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Thursday, December 29th, 2011 at 8:35 am  |  65 responses

Post Up: Durant Digs In

Plus the Spurs blow out Lob City and DWade delivers in Charlotte.

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

Fantastic finishes. The Knicks. Kevin Durant. Ahh, it’s nice to have basketball back, isn’t it? And someone needs to tell the Heat to stop being so damn compelling. It’s gonna make me look like a Miami apologist, when in reality, I couldn’t be less of one. (Sure, I picked them to win the title, but that’s brain not heart.) Then again, considering the Wizards outlook after two games it might not be the worst thing for you guys to start thinking I’m a Heat guy. Which you undoubtedly will when you see how many YouTube highlights come from Bron and Co. in this post. But I digress—there were some really, really good games last night, and some clunkers, too, so let’s hit it.

Pacers 90, Raptors 85

The first game of the night would have been the best of the night if not for Heat-Bobcats and Thunder-Grizz, as the Pacers outlasted the Raptors with Justin Bieber on hand (oh, no…). DeMar Derozan is a joy to watch play basketball—he scored 22 points including two huge threes down the stretch—but you can’t help feeling like he’ll finally break out in a non-Toronto uniform. He and Andrea Bargnani (21 points) kept the Raps in this one until the final minute. Danny Granger hit a clutch three with a little over 2 minutes to play after a Darren Collison slip-n-slide dish, then traded threes with Derozan to give Indiana a 83-75 lead. Granger scored 9 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. The final dagger came on a David West pick-and-pop with Collison, West cashing a wing jumper with 9 ticks left on the clock to seal the deal for the Pacers. All five Indiana starters scored in double figures, including 14 for West, who appears to be fitting in nicely so far with his new squad.

Heat 96, Bobcats 95

Charlotte nearly cracked the code—nearly made the rest of the NBA extremely happy by handing the Heat loss No. 1 on the season. But down the stretch, Miami was just too much for the ‘Cats. Kemba Walker scored 14 points off the bench, and he and Byron Mullens (of all people) led a second-half surge for Charlotte, but Paul Silas yanked both off the court and Miami crept back to within striking distance. A Dwyane Wade twisting layup tied the score at 72 with ten minutes to play, and while Gerald Henderson did his best to keep the Bobcats in it—21 points, including a three to give CHA a 3-point lead with under 15 seconds to play—the Heat simply did what the Heat do. A short video summary, brought to you by the Big 3:

LeBron:

Bosh:

Wade:

Goodnight, Charlotte. And Hello, Cam Newton.

Hawks 101, Wizards 83

The only thing worse than the Wizards’ effort last night was Atlanta’s in-house DJ at Philips Arena. After sounding off on Twitter about his lack of post touches, Andray Blatche went right back to bricking jumpers. He finished his night with 4 points on 2-of-13 shooting and 4 rebounds in 27 minutes. Dude ought to delete his Twitter account altogether after that “performance.” Nick Young hit his first five shots off the bench and finished with a team-high 21 (and 4 assists—WOW?!), while John Wall racked up 20 and 6 assists (but 6 turnovers, too). Atlanta wore down Washington with a balanced attack and good defense. Six ATL players hit double digits, including 18 from Joe Johnson, 15/10 for Josh Smith (plus one nice chase down block on JWall) and 11/10 for Al Horford. This game was never close. Here’s hoping Chris Singleton can get Rashard Lewis’ minutes going forward for the Wiz. Singleton works hard at both ends, and is just about the only guy matching Wall’s heart these days. Speaking of which, this play pretty much sums up the Wiz: Wall hustles downcourt for a big-time block (admittedly, after his own turnover), and not one teammate follows the play, leading to an easy ATL follow lay-in. Lastly, who made up this schedule for the Hawks? Somehow they ended up with Nets-Wizards-Nets for their first three games. Let’s hold off on applauding Atlanta until they go through a five-game stretch in the first week of January that includes two games each against Miami and Chicago.

