Post Up: Hot Nuggets
Denver has quietly piled up 15 straight wins.
by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
On Saturday night, the Bobcats lost again, the Clippers won a good game against Brooklyn and the Nuggets kept their win-streak alive. Meanwhile, in college hoops, St. Louis may have shattered my bracket (unless Michigan saves it).
Pistons (24-47) 92, Bobcats (16-53) 91
A Charlie Villaueva bucket with 15 seconds left proved to be the game-winner last night.
The UCONN grad dropped 18 off the bench. Rodney Stuckey scored 13, and the Pistons won despite Greg Monroe’s bad game (2/11, 6 points).
The Bobcats, who, as I love to point out, started 7-5 (now 16-53), were led by Kemba Walker’s 25. Gerald Henderson scored 15, but shot just 4-of-10 from the floor. Bismack Biyombo double-doubled with 12 and 10, and swatted 2 shots.
Knicks (42-26) 110, Raptors (26-44) 84
In a battle of The Team That Dumbly Paid Landry Fields $20 Million v. The Team That Realized Landry Fields Isn’t Worth Half-That, the latter team won.
Carmelo Anthony led New York with 28. He hit 10-of-10 from the stripe and snagged 8 boards. Kenyon Martin played his second consecutive strong game with 18 points and 7 boards. He tallied 19 and 11 on Friday. JR Smith came off the bench to drop 25 in 31 minutes.
DeMar DeRozan scored a team-high 17 for Toronto. Kyle Lowry (14 & 4) began to maybe break out of his horrible offensive slump, while Alan Anderson scored 14 off the bench. The Knicks were without Tyson Chandler, but still won the rebounding battle by nine.
Bulls (37-31) 87, Pacers (43-27) 84
This game appeared very close because of a four-point-play by George Hill with 40 seconds left. Chicago had the game in control for the majority of the fourth quarter.
Carlos Boozer paced the team with 18 and 10. Luol Deng scored a team-high 20 points with 7 rebounds, and Nazr Mohammed posted 11 and 7 with Joakim Noah inactive.
The Pacers’ leading man was Paul George (who else?) with 23. He added 11 rebounds and 3 steals. What a season by the third-year man. Roy Hibbert went for 18 & 12, but Tyler Hansbrough (starting for an injured David West), George Hill and Lance Stephenson weren’t very effective. Indiana shot a shade under 39 percent from the floor.
The Pacers are 28-8 at home but just 15-19 on the road. They should be able to advance past the first round easily come Playoff time, but their road record is a major concern. If they drop a game in Indiana to a Playoff team, I don’t have much faith they’ll be able to make it up on the road. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the Knicks’ O vs. Pacers’ D in the Conference semi-finals.
Grizzlies (47-22) 110, Celtics (36-33) 106
Boston had a few chances to make this game interesting late, but couldn’t convert. They kept settling for twos instead of threes in the final 30 seconds.
The Grizzlies’ high-man was Jerryd Bayless with a ridiculous 30. He hit 11-of-20 shots (4/6 from deep) in 38 minutes. Each starter scored at least 11, and both Tony Allen (10 points, 10 boards) and Mike Conley (12 points, 10 dimes, 4 steals) double-doubled.
Boston’s leading scorer was Paul Pierce with 26. He drained 4 triples but committed 5 turnovers and 5 fouls. Jordan Crawford came off the bench to shoot just 5-of-13, but hit 9-of-10 free throws and totaled 21 points. Nobody else scored more than 12 points.
Nuggets (49-22) 101, Kings (25-45) 95
Sacramento led by one after three. Unsurprisingly, they blew the lead to a much, much, much, much, much, much better Denver squad. The Nuggets had the game more-or-less locked up with 4:30 left.
Six guys scored at least 11 for Denver. Danilo Gallinari was the high-man with 19, and added 8 boards, 4 dimes and 3 steals. Kenneth Faried scored 17 with 9 rebounds, and Andre Iguodala scored 15 with 8 assists. Denver is on fire, but I’m still not sold on them as a legitimate Playoff threat after the first round. Legit Playoff contenders need a go-to guy.
DeMarcus Cousins scored 24 points with 15 boards and 5 blocks in 36 minutes. If only he could keep his on head on straight and become even semi-reliable. John Salmons added 18. Nobody else eclipsed 10 points. Tyreke Evans, one of the weirdest and hardest-to-predict-on-a-nightly-bass players in the NBA attempted only 5 shots in 23 minutes and finished with 4 points, 2 assists and 2 rebounds. Not exactly the franchise player people had in mind after he won Rookie of the Year a few years ago.
Warriors (40-31) 101, Wizards (25-44) 92
Golden State led by 18 early in the fourth before Washington made things slightly interesting.
The Ws were led by Stephen Curry’s 35 (13/18 overall, 6/10 from deep). He’s stayed healthy this season despite owning a a pair of paper-thin ankles, and has been awesome. David Lee added 11 and 15, and has quietly been a catalyst to the Warriors’ success. He’s been an elite big man this season. Harrison Barnes decided to get involved in a game (happens about one-fourth of the time), and scored 16 points with 8 boards.
Washington’s leading scorer was Cartier Martin. He dropped 23 on 13 shots. John Wall added 14 in 24 minutes. It wasn’t the prettiest box score for the Wizards.
Clippers (48-22) 101, Nets (40-29) 95
Lob City pulled away in the fourth. They trailed 75-70 entering the period before dominating it.
Chris Paul scored 29 (12/13 from the stripe) with 11 dimes. Blake Griffin scored just 11 with 7 boards, but Willie Green came through with a big 15.
Meanwhile, Deron Williams shot just 6-of-16 for 18 points. He did tally 9 times, but didn’t exactly prove his elite-ness against CP3. Brook Lopez scored 18 while Joe Johnson hit just 6-of-18 shots for 15 points.
I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a Nets fan. What I am afraid to admit, however, is that I have no fucking clue what the Nets are. Are they a legitimate threat who hasn’t quite pieced it together? Are they a bad team which lucked out by being in a bad conference? Are they simply a mediocre team? Will they turn it on in the Playoffs? Is Deron Williams past his prime? Is Joe Johnson worth a quarter of his salary? Is Brook Lopez just a first-quarter player? Can a team starting Reggie Evans be taken seriously in the Playoffs? Where is Kris Humphries? Does MarShon Brooks own the League’s highest offense-to-defense ratio? Is Gerald Wallace the most overpaid player in the sport? Is this the most underrated team in the League? Is this the most overrated team in the League? All great questions.