by Ryan Wallerson / @RCWallerson
Spurs (17-4) 109, Bucks (5-17) 77
Tim Duncan’s shot returned to form as the Milwaukee Bucks collectively lost their own. The result was exactly what you’d expect it to be when one player can outscore the entire opposition’s starting five; the Spurs rocked the Bucks on their own floor, winning by 32 and leading the game from tip off to the closing buzzer.
The Bucks’ starters, Kris Middleton, Ekpe Udoh, John Henson, OJ Mayo and Brandon Knight scored a combined 19 points, shooting 7-28 from the field. If not for double-digit scoring nights for Giannis Antetokounmpo (15), Nate Wolters (18) and Miroslav Raduljica (10) off the bench, the score of this one could have been even uglier for the home team.
San Antonio, who had lost three of six after starting off the season 13-1, may have gotten exactly what they needed out of the Bucks in order to get back to form. Not only were they able to return to dominating an opponent, but the Big Fundamental regained his shot, netting his 21 points on just 12 shots.
Magic (7-15) 92, Bobcats (10-12) 83
After missing the last four games with a sprained left ankle, Magic center Nikola Vucevic returned with a vengeance Wednesday night against the Bobcats. The 7-footer had 12 points, 14 rebounds, a block and even a steal as he led his team to a much needed road win. His double-double was secured by halftime.
Vucevic was the star, but the win was a team effort, as seven Orlando players finished the game in double figures. The Bobcats on the other hand, shot 37 percent as a team, as they saw their modest two-game winning streak come to an end. The Bobcats’ defense returned to form after giving up 111 points to Golden State on Monday, but the offense couldn’t hold up its end last night.
The contest featured a matchup of ex-Indiana Hoosiers, with Cody Zeller going up against Victor Oladipo. Both players finished with 10 points, with 6 and 4 rebounds respectively. Neither was abused by the other, so that encounter will have to go down as a draw.
Clippers (15-8) 96, Celtics (10-14) 88
The first leg of Doc Rivers’ reunion tour ended in a road win, while the Celtics, who lost to KG and the Nets on Tuesday, have now lost games to their formers stars and former coach in back-to-back games. CP3 was his usual beastly self, racking up 22 points, 9 assists and 7 boards, with Blake Griffin scoring 18 of his own.
Jeff Green had a game against the Clips, amassing 29 points to lead all scorers. Crawford added 20 and Brandon Bass had 17 in the losing effort. The Celtics’ bench will go down as the difference in this one, as they managed only 4 points collectively compared to 34 from the Clippers’ second team.
The game was still tight midway through the fourth when L.A. led 73-71 before Darren Collison scored six straight. Boston got close again with three minutes left, getting within two points at 85-83, but back-to-back treys by Jamal Crawford helped Doc’s new team pull away from his old one. Next stop for L.A.—Brooklyn.
Thunder (17-4) 116, Grizzles (10-11) 100
OKC outscored Memphis in the every quarter but the fourth, in which both teams put up 27 points. This one was all Thunder from tip to buzzer. Oklahoma City had a great offensive night, shooting 56 percent from the field and 50 percent from downtown, both percentages well above their season averages. It was just one of those nights that the whole team was feeling it. Whoever was taking shots was making shots.
RussellWestbrook led the way with 9 assists and a very efficient 27 points on 12 shots as he continues to blow away any concerns about his knee injury. KD took the same amount of shots, finishing with 18, but Westbrook was the main star last night. His performance continued a trend of very high level point guard play that has been an essential factor of the Thunder’s early season dominance.
Memphis, still without injured stars Marc Gasol and Tony Allen, managed to stay in the game for most of the first half, but got blown out in the at the end of the second quarter that featured a 17-5 OKC run. The Thunder pulled away and stayed away in the second half, securing the win.
76ers (7-16) 99, TWolves (11-11) 106
Philly came out big early, outscoring Minnesota 39-20 in the first quarter, looking well on their way to a blowout win. But you don’t get to a record of 7-16 by stringing together consecutive quarters of such dominance, and last night was no exception. After the first, which netted them a 19-point lead, the 76ers got outscored by 26 in the following three quarters as the Wolves pulled off the comeback.
