Post Up: Clutch Factor
Dirk hits the game winner, plus three late night games come down to the wire.
by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
Last night was one of the better Friday nights the NBA has seen all season. Huge numbers, big dunks, and four games that came down to the wire. Catch up on everything below…
The Heat jumped out to an early 20-6 lead, but Toronto clawed back to tie the game at 83 heading into the fourth quarter. After trading baskets for the first four minutes of the fourth, Toronto suddenly went ice cold and were outscored 30-18 the rest of the way giving Miami the victory north of the border. LeBron James (26/9/4), Dwyane Wade (30 points), Chris Bosh (30/8 boards) and Mario Chalmers (14) combined for 100 of Miami’s 113 points. Miami’s big three absolutely dominated the game as they combined to shoot 61 percent from the field. DeMar DeRozan had 28 points, but only 1 assist and 1 rebound. This season, DeRozan has proved that he is one of the better scorers in the league, but until he rounds out the rest of his game he won’t take that next step and be considered in the upper echelon of players. Andrea Bargnani had 27 and Jose Calderon chipped in with 9 points and 16 dimes.
The seldom-used Cartier Martin (who is currently on a 10-day contract) came off the bench and led all scorers with 20 points as the Wizards routed the Sixers down in DC. Philly’s loss, combined with the Celtics win knocked the Sixers out of first place in the Atlantic Division for the first time since December. Illadelph has now lost six out of their last nine and are struggling to score down the final stretch of the season–they only scored 36 points in the first half of last night’s game. The Wiz outrebounded their opponent 52-38, and outscored them 48-30 in the paint–the end of March is the wrong time to start losing to inferior teams. Nene had 16 points and 8 boards, Jordan Crawford has 17, and Kevin Seraphin had 14 and 7 boards in the win. For the Sixers, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young each scored 14 off the bench.
Aaron Afflalo led the way with 19 points and 11 boards as six Nuggets scored in double-figures during their ten-point victory over the Bobcats. Denver used their 49-34 rebound advantage to get out on the break which made up for their 25 turnovers and poor three-point shooting. Charlotte had a chance to tie the game up after they fought their way back and trimmed the Nugs’ lead to three halfway through the third quarter. But, Corey Maggette earned himself an unnecessary technical foul which triggered an 8-0 Nuggets run that stretched their lead to 11. Ty Lawson had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists, Al Harrington had 10 and 11 off the bench, and rookie Kenneth Faried chipped in with 12 points and 8 boards. Gerald Henderson led all scorers with 21 and the aforementioned Maggette tallied 19 points, 6 boards and 4 dimes.
Mike Woodson’s return to Atlanta didn’t go as well as he had hoped as the injury-riddled Knicks ran out of gas at the end of the game, dropping an important one in the ATL. Add Willie Green to the ever growing list of random players to kill the Knicks. The eight year veteran, who has been averaging a cool 7 points per this season, scored 15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a huge 3-pointer, to down the Knicks who had stormed back from a double-digit deficit. Outside of Melo’s 36 and Iman Shumpert’s 25, the Knicks got nothing offensively as Landry Fields was the third-leading scorer with 7 points. For the Hawks, Joe Johnson killed the Knicks with 28 points and Josh Smith finished with 23 but also had 7 turnovers.
This one was ugly from the start as Milwaukee blew the game wide open with a 16-0 run to start the second quarter which gave them a 51-26 lead. The 37-point loss was the second worst home loss in Cavaliers history and everyone from the top of the organization to the last player on the bench was visibly disgusted with the loss during post-game interviews. The Bucks shot 57 percent from the field en route to their season-high 121 points. Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 28 points, Ersan Illyasova had a double-double of 20 and 10, Mike Dunleavy had 16, and Beno Udrih chipped in with 10 assists in the drubbing. Kyrie Irving’s game-high 29 points (including an impressive 6 three-pointers) will most likely get lost in the shuffle, but the rookie’s shoulder injury, which forced him to leave the game early, will surely keep Cavalier fans up at night.
All it took was a headband to get Jason Terry going. After losing a bet earlier this week to Jameer Nelson, Terry started the game without his signature headband. Jet lived up to his end of the deal for the first half, but threw it on in the third quarter and it proved to be the remedy for his shooting woes. The Mavs, who are now 2-19 on the season when trailing heading into the fourth quarter, were ignited by Terry’s 10 fourth quarter points and used his momentum to steal a victory on the road. Jet may have been instrumental in the win, but it was Dirk who came through in the clutch once again to seal the deal. With the game tied at 98, Dirk caught the ball and posted up Hedo Turkoglu. After a few dribbles, Nowitzki hit a turnaround fadeaway jumper off glass with six seconds left to win the game. The Magic had two chances to tie it up, but couldn’t find the bottom of the net despite two good looks. Nowitzki finished with a game-high 28 and Delonte West gave his team great minutes, finishing with 15 off the bench. Jameer Nelson had a team high 17, Ryan Anderson had 21 and D12 had a double-double with 19 and 14.
The Pistons hung around for most of the game, but the Bulls defense proved to be too suffocating as Chicago held Detroit to just ten points in the final quarter. Chicago outrebounded the Pistons 53-37 and grabbed 10 of their 20 offensive rebounds in the fourth. With Rose delegated to the bench, the Bulls have been wearing their opponents down all game with hard-nosed defense and ball controlling offense, then capitalizing in the fourth. I like that. Luol Deng finished with 20 and 9 boards, and the frountcourt duo of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah each had double-doubles as the Bulls continue their winning ways without Derrick Rose. For Detroit, Brandon Knight had 16 points, Greg Monroe had 14 and 10 and Tayshaun Prince had 14 and 6 assists, but the Pistons couldn’t find their offense when they needed it most.
With Kyle Lowry on the bench with a nasty infection, Goran Dragic has really siezed his opportunity (don’t be surprised if he gets PAID this summer). The young point guard continued his hot streak with a season-high 25 points and seven dimes as the Rockets won another one at home to put them four games over .500. Dragic was clutch down the stretch, too. After O.J. Mayo cut the lead to three late in the game, Dragic responded with a pretty one-handed runner to put the Rockets back up by five, killing the Grizzlies’ momentum. The Rockets turned the ball over 16 times and gave up 23 fast break points, but the Grizzlies couldn’t stop Houston as Memphis allowed them to shoot 52 percent from the floor. Courtney Lee had 17 and Marcus Camby finished with 16 boards and a season-high 6 swats. For the Griz, Rudy Gay led the way with 20 points and Marc Gasol finished with 19 and 9 boards.
Kevin Garnett didn’t have many nice things to say about his former team heading into the game, and showed that disdain by coming out and scoring a game-high 24 points and grabbing 10 boards in an easy road victory. KG, who was once the cornerstone of the Minnesota franchise, outplayed the new face of the franchise in the fourth quarter by hitting a few key buckets right over the young superstar. Ray Allen missed his fourth straight game with an ankle injury, and Rajon Rondo continued his offensive struggles, this time only scoring 6 points. But, Paul Pierce picked up with the slack with 21 and 9 boards and Avery Bradley, who got the start in lieu of Allen’s injury, finished with 17 points. For the T’Wolves, KLove finished with 22 and 11 and Derrick Williams finished with 14, but the team shot a dismal 34 percent from the field in the loss.
Despite having no chance to make the playoffs, Sacramento came out last night, played hard and disrupted Utah’s playoff hopes with a one-point road victory. DeMarcus Cousins, who has been playing tremendous basketball during this last stretch of the season, converted a three-point play to tie the score at 101, then hit the game-winning free throw with 4 seconds remaining. Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 boards. Marcus Thornton finished with 26 points and Isaiah Thomas, who got the start last night while Tyreke Evans nursed a bad back, finished with 19 points and 6 dimes. For the Jazz, Al Jefferson had a monster game with 27 points and 16 boards and Gordon Hayward finished with 19, but the Jazz only shot 35 percent from the field and had no answer for Boogie Cousins down the stretch.
The Clippers notched their fourth straight win in LA last night thanks to 20-point performances from Blake Griffin, Randy Foye and Chris Paul. CP3, who also had 14 dimes, drove to the hole and hit a layup with five seconds remaining to put the Clippers up for good. The Clippers and Blazers traded clutch shots down the stretch during an entertaining fourth quarter. First, it was Randy Foye who hit a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left, then Jamal Crawford responded with a deep jumper to put the Blazers. But Chris Paul stole the show by hitting the game-winning layup in the closing seconds. J.J. Hickson got his first start as a Blazer and responded with a season-high 29 points and 13 rebounds with an injured LaMarcus Aldridge looking on from the bench.
Gerald Wallace scored 10 points over the final six minutes of play and made a pair of key defensive stops as the Nets stormed back after being down 19 to steal a victory out in the Bay last night. Wallace finished with a team-high 24 points and 18 boards while teammate Deron Williams only had 9 points, but dropped 20 dimes. Kris Humphries had another strong performance with 20 points an 9 boards. The Nets victory marked the first time that they had won a game in Oakland since November 21, 2005. The Warriors led 76-56 midway through the third quarter but completely shut down offensively and allowed the Nets to come back–it has been a frustrating first year for head coach Mark Jackson. David Lee led all scorers with 27 points.
Stat Line of the Night: A lot of big numbers, but I’m going with Boogie Cousin’s dominating 27-point, 14-rebound performance.
Play of the Night: Dirk hits the game winner with arguably the most indefensible shot in NBA history.
Dunk of the Night: JaVale McGee welcomes Bismack Biyombo to the league.
Tonight: Eight games on the slate including a big Eastern Conference matchup between Atlanta and Philly, plus an intriguing contest between the Pacers and the Spurs.