by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Last night, Rajon Rondo returned with a bang, LeBron James played a “Flu Game” of his own and the Grizzlies continued to dominate. Here we go.
Raptors (2-7) 89 at Celtics (6-4) 107
This game had blowout written all over it when the Celtics outscored Toronto, 30-17, in the first quarter. But the Raptors rallied back, and trailed by just five points at halftime. However, the Celtics closed the third quarter out on a 13-2 run, putting the game away.
Rajon Rondo handed out a wild 20 dimes. It appears he’s just fine after missing one game with an ankle injury, but he scored just six points, ending his 33-game double-double streak. Jason Terry dropped a game-high 20 points on just 12 shots, while rookie Jared Sullinger double-doubled off the bench.
John Lucas and Andrea Bargnani were the leading scorers for Toronto, scoring 15 points each.
Jazz (5-6) 83 at Wizards (0-8) 76
The Wizards are really bad. I mean, really, really, bad. They remained winless after dropping last night’s home game against an offensively challenged Jazz team. They made just 36.5 percent of their shots, and were 5-for-16 from downtown. They also made just nine free throws, five of which were made by Jordan Crawford. Worst of all, they were out-rebounded 60-44.
Crawford (eight assists) and Trevor Ariza (nine rebounds) combined for 36 points on 33 shots. They were the only two Wizards in double-figures.
The Jazz started Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors, and it worked out. Each of them pulled in at least ten boards, while Jefferson was the game’s high scorer with 21. Gordon Hayward came off the bench for 15.
Mavericks (6-5) 103 at Cavaliers (2-7) 95
Dallas needs to win with a bunch of guys stepping up to replace Dirk Nowitzki, and that’s what they got against Cleveland. OJ Mayo led the team once again, scoring 19 points. Chris Kaman dropped 15 points while grabbing eight boards and blocking six shots. Four other Mavs were in double-figures. The team as a whole shot 51.4 percent from the floor and 10-of-23 from deep. Elton Brand failed to score in under 11 minutes, and has been surprisingly unproductive so far this season.
The Cavs were in it for a while, and trailed by just two entering the fourth quarter. A Kyrie Irving three cut a six-point deficit in half with 1:34 left, but Cleveland wouldn’t score again from there. Irving dropped a game-high 26, though bizarrely failed to post an assist or a rebound. Rookie Dion Waiters scored 16, while Tristan Thompson recorded a double-double. Daniel Gibson was strong off the bench again, scoring 16 points in 27 minutes. He’s scored at least 12 points in four of his last five games.
Grizzlies 94 (7-1) at Bobcats 87 (4-4)
Though the final score was pretty close, Memphis controlled this game. They outscored Charlotte in each of the first three quarters, and a late Bobcats run cut down a huge lead. Zach Randolph continued his utter dominance, dropping 18 points to go along with 12 boards. Mike Conley was the team’s leading scorer with 20 points. Marc Gasol totaled 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Rudy Gay added 16 points. Memphis has their formula for success down perfectly, and they’ve been executing every night. Watch out.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats flopped again but got some solid performances. Kemba Walker scored 17 points and recorded eight assists and five boards. The-underrated-but-probably-couldn’t-produce-on-a-real-team Byron Mullens scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 12 points and eight rebounds. Charlotte had a three-game winning streak entering the game.
Nuggets 100 (4-6) at Spurs 126 (8-2)
I’m a little worried about the Nuggets. A loss in San Antonio is nothing to hang your head over, neither was their Thursday night loss in Miami, but they haven’t looked sharp this year. Their four wins are against Detroit (1-9), Houston (4-5), Utah (5-6) and Golden State (5-4), with the latter coming in a game they really should have lost. Their losses have come against some tough teams, save for the Magic, but they just haven’t shown the spark I thought they would have.
Danilo Gallinari is shooting 32 percent from the field this year. Ty Lawson is shooting just 38 percent. They’re very talented and will win plenty of games, but might not take the step forward many, including myself, expected them to. Last season, they were a fun team that was never a real threat to advance far in the playoffs. It looks like they might be the same team this season.
For the Spurs, Manu Ginobili scored a game-high 20 points in the blowout. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, DeJuan Blair, Patty Mills and Danny Green also scored double-digits. The Spurs led by as many as 32 points, despite Denver shooting 50 percent from the field and a nearly identical rebounding margin. Gallo scored a team-high 15 points for the Nuggets.
Hornets (3-4) 113 at Bucks (6-2) 117
Anthony Davis came through big last night, but it wasn’t enough. The rookie dropped 28 points and 11 boards, but a balanced Bucks effort bested his Hornets. Brandon Jennings (nine assists, four steals) and Monta Ellis each dropped a team-high 22 for Milwaukee, who also got at least ten points from four other players.
The game was tied after three quarters. The Hornets trailed by two with 1:35 left after a Ryan Anderson bucket. The Bucks led, 115-110, with 12 seconds left, when Anderson drained a three to make it a two point game with four seconds left. However, Ellis iced the game at the line.
Milwaukee has been a great surprise, sitting at 6-2. They’ve won a few nail-biters, and their shoot-first backcourt is working out beautifully. There’s certainly a chance they’ll fizzle, but they seem likely to vie for the eighth seed in the East all season.
Heat (8-3) 97 at Suns (4-6) 88
As the great Hubie Brown might say, give the Suns a lot of credit. After losing Steve Nash this offseason, they were active in free agency and have put together a pretty good team. They stayed even with the Heat through the game’s first two quarters, but Miami pulled ahead in the second half. Phoenix was actually within two points with two minutes left, but the Heat closed the game out on a 7-0 run.
LeBron James played through an illness, and scored 21 points with seven assists. Chris Bosh led the team with 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds. Miami shot over 53 percent from the floor.
For the Suns, Goran Dragic was strong again, scoring 12 points while handing out eight assists, picking up four steals and turning the ball over just twice. Markieff Morris led the team with 16 points.
Bulls (5-4) 80 at Clippers (7-2) 101
Entering the season, the Lakers and Thunder seemed destined to clash in the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers, Spurs and Grizzlies seemed like potential candidates who would likely ultimately fall flat. I’m not so sure anymore. OKC and LA are playing well, the latter mostly picking things up post-Mike Brown, but Red LA, San Antonio and Memphis are looking extremely strong.
Last night, the Clippers dismantled the Bulls. Granted Chicago is without Derrick Rose, of course, but they’ve been playing well without him. The Clippers outscored the Bulls 48-36 in the post, and held Chicago to 2/14 shooting from downtown. Blake Griffin led all scorers with 26 points, and also tallied 10 rebounds. Jamal Crawford led an excellent second unit with 22 points off the bench. Chris Paul attempted just nine shots, but picked up 10 assists and three steals. DeAndre Jordan blocked seven shots.
For the Bulls, Carlos Boozer forgot he was no longer on the Jazz, and dropped 22 points and 12 boards. Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton scored 14 points each. Kirk Hinrich missed all five shots he attempted, but handed out 10 assists.