Cavaliers 105, Pistons 89

I won’t front. This game wasn’t on the top of my priority list. But scan the box score and you’ll find some really weird stuff. For one, 10 Cavs players played at least 20 minutes, and every one of the five guys off the bench played more minutes than any starter. Plus, Cleveland shot a staggering 57 percent from the field and 58 percent (7-12) from three-point range. No player on either team finished with more than 7 rebounds. Aside from stat quirks, the most interesting thing about this game was obviously the rookie PG matchup of No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving and No. 8 pick Brandon Knight. When these two hooked up in the pre-season, the results were, frankly, a bit lame. But both came up big last night—Kyrie led his team to the win with 14 points and 7 assists, while BK scored 23 points on 10-13 shooting (3 threes) and added 6 assists. Plus, they had just 5 turnovers combined, and Knight scored one particular layup despite Antawn Jamison’s attempts to strangle him by the throat.

Hornets 97, Celtics 78

It’s been a rough, rough start for Boston, now 0-3. Luckily, the scheduling gods give them a break over the next four games: Detroit, Washington, Washington, New Jersey. And 3 of those 4 are at home. As for last night, let’s get this out of the way right now: Paul Pierce and Eric Gordon did not play. In related news, neither did most of the Celtics roster, depending on your definition of “playing.” New Orleans went up 48-39 by halftime, and never looked back. Kevin Garnett scored just 8 points, while Ray Allen led the C’s with 15 and Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points and 6 assists in 34 minutes. Give the Hornets credit—they turned the ball over just 9 times (and three of those were inexplicably from Emeka Okafor) and held Boston to 38 percent shooting. Jarret Jack led all scorers with 21, to go with 9 assists. When will Boston stop the bleeding?

Thunder 98, Grizzlies 95

The word “wild” was the only way to describe the playoff series these two played a few months ago. Last night in the Grizzlies’ home opener, it was like they never missed a beat. Mike Conley left the game with an apparent ankle injury less than a minute into the game, forcing backup point guard Jeremy Pargo into increased minutes. He made the most of it, finishing with 15 points and 7 dimes. The story of the game, though, was Kevin Durant. After starting just 1-of-7 from the field, Durant made nine of his next 10 shots, finishing 10-17 for 32 points, plus 8 boards, 3 assists and 2 blocks. Memphis looked shaky to start, too, missing 12 straight shots to open the game and allowing OKC to build an early advantage. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Thunder was up 72-70. And that’s when things got goofy—in a good way. Memphis battled back, with Randolph giving the Grizz a 76-75 lead on a jumper with 9:40 to play, before OKC began raining three-pointers. Durant, James Harden (20 points) and Daequan Cook (9 points) all hit treys during a 14-1 run. The Grizzlies, who shot just 2-16 on 3-pointers, got back to within two when Rudy Gay hit a clutch pull-up jumper with just under a minute to play, but KD answered, and the Thunder withstood a silly turnover and a Z-Bo three-pointer to hold on for the big win. All this, despite a ghastly shooting performance from Russell Westbrook: 0-13 from the field, 4 points (if reports are to be believed, it could have been a result of an altercation with Durant during a second-quarter timeout). Randolph led the way for Memphis with 24 and 12, and the Grizz got double-doubles from Gay (19/12 + a flush on Kendrick Perkins) and Marc Gasol (16/12). Durant, for his part, is now averaging 31.7 PPG. The Thunder play the Mavs in two of their next three.

