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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 at 8:35 am  |  38 responses

Post Up: Perfect No More

Hawks, Mavs break undefeated streaks for Heat, Thunder. And the Knicks take another L.

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

Ten games to get to this morning, with the big news of the day obviously being the first loss on the season for both the Heat and the Thunder. Plenty to tackle from that game and the rest of last night’s action. Is Atlanta for real? Did the Knicks really lose again? Pistons over the Magic? How bad is Ginobili’s injury? What was Greg Stiemsma’s statline? Ready, set, read.

Suns 102, Warriors 91

Steve Nash got Nashty in the fourth quarter, dropping 13 of his 21 points to lead the Suns past the Warriors in yesterday’s only matinee matchup. The ageless wonder also had 9 assists, while the Suns got a nice breakout performance from Markieff Morris, who scored 16 points and hauled down 9 boards in 32 minutes. Morris got with Jared “JMZ” Dudley post-game to break things down, see here. Golden State was without David Lee, who earlier in the day was hospitalized with an undetermined illness. Former Wizard/King/Bobcat Dominic McGuire stepped in and actually played pretty admirably, finishing with 14 points and 9 rebounds for the Warriors—who played their first road game of the year after hosting four at home to open the season. Monta Ellis scored 18 points (6-for-16 FGs) and had 11 assists and Stephen Curry chipped in 10 points in 23 minutes while still monitoring that nagging ankle injury.

Celtics 100, Wizards 92

I promised not to bore you on back-to-back nights, so we can cut to the chase: Boston beat my Wizards for the second straight night, led by 22 points from Ray Allen (6-7 on threes, though he shockingly missed two free throws), who scored 11 in the fourth quarter. This game was a thousand times more interesting than the previous night’s, though. For starters, Flip Saunders was ejected less than two minutes into the game, and in fairly epic fashion—he committed the no-no of touching a referee in response to a tough non-call for the Wiz in the early going, and his night was done. Insert joke about him not having to watch the rest of the game here. Andray Blatche was the high-point man for the Wizards with 28, while John Wall put up just 11 points (4-13 shooting) and 8 assists with 7 turnovers in 40 minutes. Washington kept it competitive—even had a one-point edge at halftime—but the C’s wore down the winless Wiz and improved to .500. Lastly, you guys called me out for trashing Greg Stiemsma yesterday, and he clearly was reading, as he delivered a 13-point, 7-rebound night in his first career start. Fine, he’s not terrible. But next time you have to watch him beat your team, come back and let me know what that feels like. I’ll wait.

Pistons 89, Magic 78

Dwight Howard scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the first half, but fouled out with 2:56 to play and Orlando down 8, allowing the Pistons to escape with the double-digit win. Howard added 7 rebounds and 5 steals in 40 minutes of playing time, but Detroit dominated on the boards, out-rebounding Orlando 39-28, including 11 offensive rebounds—6 from Greg Monroe alone. The Pistons shot 50 percent from the field as a team, and Ben Gordon paced the offense with 26 points and 6 assists. Glen “Big Baby” Davis continues to struggle off the bench for the Magic: in his last four games, he’s averaging less than 7 points in 20+ minutes, and he’s shooting 36 percent on field goals for the year. And Jameer Nelson scored just 4 points on 1-5 shooting in 31 minutes, but did have 5 dimes.

Hawks 100, Heat 92

Hello, Hotlanta! The Hawks downed the Heat last night in Miami despite facing an early double-digit lead, a nasty throwdown from Chris Bosh and a 28-point, 7-rebound, 6-assist game from LeBron James. Atlanta held Miami to just 10 fast-break points (the Heat came in averaging 25.8 for the season) and turned the ball over just 10 times, keeping MIA’s explosive offense from breaking out. The Hawks took the lead with a 17-5 run in the second quarter, then went zone down the stretch and outscored Miami 33-21 in the fourth quarter, helped by a pair of big threes and an all-around good effort from Tracy McGrady (16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists). Joe Johnson scored 21 points and Jeff Teague added 15 for the Hawks, who went into Miami’s house and handed the Heat loss No. 1 on the season, in front of Lil’ Wayne and his ridiculous outfit (and apparent friend Adrien Brody). On the upside for Miami, Shane Battier hit 3 threes off the bench and Norris Cole scored 10 points in 18 minutes in a reserve role. Dwyane Wade finished with 12 points and 10 assists. The hits keep coming for the Hawks (4-1) who play at Chicago tonight.

