Saturday, January 14th, 2012 at 11:57 am  |  30 responses

Post Up: Silencing the Haters

Kobe goes for another 40, the Champs win convincingly, and the Heat fall in Denver.

Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad

Once again, big thank you to Abe for holding us down for another week. These recaps are a lot of work and he has been doing a great job. Clap for him.

Anyway, eleven games were played last night including a matchup between Eastern Conference powerhouses Chicago and Boston, a battle for supremacy in the west between the Spurs and the Trailblazers, and the Heat traveled to Denver to take on the upstart Nuggets. Aside from the rash of injuries that took place this week, the last seven days have seen some great basketball and this season is shaping up to be a great one. Look for even more unpredictability and surprises as the games drag on and players start to hit a wall. Here we go…

Pacers 95, Raptors 90

After losing four out of five, the Raptors came out and played some competitive ball despite missing eighth leading scorer (you read that correctly) Andrea Bargnani. This was one of the more entertaining games of the night; Toronto was up by as many as 16 in the first half but couldn’t keep Indy down in the fourth quarter. After nine lead changes and 11 ties in an exciting final quarter of play, it was free throws that wound up being the determining factor in a back and forth game. The Pacers hit five free throws in a row, including two by Tyler Hansborough to seal the game (13 points, 7-7 from the line, and 6 boards off the bench) to go up 93-90. Jamaal Magliore stepped to the stripe with a chance to chip away at the Pacers lead but airballed his first free throw and bricked his second ending Toronto’s hopes of winning. DeMar Derozan filled in nicely with Bargnani out and dropped 23 points in 4o minutes of play. After finally breaking out of his slump earlier this week, Danny Granger earned two technical fouls before the first half was over and was promptly ejected from the game. Fortunately for Indiana, both Roy Hibbert (15 points, 9 rebounds) and George Hill (22 points, 5 steals) picked up the slack. Leandro Barbosa had a solid game coming off the bench scoring 20 points and denied Darren Collison on a fast break layup. Toronto’s poor free throw shooting ended up killing them as they left 12 points at the free throw line which ended up costing them a victory.

76ers 120, Wizards 89

The Sixers improved to 5-0 at home after absolutely destroying the Wizards. Philly may not have a premiere scorer on their roster, but they are one of the deepest teams in the league. Seven Sixers scored in double figures last night, including a game high 26 points from Jodie Meeks who shot the lights out going 10-11 from the field and 6-7 from three point range. Illadelph beat the breaks off the Wizards in the third quarter, stretching the lead to 25 halfway through the quarter and entered the fourth up 92-58. After being benched early, Jrue Holiday returned nicely with 12 points and this facial on Jan Vesely. Welcome to the league rook. Lou Williams continued his strong start coming off the bench and scoring 19; if he keeps it up, he will definitely be in consideration for Sixth Man of the Year. John Wall’s struggles continue, Wall scored just 7 points on 3-8 shooting, and had 5 turnovers as D.C. continues to play dreadful basketball. Hopefully he can put it together and break out of his slump and help save Abe’s sanity.

Pistons 98, Bobcats 81

In perhaps the most uninteresting game of the early season, Jonas Jerekbo scored a game high 22 points and helped the Pistons snap a 6 game losing streak. All five Piston starters scored in double digits and Greg Monroe had himself another impressive outing, scoring 19 points and grabbing 9 boards while also dishing out 5 assists. Monroe is really shaping out to be a nice pickup for the Pistons, unfortunately the organization is such a mess. For Charlotte, D.J. Augustin had 13 assists, as he and Kyle Lowry battle for under the radar point guard supremacy in the early going. In a battle of 2011 lottery picks, both Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker had solid games for their respective teams. Knight scored his first double double of his young career with a stat line of 13/10/4 while Walker came off the bench and dropped 16 points for Charlotte. Not much else to see here.

Bulls 88, Celtics 79

It doesn’t matter who you throw at Derrick Rose, he will inevitably end up eating them up. The reigning MVP took over in the fourth quarter scoring 12 points and crushing any hopes the Celtics had of a comeback. Leading by as many as 20 in the third, Boston stormed back to get within one but DRose scored 7 straight and the C’s never got back within 6 as they dropped their third straight. Rose finished with 25 points and 7 assists while showing no ill effects from a turf toe injury that sidelined him on Thursday. Luol Deng played a game high 42 minutes and made every second count. Deng scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, Rose may have been the star, but Deng was undoubtedly the X-factor. Paul Pierce has not been playing up to par and has really been hurting the Celtics. After missing three weeks due to a heel injury, The Truth has been shooting a putrid 23.5 percent over the last three games. Pierce finished with only 13 points and one rebound; Boston will need him to pick up his play if they expect to compete in a loaded East. Rajon Rondo had another double double double scoring 14 points and dropping 11 dimes. He also had 4 steals, including this one (how the hell did he even do that?).