Spurs 115, Clippers 90

Manu Ginobili scored the first 9 points of the game for the Spurs, and finished with 24 for the night, as San Antonio reminded the new kid on the block it won’t be easy in the West. The Spurs have won 17 straight home games against the Clippers—yowzah! DeJuan Blair scored 20 points on 10-15 shooting and Richard Jefferson added 19, and the Spurs made all 15 of their free throws (while the Clippers shot 76 percent from the line). Blake Griffin did his thing with 28 points and 9 rebounds in 34 minutes and DeAndre Jordan provided his nightly highlight over Tim Duncan, but Chris Paul was held to 3-10 shooting (10 points), and Mo Williams to 4-11 (12 points) as L.A. couldn’t get anything going against a stingy San Antonio D. The Spurs were up by at least 19 for the entire fourth quarter. Call them boring, call them old, call them unsexy—all true, by the way—but the Spurs are still the Spurs. Don’t sleep.

Nuggets 117, Jazz 100

The Jazz were within two points at 42-40 mid-second quarter, before Denver woke up and went on a ridiculous run to take a 63-46 halftime advantage. The Nuggets might be the deepest team in the NBA—they can go 10-deep (sorry, Cleveland, yours doesn’t count). And that’s not even counting rookie Kenneth Faried, who could find his way into the rotation down the road. Last night, it was prized free agent Nene who led the way with 25 points (10-13 FGs), 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 1 facial for Paul Millsap. Andre Miller came in off the bench and dropped 12 dimes, spreading the ball around and leading to six Nuggs scoring in double figures. For the Jazz, it’s still a work in progress, but rookie Alec Burks got some garbage time burn and looked good, scoring 15 points in 10 minutes. Also, Jamaal Tinsley was in uniform, so there’s that.

Sixers 103, Suns 83

If you had Ronnie Price as the Suns’ leading scorer last night in your “Who’s going to lead the Suns in scoring tonight?” pool, I have two comments for you: 1) You have a gambling problem, 2) Take me to Vegas with you. Yes, Ronnie Price, folks. His 16 points in 31 (31!) minutes led Phoenix, and the only other Suns to score in double figures were Grant Hill and Hakim Warrick, who had 14 apiece. Channing Frye had 8 boards in 8 minutes to start the game, then played just 5 more minutes the rest of the way, while Steve Nash had a rough night is in a rough spot. His line last night was very un-Nash-like, with 4 points on 2-11 shooting, just 1 assist and 6 turnovers. (Show some mercy and trade Nash, please Phoenix.) 2-11 was also the number PHX shot from 3-point range. The Sixers, on the other hand, shot 42 percent from deep and got 15 points each from Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young. Philly went on a 19-0 run to start the third quarter, and that pretty much wrapped things up.

Warriors 92, Knicks 78

To recap, the Warriors have now beaten the Bulls and the Knicks. I know Golden State’s known for having a nice home court advantage at Oracle Arena, but color me impressed. And yeah, I get it, they play an unusual style, on the West coast, and…wait, no, the Warriors stink! And Steph Curry didn’t even play! Monta Ellis had 22 points and 8 dimes, and Brandon Rush scored 19 as the W’s pulled away in the fourth quarter. New York’s got point guard issues, perhaps worse than we could have ever imagined. Toney Douglas and Mike Bibby combined for 8 points on 4-of-16 shooting in 48 total minutes between them. Jeremy Lin…Jeremy Lin…Jeremy Lin…Jeremy Lin…

Line of the Night: LeBron James: 35 Pts, 6 Reb, 7 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk. As ESPN.com’s Adam Reisinger points out, that’s LeBron’s 71st career game with 35+ pts, 6+ reb, 6+ ast. “Next most among active players? Kobe with 44.”

Moment of the Night: Since you already saw DWade’s game-winner, how about a highlight from a game you probably didn’t watch, involving two players you otherwise would never talk about? Perfect. Lou Amundson, meet James Johnson. And his junk.

“Using Your Head” of the Night: Gerald Henderson finally figures out how to stop LeBron.

Tonight: The first Thursday night of the NBA season brings a pair of primetime matchups on TNT you don’t want to miss—first, a Western Conference Finals rematch as the Thunder host Dallas, followed by Knicks at Lakers. There are four other games on tap, too, including a potentially awkward Nets-Magic game in Orlando.

