Post Up: Lakers Over Blakers
And a dozen more NBA games from Wednesday.
by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Lucky 13 games on the schedule from last night, which means my fingers are aching in the name of hoops. We got it all last night on one of the busiest days of the season so far, so let’s jump right in, starting with an overtime upset of one of the East’s best.
Deron Williams put the team on his back doe. And he got some help from Hump. DWill had 34 points, 11 assists, and 4 rebounds in 48 minutes of action, and Kris Humphries added 19 rebounds and 13 points, as the Nets dropped the still Spencer Hawes-less Sixers in overtime. In the extra period, Jrue Holiday (14 points, 7 assists) gave Philadelphia a two-point lead after a steal and a layup with 1:18 to play, but Williams answered with a jumper, and the go-ahead three on the next possession, before Anthony Morrow sealed it with free throws. Morrow finished with 16 points, filling in for the injured MarShon Brooks, and the Nets improved to 6-13 on the season. But for New Jersey, it was all about DWill—check him getting some air, too. Philly can’t be happy with the loss, but they’ll probably cheer up when they realize their next two come against the Bobcats and Pistons on a back-to-back.
Yeahhh, buddy. I’m not about to get excited about the Wizards beating the Bobcats, who might be the only team in the L worse than Washington, but a win’s a win at this point. The Wiz are no longer the worst team in the NBA, improving to 3-15 and dropping Charlotte to 3-16 on the year. Take that! From the Bobcats box score: Matt Carroll led ‘Cats scorers with 17 points, and as a team, Charlotte turned the ball over 19 times and shot 36 percent. Meanwhile, the Randy Wittman era in DC got off to a rousing (sarcasm, yes) start, as Nick Young dropped 20 and Andray Blatche had one of his best statlines of the year, with 17 points and 10 rebounds. John Wall hustled his way to 12 points, and the Wizards outrebounded the Bobcats 51-38 on their way to the win, despite 22 turnovers of their own.
Okay, Knicks fans, back to panic mode. New York’s now lost 7 of 8 after turning the ball over 22 times and shooting 3 of 20 from the three-point line in a double-digit loss to Cleveland. Anderson Varejao outplayed the Knicks frontline when it mattered, and finished with 16 rebounds, 10 points, 4 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks, while Antawn Jamison scored 15 points and rookie PG Kyrie Irving racked up 7 assists (tough shooting night, though, 1-7 FG for 7 points). After scoring 1 point in the previous game, Carmelo Anthony scored 15 last night, but shot just 5-of-14. Amar’e Stoudemire had 19 and 14, but the Knicks’ revolving door at point guard was nothing short of terrible, and their lack of depth really showed—they scored just 36 points in the second half. New York now sits at 7-11 on the year, with road tests next up at Miami and at Houston on Friday and Saturday. Also, peep this highlight just for a peek at Cleveland’s alternate jerseys. Thoughts?
For a few minutes, it seemed like Detroit was poised to get their biggest win of the season, behind monster performances from a trio of youngsters in Greg Monroe (20 points, 10 boards), Austin Daye (28 points) and Brandon Knight (17 points, 5 assists). But the Heat executed down the stretch, and the Pistons did not, helping Miami improve to 13-5. Detroit took its first lead since 9-8 in the first quarter when Knight nailed an elbow jumper to put the Pistons up 92-90 with 3:16 to play, the finishing touch on a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter. They even led 98-95 with 1:33 left thanks to a three-point play from Monroe and a top-of-the-key trey from Jonas Jerebko. But from there, LeBron James powered his way to the hoop three times, and iced the game on six free throws over the last minute of the game, as the Pistons couldn’t get anything to fall in the clutch. LeBron finished with a nasty 32/7/6 line for the night, while teaming up with Chris Bosh, who had 27, and the Heat shot 52 percent from the floor.