Pacers 108, Nets 94

Don’t look now, but Indiana is 4-1, and they get the Heat on Wednesday in Miami—should be a good test. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, as last night the Pacers got 21 points from Paul George and shot a season-high 53 percent as a team to take down the lowly Nets. George was 5-for-5 on threes and 8-10 from the field overall, and scored nine in the fourth quarter to push the Pacers to the victory. Danny Granger struggled from the floor (4-14) but still had a productive game, with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Hey, good thing New Jersey got to play Washington in the opener, huh? Deron Williams scored 22 points (6-of-14 shooting) and had 8 assists, and Young Mamba Marshon Brooks had 21 points and 7 rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench, but Kris Humphries missed the game with a shoulder injury that he is scheduled to have an MRI on today. Shelden Williams was in the starting lineup, and he threw one down, but c’mon—Shelden Williams in the starting lineup? If New Jersey’s looking to stop the bleeding, the schedule is of no help. Their next 5: at Boston, at Toronto, home for Miami and Atlanta, at Denver.

Raptors 90, Knicks 85

New York played a second straight game without Amar’e Stoudemire, but even having STAT wouldn’t have helped solve an abysmal shooting night for the Knicks, who seemingly couldn’t generate offense from anyone not named Carmelo Anthony. That, and their inability to execute down the stretch, cost New York a game against a seemingly inferior Eastern Conference foe. In the second quarter, the Knicks scored just 11 points and made only 3 baskets from the field. Then, in the waning seconds of the game…well, the AP recap says it best, after describing a botched play out of a timeout with New York down 3 points and possession: “Coach Mike D’Antoni was all the way on the court hollering for [Toney] Douglas to move before the ball was thrown in, and he said after the game the Knicks forgot the play that was to be run.” Forgetting the play is usually a no-no in pro hoops. Melo finished with 35 points (on 13-31 shooting), 11 boards and 4 assists while the Knicks shot 36 percent as a team and made just 10 of 35 three-pointers on the night. Andrea Bargnani and DeMar Derozan continue to lead the Raps—they poured in 21 points apiece, and former Knick Anthony Carter iced the game with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left. Hey, at least the Giants won!

Timberwolves 106, Spurs 96

The Wolves scored 65 points in the first half en route to a big win over San Antonio, who now may be without Manu Ginobili for several weeks after he broke his left hand late in the second quarter. Manu himself tweeted the following after the game:

Minnesota got 24 and 15 from Kevin Love and 19 points apiece from Luke Ridnour and Michael Beasley, who played with five stitches on his left index finger. Wes Johnson added 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting in 30 minutes as a starter—as a team, the Wolves shot 58 percent, and at one point in the third quarter were shooting above 70 percent for the game. That’s crazy. And yes, Ricky Rubio played, racking up 3 assists and 6 points, even 1 block, in 24 minutes. With Ginobili on the sidelines, the Spurs slumped, shooting just 35 percent from three-point range. Tim Duncan and Richard Jefferson did most of the heavy lifting for San Antonio, with 16 points each. The Spurs are now 0-2 on the road, while the Wolves have won two straight.

Mavericks 100, Thunder 87

There’s the Dallas team we know. The Mavs handed the Thunder their first loss on the year and avoided moving to 1-5 thanks to 26 points from Dirk Nowitzki and 47 bench points. Oklahoma City got 27 from Kevin Durant, and the Thunder had all the highlights from this game—first quarter, second quarter, third quarter—but Dirk and the defending champs outlasted the young guns down the stretch. Jason Kidd took just one shot (and missed it) in 34 minutes, but gave out 9 assists, helping teammates to easy buckets all night long—56 off the Mavs’ 100 points came in the paint. Jason Terry scored 15 off the bench, Vince Carter had 14 and Shawn Marion had 17, while the Thunder got little on the offensive end outside of Durant, Russell Westbrook (18 points on 8-20 shooting) and James Harden (16), and OKC couldn’t capitalize when Dallas opened the game shooting 2 for its first 11 from the field.

