Post Up: The Morning After
OKC, Dallas, Utah, Washington and Phoenix get wins hours after Thursday’s trading frenzy.
by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
What started as a boring day all of a sudden became the NBA’s version of March Madness yesterday, as a flurry of trades hit the news wire as the deadline hit in the afternoon— including a blockbuster deal that netted my Wizards new big man Nene, and shipped headache Javale McGee out of town. If you care to re-trace the craziness, check out the live blog we ran yesterday and of course, the SLAM news wire. But before that, let’s review what we saw on the court last night.
No Nick Young, no Javale McGee, no problem. If John Wall was affected by the Wizards’ trading two starters earlier in the day, he certainly didn’t show it, as he poured in 26 points on 11-16 shooting, dished out 12 assists and for the most part blew by the Hornets on a consistent basis. The Wiz shot 52 percent from the field as a team, and got a nice performance out of veteran reserve Roger Mason Jr., who scored 19 points on 7-9 FGs with some boosted minutes in Young’s absence. After not hearing his name called in a trade earlier in the day, Chris Kaman was hot for the Hornets, scoring 20 points to go with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, but New Orleans’ backcourt had no match for Wall, who got into the paint at will and dominated in transition.
The Bobcats hung tough for most of the game, but midway through the third quarter, Dirk Nowitzki tied the game on a three-pointer, then gave the Mavs on another 3 on the next possession, and the Champs never let Charlotte take the lead back, improving to 25-20 on the year. Nowitzki scored 27 points, had 6 rebounds and 5 assists and Jason Terry added 18 in his usual sixth man role. For those keeping track, Lamar Odom scored just 2 points on 1-4 shooting and turned the ball over twice, though he did have 5 boards and 2 assists in the Mavericks win. Charlotte, meanwhile, drops to 6-36, despite having 5 playesr scored in double figures (led by Corey Maggette’s 21 on 5-15 shooting). The Mavs outscored the ‘Cats 42-20 in the paint.
Life after Nene is off to an 0-1 start for Denver, though last night’s loss came at the hands of the team with the West’s best record. Oklahoma City’s Big Three led the way for the first-place Thunder, as Kevin Durant scored 24 points, Russell Westbrook scored 23 and James Harden had 18 to get to 33-10 on the season. The Nuggets were paced by Andre Miller’s 17 and Danilo Gallinari’s 15, but shot just 5-22 from 3-point range as a team, had 9 shots blocked by OKC and trailed by as many as 20. Denver could muster just 14 points in a decisive third quarter, and fell to 24-20 on the year. Not to worry, Nuggs fans, help is on the way in the form of Wizards cast-off Javale McGee! Just kidding. But seriously, he’s coming. Brace yourselves.
With 0.7 seconds left in regulation of a tie ballgame, all that was left for the Jazz to do was try the ole’ alley-oop play. And guess what—it worked, perfectly. Unfortunately, even after the Wolves left him completely unguarded and Jamaal Tinsley threw him a perfect pass, Paul Millsap couldn’t convert what has to be the easiest lob play this season (and maybe ever), instead sending the game to an extra period. Millsap made up for his mistake, though, leading Utah to the victory with 16 points, 11 rebounds, 8 steals and 4 assists, including key plays in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Jazz young guns provided all the help Millsap needed, as Gordon Hayward scored 26 points, Alec Burks scored 15 and Derrick Favors grabbed 16 rebounds. In the loss, Kevin Love put up 25 points and 16 rebounds and Luke Ridnour had 18 points and 13 dimes for the Wolves.
With Steve Nash and Grant Hill taking the night off, this seemed like all but a formality for Lob City. And when the Clippers took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, the script was playing out perfectly for L.A. But Phoenix’s B-Team won the fourth quarter 27-12 and led a furious comeback to beat the Clips on their home court despite Lob Angeles winning the rebounding battle, outshooting PHX and getting 25 points from Blake Griffin. Chris Paul shot 5-12 and finished with 10 points and 11 dimes while facing Sebastian Telfair and Ronnie Price most of the night. The Suns were led in scoring by Shannon Brown’s 21 points, as he stepped into the starting lineup and delivered a big performance, including a pair of game-clinching free throws with 6 seconds left in the game to give Phoenix the final 4-point lead.
Line of the Night: John Wall’s 26-12-4 on the night he lost 2 starters, with honorable mentions to Griffin, Love and Millsap.
Dunk of the Night: Wall bangs on Trevor Ariza, a Lob City special and a pair from the OKC duo—an in-game and-1 from KD and an after-the-whistle hot-dog dunk from Russell Westbrook. Who cares if it didn’t count!
Tonight: I’ll be in Philly for the first half of ESPN’s doubleheader as the Sixers host the Heat. The second national game is Spurs at Thunder, and there are 11 games in all, including Wolves-Lakers, Blazers-Bulls and the still-potentially-awkward Magic-Nets matchup in Orlando. Be nice to Pete!