The Pacers went into Chicago and became the first road team to win at the United Center this season, where the Bulls are now 8-1. Indiana got 22 points from Danny Granger, 20 from Roy Hibbert, and held the Bulls to just 16 points in the fourth quarter to improve to 12-5. Hibbert slammed home a dunk after a scrum to put the Pacers up four with under 15 seconds to play, sealing the Indiana victory after they trailed by ten at halftime. This, you’ll remember, was an interesting first-round playoff matchup in the East last season, and judging by the quotage from Derrick Rose afterwards (see below), it will continue to be a rivalry. Rose scored 24 points, but had only 2 in the fourth. Without Luol Deng, the Bulls got a nice game from Ronnie Brewer, who stepped into the starting lineup and delivered 20 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with a 10/13 double-double from Joakim Noah. But Chicago shot 40 percent from the field and the Pacers pulled in front in the second half en route to the win.
Andrew Bogut left in the first quarter after colliding with Kyle Lowry on a drive, he did not return and was seen leaving the arena in a walking boot. But even without the 7-footer manning the middle, the Bucks withstood 29 points from Kevin Martin to snap Houston’s 7-game winning streak. Brandon Jennings scored 20 points and had 6 assists, and Stephen Jackson and Mike Dunleavy scored 20 and 18 respectively in reserve roles, as Milwaukee came back from down 12 thanks to poor three-point shooting from the Rockets (8-for-31). A pair of Drew Gooden free throws with 33 seconds left put the finishing touches on the Bucks’ win. Ersan Ilyasova filled in for Bogut and hauled in 19 rebounds, while the man across the way, Samuel Dalembert, notched a double-double (18 rebounds, 13 points). Milwaukee’s next game is at Chicago on Friday.
Kevin Durant knows how to fill up a box score. Last night against New Orleans he did it in this way: 25 points, 9-13 FGs, 7-7 FTs, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals. Oh, and one finish in transition started by a Kendrick Perkins showtime pass. Durant’s line, combined with Oklahoma City’s 53 percent shooting, allowed the Thunder to take care of the Hornets with relative ease. New Orleans never led in the game, and allowed the Thunder to get 19 fast break points, while the Hornets couldn’t capitalize on 21 OKC turnovers. James Harden had 18 points and 6 dimes in his usual sixth man role, and Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka each scored 14. For the Hornets, Jarret Jack continues to shoulder the offensive load without Eric Gordon healthy, scoring a team-high 20 points and handing out 5 assists. Also, I am not ashamed to admit that I have no idea who Gustavo Ayon is or where he came from, but he scored 16 points in 17 minutes for New Orleans. If someone out there could run a quick background check, or you know, Wikipedia search, I think we’d all appreciate it very much.
Some dudes try less after signing a fat contract. Kevin Love is not one of those dudes. On the day he signed his extension with the Wolves, KLove went out and dropped 31 points and 10 boards on the defending Champs, leading Minny to the 15-point victory. And on the night the Mavs got their Championship rings, their seven-game home win streak came to an end, with Dirk Nowitzki (and, well, Vince Carter, too) in street clothes. Dallas led by 14 in the first half, but the Wolves made a mini-run before halftime and came out guns blazing in the third quarter. Ricky Rubio put up 17 points and 12 assists, and the Love-Rubio connection is as awesome as ever these days. It’s the Wolves’ second win over Dallas already this season, and they improved their record to 8-10 (4-4 on the road). The Mavs got 17 from Jason Terry and 15 from Shawn Marion, but made just 6 of 22 threes and still miss their go-to guy.
Normally, Atlanta wouldn’t be upset with a regular season loss to the Spurs, but getting blown out when San Antonio’s leading scorers were DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner? Tough. Blair and Bonner had 17 points apiece, while Tiago Splitter (16), Tony Parker (15) and Danny Green (10) also scored in double figures on a night when Tim Duncan had just 6 points. But hey, Timmy just needs more PT, Pop! The Spurs improved to 12-7 thanks to 51 percent shooting, 11 made threes, a 44-34 rebounding advantage and 27 assists. Kirk Hinrich made his season debut for the Hawks, and scored 7 points in 13 minutes off the bench, while the man he backs up, Jeff Teague, led Atlanta in scoring with 20, but he had zero assists.