Timberwolves 87, Hornets 80

For anyone doubting that Kevin Love is the best power forward in the league, all you need to do is check the stat sheet. Women lie, men lie but numbers don’t. Love has been averaging 24.5 points per game (6th in the league) and 14.7 rebounds per game (2nd in the league) and has been leading a young, but incredibly talented Timberwolves squad. I’m very interested in where his career is going to go, especially once his contract is up in Minnesota. I get the impression that he will sign elsewhere (L.A.?) but with all the talent in Minnesota it may be hard from him to walk away from what could potentially be something special. Anyway, Love had another double double last night, scoring 34 points and grabbing 15 rebounds to pace the T’Wolves. Ricky Rubio got his first career start and played a game high 43 minutes and did his usual thing, wowing the crowd with incredible assists and constantly making the right decision. Rubio finished with 12 points, 9 assists and only 2 turnovers. For Nawlins, Emeka Okafor had 16 points and 14 boards but it wasn’t enough. The Hornets have now dropped eight of their last nine games and have really been struggling to put it together and having Eric Gordon out certainly hasn’t helped their cause.

Rockets 103, Kings 89

Once again, the Rockets prove that they are a different team at home compared to on the road. Houston is now 3-1 at home and 1-6 away from the Toyota Center. Kyle Lowry is putting together a great season for coach Kevin McHale and continued his hot start with a 25 point, 9 assist effort and is now averaging 16 points and 9 dimes a game. Samuel Dalembert looked like he was out for blood against his former team as he had by far his best game of the season with 21 points and 16 rebounds and played stout defense against a recharged Boogie Cousins who was held to 4 points and 4 rebounds. I wouldn’t expect him to keep that pace up though. Late in the game, it looked like the Kings were set to make a run as they got with 7, but Kevin Martin and Lowry hit back to back three pointers and Sacramento never got within 9. ‘Reke Evans had himself a strong game for the Kings scoring 27 points but didn’t get much help from his teammates, reserve rookie Isaiah Thomas was the second leading scorer with 13.

Mavericks 102, Bucks 76

Big congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki who scored his 23,000th point last night as the Champs laid the smack down on the visiting Bucks. Dallas scored a season high 60 points in the first half and went on a 14-0 run in the third to stretch the lead to 27. The Mavs were able to get some much needed rest; all 13 players on the roster checked in and Jason Terry led the team in scoring with 17 in a team high 25 minutes. Although Vince Carter is a shell of his former self, he has been showing some flashes of brilliance for Dallas thus far and had 16 points last night. Brandon Jennings had 19 points but only 1 assist for Milwaukee in an overall underwhelming performance.

Spurs 99, Trailblazers 83

If LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t make the All-Star team this season it will be a travesty. But, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yao Ming voted as the starting center for the Western Conference come February. Aldridge has been in beast mode for Portland and had another stellar performance last night tallying 29 points and 7 boards in a losing effort. After Marcus Camby went out with an ankle injury in the first half, the Spurs owned the paint. They beat Portland on the glass 50-36, and led 17-10 on second chance points. After injuries to both Manu Ginobili and T.J. Ford, rookie Kawhi Leonard has been thrusted into the starting role and has filled in nicely for Greg Popovich. Leonard was an instrumental part of a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter. The young’n hit a 3-pointer, notched a steal and scored a fast break layup to push the lead to 12. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 20 points and 9 assists and teamed up with Leonard to go 8-9 in the final quarter of play to put the Blazers away.

Nets 110, Suns 103

After last night’s loss to Jersey, the Suns have now lost back to back games at home against sub .500 teams–not a good look. Both Steve Nash and Grant Hill looked on from the sidelines as Deron Williams dropped a smooth 35 points and 14 assists. This was a good game of basketball to watch, all five starters on each team scored in double digits including 20 from promising rookie Marshon Brooks and 20 from Suns center Marcin Gortat. Even with Nash on the pine, Phoenix had 26 assists but had no answer for Williams who became the first player in almost 2 years to score 35 points and drop 14 dimes. New Jersey has been hot from the three point line recently and continued that trend with another 15 long range field goals last night. If they can start getting some stops they may be able to string together a few wins and at least be competitive in the East.

