by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Last night, Anthony Davis crushed the Bobcats, the Knicks stayed undefeated and the Lakers picked up their first win in the post-Mike Brown era.
Nets (2-2) 107 at Magic (2-3) 68
The Nets are the League’s most improved team from last year—on paper, anyway. The Magic have the League’s worst roster—and it’s not really even close. Last night, that was abundantly evident. Brooklyn, led by Brook Lopez’s 14 and 10 double-double, destroyed Orlando, as you may have guessed based on the final score. The Nets led just 19-17 after the first quarter, but took a a 14-point lead into halftime and never looked back. Orlando got 18 points from E’Twaun Moore—who looked very impressive—but not much from anyone else. After dropping two straight games, playing a laugher like this was just what the Nets needed. The Magic, on the other hand, are in for a long season.
Bucks (3-1) 101 at Wizards (0-4) 91
This was a much more entertaining game than you might think. For starters, it featured a Brandon Jennings ejection following a Flagrant 2 foul on Wiz rookie Bradley Beal. The Bucks guard exited with 12 points and 7 assists, while the third-overall pick Beal dropped a career-high 22.
Milwaukee led by four going into the fourth quarter, but expanded the lead to ten with eight minutes to play and pulled away from there. Monta Ellis scored a team-high 22 for the Bucks, and Mike Dunleavy and Larry Sanders each came off the Milwaukee bench for 13 points and 9 rebounds. The winless Wizards are probably not too happy about paying Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, who, combined are averaging 8.7 points per game this year, a total of $34 million this season.
Heat (5-1) 95 at Hawks (2-2) 89
Atlanta and Miami played a very evenly matched game. The Hawks led the Dwyane Wade-less Heat by four at halftime, but trailed by one going into the fourth quarter. With 1:41 left, the teams were tied at 89 after Jeff Teague hit a pair of free throws. From there, Ray Allen scored four of the game’s final six points, while Atlanta squandered a few opportunities.
It’s the kind of game where the Hawks really could have used Joe Johnson, and a reminder that salary cap flexibility doesn’t win games now. Atlanta hung in there for a long time, but ultimately didn’t have enough to pull a win out despite a great game from Jeff Teague, who scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting while dishing out 11 assists.
For Miami, Chris Bosh led the way with 24 points and three steals, while LeBron James went for 21 points, 11 boards and 9 dimes. Allen chipped in 17 points off the bench.
76ers (3-2) 106 at Celtics (2-3) 100
This is the type of game that makes me wonder if the Celtics are done. No, they didn’t get blown out and yes, they’ll win plenty more games with their veteran core, but they’re missing something here. Rajon Rondo handed out 20 assists last night. Paul Pierce scored 24 points on 16 shots. Kevin Garnett went for 19 points (8/13 from the floor) to go along with 10 boards and a pair of steals. Jason Terry chipped in a Jet-ian 13 points off the bench. Everything went according to plan, yet they lost at home to a team missing their best player.
Philly led the whole way, and owned a 12-point lead at half. Boston never really got back in it, trailing by at least seven for most of the fourth quarter. It may be too early to say that the 2-3 Celtics are entirely finished, but the way they’ve played this season just isn’t good enough. They have a deep team, but the results aren’t there. They need to turn things around soon.
Mavericks (4-2) 94 at Knicks (4-0) 104
Four up, four down for the Knicks. Facing another good team (they’d downed the Heat once and Sixers twice entering the night), New York picked up a great win. This one was close throughout, as the Knicks trailed by two at half but led by six entering the fourth. With just under eight minutes remaining, an OJ Mayo bucket cut New York’s lead to 88-86. However, Carmelo Anthony (31 points, 7 boards) knocked down a three with seven minutes left, and a Tyson Chandler three-point play on the following possession put the game away.
