Post Up: Rocket Launcher
Houston tops the Lakers, Miami survives the Suns and New York and Utah go streaking.
by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Seven games to get to from last night, including losses for both Los Angeles teams, a fourth straight W for New York and a narrow escape for the Heat. Let’s get it started.
What’s in the water in Lob City? The Clippers are 4-6 over their last 10 after losing to the Pacers, who used an 11-0 run midway through the third quarter to take charge last night. Danny Granger had 25 points and 8 rebounds while Leandro Barbosa scored 12 in 18 minutes in his Indiana debut—part of a 50-23 advantage in bench points for the Pacers. 17 of those 50 came from Tyler Hansbrough, who relieved David West due to foul trouble and provided a physical presence, even getting chippy with Blake Griffin. BG led the Clips with 23 points and 10 rebounds, Chris Paul had 16 points and 8 dimes and Nick Young scored 13 points on 5-13 shooting in his first start with Lob Angeles (now 26-19).
New York had its offense rolling against the Raptors, and is now 4-0 under Mike Woodson, thanks largely to 22 points and 12 boards from Amar’e Stoudemire and 18 points and 10 assists from Jeremy Lin. Toronto made just 2 of 13 three-point attempts, was outrebounded 46 to 30 and trailed by as many as 23 at one point. Meanwhile, the Knicks had four players score at least 17—the number notched by both Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony, who also had 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals on the night. New York has outscored opponents by a combined 90 points during the four-game win streak, and looked to have improved ball movement from start to finish. And Andrea Bargnani’s 5-15 shooting (15 points) and the Raps’ 17 turnovers helped, too.
Chris Bosh scored 29 points on 12-16 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds for his second straight big game and the Heat used a 17-0 fourth-quarter run to overcome a 10-point deficit late in the final period, ruining what looked to be a nice upset victory for the Suns. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade started the game with poor shooting, but still ended up with 20 and 19 points respectively, including 11 from DWade alone in the fourth quarter, and Miami has now won 14 straight home games. Joel Anthony sat out with a bum ankle, but Udonis Haslem stepped up with 15 points and 9 rebounds in his 31 minutes. Phoenix was led by 19 points from Grant Hill, Steve Nash’s 10 assists (7 turnovers) and 13 and 8 from Marcin Gortat, but the Suns failed to close out a game in which they led by double digits as late as 7:13 in the fourth quarter.
Kobe Bryant cut the Rockets’ lead to 1, then tied the game on consecutive jumpers over Chandler Parsons with less than 1:30 to play, but Goran Dragic nailed a corner 3-pointer with under 30 seconds left in the game and the Rockets survived another late three from Kobe to complete a double-digit comeback and improve to 25-22 on the year. The Lakers led 95-83 with just over 6 minutes remaining, but the Rockets finished the game on a 24-9 run, as Los Angeles’ road woes continue—Kobe and company are 9-15 away from Staples Center. Bryant led all scorers with 29 points (albeit on 10-27 shooting), Pau Gasol had 21 and the Lakers shot 51 percent from the field, but Andrew Bynum was ejected after just 23 minutes of action (16 points, 7 rebounds). Houston—still without starting guards Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin—was led by 23 apiece from Courtney Lee and Luis Scola, and Dragic, who posted a sick 16-point, 13-assists, 7-rebound game plus the biggest shot of the game.
Six Utah players scored in double figures, including a team-high 20 from Paul Millsap and a 16-6-4 line from Al Jefferson as the Jazz stifled Kevin Durant to win their fourth straight game. Durant shot 6-22 on the night (18 points) and Russell Westbrook had 23—both went scoreless in the second quarter, as Utah took an 8-point lead into halftime. Millsap scored 4 points during a game-ending 10-4 run for the Jazz, who benefitted from 20 Oklahoma City turnovers in the win. The Thunder made just 6 of 21 field goals in the fourth quarter and Durant alone was 0-7, killing any shot of a comeback, and OKC has now dropped 4 of its last 7 games (34-12 overall). Lost in a poor shooting night for KD was Serge Ibaka’s 13 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Utah, meanwhile, sits at 24-22 but on the outside of the West Playoffs looking in.
Marcus Thornton scored 31 points, DeMarcus Cousins had 23 and Jason Thompson put up 14 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists as the Kings out-hustled the Grizzlies, jumping out to a 37-28 lead after one quarter and never looking back. In a physical game that was decided in the paint, the Kings scored 74 points in the paint to 64 from Memphis, which was led in scoring by Rudy Gay’s 23 points. Tyreke Evans returned after missing two games due to a sprained ankle, and while he didn’t start, he scored 9 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, as the Kings held off the Grizz to extend their winning streak to 3 games. 27 fast break points helped the Kings play the uptempo style they thrive in, and while Marc Gasol went for 15 and 10, SacTown’s frontline stood tall.
Apparently Drew Gooden heard us making fun of him for that triple-double the other night, so he (of Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors) dropped 19 on the Blazers to lead the Bucks in what was nothing short of a blowout, and Milwaukee stayed a half-game back of New York for the No. 8 seed in the East. Life after Nate McMillan, Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby is off to a tumultuous start for the Blazers, who shot 35 percent from the field while allowing the Bucks to shoot 58 percent. New Buck Monta Ellis had 14 points and 9 dimes and backcourt mate Brandon Jennings essentially matched him with 15 and 6 of his own. Milwaukee took advantage of 20 Portland turnovers, and held the Blazers’ bench to just 9 points. LaMarcus Aldridge led PDX with 21 points and 12 rebounds in a losing effort.
Line of the Night: Take your pick—Bosh’s 29 points and 8 boards, Dragic’s 16-7-13 night or Thornton’s 31.
Moment of the Night: Goran Dragic drills the clutch to beat the Lake Show. Off a bad pass, too!
Funnies of the Night: Jamaal Tinsley gets sneaky on Nazr, and DMC makes his coaching debut.
Tonight: Full disclosure, I’ll be in Newark to take in Wizards-Nets as a fan (Nene’s debut!) so you may see an abbreviated version of The Post Up tomorrow morning. Ten games on tap in all tonight, including an ESPN doubleheader of Knicks-Sixers and Lakers-Mavs.