Nuggets 117, Heat 104

After losing last night in Denver, Miami has now lost 3 in a row, and may be in even more trouble after Dwayne Wade went down with an ankle sprain in the fourth. Having already missed some games, Wade’s injury is the last thing the Heat need, expect him to miss even more time. Miami will definitely miss this. What’s surprised me the most about the Heat this season is their poor free throw shooting. After essentially losing the game at the stripe in LA earlier this week, the Heat once again left points at the line. LeBron scored 35 but also missed 6 free throws, his poor shooting after fouls has been alarming. The Norris Chalmers collective combined for 23 points but only 2 assists, an incredibly low number for two point guards. Ty Lawson was able to do pretty much anything he wanted for Denver, amassing 24 points on 9-11 shooting and dishing out 9 assists to lead the Nuggets. Denver was able to match Miami’s fast break attack and outscored the Heat 21-14 on the run. After losing Wade to injury, the Heat’s offense really struggled and they fell behind by 19 in the fourth. Denver’s bench outscored Miami’s 42-30 with Rudy Fernandez and Al Harrington scoring 15 apiece.

Lakers 97, Cavaliers 92

I heard some rumblings that Kobe Bryant fell off, that he couldn’t compete anymore. Too many miles, too many injuries, couldn’t keep up with the young cats in the league. Oh word? I think three straight 40+ games should silence any non-believers. Bryant shot 15-31 from the field, 4-7 from beyond the arc, and 8-10 from the stripe as the Lakersbeat the Cavs. Pau Gasol had a double-double with 19 points and 10 assists, and also showed off his point guard skills. Steve Blake went down with a rib injury and will miss 3-4 weeks but rookie Darius Morris gave the Lakers solid minutes off the bench. LA will need him to give them solid minutes as Derek Fisher will certainly need rest as the season drags on. Kyrie Irving continues to impress out in Cleveland as he scored 21 points but didn’t get much help from the rest of his teammates. The Lakers frontcourt defense has been dominant and they continued their strong play by shutting down Antwan Jamison who shot a putrid 4-16 from the field for 9 points. The Lakers battle the Clippers tonight in a huge showdown. Get the popcorn ready, this one is gonna be good.

Stat Line of the Night: Tough to compete with Kobe but Deron Williams had a spectacular night. 35 points (11-18), 14 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers.

Play of the Night: Rondo with the steal.

Dunk of the Night: Dalembert all over Boogie Cousins.

C’mon Son: Jamaal Magliore airballs a free throw.

Tonight: Another 11 games on the slate for tonight (and we don’t stop). Abe’s Wizards take on Philly for the second night in a row, Boston travels to Indy to exact revenge after last weekend’s loss at home, the Knicks get their first true test of the season in OKC, and for the night cap the Lakers and Clips battle for bragging rights in LA. Can’t wait.

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  • Michael

    The Lakers are truly awful after their top 3.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Is there a better defensive frontline than TGib/Asik?
    I love the way Rose is playing right now. His passing has improved and he knows how to pick his spots better.
    DWill is a Top-2 PG when he wants to be.
    Wade’s injury might be a blessing in disguise for the Heat.
    MIA has the worst 4th qtr offense I’ve ever seen even the Pistons are better in the 4th.
    The Celtics are done unless PP returns to form.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    call me homer all you want but that rondo steal was a foul, period, not impressed. Kobe killing but man that dude is about to crash and burn, and if he doesnt this has to be one of the greatest seasons ever because he’s been impressive but at the end of the day he’s 33 and this is a crazy season in regards to the scheduling, so its looking like a bad decision to try and take on so much responsibility offensively.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    I would take ty lawson over rose because he can get his shot off over lebron.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    Dwyane Wade gets a ridiculous amount of phantom calls. That said, I feel bad kicking the Heat when they’re down. But here’s an interesting debate: in between seeds 2-5 in the East (Philly, Orlando, Indiana, Atlanta), who’s the best team?

