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Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 at 9:00 am  |  40 responses

Post Up: Harden Delivers (Sorta)

James Harden sunk the Suns on a controversial play last night.

by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz

Pete Walsh has the night off, so I’m picking up his shift. Last night, the Lakers gained a huge game on the Jazz, and the Bulls-Raptors and Rockets-Suns games had bizarre endings. We’re closing in on a week left in the regular season. Let’s get to it.

Pacers (49-29) 99, Cavaliers (24-53) 94
Cleveland looked like they were on their way to an upset road win before getting outscored 35-10 in a dominant fourth quarter for the Pacers. Paul George had a tough night, but hit a big three to ice the game late. He finished with 14 points, 7 boards and 3 steals. George Hill added 27 for Indy, who is now 30-9 at home.

Kyrie Irving dropped 29 for Cleveland. He needed just 20 shots and tallied 7 assists (though he coughed it up 8 times). Rookie Tyler Zeller scored 18, and has had a really nice rookie season for a late first-round pick.

Indiana made just 40.5 percent of their shots, but got to the line 46 times. They also dominated on the fast break, outscoring Cleveland 33-7 in that department.

Nets (45-32) 104, 76ers (31-46) 83
This was a blowout from start to finish. Brooklyn led by 13 after one and 18 at halftime.

Reggie Evans just won’t slow down. He finished with 17 points and 24 rebounds. It’s the ninth time he’s snagged 20+ boards this year, by far the most of anyone in the League. His recent scoring surge is a wildly unexpected bonus from a guy with limited post moves to say the least. Brook Lopez scored 29 points with 11 rebounds and 3 rejections.

Philadelphia got a team-high 18 from Nick Young off the bench. He shot 7-of-10 from the floor, but his teammates combined to go 23-for-70 (just shy of 33 percent). The Sixers were out-rebounded 67-to-34. I don’t have the numbers, but I can’t imagine there have been many games this season where one team beat another by 33 on the glass.

Knicks (51-26) 120, Wizards (29-49) 99
The Knicks went nuts from downtown last night. Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert and Chris Copeland hit 4 threes each. Carmelo Anthony hit 3, Ray Felton hit 2 and Pablo Prigioni, JR Smith and Jason Kidd all knocked down a trey as well. Add it all up and you get a 20-of-36 show from deep.

Melo paced the team with 36 points, and added 8 boards and 6 assists. He made 13-of-21 shots and has been the best player in the NBA over the past few weeks. The Knicks will be taking a ton of momentum into the Playoffs if they can keep their recent level of play up for a few more games, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the team that runs into them in Round One (likely Boston, maybe Atlanta). They’ve won 13 straight.

John Wall played well in the blowout loss, scoring 33 points while getting to the line 14 times. He’s been great down the stretch this year, and looks like a lock to secure a max contract this summer when he hits restricted free agency.

Heat (61-16) 94, Bucks (37-40) 83
Milwaukee led this first-round preview early in the third before Miami pulled away. A 48-47 Bucks lead evaporated into a 68-53 deficit during a 10-minute extended Miami run.

LeBron James led the way for the Heat with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh resting. He scored 28 points with 7 dimes and 7 boards. Typical. Udonis Haslem double-doubled with 10 and 15 in only 24 minutes.

Brandon Jennings dropped 30, but, of course, Monta Ellis struggled. Ellis and Jennings are never good on the same night, something I’ll be going into much more detail about in my upcoming first-round Playoff preview (be sure to check it out!) No other Milwaukee player scored more than 8.

Raptors (30-48) 101, Bulls (42-35) 98
Toronto led by 10 midway through the fourth, but Chicago rallied late to make things interesting. With ten seconds left, Nate Robinson went to the stripe down four. He hit the first and missed the second, and the miss led to a jump ball. It ended up in Robinson’s hands on a sloppy play, and he couldn’t sink a miracle three as time expired.

