by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad

Just ‘Cause:

Joey Bada$$ x Pro Era — “Survival Tactics”

Jazz 140 (4-4), Raptors 133 (1-6) (F/3OT)

A ridiculous triple-overtime game north of the border kicked things off last night as Utah escaped Toronto for their first road dub of the season. Lets fast forward to the fourth quarter: trailing by eleven with seven minutes to go, the Jazz found their rhythm and fought their way back into the game cut the deficit to one with 16 seconds to go. Amir Johnson tipped in a missed DeMar DeRozan dunk to make the score 104-101 but Al Jefferson nailed a miracle three and sent the game into its first overtime session.

The teams remained neck and neck during OT and after a DeRozan dunk made the score 115-113, Jefferson once again tied the score with 19 seconds left with a jump hook. The Raptors looked to DeRozan to hit the last shot but it rimmed out and sent the game into its second overtime. With seven seconds to go and the Jazz up by three, backup guard John Lucas nailed a trey from the wing to tie the score at 125. On the ensuing possession, Mo Williams got to the rack but couldn’t get his shot off as multiple Toronto defenders collapsed in the lane sending the game into another overtime.

With a little over three minutes to go in the third and final overtime, Jose Calderon hit a three to give the Raptors a 130-129 lead with three minutes and change to go. The Jazz leaned heavily on Paul Millsap in the final OT and the big man responded by scoring seven of his 34 points in the final five minutes of play including a clutch three-pointer that made the lead four. Toronto’s heavy legs got the best of them and they couldn’t counter the onslaught by Millsap, ultimately losing by seven.

Quick Hitters:

– A lot of big numbers in this one: DeRozan played a career-high 59 minutes and tied his career-high with 37 points. Jose Calderon finished with 20 points and 17 dimes. Millsap grabbed 9 boards to go along with his 34 points. Al Jefferson finished with 24 and 17. Mo Williams tallied 17 points and 14 dimes and Randy Foye came off the bench and dropped 20.

– It was Toronto’s first triple-overtime game since ’01.

– The Raptors continue to play hard but can’t close teams out. I wonder how much longer they can keep losing games like this and maintain their confidence.

Bucks 105 (4-2), Sixers 96 (4-3)

Led by Brandon Jennings’ 33 points, 8 assists and 4 steals, the Bucks went into the Wells Fargo Center and got another road win to make their record away from Milwaukee 3-o. The Bucks were on fire early and jumped out to a quick lead and were able to maintain their hot shooting, hitting over 50 percent for the game. The Sixers struggled offensively and trailed by 12 at the half after allowing a 14-0 Milwaukee run highlighted by six straight points from Jennings. In the second half, Philly finally got it together on offense and broke off a 16-3 run led by Thad Young, Jason Richardson (who was playing for the first time since injuring his ankle against the Knicks) and Jrue Holiday. Young and Richardson hit back-to-back three’s and Holiday ended the quarter with a pull-up jumper to tie the game at 83 heading into the fourth. Philadelphia cooled off and only scored 13 points over the final 12 minutes. After Mike Dunleavy’s three with under three minutes gave the Bucks a ten point lead, it was all she wrote for the home team.

Quick Hitters:

– Jennings leads the NBA in steals with 3.4 per game.

– Milwaukee destroyed Philly in the paint, outscoring them 42-24 inside and outrebounding ‘em 48-31. Andrew Bynum’s extended absence certainly won’t help.

– Jrue Holiday had 26 points and 6 assists but also had 8 turnovers.

– Jennings and Monta Ellis combined for 41 shots.

Thunder 92 (6-2), Pistons 90 (0-8)

Detroit caught a tired Thunder team playing their fourth game in five nights in their third city and nearly knocked them off. Despite the hectic schedule, OKC used a big fourth quarter to win the game and sent Detroit to their worst start in franchise history. The Pistons took a six-point lead into the half and continued to build in the third quarter, holding the Thunder to 17 points to take a double-digit lead into the fourth. OKC could have easily coasted through the fourth and blame the loss on fatigue but instead ripped off an impressive 17-2 run and locked down Detroit, holding them to just two points over the first seven minutes of the fourth. OKC outscored the Pistons 30-17 in the fourth to steal a two-point road victory.

