Post Up: Rising Up
Durant and Westbrook took out the Clips, while Kyrie Irving dropped 40 on the Celtics.
On a slow night in the NBA, Kyrie Irving put up 40 in a win over Boston, the Pistons outmanned the Magic, and Kevin Durant overpowered the Chris Paul-less Clippers.
The Cavaliers entered the game Tuesday night after having acquired three players and a future first-round draft pick from Memphis earlier in the day. Cleveland picked up Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby in exchange for forward Jon Leuer. The addition of Speights seems to be the Cavs’ short-term answer for Anderson Varejao, who will miss the rest of the season with a blood clot in his right lung. Memphis made the deal in hopes of shedding enough salary to keep Rudy Gay in place, for now at least.
Paul is out nursing an injured right kneecap, he’s played sparingly the past few games, and if the Clippers are going to compete it’s obvious they’ll need their leader suited up. Although the Clippers are 3-1 without Paul this season, they’re 29-9 with him on the floor.
Kyrie Irving has proved time and again that he’s clutch coming down the stretch. Irving scored 15 points in the fourth quarter dashing to the basket countless times en route to the Cleveland Cavaliers (11-32) second straight win at home.
Irving finished the game with 40 points and 5 assists while setting a career high in field goals made, shooting 16-for-24 on the night. Tristan Thompson added 21, Dion Waiters put up 7, and Alonzo Gee notched 10 points and 6 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
Rajon Rondo led the Boston Celtics (20-21) with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. Kevin Garnett scored 16, and Jared Sullinger added 12 points and 10 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. Paul Pierce struggled offensively, scoring only 12 points on 3-for-15 shooting.
The game came down to the final minute of play, with Irving pulling out the win for the Cavs. With 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and the Cavs up 88-87, Irving got the feed from Thompson and made the driving layup on Pierce with no real resistance from the Celtics. Irving would go on to score the final 7 points for the Cavs, securing the win for the struggling Cleveland club.
The Detroit Pistons (16-25) pulled away from the struggling Orlando Magic (14-27) in the third quarter and never looked back. The Pistons outmanned the Magic with their trio of Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe. All three scored in double figures.
Maxiell and Drummond both notched 11 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Monroe put up 16 points and 6 rebounds, while Brandon Knight led the Pistons in scoring with 18 points. Will Bynum came off the bench with 15 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
JJ Redick paced the Magic with 26 points on 9-for-10 shooting, hitting 5-of-6 from three-point range. Jameer Nelson chipped in 14 points, 9 assists but shot an abysmal 2-for-10 from downtown.
The Pistons edged the Magic in both offensive rebounding (16-6) and bench scoring (48-29) which made all the difference.
Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova combined for 52 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks (22-18) to a 110-102 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers (17-25) at BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee Tuesday night.
Despite edging the Bucks in bench scoring 47-26, the 76ers weren’t able to fight back in the fourth quarter. Starting out down 71-83, Philly couldn’t cut the deficit to any lower than five with Jennings and Monta Ellis securing the lead with clutch free throws down the stretch.
Ilyasova led the Bucks in scoring with 27 points, Jennings added 25, and Ellis contributed 18 points and 10 assists in the winning effort. Mike Dunleavy had 11, and John Henson chipped in 9 off the bench. The Bucks shot 51.9 percent from the floor, almost ten points higher than their season average of 43.2.
The Los Angeles Clippers (32-10) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (32-9) met up in a battle of the best out West in the Staples Center. With the Thunder and Clippers sitting atop the League standings, it seemed like the perfect matchup on a slow day in the NBA.
But Los Angeles entered the game shorthanded, missing their star point guard, Chris Paul, who has been out nursing a right knee injury. Without Paul, the Clippers would need to step up in the absence of their leading man. Unfortunately, Blake Griffin was the only one to hear the call to arms, registering a team-high 31 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists on the way to a 109-97 loss.
Kevin Durant led the way for the Thunder with a game-high 32 points to complement his 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Russell Westbrook added 26 points, 6 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka dropped 17 while grabbing 9 boards off the glass.
After starting the game close through the first half, the Thunder began to pull away in the second. Entering the third quarter the score was 49-45, close enough for the Clippers to sneak their way back in. But the Thunder managed to connect on 15 three-pointers in this game, with a barrage coming in the fourth quarter. OKC shot 55.6 percent from downtown, and also lit it up from the field, shooting 52.6 percent.
Defensive lapses and poor shooting doomed the Clippers in this one. Los Angeles shot a putrid 25 percent from three-point range, while only connecting on 46.4 percent from the field. Jamal Crawford, who added 14 points off the bench, shot only 6-for-18 from the floor, while Eric Bledsoe chipped in 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting. Chris Paul is listed as day-to-day and has only missed four games due to injury this season.