Jimmy Butler was awesome for Chicago starting place of Luol Deng. He made 10-of-12 shots including 3-of-3 from deep, and played the entire game. He’s turned into a really good player for the Bulls this year, and Chicago is absolutely stacked in the front court with Butler, Deng, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. That’ll be a big advantage for them in the postseason.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 20. Rudy Gay added 19 and Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson and Terrance Ross scored 13 each.

Grizzlies (53-25) 94, Bobcats (18-60) 75
Memphis owned the fourth quarter to put last night’s game away with ease. Zach Randolph scored 11 with 13 boards, Mike Conley scored 20 with 7 dimes and 0 turnovers and Austin Daye and Jon Leuer came off the bench to combine for 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

Kemba Walker scored 19 for Charlotte. Bismack Biyombo scored just 3 points, but grabbed 12 rebounds and stuffed 3 shots.

Rockets (44-34) 101, Suns (23-55) 98
The Rockets had the ball in a tie game with the shot clock turned off at the end of regulation last night. I’ll let the highlight tell you the rest…

James Harden dropped 33 and Omer Asik grabbed 22 rebounds for Houston. Luis Scola scored a team-high 28 for Phoenix, and Goran Dragic double-doubled with 15 and 10.

Thunder (57-21) 90, Jazz (41-38) 80
This was a big game for Utah and they couldn’t pull it out. OKC led for the entire fourth, and never really let the Jazz threaten late.

The Thunder were led by 25 from Russell Westbrook and a near triple-double from Kevin Durant—21 points, 12 boards and 9 dimes. Serge Ibaka went for 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 rejections. It was an important game for OKC, too. They managed to maintain their one-loss lead over San Antonio for the top seed in the West with the W.

Utah got 15 or more from three starters, but nearly nothing from their reserves. Paul Millsap struggled, shooting just 4-of-11 with 5 turnovers. The Jazz no longer control their own fate in the fight for the West’s eighth seed.

Warriors (45-33) 105, Timberwolves (29-48) 89
Golden State outscored Minnesota by 15 in the third quarter, setting the tone for an easy fourth. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 30 points. He was great, knocking down 6-of-10 threes and racking up 5 steals. Stephen Curry played well, too, with 24 points and 10 assists. Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and David Lee combined for 36 boards.

Minnesota’s high-man was Chase Budinger with 17. Ricky Rubio missed all 10 shots he attempted, and finished with just 6 assists.

Lakers (41-37) 96, Hornets (27-50) 90
Big win for the Lakers. They moved a game ahead of Utah in the loss column with only a few games left. Last night, the game was tied at 84 with 5:13 left before Yellow LA closed strong. Antawn Jamison and Kobe Bryant did most of the damage late.

Kobe dropped 30 (9/18) with 6 boards, 6 assists and 5 steals. He played 41 minutes and has been playing out of his mind lately. Pau Gasol looked like old-school Pau with 22, 11, 4 assists and 3 blocks. He shot 9/15 (hey, he actually got some touches!) in a great outing. Dwight Howard scored 19 points but grabbed only 6 rebounds and committed 4 turnovers.

Anthony Davis was big for New Orleans against the Lakers’ great front line, posting 18 points, 14 boards, 4 steals, a block and no turnovers. Eric Gordon dropped 22 (10/11 FTs), and Greivis Vasquez double-doubled.

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  • spit hot fiyah

    imagine comparing reggie evans’s production per dollar made to kris kumphries’

  • dmc14

    well it doesnt effect phoenix’s season

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    You have to respect Kobe because he’s a boss. But, why does he say things like this:

    “If you’re making shots, I can sit back,” Bryant said. “If you’re playing (bad), I can’t.”

    No matter how true it is, I just don’t understand when players say stuff like this. Not Kobe, not Jordan, not anyone.

  • Max

    I like what he said there. He’s gonna try and take over when the team isn’t playing well.

  • Drig

    When 3pt shooting teammates miss 9 outta 10 3s and he’s having to play 40 minutes night in and night out, it’s kind of understandable that he’s pissed off.

    And what he said is perfectly true. As a Laker fan, I kinda like that Kobe’s stopped sucking up and trying to be the good guy at this crucial juncture. It’s time for everyone to man up and help out.

