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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 at 8:30 am  |  57 responses

Post Up: Juicy J

Mayo and Memphis take down OKC, Lob City outshoots Dallas and the Brad Miller Bowl.

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

First off, I have to say a big congratulations to the Kentucky Wildcats for winning the 2012 NCAA Basketball Championship, or whatever the official title is. Crossing my fingers that at least one of the stars from last night’s big game will end up in a Wizards uniform. I’m assuming you all followed along with Ben’s Live Blog, so I’ll forgive you for not keeping tabs on the six-pack of NBA games from Monday. That’s why I’m here…

Bucks 112, Wizards 98

Brandon Jennings scored 17 of his 19 points in the third quarter, opening up what was at one point a 23-point lead for the Bucks en route to an easy win over the Wizards. Milwaukee (now 25-28) pulled to within 2 games of the Knicks for the 8-seed in the East after dismantling Washington, a team they are now 3-0 against this season. Shaun Livingston scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, Monta Ellis had 17 points and 6 dimes, Ersan Ilyasova had a 16-11 double-double and Ekpe Udoh chipped in 15 points, 8 rebounds and an out-of-nowhere career-high 5 assists for the Bucks—winners of 10 of their last 14 games. The Wiz cut Milwaukee’s lead to 7 early in the fourth quarter on a Roger Mason 3-pointer but couldn’t muster much more of a comeback. Washington was without Nene and Trevor Booker yet again, and John Wall shot just 4-13 for 14 points (though he did have 9 assists).

Rockets 99, Bulls 93

With just under 2 minutes to go in the first half, the Rockets trailed 49-34. Eary in the second half, they were down by 13. But a 14-1 run in the third quarter tied the game at 62 all, and another 17-2 sprint saw Houston take an 84-72 lead in the fourth. Chicago made its own mad dash in the final few minutes, but a Courtney Lee jumper with just under a minute remaining gave the Rocks a 6-point lead—enough to hand the Bulls back-to-back losses for the first time since early February 2011. No, I did not make that up. Chicago hadn’t lose 2 straight in 86 games, even without Derrick Rose for much of this season (including last night). The Bulls’ frontline did all they could, as Luol Deng scored a game-high 24 points, Carlos Boozer turned in a 16-point, 13-rebound, 7-assist night and the Bulls scored 48 points in the paint to just 36 for Houston. Without DRose, though, Goran Dragic scored 21 points and the Rockets took care of the ball (only 8 turnovers) to improve to 29-25 on the year.

Grizzlies 94, Thunder 88

OJ Mayo buried a three-pointer from the weak side off a Marc Gasol pass after a broken play led to a mad scramble with just under 20 seconds to play, helping the Grizzlies avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Thunder and getting Memphis to 29-22—now a half-game up on Dallas for the No. 5 slot in the West. Mayo’s monster shot came moments after the Grizz saw a 9-point lead become just a 1-point advantage, but the road team held on, dealing Oklahoma City just its 5th home loss of the season. The Grizzlies shot sub-40 percent from the field and were without Mike Conley, so how did they win? The Thunder’s 18 turnovers led to 23 points for Memphis (led in scoring overall by Mayo’s 22), OKC scored just 2 fast break points and Tony Allen took turns locking down Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The dynamic duo scored “only” 40 points—Westbrook was held to just 7 until the fourth quarter, when he broke out for 12 more points, while Durant shot 8-20 from the field (21 points). Kudos to Memphis for starting off a back-to-back-to-back on the right note—Western Conference contenders, beware.

Clippers 94, Mavericks 75

With all the big names now associated with Lob City, Randy Foye isn’t one you hear often. But the veteran shooting guard poured in a season-high 28 points—he hit a career-best 8 three-pointers—to lead the Clippers to their 6th straight win, which ties the franchise’s longest winning streak since…wait for it: 1992. To put that in perspective, Blake Griffin was all of 3 years old the last time LAC won 6 in a row. Griffin had 15 points and 16 rebounds, Chris Paul had 10 assists and 8 points and the Clippers got another first, winning in Dallas for the first time since 2006. The Mavericks, meanwhile, continue their hot and cold season, last night getting a pair of DNPs from Lamar Odom (illness) and Jason Kidd (groin) while shooting 5 of 23 from 3-point range as a team and 39 percent from the field overall. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 19 points, but the only other Mavs player to score in double figures was Jason Terry, who had 15 in the loss.