Kenvin Love had 26 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in the turnaround performance; Ricky Rubio has 21 points, 7 assists and 5 boards; and Nikola Pekovic had 20 points and 10 boards of his own. Even the usually suspect bench showed up last night on the comeback trail. The game was Minnesota’s last home game before a road trip that will land them on San Antonio’s floor, so the team really couldn’t afford a loss to the Sixers and played like they knew it.
It took the Wolves until the fourth quarter to snatch the lead back, but once they did they kept it. Tony Wroten, again starting for injured rookie Michael Carter-Williams, had 20 points in the game. James Anderson contributed 16 points and 8 boards in the loss.
Pistons (10-13) 106, Pelicans (10-10) 111 (OT)
At the end of four back-and-forth quarters of regulation, the Pelicans and Pistons were deadlocked at 96 and needed a period of overtime to settle things in New Orleans. Ryan Anderson shot unusually poorly in the early going, finishing with a not very efficient 22 points on 18 shots (33 percent shooting), but made up for it with two clutch treys in the overtime period that helped NO pull away from Detroit.
Greg Monroe and Brandon Jennings actually led all scorers with 28 and 25 points, respectively, but with Rodney Stuckey, who had 20 points of his own, the trio outscored the rest of the Pistons. It was almost enough to finish off New Orleans, as Detroit put together a 12-0 to tie the game late, but the Pels managed to hold on into overtime and found more offense in the free period that the Pistons could manage.
Josh Smith had an atypically quiet night, shooting just 5-15 and finishing with just 11 points in five frames.
Bulls (8-12) 78, Knicks (6-15) 83
After losing five straight games to the Chicago Bulls between this season and last, four of which Chi-Town won without D-Rose in the lineup, no Knick lead felt safe at the Garden last night, despite the fact that the gap was pretty wide at times.
In a game in which the Knicks held an opponent to 32 first-half points and had a 19-0 run in the second quarter, New York still found itself tied late in the fourth after blowing a 23-point lead, and in danger a taking a loss that could leave a different flavor of bad taste in the team’s mouth following their 41-point beat-down the last time they were on the Garden floor. Instead, Amar’e Stoudemire came up big in another nostalgic performance, hitting the big shot with two minutes left that gave the Knicks the lead for good.
Carmelo Anthony had 30 points on a somewhat tolerable 21 shots and 10 rebounds—far and away the Knicks’ top scorer. STAT came in second with 14, but arguably had the more impressive all-around game as he continues to play well for New York.
Jazz (5-19) 122, Kings (6-14) 101
A match up of teams that have a combined 11-33 record would seem like a toss-up, but Utah was clearly the better team on the floor on Wednesday night. Utah played well above its season averages, especially from three-point territory, where their 54 percent performance Tuesday came in almost 24 percent higher than their season average.
Richard Jefferson led all Utah scorers with 20 points, and the team had five players reach double digits in the win, which ended a four-game losing streak for the team with the NBA’s worst record. The Jazz held the largest lead of the season at the end of the third quarter. They led by 24 after never having a lead greater than 19 at any point this season.
The Kings, to be fair, weren’t playing at full strength, as Rudy Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray, the players acquired in the team’s trade with Toronto, can’t play until Greivis Vasquez passes his physical for the Raptors. So perhaps the over-match was one of circumstance, but then again, perhaps the Jazz have finally remembered how to play good basketball.
Mavericks (13-10) 93, Warriors (13-10) 95
In what was probably the most entertaining game of the night, the Baby Faced Assassin did it again. Overcoming a subpar first half, Stephen Curry went off in the fourth quarter. He scored 16 of his 33 points in the fourth and iced the contest with the game-winning shot, a 19-footer off a pump fake, with three seconds left on the clock.
The Warriors got off to a sloppy start, evidenced by their 18 turnovers, but big performances from David Lee (15 points, 11 boards) Andrew Bogut (season-high 18 boards) and Harrison Barnes (17 points) helped Golden State right the ship in the second half. Andre Iguodala missed his 10th straight game with what is being called a left hamstring strain.
In the losing effort, Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki each tallied 21 points.