Nuggets 91, Bucks 86

In the last game of a “back-to-back-to-back,” the Nuggets beat the Bucks behind 21 points from Danilo Gallinari (a season-high for him, plus 10 rebounds) and 17 points off the bench from Al Harrington, despite being without Nene, who was nursing a bruised left heel. Denver finished 2-1 over the three-game sprint, and now sits at 4-2, with four of their next five games against the likes of New Jersey, Sacramento and New Orleans (twice). After going for 20+ in his first three games on the year, Brandon Jennings shot 5-for-12 from the field and finished with 12 points (0-4 from 3-point) for Milwaukee, whose leading scorer for the evening was Stephen Jackson with 17 on 7-of-18 shooting.

Jazz 94, Hornets 90

After an 0-2 start, the Hornets have now dropped three in a row and are still without Eric Gordon thanks to a knee injury. Al Jefferson scored a team-high 22 points for the Jazz and Devin Harris came through in the clutch with a three-pointer and three free throws down the stretch as Utah eeked out the win. Josh Howard and CJ Miles chipped in double figure performances off the bench for the Jazz, with 13 and 11 points respectively, and Earl Watson came off the pine to hand out 7 assists, too. New Orleans came out hot, making seven of 11 shots to start the game, but were outscored 24-16 in the fourth quarter. Jarret Jack led the Hornets in scoring with 27, and added 11 assists and 5 rebounds in 40 minutes.

Lines of the Night: Paul George’s 21 points, 8-10 FGs, 5-5 3-pointers, and Steve Nash’s 21 and 9 assists.

Moment of the Night: Rubio to DWill, as the Wolves upset the Spurs.

Posterization of the Night: John Wall on Greg Stiemsma. Let me have this one.

Tonight: Six games, including an NBATV double-header of Hawks-Bulls and Rockets-Lakers, and a pair of intriguing 8 o’clock starts, as the Blazers visit Oklahoma City and Sacramento takes on the Grizzlies in Memphis—where both teams could be without their starting power forwards.

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  • Lew alcindor

    this season is going to be weird until midway.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    -LMAO at Mcgee after that dunk.
    -Miami was struggeling against Atlanta’s zone D, TMac came up big in the 4th.
    -Dallas finally played well.
    -Paul George is the real deal!

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    And BO$H! allways falls so awkward after a big dunk lol

  • http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html Allenp

    I like what Teague gives Atlanta.
    Washington so desperately needs a real coach. And they should see if the Kings are willing to trade knuckleheads and see if they can dump Blatche for Cousins, and move Demarcus to the four. Probably can’t work though.
    Celtics looked so smooth when they turned things up against the Wiz. Ray Ray’s jumper is so pure.
    My free League Pass on Cox has been tripping. I’m glad I saw how it works because I was thinking about buying it, but all these games continue to be blacked out, and I’m not wasting my money.

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    Simply put, the Knicks lack depth right now, and they’re still trying to find a rhythm together at both ends of the floor. It’s obvious they’re a work in progress and have a lot of work to do after witnessing an L like that at home to the Raptors. I still can’t believe that lineup (Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby, Bill Walker, Steve Novak, Jerome Jordan) D’Antnoi started the 2nd quarter with, which put the Knicks in a tailspin they never recovered from. I know D’Antoni regrets doing that…tried to look like a genius, and it backfired.

  • robb

    That T on John Wall was ridiculous.

  • http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html Allenp

    You can’t stare other players down. It’s a form of taunting.

  • http://slamonline.com AlbertBarr

    @ALllenp: NOOOOO. I would be willing to exchange knuckleheads with Washington as long as it is Javale Macgee and not Blatch. AT least D-Cuz has talent. Blatche is…well, he is Andray Blatche.

  • http://nba.com GP23

    Watching League Pass can be annoying at times, with the blackouts and the freezing during games etc.
    Still surprised Rubio aint starting for the Wolves..