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  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Moose

    We need Pierce back, badly…

  • http://slamonline.com Jones

    Damn, Denver is the deepest team in the league? Despite losing three quality rotation players to China? Damn, just damn…

  • AdamD

    That was a horrible shot that the bobcats got for themselves at the end of the game, especially after they had such a good one the possession before. Another win for the Hawks happy days!

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    Kyrie! Kyrie!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Cheryl

    Um, yeah.

  • Heals

    Bad loss, but it was great to hear Tommy do his thing. By the end of the first quarter he had Stiesma in the HOF and wanted the rookie ref in NewOrleans gone, glad to see the lockout hasn’t changed him (like hat’s even possible). Wow OKC and Mem was something else, on the court, on the bench, during postgame. So SAS are too old right, just 1 game, but you gotta love them beating the Clips like that given all the hype. Nuggets are next on my watch list and Wash, ouch, given the personalities on that squad if things continue to go south this fast their lockerroom is gonna be must see tv…

  • T-Money

    George Karl gotta chill with giving Rudy 30+ minutes a night though.

  • http://dsjkflf.com Jukai

    What’s kinda funny is if that head-block had counted like it should have, game may have played out way differently.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Man that Bobcats/Heat game was entertaining. So many fun plays, highlights, great out-of-bounds plays by Paul Silas (that 3 by Henderson with 12.2 to go was superbly executed by the team)and Chris Bosh going HAM in the 4th. Props to Boris Diaw, stuffed full of fromage as he looks to be, dude was fantastic all game long. As was Henderson who missed a few gimme’s but looks to be a better scoring option than Mr. Chuck-it-up (Maggette).
    Luved how Wade and LBJ rushed Chris after that monster jam, jaded stars getting hyped.
    If Charlotte can work out the kinks, limit turnovers and get some post scoring from anyone (Biyombo??) team looks set to climb the standings.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    While zapping through the highlights, my girl noticed Denver just outracing, outplaying and outgunning the Jazz. She remarked they seemed better in tune upon which i replied: yeah, Galinari, Ty, Rudy, Mozgov all played Euroleague/Eurocup + European country leagues for 2 months so they essentially are in mid-season form.
    Wonder how the China boys are gonna look upon their return in March?
    Also: seriously Coach Carrey, you couldn’t use Corey Brewer in the Nba finals? Dude is delivering more in limited minutes for Denver than VC is for the Mavs.
    Did he skin your cat or sth?

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Btw, The Post Up is looking goooood. Nice Video highlights sprinkled in, SQUADRON LEADER!

  • izzo

    Those San Antonio home announcers are the smuggest motherf*ckers on the planet.

  • T-Money

    and what i was afraid of is happening so far for the clips: caron and chauncey can’t go to the hole anymore but are too respected, take too much space to be phased out so it’s chuck city. they’re also very bad defensively, save for chris paul. tony parker was toying with mo williams.

  • Jay

    Don’t sleep on Philly in the East. Not a title contender, but a real solid team and fun to watch. I feel bad for Nash ( who was horrible by the way), it’s going to be a long season in PHX.

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    Jeremy Pargo was killing Westbrook last night…. bad.

  • t-sizzle

    great post up. kd is absolutely great

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    That was a pathetic performance by the Knicks last night as a whole to kick start their west coast road trip. I understand the Knicks are a work in progress, but I was very disappointed in their effort. There is no excuse for the Knicks to get outscored like that in the 4th quarter. Best way to wash that L out their mouth, is beat the ish out the Lakers tonight, which will require BOTH Amar’e and Melo playing big, not just one, along with Chandler grabbing 10+ rebounds. I want this game bad.

  • T-Money

    btw, how nervous are the knicks that they got bobcats tyson and not mavs tyson? lol

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    All they gotta do is stop shooting so many long 2′s and they’ll have a really good regular season.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    The Bobcats really have a fun team to watch actually, they played perfect basketball in the 1ste half.

