by Cris Jones / @HeirJones
What a finish. The Bulls escaped Amway Center with a victory after Jameer Nelson’s would be game-tying jumper was ruled late. Derrick Rose dropped a game-high 39 points, on an efficient 13-17 shooting performance. The Bulls as a whole, shot 60 percent from the field, 7-13 from three point land, and 23-26 from the free throw line. Taj Gibson added 9 and 11 off the bench. The Magic were paced by Ryan Anderson, who poured in a team-high 28 points, along with 10 boards. Jason Richardson followed up with 24, on 10-14 shooting. Anderson and Richardson combined to net 19 of Orlando’s 35 made field goals. Although Dwight Howard missed this contest due to suspension, Chicago only out-rebounded Orlando37 to 33. Derrick Rose took some pretty nasty falls in this one (even breaking his fall with his hand at times), frightening every Bulls fan across the globe. But don’t expect the Bulls to put on the brakes, as they are only one game back of the Spurs for the No. 1 overall seed.
This highly-anticipated part two of Sunday afternoon’s doubleheader turned out to be a stinker. Boston jumped out to an early 11-2 lead, but Miami withstood Boston’s initial punch and took the lead in the 2nd quarter. The Heat never looked back at the aging guys in green. LeBron James was the only Heat player to score more than 20, with his 27 points and 7 assists. The Celtics’ center position woes become more alarming by the day, as Jermaine O’Neal went scoreless, and Nenad Krstic added 2. The only Boston players that came equipped with their offensive games, were Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who dropped 24 and 21, respectively. The Heat out-rebounded the Celtics 42-26, and the Heat’s Joel Anthony played a huge part in that, as he grabbed 10 boards. Rajon Rondo continued his post All-Star break struggles with a 7-point, 5-assist day. Miami is now one game ahead of Boston with two games left to play.
Side note: This one got a little chippy in the second quarter when Jermaine O’Neal hit James with a stiff shoulder, as James was attempting a layup. O’Neal was hit with a flagrant-one and both teams had to be separated. The fact that O’Neal attempted to body block James, yet fell back several feet was kind of funny to me.
This one was tight heading into the fourth, and even into the final three minutes. But after Kobe Bryant put the Lakers ahead 104-103, the Thunder closed the game out on a 17-2 run, which left the Lakers feeling the pain of a fifth straight defeat. Kevin Durant scored 31 on only 15 attempts from the field, and Russell Westbrook stuffed the sheet with 26, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. The duo of Bryant and Pau Gasol also combined for 57 points. The key to Thunder’s confidence-building win was clearly their bench, as they outscored L.A.’s bench 37-20. The 38-23 rebounding margin win also played an integral part in the victory. Andrew Bynum was the only Laker to grab more than 5 rebounds in last night’s game with his 13. L.A. now has an identical 55-25 record with Dallas, but the tie-breaker is in the Lakers’ favor. Oklahoma City is only a single game behind L.A. and Dallas, with two games left to be played.
Chris Paul was held scoreless, so naturally the Hornets lost. This match up was one of the more intriguing ones coming into yesterday, as both teams seem hell bent on reaching the sixth spot in the West. But the final score left little doubt about which team seems more likely to make some noise in the Western Conference Playoffs. After a close first half, the Grizzlies completely dominated the second,outscoring the Hornets 59-41. Hornets’ guard, Marco Belinelli scored 16 in the first quarter, but finished the game with only 18 points. OJ Mayo scored 18 off the bench for Memphis, and Greivis Vasquez added13 of his own. Both New Orleans and Memphis share a 46-34 record. Memphis finished their home regular season schedule with a 30-11 record after this win. They look to be a tough opponent to face at the FedExForum in the coming weeks.
Andre Iguodala and Danny Granger are often mentioned in the same breath (just look at SLAM’s 500 Greatest issue). They can now be mentioned as the guys Carmelo Anthony hit game-winning or go-ahead jumpers over, during this past weekend. Once again, from the right side of the court, Anthony rose for a quick jumper before the defender knew what hit him. He finished with 34 points on 11-28 shooting. The Pacers headed into the last period up 96-87, but were outscored 23-13 in those final 12 minutes. The Knicks defense—yes, defense—forced Indiana into some awful possessions down the stretch, culminating with Anthony’s block on Granger’s jumper as the seconds on the clock dwindled to triple zeros. The Knicks won despite shooting 38.8 percent from the field. Roy Hibbert had 19 and 10 for the Pacers.
Stat that made noise on Twitter last night: Anthony has surpassed Kobe Bryant (16-15) for the most game winning shots (to go ahead with 10 seconds or less in the fourth or overtime) since 2003.
The Mavericks, who once looked destined for a third place finish, could possibly grab the much sought after 2nd spot in the West. Their 25-point drubbing of Phoenix only helped them in their quest. Dallas established a 36-17 lead after 12 minutes, and proceeded to cruise to the finish line. The Mavs’ bench scored 62 points to Phoenix’s 45. The Suns were out-rebounded 51-37 in this one.
The Warriors were looking to extend a winning streak past three for the first time all season, but the Kings made sure they were unsuccessful. Marcus Thornton scored a team-high 21 for the Kings, but no 2 points were more important than the step-back jumper he hit to put the Kings up 104-100 with 12.8 seconds left in regulation. DeMarcus Cousins recorded a cool double-double, with 15 and 13. On the flip, Stephen Curry stuffed the stat sheet with 27-6-8. David Lee dropped 24, and grabbed 14 off the rim.
The Raptors were in control of this game for the majority of the 48. But the Nets did their best to make it interesting with a furious comeback in the fourth. However, they came up just short. Brook Lopez scored 35—and ripped down 11 boards—including 7 offensive rebounds. DeMar Derozan, Amir Johnson,and Ed Davis poured in 18 points apiece for this Raptors squad that only played eight men in this one.
After getting lit up for 40 in the first quarter, Detroit settled things down to make it respectable at halftime. Then a 34-19 third period put the Pistons ahead going into the final frame. Rodney Stuckey led all scorers with 24, and dropped 11 dimes as well. Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field, but Charlotte shot 44.4 percent from the free throw line (8-18). DJ Augustin recorded a double-double with 14 points and 14 helpers.