Post Up: Sweet Lu
Deng bails out the Bulls and the Mavs need OT to finish Houston on a wild night in the L.
by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
A crazy Saturday night of NBA games to recap from last night. I was on Press Row for the “Anthony Davis Bowl” in Newark, while Luol Deng hit a crazy buzzer-beater, the Knicks and Clips won big and more. So before you gear up for college hoops and Heat-Thunder today, let’s talk about last night.
Sheesh, did Lob City ever need this win. With the Vinny Del Negro rumors swirling and the team struggling of late, it must have been a monster relief for the Clippers to lay the lumber against a legit Western Conference contender. Lob Angeles halted a three-game losing streak on the strength of 50 percent field goal shooting, 20 points and 10 rebounds from Blake Griffin and 19 points and 13 assists from Chris Paul. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, have now lost 6 of 8 games—perhaps dealing with adding Gilbert Arenas (1-5, 2 points last night) and Zach Randolph (team-high 14 points) to the rotation? Yesterday, the Grizz just didn’t have it, trailing by as many as 23 and turning the ball over 16 times. BG provided the exclamation point for L.A. in tomahawk-ish manner:
Remember Thursday, when the Wizards went up big on an Eastern Conference Playoff team, only to see a gigantic lead evaporate and become an L in the final moments? Well, it happened again. This was almost a carbon copy of Washington’s previous loss to the Pacers, only this time it was a 16-point lead and there were no almost-buzzer-beaters. John Wall shot just 1-10 and finished with 8 points and 3 assists—he also missed a potential game-tying 3-ball at the horn. Joe Johnson scored 9 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead three, and Atlanta held the Wiz to 14 points in the final period to steal a W in the nation’s capital. The high-point men: Josh Smith scored 20 for ATL and Nene dropped a game-high 21 for DC.
I won’t bore you with the details, since there isn’t much to report from a matchup of two of the NBA’s bottom four teams. But the Nets are now 4-0 vs. the ‘Cats this year, and since I was in the building, I’ll tell you this: the Bobcats are a very terrible basketball team. It’s a shame Kemba Walker (10 points, 5 assists) is stuck there, because he’s good for a handful of exciting plays per game. The frustration is mounting in the Charlotte locker room—I spoke briefly with Gerald Henderson (he of 3-11 shooting last night, and one big dunk) and he was clearly ticked off. To get all the details on this one, head over to my NBA.com recap here.
The Knicks enjoy playing the Pistons. New York is 3-0 against Detroit this year, getting last night’s win by holding the Pistons to 37 percent field goal shooting and relying on a balanced offensive attack—five Knicks scored in double figures. Amar’e Stoudemire scored 17 points, Carmelo Anthony had 15 and Tyson Chandler served up a 15×17 double-double as the Knicks outrebounded the Pistons 54 to 30 and outscored them in the paint, 52-30. New York got the win despite 22 turnovers—7 of which came from Jeremy Lin, who finished with 13 points and 3 assists in 24 minutes. Tayshaun Prince shot just 2-10 (6 points) and Brandon Knight turned the ball over 6 times (2 assists) as Detroit sputtered all game long.
Luol Deng was like “Coach, run that play for me, next time!” as he grabbed a CJ Watson partially-blocked miss out of the air and flipped it in at the buzzer to beat the Raptors in overtime, giving the Bulls their NBA-leading 40th win of the season. Deng scored 23 points, plus had 10 rebounds and 4 assists, Carlos Boozer had 24-10-4 and Watson chipped in 23 points as Chicago escaped with yet another win sans Derrick Rose on a night they were clearly outplayed. Gary Forbes lent a helping hand, as his 12-point, 13-rebound night was overshadowed by a pair of missed free throws with under 10 seconds left in OT just before Deng’s game-winner. Toronto was led by 20 points apiece from James Johnson and Jose Calderon, who also dished out 10 dimes.
The Spurs have won 6 of their last 7 games after beating the Hornets, as DeJuan Blair scored a team-high 23 points and Danny Green hit a corner jumper with under a minute to play to give San Antonio just enough of an advantage to hold off New Orleans. Jarrett Jack scored 27 points for NOLA and Gustavo Ayon had 13 rebounds but it wasn’t enough to upset the banged-up Spurs. San Antonio was without Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal—all nursing various bumps and bruises. Luckily there are these two guys named Tim Duncan and Tony Parker who have been know to play some ball, and they scored 13 and 12 respectively (plus 10 dimes for TP), while Stephen Jackson chipped in 14 off the bench.
Houston took an 84-81 lead with 3:30 to go in the fourth quarter on a Goran Dragic 3-pointer, but Jason Terry stroked a three of his own with a minute to go in regulation, giving Dallas a two-point cushion. Down 3 with less than 10 seconds to go in final period, Chandler Parsons did this:
In overtime, the Mavericks were called for the extremely rare 8-second violation while they tried to run the clock out up 2. But even with a free possession in the final seconds, the Rockets couldn’t get a good look, falling to the Champs in dramatic fashion. The Dallas bench outdid Houston’s 44 points to 13, while Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points—passing Charles Barkley for 19th on the NBA’s all-time career scoring leaders list. Lamar Odom basically did the exact opposite of what Dirk did, finishing with a hefty zero points and 2 rebounds in his 13 minutes. And Dragic led the Rocks with 24 points and 8 dimes.
Both teams were playing the third game of back-to-back-to-backs, so if they put on a poor offensive output, you wouldn’t have blamed them. But shots were falling even as both coaches emptied their benches. George Hill dropped a season-high 24 points, the Pacers shot 51 percent from the field and out-hustled the Bucks to snag the victory. Indiana’s bench scored 67 points to just 38 from the Bucks’ reserves. Ersan Ilyasova led Milwaukee with 22 points and 8 rebounds, while Drew Gooden shot just 3-11 (8 points) and Brandon Jennings was 5-16 with 12 points (2 on a ridiculous heave). Monta Ellis scored 14 points but took only 9 shots—he tweaked a finger in the second half and left for the locker room. Looks like it’s going to take some time for the new-look Bucks backcourt to come together.
Admit it—the late-night Kings-Warriors games are always awesome. Golden State is probably my favorite League Pass team outside of the Wiz (and maybe the Wolves). Last night, rookie Klay Thompson scored a career-high 31 points and David Lee got flirty with a trip-doub, finishing with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists as the Warriors got past the Kings. SacTown’s lost sure wasn’t DeMarcus Cousins’ fault though. All DMC did was turn in a 28-point, 18-rebound, 5-assist, 3-block performance—and yet, the Kings couldn’t come through in the clutch. Isaiah Thomas (12 points) got them to within 1 point with a driving layup with 30 seconds left, but new King Terrence Williams turned the ball over in transition with 15.6 seconds left in the game, then Thomas did the same with 4.7 ticks remaining, and the Dubs survived with the W.
Line of the Night: Plenty to choose from, but not many like DMC’s 28-18-5-3.
Dunks of the Night: Again, lots of hot ones, but I liked these two more than the others.
Tonight: Eight games on deck for Sunday, including everybody’s favorite potential Finals matchup, as the Heat visit Oklahoma City at 8 on ESPN.