Kings 116, Timberwolves 108

Tyreke Evans racked up 24 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, DeMarcus Cousins added 20 points and 9 boards and the Kings upended Minnesota in what some deemed the “Brad Miller Bowl.” Miller—for whom it was likely his last game in Sacramento, ever—started, played 22 minutes and had 11 points and 6 assists, but even with he and frontcourt mates Kevin Love (23 points, 7 rebounds) and Nikola Pekovic (17 points) having efficient nights, the Wolves were outscored 60-42 on points in the paint and outrebounded 46-35. The Kings shot 51 percent from the field, and even when Marcus Thornton went down 8 minutes in with a calf injury, rookie guards Isaiah Thomas (17 points) and Jimmer Fredette (19) filled in admirably when called upon for extra minutes. The biggest stats from this game: DMC scored 20+ for the 7th time in 8 games, while KLove has now failed to notch a double-double in consecutive games. Minny and Sacramento split the season series 2-2, with the home team winning all 4 matchups this year.

Jazz 102, Trail Blazers 97

With ball in hand and a 1-point lead with 1:27 left to play, Portland looked to be in good shape to stay (mathematically) alive in the Western Conference Playoff hunt. Instead, the Blazers twice turned the ball over—Raymond Felton the main culprit on both counts—and twice saw ensuing Jazz possessions result in Paul Millsap dunks, allowing Utah to steal a win in the waning moments. Portland jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but the Jazz cut it to 3 by halftime and had a 5-point advantage by the end of three quarters, slowly imposing their will on the Blazers. Millsap’s pair of late slams were the finishing touches on his 31-point evening, which also included 11 rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews teamed up to score 60 of the Blazers’ 97 points—Matthews the game-high scorer with 33, including 5-6 shooting from beyond the arc.

Lines of the Night: Four prime candidates, as Booz and Tyreke each came up 3 dimes shy of a triple-double, while Millsap and Matthews each went for 30+ out West.

Moment of the Night: OJ Mayo silences the Thunder with a game-sealing 3-pointer.

Dunk of the Night: With respect to “similar” follow jams by JJ Hickson and Nick Collison on the same night, they really are in no way similar to what Blake Griffin did on this rebound. BG located a rare Randy Foye missed three and pounded it home with authority.

Tonight: Eight games in all, highlighted by Sixers-Heat and Knicks-Pacers. Catch you all tomorrow.

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  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I’m telling y’all…. as asinine as it sounds, Memphis is good enough to make it to the Finals. They have all the right pieces needed to beat OKC.

  • riggs

    You have OKC beating the Grizzlies.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Yes but I can see MEM winning that series. I’m leaning 55/45 OKC. It all depends on ZBo’s healthy and whether he can get back to the ZBo of last season.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    Memphis may be good enough but come playoff time in a potential 2nd round matchup or WCF they’re going to miss a superstar, it happes all the time. They’re not the 2004 Pistons. Durant, RW or Kobe or Nowitzki or CP3 will take over. Same thing happened with the Nuggets, they’re playing great as a team but in the end you need a closer, not just a last second game winner (because Gay can hit those) but someone for the last 5 minutes in a 7 game series. I just can’t see Memphis closing out teams with superstars when they need to.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    ZBo and at times RGay are better than anyone on that Pistons squad.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Nobody thinks that’s asinine. At least I don’t. I said it at the beginning of the year if you remember.
    But, the Ranhdolph injury hurts. His mobility is down, especially on pick and roll defense. Plus, they still have crazy shooting droughts. But they have a great shot. This year’s playoffs is wide open. There are favorites but no team is a lock.

