Post Up: Milwaukee’s Best
The Lakers and Heat lose, while the C’s and Lobsters cruise.
by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Oh, god. The Giants are going to the Super Bowl. What a nightmare. I can always go with the “at least the Redskins went 2-0 against y’all this season” line, but still, this is disastrous. If the G-Men win it all, I might have to go into hiding for a while. Anyone have a timeshare in the Caribbean where I can crash for a few weeks? I refuse to be in NYC for a parade, and I’m not sure how much I can take from the New Yorkers on the SLAM staff. Honestly, after the exciting start to the NBA season, it’s nice to know we’ll be saying goodbye to the NFL soon, and the rest of the sports media and fans can join us in breaking down hoops on a nightly basis. Five games to talk about from last night, so let’s get to it.
Rajon Rondo sat out a second straight game with a sprained wrist and Ray Allen missed most of the game after suffering an ankle injury in the second quarter, but the Celtics still managed to get past the 2-14 Wizards, mostly because Paul Pierce turned back the clock and Washington had no one capable of guarding him. Pierce finished with 34 points, 10 assists and 8 boards, all season-highs for The Truth. The Wiz played hard for a third time in a row, but were once again unable to close out the game, playing terrible D down the stretch and searching unsuccessfully for a go-to guy on offense when it mattered. Washington tied the game up with 9+ minutes to play, but couldn’t execute in crunch time. John Wall continued his hot streak (27 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) and Andray Blatche admittedly had one monster jam, but Boston made it look easy (51 percent shooting) even with Avery Bradley logging 41 minutes at the starting point guard spot, and improved to 6-9 on the year.
Mo Williams led all scorers with 26 points, and had 19 in the fourth quarter—including the first 17 for the Clips in the period—to lead Lob City to 9-5 on the season. DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 16 rebounds, Blake Griffin had 18 and 9, and Chauncey Billups dished out 14 assists en route to the easy W for L.A. The Raptors shot 36 percent from the field for the game, and have yet to score 100+ points since their opening night win over the Cavaliers. For all the collective emphasis on what they do at the offensive end (like this), the Clippers are now a perfect 9-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 points, and winless (0-5) when they give up more than 100. Toronto (4-13, 8 straight Ls) continues to struggle without Andrea Bargnani; the Raps were led in scoring by Leandro Barbosa, with 19 points, but got almost nothing from the starting lineup, as you can see from this painful piece of the box score:
New Jersey “improved” to 5-12 on the season behind a near-triple double from Deron Williams, who racked up 19 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds. DWill led the Nets to the win at home a day after he said he hates the team’s arena. Stay classy, Deron. Without DJ Augustin, who left in the first half with an injury to his big toe that sounds pretty painful, Charlotte couldn’t get any offense going until late, when the game was out of hand. MarShon Brooks scored 20 and Anthony Morrow had 19 off the bench for the Nets, who led by as many as 19. Kemba Walker had one of his best games since being inserted into the starting lineup 5 games ago, with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, and there was even a Bismack Biyombo sighting—11 points, 7 rebounds in 18 reserve minutes. As bad as the Nets are, or seem to be, they now have only 1 fewer win than the crosstown New York Knicks. That may say more about Melo and friends, but still, worth mentioning. Luckily for the struggling ‘Cats, they get to play Washington in two of their next 5 games (and those Knicks tomorrow night).
First of all, ew. Credit to Milwaukee for going into Miami and handing the Heat just their second home loss, but this game was sloppy joe from the start. The Bucks shot 35 percent from the field and a disgusting 5-of-30 from three-point range, while the Heat shot 37 percent, turned the ball over 22 times (leading to 22 Milwaukee points) and tied the NBA season-low with 9 assists. That’s 9 assists for the entire team—Chauncey Billups had 14 himself for LAC earlier in the day. Also from the “ew” department, we have the Miami throwback unis, which look like they belong in a Paul Wall music video or that Will Ferrell ABA movie, not on an NBA court in 2012. Is there anyone out there that likes those jerseys? If so, please speak up. I’d love to hear why. Back to basketball, it looks like we can finally dismiss the crazy talk about Dwyane Wade, since the Heat finally lost a game without him (6-1 with Wade out). LeBron James had 28 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists (and one ridiculous reverse jam) and Chris Bosh scored 23 points, but Brandon Jennings followed up his 36-point performance in New York with a 23/6/6 line against Miami, and Andrew Bogut dominated inside with 13 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks. The Heat got to within 3 points with 2:15 to play after Bogut fouled out, but failed to convert on consecutive possessions, then allowed Jennings to sneak in for an offensive rebound and reverse lay-in to make it 87-80 with under 40 seconds left. The Bucks closed things out from there, and they’ll get another big test tonight as they host Atlanta.
Both teams came in with 10 wins, and the Lakers looked to be in control, but Pau Gasol, Matt Barnes, Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant all missed shots in the final two minutes—Kobe’s a prayer three-pointer that would have tied things up with less than 10 seconds left—and the Pacers won just their second game at the Staples center…ever (they won there last year for the first time). Six Indiana players scored in double figures (including the entire starting five), led by 18 points from Roy Hibbert, who played with a broken nose and scored 8 in the fourth, and 16 from Danny Granger (4-of-14 shooting). The Pacers have won five of their last six games, and are now 11-4, which includes a 6-4 record on the road. The road warriors have a brutal schedule coming up, too—their next four: home for Orlando, at Chicago, at Boston, at Orlando. The Lakers, meanwhile, only turned the ball over 8 times, and scored 50 points in the paint, to just 36 from Indiana, but the Pacers won the rebounding battle 50-43. Kobe scored 33 points, but needed 30 field goal attempts to get there, while Andrew Bynum scored 16 and Pau Gasol had 8 points and 10 assists. It’s Los Angeles’ third straight L, and 11th straight game scoring less than 100 points. The Lakers’ next game is Wednesday against the Clippers.
Line of the Night: Classic Paul Pierce — 34 points (10-15 FG), 10 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals.
Moment of the Night: Brandon Jennings and the Bucks beat the Heat.
Dunks of the Night: A double triple dose of DeAndre Jordan.
Bonus Video of the Night: The White Mamba, as narrated by Stacey King, who is very excited.
Tonight: NBATV has a double-dip starting with Magic-Celtics and wrapping up with Grizzlies-Warriors, part of a 10-game schedule in all. One to watch: the red-hot Rockets are in Minnesota to take on the Wolves. Of course, I’ll be keeping an eye on Wizards-Sixers, so pray for me.