Quick Hitters:

– Tayshaun Prince passed Grant Hill on the Pistons All-Time scoring list. He now sits at number eight.

– Westbrook finished with 33 points on 11-25 shooting, 10 boards, 4 assists and only 2 turnovers. KD scored 26 on 8-22 shooting, grabbed 9 boards and blocked 4 shots

– The Thunder shot under 40 percent from the field and only 1-10 from three but shot 37-42 from the line which proved to be the deciding stat in the game.

Celtics 101 (4-3), Bulls 95 (4-3)

All five Celtic starters scored in double-figures as Boston outlasted a late Chicago run on the road to put their overall record over .500. The Celtics came out firing on all cylinders, scoring 58 points in the first half while coach Tom Thibodeau turned green in the face watching his team breakdown defensively. In the fourth, the Bulls finally got back to playing their game and held the Celtics without a bucket for the first five minutes of the quarter while scoring ten straight of their own to make the score 87-84. Chicago suddenly lost their touch and went scoreless on their next five possessions allowing Jason Terry to finally snap Boston’s scoring drought with under five minutes to go. After Luol Deng hit two free throws to cut the lead to three with under a minute to go, the Celtics ran the Rondo-to-Garnett alley-oop play that fans have now seen ad nauseum to make the lead three again. Taj Gibson missed two freebies on the other end and Rondo came back to find Brandon Bass for an easy dunk that sealed the game.

Quick Hitters:

– Rondo finished with 20 points, 10 dimes and 9 rebounds. He now has 31 straight games with 10+ assists.

– The Celtics became the first team to score 100 points against the Bulls since April 8 of last season, ending a streak that had reached 15 straight games.

– With Kirk Hinrich out due to injury, Nate Robinson got the start and was abused by Rondo making way for Marquis Teague to get extended minutes. Neither did much finishing for a combined 16 points and 9 assists. When going up against top-tier point guards, the Bulls current point options are going to get torched.

Heat 113 (6-2), Rockets 110 (3-4)

In great, competitive game, the Heat looked like they were on the verge of an easy victory starting out the game on a 22-5 run making life very hard for H-Town. The Rockets didn’t let the 17-point deficit discourage them, though and used 18 trips to the free throw stripe before halftime to cut the lead to four.

With about four minutes to go, Houston led 103-96 lead but let their lead slip away as the Heat went on a 17-7 run led by LeBron to close the game. First, Chris Bosh followed two free throws with a dunk to cut the deficit to three. After Patrick Patterson hit one of two freebies on the other end, Jesus Shuttlesworth nailed a corner three to give Miami a 104-103 lead. After that, there were a barrage of three’s as Marcus Morris hit one, followed by a deep three from James on the other end. On the next possession, Chandler Parsons hit a three to make the score 110-106 in favor of Houston. James then hit three free throws and hit a driving layup with 18.6 seconds left to put Miami up. On the next possession, the Heat doubled a red hot Chandler Parsons who found a wide open Jeremy Lin at the top of the key. Lin, who was Mr. Clutch for the Knicks last season, air-balled his three-point attempt. The Rockets fouled Wade on the next possession and he proceeded to miss the back end of a one-and-one but Bosh was there to collect the rebound. After Bosh hit both of his free ones, James Harden went iso on the last possession and chucked a three that hit back iron and finally ended the game.

Quick Hitters:

– After only scoring six points in the first half, LeBron went OFF in the second. He scored 32 points to finish with 38, 10 boards, 6 assists and 0 turnovers. LeBron has amassed a stat line of 38/10/6 26 times since entering the NBA. The rest of the League in that same time frame: 26 times total.

– The Heat’s three-point defense has been suspect as of late. They gave up 14 three’s to Memphis two nights ago and 12 to Houston last night.

– Omer Asik scored a career-high 19 and grabbed 14 boards. He has averaged 13.3 points and 12 rebounds over the last four games.