  • ALD

    Memphis and san antonio are OKC’S biggest threat…. Ppl say memphis does not have a superstar but forget that basketball is a team sport. Plus ZBO and Rudy can score one on one and cary a team. That team is scary, espically if Marc can play like he did last night.

  • Myung

    Kevin McHale won’t win COY, but he sure deserves a lot of credit, getting Houston to 29-25 in one of the NBA’s toughest divisions, and having the team play without Kevin Martin and Kyle Lowry for big stretches. That is a team playing complete team basketball. I’m very impressed with Houston.

  • Myung

    I know SLAM likes picking on Daryl Morey, and maybe some of that has to do with the fact that his buddy Simmons overrates him a little too much… but you’ve got to give Morey some credit. He basically lost his entire core from a few years ago (Yao, Artest, T-Mac) and had to re-build on the cheap, had the Gasol trade fall through, and still put together a bunch of guys who play good ball together (ego-less basketball). I think Morey’s a very smart guy who is really good at getting VALUE out of the guys he drafts and/or trades for, and within a year or two, I think Houston is going to be one of the best team’s in the NBA again.

  • Myung

    JTaylor, did you just say that 2012 Z Bo is better than 2004 Ben Wallace and 2004 Chauncey Billups (both in their prime at that point of their careers)? I think you forget just how good both of them were in 2004. I’ll give you Tay, Sheed, and Rip… but no way 2012 Z Bo is better than Ben or Billups from 2004.

  • http://theillustrationboard.tumblr.com/ Stepfan

    Seems like the old Westbrook came back last night. Five turnovers. But it also seems like everybody had a rough shooting night except OJ Mayo which plays into Memphis hand;they love grind em out games. Got to give some coach of the year considerations to Lionel Hollins. All the in and out pieces of losing Z-Bo at the beginning of the season, the Memphis squad getting use to play along side with Rudy again and then the team getting adjusted to playing with Z-Bo.(Still in awe that this man is on the court after a slight tear in his knee). The west is so bunched up from the three seed to the eighth seed that if you lose back to back games you could see yourself out of the playoffs. Big win for Memphis. Oh and way to show up last night Wizards smh

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/officerbarbrady what

    I completely agree with JTaylor. I think Memphis could make the finals if healthy.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    @ Myung & JTaylor – 2004 Sheed was better than 2012 ZBO. Stellar defender and COULD score in the post at will, he just didn’t do it all the time. ZBo only plays on one side of the court.

  • T-Money

    myung: i don’t. morey has an uncanny ability to produce mediocre squads, never terrible but never really good either. even if he had gone for gasol (and minus scola + martin), they’d still be an average team. his draft record is absolutely terrible too.

  • Heals

    @JT21, naw man, there’s alotta folks feeling Mem (and have been). If Mayo scores (and hits from long range), TA matches up with an opposing team’s best scorer, Conley can “match” his opposite and they have size up front. That said they give up big leads often and if they can’t find easy baskets really struggle to score in the 90′s…

  • Myung

    I also think Memphis can make it to the Finals, but like Allen (and everyone else) has been saying, it’s completely wide open. The Thunder have the best shot, due to home court AND their youth (very important) AND their continuity from last season. But it wouldn’t shock me if the Spurs made it. Or Memphis. Or Dallas. Or the Lakers. I would be slightly surprised if the Clips made it, but it wouldn’t be shocking, other than hearing phrase “The LA Clippers have made the NBA Finals.” In the East, we all know it’s about 2 teams. They might as well just make the Bulls vs. Heat the only series. Make them play a best of 21 series (first to 11 wins) series or something. The Hawks, Magic, C’s, Sixers, and Pacers will put up fights, but barring a major injury (or a sustained Rose injury), no one’s taking out Chicago or Miami.