Wow. What a game. If you passed because the matchup wasn’t sexy enough, well, sorry. With no Al Jefferson for Utah, the Jazz still managed to build an 18-point lead, before it evaporated and Jose Calderon hit a game-tying three with time slipping away in regulation to send the game to OT. The Raptors needed two overtime periods to dispatch of the pesky Jazz, who got a season-high 31 points from the perpetually-underrated Paul Millsap. Andrea Bargnani and Linas Kleiza both score 25 points (though Bargs left the game in overtime, seemingly with the same nagging calf injury he’s been dealing with) and Demar DeRozan had 17 for Toronto, while James Johnson racked up 6 blocked shots. Derrick Favors chipped in 16 points and 12 boards over 42 minutes for Utah and Devin Harris had a season-best 24 despite looking, frankly, pretty awful for most of the game.
Denver can be a scary team on some nights. Just ask Sacramento. By halftime, the Nuggets led by 23, at one point they led by 35, and they won their fifth straight game (and fifth straight on the road) to move to 13-5. Danilo Gallinari scored 23 points, Nene had 16, and Andre Miller dished out 10 of the team’s 29 assists (plus 15 points) for the Nuggs, who shot a ridiculous 55 percent from the field. Jimmer Fredette, starting in place of the injured Marcus Thornton, scored 19 points and DeMarcus Cousins provided his nightly double-double, with 17 and 15, but the Kings never got to within 20 in the second half. Oh, and Aaron Afflalo and Rudy Fernandez didn’t even play. Denver hosts Toronto before an absolutely impossible seven-game stretch that includes Dallas, the Lakers and the Clippers twice.
The season’s Battle: L.A. series is now tied at 1-1, after Kobe Bryant scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and Metta World Peace had potentially the most impactful 3-point game (like, he only scored 3 points) in the history of the NBA to lead the Lakers to the win over Lob City. Pau Gasol added 23 and 10, and Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 4 blocks as L.A. improved to 11-8 on the year. With #KobeSystem student Aziz Ansari sitting courtside, Bryant hauled down 7 boards and had 6 assists to go with his team-high in buckets, while buddy World Peace served as the team’s emotional leader down the stretch (he also had 7 assists of his own). Blake Griffin scored 26 points and Chris Paul had 12 assists and zero turnovers (only 4 points), but the Clippers crumbled in the clutch after leading for most of the game.
You should know by now that I’m a big Steph Curry fan. So seeing him go off makes me happy, especially against a Blazers team that was the heavy favorite going into last night’s matchup. Steph made 6 threes, scored 32 points, dished out 7 dimes and generally was the straw stirring the drink for the Warriors, who shot 52 percent in just their sixth win on the season. Oddly enough, Monta Ellis scored just 4 points (seriously, on 2-9 shooting, 0 free throws) in 41 minutes, but he did finish with 12 assists, and David Lee had 26. The best explanation for the surprising result, though, was perhaps the fact that this was the third game of a dreaded back-to-back-to-back for Portland. LaMarcus Aldridge paced the Blazers with 18 points and Marcus Camby had 16 rebounds, but there was just no answer for young Mr. Curry, as the handy shot chart below explains. Although, it might also make you want to eat some chicken.
Line of the Night: Stephen Curry’s 32 points (6-8 3PT), 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals in 38 minutes.
Quote of the Night: DRose won’t be forgetting last night’s loss to the Pacers any time soon, via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Moment of the Night: DWill seals an upset win for the Nets with a classic step-back move. “Uhhhhhh.”
Dunk of the Night: Blake Griffin does a Blake Griffin thing.
Weird of the Night: Dirk does “color commentary.” Lotta weird here, but hey, Dirk’s having fun.
Tonight: TNT has the only two games going on, with Boston at Orlando first up, and then a Western Conference clash between the Grizzlies and Clippers at Staples Center.