  • Kadavour

    I don’t understand how/where the precedent for Kobe’s crash and burn has been established. The majority of his buckets are coming from 1-3 dribbles after catching the ball. Most of his work comes in getting position with his back to the basket. Has Ray Allen slowed down? Who runs more than Ray? Ray’s on pace to have another astounding record year behind the arc. These are guys who are so fundamentally sound that they don’t need jump-out-the-gym athleticism to be elite. These guys are going to be effective for years to come. As long as Kobe can bully boys in the paint and Ray Allen can elevate for his jumper, no one’s going to able to stop them.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    There is no reason Kobe shouldn’t score at or around 40 when he shoots 30+ shots. How long he can keep effectively taking that many shots is the question.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    ^Until Mike Brown grows a backbone. Still waiting on that….

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    It’s also clear this scoring isn’t making the Lakers any more formidable then otherwise. 3 close games in a row against non-playoff teams with Kobe scoring atleast 40 is not a good look.

  • l2ising Phoenix

    Great point @kadavour, and @caboose I gotta say philly is the best team out of that group. Young, athletic and deep! Plus I love how jrue holiday plays. They might have trouble defending Dwight , but if they can manage to shut down the rest of the magic then philly is the team to beat. On another note I’d like to see the clippers beat the lakers. Rooting for the underdog :D

  • http://slamonline.com/ Peter Walsh

    @Slick Ric regardless, that was an incredible display of instinct on Rondo’s behalf. Dude was setting up to take the charge then reached out at the last second to poke the ball away.

    Over/Under on number of shot attempts Kobe takes tonight vs the Clippers…35?

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com Enigmatic

    Asik really is a defensive beast.
    It’s not really known around the league because he’s a second year player, doesn’t start, and doesn’t swat shots into the third row like Dwight Howard, but he is easily a top 5 center in the L defensively.
    It’s going to be really interesting to see what the Bulls do with the frontcourt personnel-wise in the next few years.
    You got Noah and Boozer locked up for a ton of money for the next few years.
    Then you have Gibson and Asik, who might command maybe a $7-$8 million per salary when they become free agents.
    Then on top of that you got the kid that’s balling out of his mind in Europe, Nikola Mirotic.
    And let’s not forget, starting next season, the Bulls will have four starters making $10 million -plus per season.
    AND there’s still the prospect of trading for Dwight Howard looming over it all.
    So GarPax got some tough decisions to make. But I think they’ll lose at least two of them in the next season or two.
    BTW *SHAMLESS SELF-PROMOTION TIME* – y’all check out the interview I did with my dude Dan Poneman, a highly-regarded young Chicago basketball scout, right here on SLAMOnline. Thanks.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    @ peterwalsh, over 35, kobe going for fifty tonight without a doubt in my mind.

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    ^^^ dope read, got a lot of respect for the young man. Website is dope too man keep up the good work.

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

    I agree with nbk. .. Why was granger tossed? What he do? That said, hedo! Where did the hedo haters go? Dude has been playing well this season. Spurs aint dead yet futhamuckers!

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    anyone else ready to call shennanigans on seemingly every commentator/media member kissing up to Erik Spoelstra???… Chris Mullin is my dude but hearing him blab about how much respect dude is deserving of has me thinking Pat Riley or somebody is paying hush money to the media outlets to not turn up the nob on that hot seat. I mean its gotten out of hand. He’s got 3 of the best offensive players in the world, 2 of the best in history, and with a full year in he still hasn’t come up with any structure to their offense…They flat out execute horribly. @JTaylor21 its not even just 4th quarter execution, its general offensive execution. They are able to get by early on, on defense-to-offense fast break opportunities and easy buckets, but in a tight 4th quarter you are forced to play halfcourt basketball and if theres anything I’ve seen, from last year to now, its that they simply CAN’T. Its so easy to pick on Lebron when he comes up short in the 4th quarter…why is there no discussion about how every halfcourt play they run is an isolation- why just bout everyone except the ball handler is pretty much stagnant every time they come upcourt in that 4th. Its easy to say Lebron isn’t clutch etc. etc. Why don’t we criticize the fact that this coach isn’t putting either of these superstars in the positions to perform at their strengths…why is it that after a full year these guys are still stepping on each others toes??? Come on son…

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    @nbk thats why I aint even trippin on it. He scored 61 in Madison (the greatest offensive performance I’ve ever witnessed…dang already 3 years ago?) on 31 shots…