  • ripslam

    Quote of the night from Tommy Heinsohn: “Wall not playing him defensively…and Allen blows by him. Wasn’t much of a wall there, was he…”
    -
    It’s pretty awesome to see Rondo posting up this season. And he’s actually been getting buckets from there too. Also, watching on NBA LP, I heard Paul Pierce scream “COME ON PAUL!!!” after missing a layup and almost spit out my popcorn. And THE STIEMROLLER! MY DUDE! At first I was sort of apprehensive about him starting, but he was straight beasting yesterday. Swatting shots like no one’s business, and knocking down jumpers to boot. Hopefully I’m not speaking too soon, but he’s looking like a steal for the C’s. Anyway, nice to be on a winning streak again.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7OLaNA16cA nbk

    Is it me or do the Hawks looks really good at the beginning of every season?

  • logues

    GP23: me too, but ridnour has been playing pretty good so far and has been on of their most consistent players too. but i agree, he should be starting

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    It truly is like Kidd said a few days ago, teams are basically wrapping up the preseason now.
    Mavs looked and played way more aggressive, 4th game in 5 days be damned, Lamar finally got more than 15mins under his belt and contributed slightly more than the 1st few games.
    Mavs actually scored more in the paint this time, Mahinmi is progressing nicely, gaining minutes and confidence. Dallas also equaled OKC’s rebounding numbers.
    Carlisle seems to like the Kidd/VC/Trix/Mahinmi/Odom or Dirk lineup a lot but damn if this team doesn’t have a lot of versatility.
    Nice to see them put it to good use against a strong foe.

  • JoeMaMa

    @Allenp: dumbest thing ever. We don’t want robots playing. A stare down brings the intensity up…typical No Balls Association rule. Also, Paul George is a season away from 20ppg. And also also….gotta love that TMac won’t go gently into that good night.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Tracy McGrady is 32 years old. People, he’s not old.

  • Jono

    Denver Nuggets: Most underrated team of the 2011-12 season

  • http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html Allenp

    JoeMama
    They don’t allow that anymore. You know that. No overt actions towards another player. That’s been in place for years now, since they took away Dikembe’s finger wag.
    If Washington traded McGee for Cousins, they would be stupid. I’m not saying Cousins can’t be better, I’m saying that the whole point of the trade should be pairing the two and moving Blatche. He is an idiot.
    McGee has crazy upside at this point on defense and offense.

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

    ….The Hawks are looking like one of the strongest teams in the L right now.

  • JoeMaMa

    @Allenp: I get the finger wag. Wagging your finger in a man’s face is a bit much. Funny, but excessive. But staring? Do the refs count to 3 before they consider it a tech-worthy stare? Do they take into account the fire burning in the eyes? I don’t think you should still an inch away and eyeball f*ck a guy after you dunk on him, but this league is entertainment. It’s good seeing some intensity. They must think that hard staring will possibly result in fisticuffs…but I think it’s a bit much. Oh well. Oh, and I’d love to see Cousins and Blatche together. Again…entertainment.

  • Lew alcindor

    @nbk: the hawks ALWAYS look strong at the start of the season for like 5 or 6 years now, then around mid-way they start falling and falling…

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    so it’s not just me.

  • izzo

    You’d have to be quite an idiot for JaVale McGee to be considered less of an idiot than you.

  • http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html Allenp

    I present to you Andray Blatche and Demarcus Cousins. Although I don’t think Cousins is an idiot, just hot-headed.
    Blatche is just dumb. And lazy on the court. McGee works hard. He’s not smart, but he works very, very hard. He said last year that he was going to be a better rebounder, and now he’s doing it. That impresses me. he has a great motor. If he had some legitimate post moves, it would be even better.

  • http://youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    The Hawks usually look strong to start the season becausee their schedule is weak to start the season. This year is a little different as they are playing their toughest week of the year this week. If they get through this week with 3 or 4 wins I’ll take it as evidence that they can really make some noise. But they are definitely an improved team regardless thanks to having a point guard who is competent on both ends of the floor for the first time since Mookie Blaylock.

  • Myung

    ^ What what said.

  • Myung

    Thanks, NBA, for giving us the Bulls twice and Heat twice during this 5-games-in-6-nights stretch (including tonight’s game IN Chicago after playing IN Miami last night). The Bulls and Heat are arguably the two best teams in the NBA. If you were playing Miami in a 5 game playoff series, it might take 11 or 12 days to finish. Instead, we’re playing 5 games in 6 nights. It’s not unfair because every NBA team is going to have to deal with 5 games in 6 nights…but I’m not sure there’s a tougher stretch than this one in the entire NBA than 2 Heat games and 2 Bulls games (and one game vs. Charlotte just for fun) in a 6 day stretch. I can’t complain because we got two Nets games and a Wizards game to start off the year (arguably the easiest three game opening schedule in the League) so I guess it evens out.