Melo led the game in scoring, but JR Smith was big for the Knicks with 22 points off the bench. Ronnie Brewer, who’s been starting at shooting guard for New York in place of Iman Shumpert, scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
For Dallas, Mayo continued his great season with 23 points and 7 rebounds. The Mavs out-rebounded New York, 50-43, but 20 turnovers did them in.
Bobcats (1-3) 99 at Hornets (3-2) 107
In a battle between ‘I Can’t Believe We Got Screwed Out Of Anthony Davis’ and ‘I Can’t Believe We Got Anthony Davis,’ guess who won? Davis returned from a head injury with 23 points, 11 boards and 5 blocks—his best game yet. In Davis’ first two games, he was averaged 14.5 points, 6.5 boards and 1.5 blocks, but this is the type of mammoth performance that he just might be capable of on a nightly basis. Ryan Anderson dropped 25 off the bench for the Hornets, who are now above .500 despite the mysterious situation surrounding Eric Gordon’s knee.
For the Bobcats, Ben Gordon saw increased minutes with the absence of Gerald Henderson, and came through big, scoring 34 points on 14-of-21 shots. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 12 points with 6 rebounds, while Bismack Biyombo pulled in 13 boards and blocked three shots. Charlotte has a few pieces, but at 1-3 it’s going to be a tough season for them.
The Hornets are looking pretty good at 3-2. They’re hardly title contenders, but the future is clearly bright. In addition to Davis and Greivis Vasquez, who has been excellent thus far, Al-Farouq Aminu is really coming on this season. He totaled 14 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block last night. Those numbers are right on par with what he’s done all season. Additionally, undrafted rookie Brian Roberts posted 16 points and 8 assists.
Pacers (2-4) 94 at Timberwolves (4-1) 96
This was a total nail-biter. Minnesota led Indiana 69-64 after three quarters, and held a 94-88 lead with 35 seconds left. With 33 seconds to play, George Hill made a layup, got fouled and knocked down the free throw, cutting the T-Wolves’ lead to 3. After Nikola Pekovic missed a shot inside, Hill knocked down a game-tying three with 4 seconds left. However, a Chase Budinger bucket with hardly any time left put Minnesota up for good.
Entering the season, the Pacers and T-Wolves were a pair of the top up-and-comers in the NBA. Right now, Minnesota is looking far better than Indy. They’ve only played five games, but they’ve won four despite playing without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. Different guys are stepping up for them every night. Last night, Budinger led the team with 18 points off the bench, though Derrick Williams, Pek, Donte Cunningham and Alexey Shved were all in double-figures.
Hill had a game-high 29 points and David West double-doubled with 19 points and 13 rebounds, but Paul George scored just 11 points on 12 shots. Danny Granger’s absence is definitely being felt in Indiana, where they might be setting up for a letdown season. I still really like the Pacers, but they’re going to need to find ways to win without their go-to guy.
Pistons (0-6) 94 at Thunder (4-2) 105
Detroit actually gave OKC a run for their money last night. The Thunder led 74-69 after three quarters, giving the Pistons a prayer to pick up their first win, but, unsurprisingly, OKC put the game away in the fourth. It was a single-digit deficit for most of the quarter, but the Thunder lead balooned to 16 with about five minutes remaining. Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka each scored 25 points for Oklahoma City, and Kevin Martin came off the bench for 16 of his own.
Rookie Andre Drummond had a big night for Detroit, posting 22 points (8/10 shooting) and 8 rebounds in 21 minutes. Greg Monroe scored 14 points to go along with 10 boards and 6 assists. As a whole, Detroit out-rebounded the Thunder, had fewer turnovers, more points in the paint and more fast break points, but they just couldn’t pull out the win.
Rockets (2-3) 85 at Grizzlies (4-1) 93
The Rockets led by seven points after one quarter, but trailed by one entering the fourth quarter. The game was tied up at 85 with 2:21 to play after a Jeremy Lin layup, but a Mike Conley three put Memphis up with 91 seconds to play. The Rockets wouldn’t score for the rest of the game, and Memphis picked up their fourth win in five games.
