Post Up: Heat Streak Clipped
Miami falls on the road, while Magic get denied in NOLA.
Very much under the radar, the Hawks have been tearing it up as of late, with this being their fifth win in as many games. Jamal Crawford was a machine, leading the team with 36, while a late Mike Bibby trey put Atlanta up for good. They now sit at 26-14, with a break until Saturday’s tilt with Houston.
Still without Dirk Nowitzki, the short-handed Mavs fell to the Pacers, who saw solid efforts from swingman Brandon Rush and young’n Paul George (16 points). Indiana, as a result of some weak, weak play from all of those outside of the East’s top six, are still holding on to that seven spot, a position that’ll potentially give its owner the rights to get creamed by the Heat or the Celtics (or, perhaps, the Magic or Hawks) in the first round of the Playoffs.
Speaking of groups pushing for those last two spots, the Bobcats have been making a little run, originally sparked by a coaching change and now being fueled by a streaking point guard. DJ Augustin (22 points, 12 dimes) won the battle of the pgs last night, besting Derrick Rose (17 points, 7 dimes) and leading his team to victory. Charlotte is now 15-21 and sits at eight in the top-heavy Eastern Conference.
The Grizzlies haven’t blown anyone away with their overall play, but if nothing else, Zach Randolph’s numbers are awfully impressive, and he’s been putting up monstrous box scores night after night. Yesterday he went for 34 and 17, dominating the paint as the Grizz took down the Pistons in Detroit. Rudy Gay contributed 26 points, and the team shot 52.1 percent from the field in the W.
With Tyreke Evans resting his ankle, the Kings had little shot in this one, as Rajon Rondo and the C’s went up six after one quarter and kept pushing that lead further as the game went on. Rondo scored 10 and dished 13, while Paul Pierce scored 25 and all five Celtic starters were able to play under 30 minutes. (Insert joke about old people needing rest here.) Boston stands at 29-9 and plays Charlotte tomorrow night.
Coming back from an eight-point halftime deficit, the Spurs went hard in the final two quarters, taking the lead and the victory away from the Bucks. Matt Bonner led the charge, scoring all 17 of his points in the second half (WHAT?), while Manu Ginobili put in 23. For the Bucks, Andrew Bogut (15 points, 14 rebounds) and his buddies just fell short.
Winning a whole bunch of games in a row in the NBA is rough, and the Magic do get credit for almost holding on for their 10th straight. After a back-and-forth four quarters, a Hedo Turkoglu trey sent this one to OT, but a late Marcus Thornton (22 points) J put the Bees ahead for good in extra time. Dwight Howard (29 points, 20 boards) got his numbers, but Chris Paul (12 points, 13 assists) and Co. got the win and all the fun that accompanies it. Orlando will look to start a new streak tonight in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder offense was flowing last night, and when the ball is really moving for them, they’re damn tough to contain. Kevin Durant dropped a 30 spot, while Russell Westbrook went for 23 points, 13 dimes and 8 rebounds, catapulting his squad over the home team. The Rockets were led by Luis Scola (31 points), but the Argentine disappeared in the stretch as OKC made some big buckets and held on.
A night after they were blasted in Denver, it appeared the Suns would have the same fate against the visiting Nets. But, down 90-75 in the fourth, Steve Nash (23 points, 16 assists) and friends surged back, sending the game to OT and then dominating the extra session en route to the victory. Devin Harris went for 15 points and 15 assists, and if your Carmelo, isn’t there a chance you’re watching this while saying something along the lines of: Would I really wanna play here, especially if that guy’s leaving town? I don’t know. Just a thought.
The Knicks can score points in bunches and clear 100 each game easily, so they really don’t need too much defense to get wins. But they need some, and against the Jazz, there was none. At all. Utah scored 113 (easily, I’ll add), as they defeated the Knicks and sent them home with a 2-2 road trip record. Both Shawne Williams (who scored a season-high 25 points and drained 7 threes) and Bill Walker (23 points) were exceptional, but no other Knicks really produced, and perhaps some rest before they host the Kings tomorrow will be useful.
In the long run, a mid-season losing streak probably does more good than harm, and it appears the positive effects of those few losses the Lakers suffered are starting to shine through. The Lake Show is hot again, and yesterday they took down the Warriors behind Kobe Bryant’s 39 points and Pau Gasol’s 24-point, 11-rebound effort. This W marks six straight; LA will host New Jersey Friday, when they’ll attempt to make it seven.
The Clippers were up 44-26 after a quarter, but it felt inevitable that the Heat would come back and steal this one from ‘em. It kind of happened—in that they made a strong push—but the Clips held on, receiving some clutch play from Blake Griffin (24 points, 14 boards), Eric Gordon (26 points) and others. Miami’s Three Bros combined for 84, but it wasn’t enough, and the Clippers ended the Heat’s road winning streak at 13. Unfortunately, the season didn’t start a week ago, or else we might look at LAC and think, Hey, maybe they could…but, no. Not this season. Still, a great win for a young team with an increasingly impressive core.
Actual Stats: Dwight Howard: 29 points, 20 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal.
Moment of the Night: Chris Wilcox made this really wild reverse lay-up. Respect.
Wait. One more, because this is awesome. Blake Griffin gets T’ed up for an argument/stare down with Mario Chalmers, throws down a huge dunk on an ensuing play, then glares at Chalmers with eyes that could pierce through metal. You’re gonna want to watch this:
(H/T: Get Banged On)