  • Mike From Spain

    Westbrook scored no field goals, and it wasnt’t for lack of attempts… he must have given up at some point because he jacked only 13 shots, that’s way low for him

  • bull22

    what an embarrassing loss for the knick… bulls just suffered that embarrassment..

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    @bull22 your Bulls lost to the Dubs because Rose kept jacking up those bricks from behind the arc trying to pay hero instead of point guard. Deng would have won that game if Rose kept feeding him the ball at the offensive end.

  • Kadavour

    THANK YOU Orange.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Wow, Westbrook had a terrible night.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    obviously it’s the beginning of the season. well it should be obvious

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com Enigmatic

    ORANGE, Ithought the Bulls lost because of their lackluster defense, 20 turnovers, and digging themselves a hole so deep that Coach Thibs actually TOLD them to look for the 3 point shot later in the game.
    Odd.
    I suppose you’re right, it was probably due to Deng’s paltry 15 field goal attempts and Rose’s insufficient 8 assists.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Melo & Amar’e looked like the worst “best players” on any team in NBA history last night.

  • chingy

    The Nuggets are sneaky good cus they have no real superstars; the Suns are absolutely horrible (like Wizards/Pistons territory); could Mark Jackson be right that the Warriors will be a playoff team?; the Spurs are still the Spurs, as long as TP, TD, and GINOBILI (cue clip of Chuck) are running the show, they’ll be legit; sadly, the same cannot be said of the Celtics, KG is looking the worse he has looked in his career; the Craptors, ahem Raptors, are actually pretty fun to watch when they play at the ACC; we all know LBJ has the chase down block patented, don’t want to admit it but I don’t think ANYONE has ever done it as good as LBJ has; the Hornets are supposed to suck so they get that high draft pick

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com Enigmatic

    The Hornets could win the championship and still get a high draft pick, long as the L-Wolves suck.

  • chingy

    ^ right I know. I was thinking about their own pick, or did they trade that away?

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com Enigmatic

    No, they still have that.
    Two lottery picks in this next draft could be HUGE so yeah, maybe tanking is the way to go.

  • chingy

    Two top 10 picks in this coming draft can be franchise changing

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com Enigmatic

    Welp.
    Times are rough in the Gonzalez household, so I had to cancel League Pass for this season.
    Feel like my best friend died…lol

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Tellin you league pass isn’t worth it this year anyway. Basically paying to watch 4 teams cuz of how much everyone’s schedules overlap.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    ^Truth. This is my first year with out L-Pall in a few. They should have made it more enticing (-$$$). I’m just going to illegally watch them online. Take that Stern!

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    L-Pass*

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I don’t know how Diaw does it but dude is one of the most skilled players in the L. I was watching a semi-fat, undersized center dominate a pretty good defensive frontline.
    Also, shoutouts to Mark Jackson. He has a team that hasn’t played D in about 15yrs playing lights out defense. I guess the warriors bought into that “hands down, man down” BS.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    ^
    Cosign the thing about Diaw, I also liked Biyombo’s energy last night.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Diaw is that dude. If that dude is a fat Lamar Odom.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    yeah enig… I could hook you up with some streams?

  • chingy

    datkid, maybe hook all of us up ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    orange obviously doesn’t watch bulls games, but why would he?
    oh right, so he can criticize teams incorrectly.
    rose was more of a facilitator than a scorer early in that game, which is what led them to a huge deficit.
    you’d know that had you watched.

  • http://bulls.com airs

    ^that was me

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Mark Jackson is the real deal. The way he’s made the Warriors (!) of all teams actually DEFEND and rebound is amazing. It’s only been three games, but the Warriors have beaten the Bulls and Knicks, the latter without Stephen Curry.
    This only makes me wonder why in the f*ck did the Knicks not hire Mark Jackson?!

