Post Up: Going Back To Cali
Lakers close road trip in style, while C’s win 13th straight.
by Adam Figman | @afigman
A Paul Pierce (18/10/12) triple-double. A 53.9 percent shooting day. A return from the Big Fella (Shaq had 11 and 5). An opponent that shot 35.4 percent from the field. And a backup-made-starting PG (Nate) going for 18 points and 4 boards with the team’s point man sidelined. In other words, just about everything worked out for the Celts, who won their 13th straight and now sit at 22-4. Not that they’ll keep this up, because they will scale back and rest up at some point, but it is strange how everyone (well, almost everyone) figured the C’s would chill during the regular season as they got ready for the Playoff stretch. That’ll probably happen at some point, but until then, it appears they’re going to win a lot of games. Sorry, Eastern Conference.
I missed this game, so while scouring the Web to catching up with various box scores, video recaps and the like, I came across the following headline: “Sasha Vujacic Leads Nets Over Hawks.” Woah. I’ll take Things I Didn’t Think I’d Read, Ever for 1,000, Alex. It was slightly misleading, because Sasha only scored 10 and two guys both scored more and had a bigger effect, but still! Crazy stuff. Anyway, Devin Harris had 22 points and 8 dimes, while Brook Lopez scored 16 and grabbed 6 boards, as the Nets took down Atlanta at home. The Hawks have now dropped three out of four, and will host Orlando tonight in what should be the Magic’s first appearance with their new roster in tact.
(Sidebar: Speaking of last week’s Orlando trade mania, if Phoenix does decide to trade Steve Nash, anyone else think Atlanta is an incredibly sensible destination? The Hawks could certainly use him, and they could provide the Suns with some combination of a starting point (Mike Bibby, while Goran Dragic continues to develop), an expiring contract/quality scorer (Jamal Crawford), some youth (Jeff Teague, Pape Sy) and Draft picks/money. Just a thought.)
In the last stop on their seven-game road trip, the Lakers got some much-needed help from the bench as they took down the Raptors yesterday. Kobe led ‘em with 20, but check the non-starting production: 14 points from Shannon Brown, 12 from Matt Barnes and a season-high 16 from Andrew Bynum. The Lakers have now won five in a row, and their 21-7 record is good enough for third in the West. Should be interesting to watch L.A. evolve into a polished product now that everyone’s healthy and whatnot. For the Raps, Linas Kleiza, who’s responsible for the worst fantasy draft pick I’ve made in years (yeah, it was his fault), scored 26 and rebounded 10.
In the day’s most intense matchup, these two battled through regulation and into overtime. A clutch Ben Gordon trey sent the game into extra time, and with seven seconds left and his team down one, Will Bynum slid into the paint and hit a lay-up to put Detroit up. Jason Maxiell stole the Bees’ subsequent in-bounds pass, slamming a dunk home with 0.5 seconds on the clock that sealed things up for the Pistons, who were playing without Richard Hamilton (upset stomach) and Rodney Stuckey (sore toe). There were some nice stat lines in this one, too, the result of strong performances from Tayshaun Prince (28 points, 12 boards, 8 assists), David West (32 points, 9 boards) and Chris Paul (23 points, 10 assists).
Kevin Martin, returning to the arena he once called home, scored 22 points, leading the Rockets to a road victory over the struggling Kings. Sacto has now lost five in a row, and only the Timberwolves stand between the Kings and the bottom of the Western Conference. Meanwhile, fresh off the news that Yao Ming won’t be playing this season, the Rockets are doing everything in their power to claw back to respectability. They’ve won four out of five, and their 12-15 record has them only a few Ws away from .500. Also: Don’t look now, but Jordan Hill is starting to do some work. He had 9 and 9 (with 4 blocks), and now has 8 blocks in the last two games.
Though Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat weren’t ready to suit up , the Suns didn’t seem to mind, taking down the Thunder behind Grant Hill’s 30-point, 11-rebound (!) effort. After Channing Frye missed a late free throw, Oklahoma City did have a chance to force overtime, but Jeff Green’s (19 points, 5 rebounds) halfcourt heave hit only rim as the clock expired. Steve Nash, not ready to demand a trade just yet, scored 20 and dished 10, while Robin Lopez put in 19.
Actual Stats: Paul Pierce: 18 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, 4 steals, 1 block.
Moment of the Night: He probably should’ve just let the clock run out, but let’s not act like Jason Maxiell’s steal-and-dunk at the end of OT wasn’t pretty damn cool. Check it: