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Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 at 8:35 am  |  51 responses

Post Up: Power Outage

Indy takes down the Heat, the Nuggs blow by the Bulls and Stuckey sticks it to Washington.

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

Much ado on the hardwood last night, as we race towards the end to one of the zanier season in recent memory. As the Playoff jockeying begins, things are especially bunched up out West. But we’ll start with the East, where the top two teams both suffered Ls on Monday night.

Magic 117, Raptors 101

The NBA’s leader in 3-pointers made proved once again why he’s No. 1 in that category, as Ryan Anderson made it rain 8 times from beyond the arc, finishing with a game-high 28 points as the Magic blew out the Raptors in Toronto. Dwight Howard added 23 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando, which won its 3rd straight game after shooting 54 percent from the field and leading the entire way. As for the Raps, Andrea Bargnani hasn’t exactly been lighting it up of late, last night scoring just 8 points on 3-11 shooting. DeMar Derozan missed his second straight game nursing a sore left ankle and Jerryd Bayless (back after his own 2-game hiatus) left in the second quarter with an apparent hip injury. Tough times for Toronto.

Pistons 79, Wizards 77

After the Wizards let a 13-point lead become a 1-point deficit with a minute to play, Nene scored on a post iso to put the Wiz up 75-74 with 40 ticks to go, then again with under 10 seconds to tie the game at 77. Alas, the Wizards are 0-19 this season when scoring less than 90 points, so you knew how this one would end—even against the a fellow Lottery-bound team out of the East. The Pistons inbounded to Rodney Stuckey (24 points, 12 in the fourth) with 5 seconds left on the clock in regulation, and he promptly dribbled to the Wizards’ foul line, stepped back and drilled the game-winning jumpshot over Jordan Crawford (team-high 20 points) with 0.2 seconds on the scoreboard, sinking Washington and helping Detroit end a 5-game losing streak. Behold, below:

Celtics 102, Bobcats 95

Paul Pierce put on a 36-point, 10-rebound show against Charlotte as the Celtics moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division, equaling Philadelphia’s 27-22 record on the year. As of today, winning the Atlantic would mean the difference between the No. 4 seed and the No. 7 seed in the East—kinda like a big deal. Good thing Pierce was, as Doc Rivers noted, in “attack mode” from the go, scoring 17 in the first half and repeatedly getting to the free throw line (15-18 from the charity stripe). Boston led by as many as 18 points, and won easily despite the Bobcats’ bench outscoring the Cs by a 59-9 margin. Kevin Garnett pitched in 24 points and Rajon Rondo handed out 13 assists on what was a rough shooting night (1-7, 7 points). Gerald Henderson led the woeful ‘Cats with 21, while DJ Augustin was 0-5 from the floor with 3 turnovers and 2 points.

Pacers 105, Heat 90

If ever there was a way to scream, “We’re legit!” the Pacers may have found it. Indiana held the Heat to just 4 fast break points and outmuscled Miami all night long. The loss is the second in a row for the Heat, and it marks the first back-to-back double-digit losses for the Big Three since teaming up in Miami. The Pacers held a 3-point lead at the break thanks to a Paul George buzzer-beater from beyond half-court at the halftime buzzer, and from there, held off every Miami surge. Six Indy players scored in double figures, led by Danny Granger’s 25—when all five Pacers starters score double-digit points, including last night, they are 7-1. LeBron James (9-21) and Dwyane Wade (7-16) had 24 points each, while Chris Bosh shot 4-11 for 14 points and just 2 rebounds. A mid-second quarter Roy Hibbert slam on LeBron, followed by a sneaky steal and bucket on the ensuing inbounds by Darren Collison (20 points) was representative of this game as a whole, as the Pacers had it going.

Jazz 105, Nets 84

Apparently playing four overtimes one night and then another road game the next doesn’t faze the Utah Jazz. Kudos to them for that, as they hung tough in the Western Playoff race by dispatching of the free-falling Nets. Paul Millsap (24 points, 13 rebounds) and Al Jefferson (19 points, eight rebounds) dominated up front, making Kris Humphries’ night completely miserable. Hump was 0-6 with 2 points. New Jersey didn’t do much around him to help, either, shooting 36 percent as a team, including 3-10 for MarShon Brooks (10 points). The most energy the Nets got came from two unsurprising sources—Deron Williams, who put up 17 points and 11 dimes, and high-flyer Gerald Green, who scored 20 points and delivered one of his now-patented sky-walking alley oop finishes.

Knicks 89, Bucks 80

If you like beautiful basketball, here’s hoping you stayed away from Madison Square Garden last night, as both teams shot worse than 37 percent from the field and combined to commit 43 turnovers. But hey, someone had to win. No Jeremy Lin, no Amar’e Stoudemire, no problem right? Carmelo Anthony put up 28 points and 12 rebounds, Baron Davis had 13 points and 7 assists (okay, 9 turnovers) and Tyson Chandler stopped a key Brandon Jennings drive late in the game to help the Knicks hold off their top competition for the East’s final Playoff spot. New York is 7-1 under Mike Woodson’s direction and .500 overall at 25-25. The Knicks survived a first-half onslaught from Mike Dunleavy, who scored 14 of his 26 points in a 4-minute stretch of the second quarter. Lastly, an update on the Monta Ellis-Brandon Jennings backcourt, presented without comment:

Ellis: 2-14 FGs, 0-2 3PTs, 4 points, 4 assists, 4 turnovers
Jennings: 6-22 FGs, 0-7 3PTs, 15 points, 5 assists, 5 turnovers

Nuggets 108, Bulls 91

Up just 2 coming out of halftime, the Nuggets used a 10-0 run to start the second half and used stifling defense to beat the Bulls, who were playing yet again without Derrick Rose. Denver forced 16 Chicago turnovers, leading to 21 points. Plus, they outrebounded the Bulls 45 to 32 and outscored Chicago 54-24 on points in the paint. Chicago’s other All-Star, Luol Deng, scored only 9 points on 3-9 shooting and had 4 turnovers. Just about the only thing the Bulls could get going was the outside shot, as they made 13 of 30 threes, including 3 of them from CJ Watson, who led the team with 17 points and 8 dimes. Oh, and the Nuggets can score, too—Ty Lawson tied his season-high with 27 points, Arron Afflalo had 22 and Denver shot 50 percent from the field.

Rockets 113, Kings 106 (OT)

Patrick Patterson nailed a top of the key jumper with 8 seconds remaining in regulation to send this one to overtime—part of his career-high 24 points on the night—and the Rockets outscored the Kings 14-7 in the extra period en route to the win. After signing with Houston literally an hour before tip-off, veteran point guard Earl Boykins scored 10 points, including hitting 4 of 4 free throws in the last 20 seconds of the OT to ice the game. The Rockets stay alive in the Playoff race, this time escaping with a win despite an outrageous performance from Patterson’s former college teammate at Kentucky, DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with a career-high 38 points and had 14 rebounds.

Clippers 97, Hornets 85

The Clippers opened the game on an 18-2 run, then let the Hornets come all the way back to tie it up at 28 early in the second quarter, only to then break the game open again and fly past New Orleans for what ended up being an easy win against the bouys from the Big Easy. Sure, Chris Paul put 25 points and 10 assists on his former team and Blake Griffin added 20 of his own. But the real reason for Lob City leading from start to finish (and by as many as 27 points) was New Orleans’ season-high 29 turnovers, which led to 35 easy points at the other end. Not a single NOLA starter scored in double figures—they were led by ex-Clipper Al-Farouq Aminu’s 15 points off the bench.

Line of the Night: DeMarcus Cousins is starting to put together some scary games, this time with a career-best 38 points, 14 rebounds and 2 assists in a loss to the Rockets.

Dunks of the Night: John Wall finishes the oop and Dwyane Wade with the putback slam. But neither were as silly as this Blake Griffin throwdown off the dribble. The exclamation point on a Clips win.

Tonight: Wolves-Grizzlies, Rockets-Mavs, Spurs-Suns and four more games on tap for Tuesday.

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  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    what’s wrong with the heat? and what’s wrong with the bargnani ? remember when we were comparing him to dirk early this year? smh.. I gotta catch some sacramento games at some point.

  • T-Money

    1- i’d like to see turiaf start over anthony, he’s been a pleasant surprise. he can actually pass the ball and has decent ball skills, i thought he was just an energy dude. 2- i’d like norris cole to be completely removed from the rotation. that boston game where he scored 20 was a mirage. wade has to be the pg for the second unit.

  • Otis

    Anyone who thought an Ellis-Jennings backcourt was ever gonna work was either a hugely optimistic Bucks fan or just smoking some especially wacky sh!t

  • Heals

    ^^^To Monta’s credit he’s been a much more willing passer since joining the Bucks…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Love how Stuckey has elevated his game this year. I think I remember Allen saying he couldn’t play 2 gaurd because he was too small or something like that…he seems to be doing alright there…

  • Heals

    I wanna go on about Indy getting a much needed W, but the uni combo between the 2 teams last night was to sweet to focus on the game…

  • el larsen

    Rodneyyyyy stuckeyyyyyyyyyy!
    welcome back we missed you.An ugly game to watch but a nice victory!jerebko was good and monroe tip in was huge.the fun part was when BK7 had a gatorade shower! http://youtu.be/0hslc5RcTK4
    great paul pierce,and when blake superior did a hard foul on ariza you could see in his eyes it was a revenge thing

  • AD

    The Heat haven’t shown that they’re any different than last years choke squad. Why do the “experts” say they’re favorites? Losers are as losers do.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    I also had a debate with several people before the season about whether Stuckey was a better player than Mike Conley or not…Stuckey is producing more more efficiently and with 5 fewer minutes per game. He doesn’t have the assist numbers that Conley has, but he’s also been playing the 2 gaurd. Also, his ppg would be alot higher if he didn’t start the season so slowly. He’s been on a tear since Feb.

  • MaxIsNative

    I wish I had Ryan Anderson’s 3.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Monta and Steph Curry didn’t work. It makes no sense to think Monta and a smaller more selfish player without as good of a jumper would work.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/26/business/media/for-martins-case-a-long-route-to-national-attention.html?_r=2&hp Allenp

    Nah, I thought Stuckey couldn’t shoot, and wasn’t athletically gifted enough to dominate without a jumper when going against similar sized players. I still think that, and apparently his game looks good when his jumper is dropping and not so good when it’s not.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    He added a reliable jumpshot this year and that totally opened up his game. Like I said, his slow start to the season make his numbers appear wose than they have been lately. He’s playing some very good basketball right now.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Stuckey has been a beast over the last like 3 weeks.

  • T-Money

    mike conley is so extra to me. he’s just kind of there, bringing the ball up and dumping it in the post without turig it over too much.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Pretty much since the beginning of Feb actually nbk.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/26/business/media/for-martins-case-a-long-route-to-national-attention.html?_r=2&hp Allenp

    A jumper will do that to your game. He showed no signs of developing one prior to this year.
    I like Conley outside of his inability to hit a jumper on the move. He plays good defense, runs his team, makes smart passes, and attacks off the bounce.
    If he spent the summer working on his finishing ability and his shooting his game would skyrocket.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    -Max, I think we all do.
    -T-Money: I always think the same thing about Conley. A PG, a player who should impact the game greatly and has the ball in his hands is so invisible. Unless he is knocking down 3′s he is a garbage PG imo. I know he’s not that bad, but he has no upside.
    -Wayno: Stuckey has always been able to do what he does. Except that mid range jump shot. That shot is money now and your right that it has absolutely opened his game up. He killed the Lakers I should know.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    He was up and down in February. Wasn’t at all consistent. He had a good second week of February. And a crappy 3rd week. Over the last 3 weeks though he’s been pretty consistent (from the last couple days of February to today).

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    He’s dropping 21.5 ppg on 45% shooting (37% from 3) since Feb 14.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    that’s 47% shooting actually

  • http://caseyvaughn.com AlbertBarr

    The Kings wasted that game. THey dominated in the first quarter and got out to a 16 point lead then stopped playing the suffocating D that got them in transition and said lead. Thorton was on fire, Tyreke was doing the glue guy with insane talent thing, DCuz was unstoppable…and then they let Goran Dragic and Chandler Parsons pick them apart. SMDH. Terrance Williams is a nice surprise. He played well off the bench.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Sorry, I’ve been all about Stuckey lately…I’m just happy he’s actually improved on his game. For the first years of his career he was the exact same player and he never really improved.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    His average is very good, he had some big games, i believe like a 36 or 38 point game in the middle of February. But he also had a game against Toronto where he didn’t score a bucket. idk if he was hurt or what, then he had a few other games where he was putting up his season average. But you’re right, average wise he has been very good for over a month.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Yeah, he’s had a few duds, one of which he was hurt. But for the most part he’s been solid. Plus Detroit’s play dropped off significantly over the 3 games he sat out.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Lake, you were saying something about MIA being a great defensive team. A great defensive squad doesn’t give up 105+ points in back to back nights.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    yeah I didn’t really know what happened, I just new he hit a little snag in mid-early february.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Taylor, are you really reading into a back to back in the middle of the season?

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    nbk, hells yeah. It’s not just those two games, it’s going all the way back to the Finals. When you have a team that can spread you out (shooting from the outside) and protects the ball, MIA struggles to slow them down. Name another team in the NBA that employs the kind of trapping defense MIA employs? I can’t think of one because playing that kind of defense leaves you suspectible to overpursuing which leads to numerous wide open shots (there’s a reason why MIA is at the bottom when it comes to defending 3pt shots). MIA doesn’t belong in the same sentence as the Bulls and Celtics when it comes to consistent defense. They may play top-notch, suffucating defense against top notch competition but they have too many nights like last night to be considered a great defensive squad.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    idk what you consider great i guess. Their defense is good enough to win a championship. So to me it’s “great” – not historically great but in terms of compared to the rest of the league they are the best or second best. There is a reason they play the type of defense that forces teams to beat them with jump shots (that’s the least efficient type of offense).

  • http://slamonline.com AllBall

    On that Blake Griffin highlight I cannot believe he is calling that a brand new play. They have been running that iso to Chris Paul and the PG screen as a counter all year. As the teams colour man how does he not know that?!

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Taylor, nbk kinda said how I feel about the Heat. They aren’t the best ever, or even right now. I think that they are a big defensive center away from being an all time great defensive team though. They have the talent. If they had Thibs they would be better than the Bulls defensively, but they don’t and aren’t. I still think they are the 2nd best defensive team. Philly 3rd, and Lakers 4th. The 80′s Pistons let teams score on them sometimes too Taylor. It’s 2 games, they are fantastic defensively. But stop making me defend the Heat lol.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    LMAO

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    This has been remarkably civil and subdued thus far. Quite surprised no one has brought up that Blake Griffin flagrant In a completely hyperbolic positive or negative fashion yet….

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    Last week during the NCAA tournament, anytime Wisconsin played and they showed the game recap, it would list ” J. Taylor XX Pts, XX Assists” For some reason, it made me think of Kobe’s greatest fan here on SLAM.

  • Heals

    @Paul, that was quite an entertaining little stretch of physical play last night. Loved that BGriff went for it from the moment Ariza crossed the 3pt line. Also liked Ariza’s reaction…

  • Heals

    Conley is sneaky. Mem plays well without Z and Rudy, but minus Conley they can be a mess…

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    @Heals, I don’t think It was a really BAD foul, but a very hard one nonetheless. I think that Blake has been hearing too many voices In his head telling him he Is soft and It’s just got to him. Trev got T’d up for jawing at him didn’t he? I only saw the highlights. It will be interesting to see how the physicality plays out over the rest of the season. Will this encourage other teams to lay off him or just spur them on to rough him up, take him out of his game? By money Is on the latter…

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    Or could have even been something his TEAMMATES have encouraged him to do? “Stick up for yourself, foul someone HARD”

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I was surprised he fouled him so hard just because it seemed like he had a legitimate chance of just blocking it. He was up soooo high. He coulda just snagged the ball when Ariza put it up. Either way he is probably trying to say “I can foul hard too guys.”

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    Do you think what has happened the last two games will encourage teams to play him more or less physical Lakeshow? I mean he gets It pretty much every game anyway…

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    More. With out a doubt more.
    Dudes are not scared of Blake in the L. Even Perkins isn’t. Mozgov? Maybe lol. For the most part you have a bunch of alpha males and guys who have had great success in their lives to get to the point they are at today. They aren’t going to let some guy ham down a ball on their head and embarrass them. I don’t know why they feel it to be so embarrassing just because that is the nature of the game. You take some, you dish some. But these dudes don’t want to be made up as a “Blake dunking doll.”
    Expect hard blows going Blake’s way often.

  • http://www.slamonline.com TADOne

    With the way Blake shoots free throws, it only makes sense to foul him hard.

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    His free throws are getting uglier by the game. That dainty, elephant In a china shop release ain’t getting any better.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    He should go to Ben Wallace for some free throw help…

  • Heals

    Couple things PaulH, yeah I think they foul him harder, more often now. Also about the “in his head” thing, I think they’re somewhat related. His FT shooting has gotten to be a real “mental” block for him, these hard fouls are going to keep coming, if he keeps missing the FT’s he gets for these hard fouls the more pressure he feels to make them. And so on. Conversely I think Blake is going thru a “okay that’s how it’s going to be” epiphany where he is now goin after heads too…

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Blake’s FT shooting has always been a problem. And it’s more then mental. It’s a mechanical issue. His form literally looks like it is mechanical, instead of fluid. if that makes sense. He basically has no rhythm standing still.

  • Heals

    ^^^Mos def, you’re right I just think that now he’s thinking about those mechanical issues as he shoots further compunding an already big issue…

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    I think Its mechanical to. That form Is just horrendous. Blake has regressed across the board but his free-throw shooting Is definitely the most worrying area. I just don’t think he contributes SO much In other areas (like a Wallace or Shaq) that he gets a sort of “Achilles Heel” by ball. Maybe It’s just a sophomore slump….

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Karl Malone was comparably terrible (was actually worse) from the line his first few seasons. ANd Blakes form is definitely correctable. He has a good base.

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    At least Malone showed a marked improvement over his first three seasons…it’s the regression that sets the warning signs off. I think he Is more Malone than Duncan, Garnett etc.

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