be Nicolas Batum, who dropped a career-high 33 points to lead Portland. Washington scored a season-high 124 points, which was also the most given up this season by the Blazers, and shot a season-high 60 (!) percent from the floor (the team’s highest FG% since 2009). Gerald Wallace had 25 points and Marcus Camby went for 13 and 12, but the Wizards did almost everything right in this game, moving to 7-22 for the season, while the Blazers have now lost 3 of their last 4 at home—that hasn’t happened since 2008.
The Lakers improved to 17-12 on the year thanks to monster games from big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who helped outscore the Hawks 44-28 in points in the paint. Gasol finished with 20 points (7 of them in the final 5+ minutes), 13 rebounds and 4 blocks, while Bynum racked up a 15×15 night. Los Angeles is now 12-2 at home, despite a terrible shooting night from Kobe Bryant, who shot just 5-18 and scored 10 points in his 34 minutes. In the first half, Kobe was 1-10 from the field. No matter, since the Lakers frontcourt was rolling, and since Atlanta shot a season-low 34 percent as a team, including just 7-27 from three-point range. Jeff Teague led ATL with 18 points, while Joe Johnson notched a career milestone with his 15 points—Joe has now scored 10,000 points with the Hawks, just the 7th guy in franchise history to do so.
Line of the Night: Nick Young — 35 points, 12-17 FG, 7-8 3PT. Swaggy P was on fire.
Moment of the Night: Was there ever any doubt? Here’s Lin, from multiple angles and feeds.
Dunks of the Night: Kendrick Perkins leads the break, Russell Westbrook finishes it. And Nicolas Batum baptizes the Wizards’ frontline, all at once.
Tonight: A baker’s dozen more NBA games set to go down on Wednesday, starting with Sixers-Magic at 7 and wrapping up with my Wiz taking on Lob City in the late-night matchup of the evening. In between, be sure to keep an eye (or your jump button) on Thunder-Rockets, Nuggets-Mavs and of course, more Linsanity as the Knicks host the Kings at MSG. Pete will be subbing for me tomorrow morning, since I’m busy covering Nets-Grizz, so don’t miss me too much and be nice to PW. Catch y’all on Friday morning.