Post Up: Breaking Through
John Wall has elevated his game over the last few weeks.
by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
On Saturday night, John Wall scored 35+ for the third time in seven games, the Spurs pulled out a close one and the Nuggets began life without Danilo Gallinari.
Wizards (29-47) 104, Pacers (48-29) 85
The Wizards would be giving the eighth seed Bucks a good run for their money if Wall had been healthy all season. Last night, the third-year guard dropped 37 with 5 assists and just 2 turnovers. He didn’t attempt a three (smart), and hit 16-of-25 shots (64%). Kevin Seraphin scored 15 off the bench.
Roy Hibbert posted 25 and 10, and David West double-doubled as well. Paul George was awful, though, missing all 8 of his shots from the floor. He scored 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting two nights ago, but is very likely to break out of the mini-slump in the near future.
Nets (44-32) 105, Bobcats (18-59) 96
Another game, another loss for Charlotte. They’re now 6-33 on the road and 11-54 in their last 65. The Bobcats actually erased a big deficit in the fourth and trailed by just one with 2:44 left, but got outscored 10-2 from there.
Deron Williams dropped 32 for the Nets. He’s scored 30+ in consecutive games now, and looks like he’ll take some serious momentum into the Playoffs. Brook Lopez scored 19 and Reggie Evans continued his absurd play with 14 points and 20 boards. After averaging 15.5 boards in March, he’s tallied 51 rebounds in three April games.
The Bobcats high-man was Ben Gordon (8/16 for 27). Gerald Henderson was efficient with 22 points on only 12 shots, and added 5 assists. Bismack Biyombo went for 10 and 10 with 5 rejections.
Heat (60-16) 106, 76ers (31-45) 87
LeBron James needed just 30 minutes to score 27 points last night, leading Miami to an easy win. Rashard Lewis scored 14 off the bench and Birdman Andersen snatched 15 boards and stuffed 2 shots in 25 minutes. He’s been an awesome pickup for them. Miami shot 14-for-25 from downtown.
Jrue Holiday scored 18 points for Philly, but shot just 7-of-17 and committed 5 turnovers. Evan Turner scored 14 with 5 boards and 5 assists.
Timberwolves (29-47) 107, Pistons (25-52) 101
Detroit cut a T-Wolves lead to one with 44 seconds left, but couldn’t convert late.
Minnesota got 20 and 13 from Nikola Pekovic. He doesn’t block many shots, but he’s an extremely reliable post scorer and rebounder. The T-Wolves might not be afford to keep him around this summer when he hits free agency. Andrei Kirilenko scored 13 points with 6 rebounds and 7 steals. JJ Barea hit 9-of-13 shots for 20 points off the bench.
Detroit got 25 from Brandon Knight and 16 from Greg Monroe. Monroe’s been good this year, but he hasn’t really taken the big step that I was expecting. His points, rebounds, steals and blocks numbers are nearly identical to last season’s, but he’s shooting a lower percentage from the floor and turning the ball over more in his third year. He’s a reliable 16 and 10 guy and a gifted passer, so I still love what he can do in the future, but frankly I thought he’d be better this year.
Bucks (37-39) 100, Raptors (29-48) 83
Milwaukee cruised to an easy win, but my theory about the team was proved correct once again: Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings cannot play really well on the same night. I’m still working on a title for the theory. Last night, they were both solid (Ellis scored 22 with 9 assists and 6 steals and Jennings went for 16 and 7), but combined to shoot just 12-of-28 overall.
They can win regular season games against bad teams with those numbers, but because of the backcourt’s absolute lack of reliability, I don’t think they have a prayer at sending a first-round matchup with Miami to six games. It probably won’t go to five.
Rudy Gay shot 1-of-10 for Toronto. The team shot 36 percent overall, and nobody scored 15.
Spurs (57-20) 99, Hawks (42-36) 97
San Antonio led 97-91 with 35 seconds left, but Atlanta pulled within four in the final seconds when Dahntay Jones went to the line for three free throws after a bizarre play (highlights below). He hit the first two and intentionally missed the third, but Kawhi Leonard secured a board for the Spurs to seal the win.
Tim Duncan was huge yet again, scoring 31 points with 14 boards and 4 blocks. Leonard was great, too, scoring 23 with 6 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. He hit 7-of-10 shots from the floor and 8-of-10 from the stripe. He went for 24 and 14 on Thursday, and has really stepped up with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili hurt.
Two reserves—John Jenkins and Mike Scott—scored at least 20 for the Hawks. Johan Petro scored 11 points with 15 rebounds. I watched plenty of Petro during his time with the Nets, and can safely say that this 11-15 performance is the single most unbelievable stat line in NBA history. His tenure in Jersey wasn’t pretty. Al Horford and Josh Smith were both out of the lineup for Atlanta.
Nuggets (53-24) 132, Rockets (43-34) 114
Denver didn’t seem to miss Danilo Gallinari much last night. They hit 54.5 percent of their shots, including 11-of-25 threes, and got scoring contributions from 11 players. Corey Brewer led the team with 22, Wilson Chandler scored 21 and Evan Fournier added 17. Those three figure to see an increase in minutes with Gallo done for the year. Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala tallied 12 and 14 assists respectively. The game was close early in the second half before the Nuggets ran away with it.
James Harden had an off night for Houston, connecting on only 2-of-10 field goal attempts, but hit on all 10 of his free throws. His ability to get to stripe is unparalleled in the League. Jeremy Lin scored 23 with 8 assists.
Terrence Jones scored 13 with 6 boards off the bench in 28 minutes. He had 14 and 12 earlier this week, and is showing signs of life after a silent beginning to his rookie campaign. I like his chances as a versatile big off the bench someday.