    The offensive production SHOULD never fall as much as it does with Kobe out resting.

  • Drig

    Kobe went supernova in Q4. Played some solid D as well. Glad I witnessed it. Disappointed it was required vs the Hornets though. Glad to see Pau showing some life. MWP still ain’t healthy regardless of what he says but he gave Kobe a breather.

    Just hoping Minny pulls off atleast one victory vs the Jazz and LAL can somehow win at the Garden……….something which happens once in a blue moon……

    However, I’m scared that Kobe’s gonna be too gassed to help bail out the team tomorrow if the team finds itself in a predicament. Time for the team to rally and STEP UP!!

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    I’ve liked Mike Conley for a while now, but I’m really impressed with him recently.

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    I don’t think Kobe ever sucked up or tried to be a good guy. And I think that telling your teammates those sorts of messages through the media is never a good idea. You don’t need media interviews to lead. Case in point: LeBron James and Tim Duncan.

  • airs

    cuz his ego must be fed at all times.
    no disrespect, the mans a killer. but he’s well aware of it.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    he has been a top 5 PG this season. (Paul, Parker, Westbrook) only 3 who have definitely been better all year.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    it affects their ping pong balls. Jermaine O’neal made the right play.

  • Drig

    It worked for Phil. And it’s worked for Kobe during his repeat. Plus, there comes a point when it’s better to put it out in the open rather than keeping things within the team if it helps them play with more drive. This is that point. If his teammates still can’t play well for sustained periods of time, then they deserve some criticism.

    LeBron’s Heat and Kobe’s Lakers have gone through polar opposites this season. Not sure how you managed to compare them. Plus, their surroundings and the era in which they grew up is entirely different.

    You probably must’ve missed last season entirely and the first half of this season when all the Lakers sans Kobe sucked.HARD. Prime Kobe would’ve destroyed Bynum’s whimsical mentality (last season ), Dwight, Pau and the rest of the Lakers on live TV if given half a chance.

    Hell, Kobe actually credited Mike D for the sudden change to play Pau in the post vs Hornets when it was painfully obvious who the main guy was in inspiring that change. Pau went outta his way to credit Kobe for supporting him.

  • Drig

    Wall has had a pretty neat post-ASG breakout. Deron has turned into DWill again as well post ASG break. There’s Lawson in Denver. Rubio has been great. Kyrie??? There’s Curry as well……

    I know the last three aren’t as well rounded as Conley but I’m pretty sure that Mike wouldn’t be able to carry either team the way those two guys have. As such, I can’t see how he’s much better than Rubio and Kyrie…….

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    Nah, it has nothing to do with era. I don’t like players who rip other players through the media. I find it distasteful, and the same is true for coaches. If you have a problem with a man, you approach that man like a man and make your issue known. You don’t go through the media and air dirty laundry, in my opinion. And that’s not an era thing, that’s a personal preference by Kobe. Duncan has never done it. Iverson never did it. Tons of players have never done it because why involve the media in something you can handle on your own?
    Kobe has had an amazing season from an offensive standpoint. One of the best of his career, but he still has the same bad habits he’s always had. He is who he is at this point.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Wall has been better since the All Star break. Kyrie was better before it. Neither (obviously they’ve been unhealthy) have been better all season.

    .

    Rubio hasn’t been as good as Conley. Not even kinda. http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=0&p1=conlemi01&y1=2013&p2=walljo01&y2=2013&p3=rubiori01&y3=2013

  • Drig

    Rubio obviously isn’t gonna light it up statistically with his (still) horrible shooting. However, if you have access to it, I’d like to know how much the better their respective teams are with these two players on the floor.

    Rubio would kill Memphis since they need as much outside scoring as they can find to help Marc and Zach get a chance to do some damage. At the same time, Conley would find it hard to get the Wolves playing as well as they have this season with the injuries. They’ve lost many close games.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Screw this.
    You’re right . I’m just reaching now. That was my mistake. Still, Lawson, Kyrie and Curry have had better seasons than Conley IMO.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    - The Wolves with Rubio on the court are a -3.4 points per 48 minutes.