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Monty Williams is also one of the best coaches in the league. The Hornets handed it to Boston without Eric Gordon… The best coaches are the ones who can grind out wins against better teams by making their players work on defense. Right now Mark Jackson and Monty Williams are looking like future NBA coaching greats. It’s a bit premature to say that about Action, since he’s only coached 3 games, lol, but I have a really good feeling about him.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Lakeshow: Where do you watch games online if not on League Pass?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Tarzan Cooper

    Nick young is coming off the bench? Who is starting? Grizz have a siiiick frontcourt. What did selby do? Props to diaw, dude can play, has steez. Tony parker is still a sneaky lil dude who can do what he wants in the paint. Manu is still manu, spurs will be interesting this season. Nene goes hard, he had a few monster dunks, scary how big and athletic he is. Alec burks has tons of potential. Celtics are crumbling, lakers are falling. Heat are getting better.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Also, the Knicks were insanely stupid to throw superstar money at Tyson freaking Chandler. 6 points and 3 rebounds? Are you serious? The Knicks saved up money for a player of Chris Paul’s caliber and wound up with a non-All Star. I’m not saying I don’t like Tyson’s game, but you don’t throw that kind of money at anyone less than an All-Star, at the very least. They should have kept Chauncey Billups and waited for something better to come along. Now Chauncey is killing it in Cliptown while Chandler is pulling down 3 rebounds and getting burnt by David Lee. 5 fouls in 20 minutes? This is what happens when you throw all your defensive hopes onto the shoulders of ONE player (not named Dwight Howard).
    Maybe the Knicks will be better when Baron Davis gets healthy, because Toney Douglas is not cutting it at the PG spot. They should see what Jeremy Lin can do with more minutes and let Douglas play shooting guard.

  • chingy

    About Nene, not many(any?) centers in the league can get a steal and beat out two guys down the court for an end to end dunk. Impressive.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Woops, sorry. He didn’t score 6 points. TWO POINTS and 3 rebounds. Wow!

  • MUBWAR

    nene was so many nenasty dunks the other night. i wish we had him

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    myp2p is a pretty good site for some live streams.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    yeah tyson chandler maybe wasn’t the best decision for ny…. and really neither was letting chauncey go for baron davis… chingy I usually go to p2p4u.net/ for my streams they’re pretty dependable.

  • charliewinning

    I don’t want to get all down on my team after two games, but last night night was despicable. Chandler caught the Amare Syndrome (aka I’m big as hell but I can’t rebound). It better have been his one atrocious game of this shortened season. Amare & Melo put little to no effort on the defensive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    I’ve never really had League Pass, I just tough it out and watch whenever it comes on regardless of the teams unless I’m sure the teams are garbage

  • http://www.slamonline.com megatron

    monta ellis is an all-star in my opinion. Had a real rough night for the first 3 quarters and played unreal in the 4th

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Anyone who doesn’t have League Pass might as well sign up for an account (for free) and use their preview till January 9. You can catch everything for free until then.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Tarzan Cooper

    Chingy, I can’t think of any others. Nene is one of the most athletic guys in the league. He has great hands too, tons of steals for a center. Its so scary when he flies to jam on some poor sap, prime shaq esque. I’m very interested to see what he does this season as a prime option. And on the other end of centers, methinks knicks spent way too much on tyson, we shall see though.

  • chingy

    Thanks datkid. Being from Canada, I’m shoved with hockey 24/7.

  • chingy

    Tarzan, and to think he almost had to end his career because of cancer makes it even better.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    They should change “Lob City” to “Flop City”

  • James Aka…

    Bosh looked like he risked blowing out his knee on that landing.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Goshdarnit, Kevin.
    You couldn’t give the Mavs that one, could ya?
    Great game, Dirk’s frustration is rising and Odom must miss the Kardashian brood in his grill 24/7, playing like sh*t.

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