  • Heals

    Mini-rant: Weak/Selfish move by the NBA having games last night. The L has often been critical of the NFL’s lack of remorse for other sports when they schedule competing games. But sure-enough as soon as they need $$$ they schedule games on the day of the NCAA Chip. This same NBA complains that 1-and-done doesn’t allow it’s fanbase to “know” the college stars before they’re drafted. BS, extending the season 1 extra day or taking away 1 day off was a small price to pay in order to give NCAA players the stage alone. Just a hypocritical, greedy and ultimately short-sighted move by the L, congrats Stern…

  • Myung

    I agree, Heals. I was surprised the NBA scheduled games last night. I know they need to make up for lost time, but that one night isn’t going to make or break the League. They should’ve stuck with tradition and taken the night off.

  • http://caseyvaughn.com AlbertBarr

    Eh, I was able to watch the championship and flipped to NBA during commercials and what not and watched most of the Kings game. Didnt bother me.

  • Myung

    T-Money, you’ve got to remember the Yao injury completely derailed Houston’s vision for the future. He was their franchise player, and while he had a history of injury, I’m sure Morey didn’t think he would retire last year. Remember, Yao was still fairly young. In THAT sense, I think what he’s done has been impressive. A lot of GM’s would completely tank (kind of like what Portland is doing right now) once they hit a major unforeseen roadblock (career ending injuries). It’s hard to be really good and then maintain that success (like the Spurs have been able to do, which is rare in professional sports). Sometimes you have to completely bottom out after sustained success. With Yao and T-Mac, they were consistenly good and won 50+ for three straight years before T-Mac left and Yao started getting hurt. Considering they play in the same division as Memphis, San Antonio, Dallas, and New Orleans (who has been decent until this year), the fact that they “bottomed” out two years ago as a 42 win team (for a LOT of franchises, that’s a good season) and are currently the #8 seed in the West is impressive, no? That’s a testament to Rick Adelman and Kevin McHale, but you’ve got to give some credit to Morey as well. Check back in a year or two. I really feel like Houston is going to be one of the better teams in the League. I’m not saying Morey is the best GM in basketball, but I do believe he’s a very smart guy and knows what he’s doing. They’ve got the Knicks and Mavs first round picks in 2012, and they’ve got two 2nd round picks as well. When your franchise player unexpectedly retires, and you bottom out as a 42 win team without ever completely sucking AND you’ve got a fairly bright future ahead of you, you’re doing something right as a GM.

  • http://caseyvaughn.com AlbertBarr

    BTW JIMMER! He actually showed some flashes of being a capable NBA player. His step back on ridnour was sick. Tyreke and Boogie continuing to put up stats. The winning is starting to follow.

  • Myung

    Albert, I put money on the Kings money line (home game vs. the Nets), which should’ve been an EASY EASY EASY win… and they LOST on Sunday night. I wish their winning ways started a night earlier. Sigh.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Actually Myung, I think the East is closer than it initially looked.
    Miami and Chicago are still flawed in much the same way they were last year. And no one really knows what’s going on with Derrick Rose in Chicago as far as that injury and his rhythm. LeBron has regressed in his focus and committment to the post, Bosh has never produced on his promises to average 10 boards this year, and Spoelstra still has some bad habits.
    Boston is feeling frisky with KG looking like he hit the flashback button and Hollins providing a nice warm body in the post. Atlanta is still Atlanta which means you never know what’s going to happen with them. Orlando will go as far as Dwight wants them to go. Miami and Chicago are favorites, but neither is prohibitive, and no team in the League is the clear cut eventual champion in my opinion.

  • Myung

    I think IF Horford comes back healthy, Atlanta can give headaches to either Chicago or Miami. We’ve played some bad games vs. both teams this year, but we’ve also beaten each of them and also suffered really close losses (I think we lost to each by 1 point). Because the Hawks don’t run the offense through Al and because his value comes from rebounding and defense, he should fit in seamlessly once he returns. That said, I still don’t see Atlanta beating Miami or chicago 4 times in a series. I could see Orlando and Boston taking 2 games from Miami or a healthy (with Rose) Chicago, but again, I really don’t think Miami or Chicago will lose four games in a series until the ECF. I still think Miami is the prohibitive favorite to win the title, but even if they don’t and lose to (insert Western team name here), I just don’t see any other team coming out of the East to play the Western champ, other than Chicago or Miami. I just don’t.