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Great example tbRK

  • http://Juanm.Garcia@comcast.net The Brown Ricardo Kamlez

    I don’t know about you but anywhere LaBaby has played there has been no offensive structure. Open your eyes. It’s not the coach.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Peter Walsh

    Just watched that Rondo steal 15 times in a row, still have no idea how the hell he did that

  • Heals

    May be reaching here but anyone else getting the vibe that Kob just lighting it up lately is also a big F-U to Vanessa. We all have egos and when a women scorned comes calling for 1/2 we take it out somewhere. Hope so cause I love it if it is…

  • http://Juanm.Garcia@comcast.net The Brown Ricardo Kamlez

    Nope. He’s doing it to show DH that if he comes… He’ll win it for him as he’s not done.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    Brown Ricardo- Lebron James has never in his nba career had a decent offensive coach. not once. he’s only had defense first guys. Honestly I think the heat were just tired in denver. They were on a difficult back-to back-to back stretch, but also i think they have trouble with people who are almost as good in transition as they are. but I also think Black Rick Kamla’s right… The heat should have grabbed rick adeleman.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    my man ty lawson is beasting as well.. homie needs to be an all star. he won’t be tho.

  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    @Brown Ric That couldn’t be further from the truth. Cleveland was a defense-first squad, but they certaintly had offensive structure. In fact the biggest problem with Cleveland was the fact that, other than the one man fastbreak himself, they weren’t a very good fastbreak offense- most of what they got came in the halfcourt. There was very clear structure to that offense- pick and rolls/pops with Big Z and Gooden, plays run for Boobie and Mo Williams and others to get open looks and spot ups, and we could go on. Lebron was certaintly the dominant ball handler, but never at the expense of structure and execution. I’ve said this a few times, the 2008 Celtics squad was in my opinion the best team of this era…in my personal opinion the 2008 Lakers squad that lost to that C’s in the Finals was the best Lakers squad since maybe 2001. Cleveland took those Celtics 7 in the ECF and just barely loss, and keep in mind it was the year before that one that the Cavs ended the Pistons Eastern Conference dominance and got to the Finals. Say what you will about Mike Brown, he and his coaching staff built an absolutely GREAT team.

  • riggs

    @Slick Ric: Youre a homer. lol but nah, look at the replay the only thing rondo touched was the ball.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Amazing, 93 shots attempted in 3 games!
    And he’s already taken 20 in 3 quarters vs. the Clips tonight.
    Kobester, your ego knows no limits. Bravo.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    @Caboose – for me I would take Philly with those four teams you mentioned… since the allstar break last season and straight into this week of play they haven’t missed a beat and they are the best coached of those 4 teams right now.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    I’ve never meant a comment more than I mean this now: Free Steve Nash.

  • Niyagirlsofresh

    Actually Kobe scoring 40 is not hurting us at all. We don’t have a good team. In the Cleveland game Pau, Matt, and Bynum were still able to give us something at the same time Kobe still was able to get 40 points. Our bench is garbage and we don’t have a perimeter point guard that can be a legimate threat on the wing to take some of the burden off of Kobe, who else are they going to rely on? When he’s shooting and getting it going early it puts us in a position to win the game, like when we played the Cavs we developed a 19 point lead because Kobe picked his sports and had 24 at the half. Andrew, Pau, and Matt were still able to contribute in some way. When the bench got on the floor that’s when the game took a turn for the worst. We don’t have a deep bench nor do we have a decent point guard but we’re still with a 9-5 record. A team that went through a dreadful off season and lost significant pieces that were part of the title run? Miami has lost what 3 or 4 games, and what the clippers 3, OKC 2, the Bulls 2 and us 5 so it’s really not that bad considering the circumstances.
    With Blake being injured yesterday against the Clippers, he was out we still had a great chance to win the game, and on back to backs. Our bigs didn’t even have a great half offensively or defensively. But guess who brought us within reach? KOBE he went 11-16 in the second half and ended the game 14-28 for 50% on the night. So he’s not hurting the team so far with this 40 pt streak this is the only game we loss. So as of right now despite the dislike of the offense we’re running at the end of the day even the player trust Kobe to have the ball in the end. His scoring and the fact that he’s semi healthy and able to score is a big reason we even have 9 wins no matter if they’re against bad teams or decent ones. Everyone else out side of Pau, Bynum and Kobe pretty much are a liability.