– Chandler Parson’s 25 points were a career-high.

– Dwyane Wade hurt his ankle in the second half.

– Chris Bosh notched a double-double with 24 and 10.

Wolves 90 (5-2), Mavericks 82 (4-4)

The Timberwolves keep getting bit by the injury bug and keep on winning basketball games. Last night they lost Nikola Pekovic in the third quarter with an ankle injury which cut their roster down to nine dressed players. Did it matter? Hell no.

The T’Wolves held Dallas to a season-low 36.3 percent shooting from the field and never trailed after the opening three minutes. Minny were up  by six at the half and continued to pour it on deep into the third, taking a 13-point lead into the final quarter . After Dallas cut it to ten in the fourth, coach Rick Carlisle was ejected after arguing a call and while that’s usually a tactic used to get the team hype; it backfired this time. Over the next minute and a half, the Wolves went on a 9-4 run that made the score 85-72. All Minnesota had to do after that was make their free throws–which they did, hitting five of six in the final minute.

Quick Hitters:

– Even with the injury, Pekovic led the team with 20 points on 8-13 shooting.

– Minnesota got great contribution from their bench as Dante Cunningham, Alexey Shved and Greg Stiemsma combined for 45 points.

– Darren Collison led the Mavs with 21 points.

– Once Kevin Love comes back, it’s on.

Suns 110 (4-4), Nuggets 100 (4-4)

Everyone knew that the Nuggets would be able to score this season and it’s clear they have that part down. Now they need to focus on stopping teams. Last night, the Suns scored 110 points on 45.7 percent shooting, hit seven out of 12 three’s, tallied 29 assists on 43 field goals and only turned the ball over six times. Denver jumped out to a ten-point lead but the Suns came back and cut the deficit to three heading into the half. In the first half, Denver used a fast break offense and scored 17 points on the run. Phoenix made a point at stopping that in the second half and succeeded; Denver only scored four fast break points during the final 24 minutes which forced the Nuggets to play a slower pace.

The Suns held a comfortable eight-point lead in the fourth but the Nuggets stormed back and got within one with about four minutes to go. Goran Dragic responded with a jumper from the top of the key. Markieef Morris followed that shot up with two free throws and a steal that led to a fast-break layup by Shannon Brown that gave Phoenix a 104-98 lead. After Dragic hit another jumper with a minute and a half left, the Suns were up eight and never looked back.

Quick Hitters:

– The Nuggets open with 17 of their first 23 games on the road. How is that fair

– Denver turned the ball over 15 times in a game where their opponent only turned the ball over six. The Nuggs actually won most of the statistical matchups but turnovers killed them.

– All five Suns starters scored in double-figures. Dragic led the way with 21 points, 7 dimes and 2 steals.

Hawks 95 (3-3), Blazers 87 (2-5)

After playing well for three quarters and falling apart in the fourth against the Clippers a few nights ago, the Hawks made sure that they closed the Blazers out in the final 12 minutes to avoid another disappointing loss. Atlanta jumped out to a 22-9 lead in the first quarter and maintained their lead well into the final quarter of play. After the Blazers went on a 15-2 run and cut the deficit to two with 5:40 remaining, it looked like the Hawks were going to falter and lose for the second night in a row. After Portland tied it at 87 and had the crowd roaring, it seemed inevitable that ATL would fumble away another game. Instead, Al Horford hit a hook shot, Jeff Teague scored on a layup and Kyle Korver hit two free throws to end the game on an 8-0 run and put the Blazers away for good.

Quick Hitters:

– Josh Smith was battling a stomach illness but still finished with 19 points and 11 boards.

– Portland’s 195 straight home sellout streak ended last night. The streak dated back to December 21, 2007. For some reason, that made me sad.

– Portland’s bench has been giving them no help. They were outscored 63-4 by San Antonio a few nights ago and 26-6 against the Hawks.

– All five Blazers’ starters scored in double figures and were led by J.J. Hickson and Batum who each scored 19.