  • http://slamonline.com Eldon Khorshidi

    Gimme that, Reke

  • T-Money

    no significant development this year leads me to believe that a bos-mia or bos-chi series would turn out any different this time around.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Not even Rose’s injury?

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    LET’S GO MEMPHIS

  • Myung

    And Allen, I did write this caveat earlier: “The Hawks, Magic, C’s, Sixers, and Pacers will put up fights, but barring a major injury (or a sustained Rose injury), no one’s taking out Chicago or Miami.” If LeBron or Wade or Rose goes down with an injury, it’s a different story.

  • http://www.nbadraft.net showtime

    Myung i have to agree with t-money on this one being from h-town and now transplanted in oakland. morey is good with scrapping pieces together, but never able to attract free agents(even thou houston is a large market) or even draft correct( once draft rudy gay but trade him to memphis for shane, and few years later trade shane back to memphis for nothing, which was thabeet). houston will cont. to be mediacore with him 2 the core.

  • http://www.twitter.com/hurstysyd Hursty

    Randolph isn’t back to last year’s form. But damn, people need to watch the HUGE improvements M. Gasol and M. Speights have made this year. Gasol is just, so, so much better. Speights adds another dimension to them on both ends of the court. Great trade.

  • Myung

    So in your opinion, Morey is not one of the better GM’s in the NBA? Every GM (even the best ones) make mistakes. But I think Morey is one of the top 10 GM’s in the NBA, no?

  • bike

    Thunder have it this year. No debate

  • http://caseyvaughn.com AlbertBarr

    Myung, yeah…I was really disappointed in that loss to the nets. Deron WIlliams was pretty awesome that night though. And Gerald Wallace likes to light up his former team.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    -I’ve got no problem with saying the Grizz are as dangerous as anyone not named OKC. They are young and experienced. Nice combo.
    -Damn Love not able to grab double digit rebounds in the last two games. I think he is injured because he didn’t play the third QTR last night.
    -Adelman had Martell Webster do the opening tip. He won it beating out Jason Thompson. Most coaches would just put the biggest guy there. Smart move.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I told y’all Speights could hoop when they made that deal. Well mainly I told NBK. Collins just didn’t like him, and gave him the quick hook. He had the same issue with Evan Turner. Sometimes with young players you have to let them play through a few mistakes or their confidence gets shot. Collins has always struggled with that, although he lets vets stay on the floor.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    told me? Uhm you are thinking of someone else. I criticized the hell outta Philadelphia for giving him away.
    .
    nbk Posted: Jan.4 at 12:51 pm
    And Speights is a double-double player if he plays starters minutes. He also blocks more than a shot every 30 minutes, so it’s not like he’s absent on defense or the boards, he’s definitely productive. I don’t see how Vucevic is that valuable to just give away Speights.

  • T-Money

    allen: how would a rose injury make it different? sweep instead of 4-1? / myung: i’m not sure if he’s top 10, i’ve never ranked GMs. my point was more that you could replace him with almost any other GM and houston would be where they are right now.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I think Morey would be top 10. Considering he has provided a team around .500 every year despite his franchise players being marred with injuries. And he’s never had a very high draft pick to “fail” on. You can’t really criticize him for not building a contender without actually having a star player or a means to get one. That is like catching lightning in a bottle.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    The grizz are a complete team. They are weak in almost no areas. and if Rudy Gay goes on a huge tear….. then again that probably won’t happen. and chicago is cool and they’ve clearly improved and all but something is very very wrong with D.rose. No way Thibs let’s him sit out this long otherwise. and even with him back, he’d still be recovering and not at full strength which is what they would need to beat miami. The bulls have made no structural changes to their lineup to address their flaws from last year, which is why a lot of people are going to be disappointed in them IMO

  • bike

    Jake is crazy Lake is lazy, call me what u want but that ish don’t faze me. Say hi to ya mom cuz the trick just layed me. U can keep ya brother cuz it aint my baby. Ya mama jus finished messing with my boy Davey. Next up we gonna run a train on ya lady ooooooooow!