  • Myung

    Lastly, was there a more slept on team in the East than the Hawks? The Bulls and Heat deserve the hype, but all I kept reading in magazines and websites, watching on TV, and hearing on Podcasts was that we were a 6th seed at best and most likely a 7th seed. I don’t understand what NY or Indiana did that would allow them to leapfrog us in the standings. Didn’t we beat Orlando in the Playoffs last year? Haven’t we made the 2nd round of the Playoffs for three straight seasons? Yes, we lost Jamal Crawford, but in his place, we have T-Mac, Vlad, Willie Green, and Pargo. We’ve played well this year (4-1 start), and Kirk Hinrich hasn’t even suited up yet. While some teams changed coaches and added and deleted key parts, we kept our core intact (Josh, Joe, Horford, Teague, Hinrich, Zaza, Marvin), which counts for a LOT (chemistry and familiarity) when you had such an abbreviated training camp. No, I don’t expect T-Mac to play as well as he did in the 4th last night every night, nor do I think we’re a better team than Miami, but when you consider how much better Jeff Teague is right now than he was a year ago, it’s hard to see us NOT getting a 4th or even 3rd seed in the East. I’m sorry, but I don’t see us settling behind NY and Indiana for 7th like the “experts” predict. I see us fighting Boston and Orlando for 3rd or 4th (like we did the past 2 seasons). It’s fun to talk about the Knicks and an up and coming team like the Pacers, but let’s not forget the Hawks have actually accomplished at least a little bit the past three seasons while the Knicks and Pacers have yet to do anything more than make a brief Postseason appearance last spring.

  • el_larsen

    nobody care but detroit played a good old pistons game.huge defense and hustle.
    despite greg monroe foul trouble they beat the magic.brandon knight will do fine,and YES with RIP hamilton out ,BEN gordon is finally back!!!!!!!
    i was doubtful but lawrence franck is doing a good job so far!
    and finally michael beasley played a good game!cmon B-easy!!!!

  • http://www.nba.com/analysis/rules_history.html Allenp

    Good points Myung.
    Honestly, the stories I’ve seen have all said that unless the Hawks improve this year, they will get blown up.
    So basically, they have to get to the ECF at least for this season not to be a failure. That seems unfair, but that appears to be the consensus.
    And honestly, they could possibly beat the Bulls in a seven game series. I’m not saying they would, or that they would be the favorites, but it could happen. I’m less convinced about Miami though.

  • AdamD

    It was great to see the hawks get the win last night, it is only one game though. The team have been together for a long time and i do think that helps them out a lot. T-mac has been playing really well off the bench for us in the games so far, it’s not his old numbers by any means but it’s what the hawks need after losing Crawford.

  • Myung

    You’re right, Adam. It was only one game. I definitely don’t think we need to crown the Hawks as a world beater because we beat Miami. It was a GREAT win, but it doesn’t count for more than 1 W. We’ve still got Chicago tonight, and even though I’m a die hard, I highly doubt we’ll win tonight. In fact, I’ll be thrilled if we even make a game of it. Just keepin’ it real. When you play in Miami and then fly to Chicago for a back to back, you’re just asking for trouble. The Bulls aren’t exactly the Nets or Bobcats.

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

    Miami def has a very nice squad. Really love the pg combo of kirk and teague. Hawks are very solid. They have the potential to beat nearly anyone in the playoffs.

  • Myung

    Can’t believe how poorly the Bulls have shot the ball. Are we really that good at defense? I’d like to think we’re an above average defensive team, but my goodness… the Bulls barely have 40 points through 3 quarters. GO HAWKS!

  • Allenp

    Hawks looked good until the game tightened up.

  • Allenp

    Jeff Teague just choked like Lewinsky in the Oval Office.

  • http://dsjfklfl.com Jukai

    Have a safe drive home, Allen. BEEP BEEP.

  • AdamD

    That was gutting. Just had to make free throws and we had the game.

  • http://dsjfklfl.com Jukai

    That was quite a battle for those god damn tacos

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