After winning their first two games behind massive efforts from James Harden, the Rockets are slumping. They’ve now lost three straight, despite a bunch of their guys playing pretty well. Last night, Chandler Parsons scored 19 points, Harden scored 18, Lin scored 15 with 5 assists and Omer Asik double-doubled with 10 points and 13 boards. The problem is their inconsistency—especially from role players—which is to be expected from one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Youngsters Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris both played poorly last night in a game where Houston really could have used some production from their power forwards.
For the Grizz, Rudy Gay scored a game-high 21 points, while Zach Randolph posted 15 and 14. Jerryd Bayless added 12 points off the bench.
Cavaliers (2-4) 105 at Suns (3-3) 107
This was a bad loss for the Cavs. I mean, like, really, really bad. Two and a half minutes into the game, Cleveland led 10-0. Six minutes into the game, Cleveland led 20-4. Twelve minutes into the game, Cleveland led 37-14. The Cavs led by roughly 20 for most of the second quarter, and went into halftime with a seemingly comfortable 62-47 lead.
But just a few minutes into the second half, the Suns had cut the lead to 10, and trailed by seven going into the fourth quarter. Starting in the fourth, things began to unravel for Cleveland. Phoenix opened the quarter on a 7-0 run, tying the game with 9:45 left.
Cleveland led by 5 with just over two minutes remaining, but blew that lead, too. Another 7-0 Suns run put Phoenix up by four with 19 seconds left, but a Daniel Gibson three-pointer pulled the Cavs within one point. Sebastian Telfair then split a pair of free throws, putting Phoenix up two, but a Kyrie Irving missed three gave Phoenix the win.
The Cavs held a 26-point lead at one point last night, so this is a disasterous loss for the young team. Goran Dragic paced the Suns with 26 points, and Shannon Brown contribued 22 off the bench. The Cavs got 23 points out of rookie Dion Waiters, while Irving scored 17 and Anderson Varejao double-doubled.
Spurs (5-1) 97 at Kings (2-4) 86
The Kings have a number of really talented guys on their team, and they showed it last night. They’re obviously not on the Spurs level yet—not even close—but they played them well nonetheless. The Spurs led by just a point entering the fourth quarter, but the veteran squad dominated in the final 12 minutes.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 23 points and 12 rebounds, though Patty Mills was great, too, scoring 18 points on nine shots. Sacramento played a sound game, turning the ball over 11 times while forcing 20 Spurs turnovers. They had five guys score in double-figures, with Marcus Thornton and Jason Thompson each scoring a team-high 17 points.
Warriors (3-3) 77 at Lakers (2-4) 101
After firing Mike Brown early Friday, the Lakers responded with an easy win. Kobe Bryant posted 27 points and 7 assists, and Darius Morris, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Jordan Hill all joined him with double-digit points. Dwight Howard failed to get things going, as he scored just six points on 2/6 shooting from the floor while grabbing eight rebounds.
For the Warriors, Stephen Curry led the team with 18 points, but he needed 16 shots to do it. Golden State is a streaky team, and they didn’t have it against LA. They shot just 29-of-86 (under 34 percent) from the floor and got out-rebounded, 58-47. When facing the Lakers, those are some tough numbers to overcome.
Jazz (2-4) 84 at Nuggets (3-3) 104
This was about as boring as a game could be (that’s what ESPN gets for putting the Jazz on National TV). It was close through the first fifteen-or-so minutes, but the Jazz failed to make a shot in the final 8+ minutes of the first half. Denver took the game over from that point on, never allowing Utah to get back in it.
Corey Brewer scored a game-high 20 points for the Nuggets, while Kenneth Faried and Kosta Kufos both had double-doubles. Andre Iguodala also put in 15 points.
For Utah, Derrick Favors played very well. He scored 10 points while pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking 5 shots (all of which came in the first half). Gordon Hayward scored a team-high 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. The team as a whole shot a shade under 37 percent from the field, compared to Denver’s 43.5 percent.