  • http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/miamiheat/post/_/id/13215/charting-the-heat-five-problems-for-miami Allenp

    My bad NBK.
    Who was it then? Who is the Sixers fan here? Is if Fat Lever? I can’t remember. I remember someone saying dude didn’t rebound and only shot jumpers. And I said he played no defense, but would board and score if given a legit shot.
    Anyway, I always thought the Sixers needed to give him more time.

  • http://www.basketball-reference.com/about/ws.html nbk

    Yeah you have a good memory Allen, it was Fat Lever.

  • bike

    I worked hard on that. Why can’t I share it with my slamily?

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I’m not as certain as some on here that MIA’s the favorite in a series vs CHI. The Bulls are going to be the hungier team, MIA was a better road team last season compared to this season (which is why they went into CHI and won 2gms). LeBron is liable to pull his “I’m going to be passive” act, Wade struggles in CHI (career wise) and Bosh might pull one of those 1-18 nights out of his a**. I just feel that the Bulls are a better all-around team with a superior coach and they only way MIA can beat them is if LeBron has monster outings.

  • bike

    Exactly how are the circumstances this year suddenly more advantageous to the Bulls than they were last year?

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    invaluable experience of making it that far last season.

  • bike

    And the Heat don’t possess the invaluable experience of having made it even further than the Bulls?

  • BuzzerBeater

    MEM plays physical grind out games that are most reliable comes playoffs – the team is well prepared. The only weakness is back up PG position and ZBo’s health.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I can’t see Memphis making it out of the West considering how absolutely horrible they are on the road, and that they won’t have a single home-court playoff series.
    .
    And I don’t understand how the Bulls would be favored over Miami. I understand the idea that they can beat them, and having a good shot at doing it. But them being favored just because it’s a year later is ludicrous to me. The only team that changed (and improved) between the two is the Heat. Regular season record be damned.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    the bulls this season have been a more well balanced and complete team this season even with facing injuries, look at the numbers. offensively they’re better, this is not the same team from last year, the heat have looked like they have regressed.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The Heat didn’t look better then the Bulls during the regular season last year either.
    .
    Also the Bulls offense is just as efficient and productive as last year.
    Their defense is slightly improved.
    .
    The Heat’s offense is less efficient, their defense is more efficient then last year.
    .
    All of those stats, just like last year, become basically irrelevant in the playoffs, when teams are playing just one team for a series.
    .
    Think about it like this, when you hoop, and you are better then your opponent, do you do better against them the first time you play, or after you’ve played them a few times and kind of know what they like to do? It’s the same concept in the playoffs. It’s why in the NBA the best teams win in the playoffs, while in college, a cinderella can make a deep run, and the best team can lose very early.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I don’t think CHI should be the FAV but I do think it should be 50-50. I can see MIA winning 4-1 again the same way I can see CHI winning 4-1. I just feel like there shouldn’t be a prohibitive favorite when both teams meet.

  • http://www.yahoo.com berkamore

    I don’t think anybody wants to face Memphis in the playoffs. They are big, deep, and their coach is solid. Not sure how far Memphis can go in the playoffs but whoever faces that team will have their hands full.

  • http://www.twitter.com/hurstysyd Hursty

    Yeah. Name one team who is actively saying “we want to play Memphis in the 1st round”… I can’t.

  • Myung

    ^

    The kings
    warriors
    twolves
    hornets
    suns
    Jazz

    (only bc it means they will have made the postseason)

    :-)

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ T-Money: Morey’s draft record is horrible? How so?

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