    - The Grizzlies with Conley on the court are a +15.7 points per 48 minutes

    .
    Curry and Lawson have been better offensive players, definitely. But Conley has been the best or second best (depends on your opinion of Chris Paul’s 30mpg) defensive PG in the league. You can have that opinion about them, but i really don’t agree.

  • Drig

    I wasn’t blaming it entirely on the era lol. I probably didn’t manage to state that well. Kobe’s an outgoing person. Tim’s not. Kobe grew up in LA under Shaq and Phil. Tim grew under David Robinson and Pop in San Antonio.

    It’s a culmination of the circumstances in which Kobe became a vet and Kobe’s own attitude towards the game.

    Kobe grew up facing flak from Shaq and Phil through the media. He responded using the media. It stuck with him. It’s an old habit of his. Which is not always justified but in this context, is entirely justified.

    Again, if this was early in the season, I would gladly support your view. But with this LAL team on the brink of being one of the biggest busts ever, I’d say the stakes justify Kobe’s behavior right now.

    Am pretty sure Kobe probably told them the same thing earlier since he’s been playing more than 40 minutes per game for the last 6-7 games. It doesn’t take rocket science for them to realize that the level of play must be higher if Kobe needs to be preserved for the POs. Yet there’s been no CONSISTENTLY good performances during this stretch which had a pretty stable roster without any injuries.

    LAL needs to win 3 games outta 4 remaining atleast. It ain’t happening without others helping him out.

  • playa

    Human nature, not everyone has to be always political correct,even in US

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i forgot to address Deron Williams. Williams has been a top 3 PG since the all-star break. only guys you can argue that have been better are Westbrook and Paul. http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/w/willide01/gamelog/2013/#557-580-sum:pgl_basic

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    You underrate what Conley brings to the table. It’s nto just about stats with him. He is the engine for that team. When he sits, things fall apart.

  • LakeShow

    So D-Wade looks to finish the year with 66 games played…
    As apposed to the “other SG”, ya know old man Bean. He’s looking to play 80 games this season.
    Another reason I think KB is better.

    I really don’t want the Lakers to play OKC in the first round… That is all.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    lol, 10 of the 16 games Wade will end up missing this season will have taken place when his team has already clinched the #1 seed, and he wasn’t actually hurt.

  • Drig

    The wolves are worse with Rubio!?!?! Damn, does the Wolves D suck so much with him on the floor to nullify his offensive wizardry?!

    I might get ridiculed for this but I believe outta all the guys who are healthy right now, Bledose, Jrue and Kirk Hinrich are the best defensive PGs I’ve seen multiple games of this season. CP3′s positioning is superb but he doesn’t play at full throttle all the time. Kinda like Rondo. I haven’t seen a ton of Wall this season to say whether he’s improved or not over last season and I’m waiting till the end of the season before I look at his play post ASG. As long as he gambles less than last year and learns better positioning, he’ll be Eric’s rival for the years to come IMO.

    I won’t say I watched every game of every other team ( which no sane person can lol ) but I thought Kirk was a very underrated and solid defensive presence. In hindsight, I kinda wish LAL traded for him…….

    BTW, Allen said he’s the engine for the team. Is it because of his outside shooting and cutting abilities or is it because of his help D??

  • Drig

    I haven’t seen too many Griz games this season. And Marc stood out for me on the team more than anyone else in the games that I did watch. He’s like Pau and Bynum rolled into one at times.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    - The wolves suck. They are worse with Rubio mainly because Rubio plays all the minutes that matter….and they suck. He’s never going to look like a very good player on a bad team. Same way you’d think about Rajon Rondo, if that paints a better picture?

    .
    This second part you are right in a sense. Gotta address this one at a time tho, so bare with me

    - Hinrich has been better for the Bulls as a team then a lot of PG’s in the league (but this is more because he can effectively guard 3 positions – yeah, 3 positions – so the team has incredible flexibility when he’s on the floor) but he has really struggled against the premiere guys. Especially the uber quick ones. — statistically speaking, as an individual defender, Nate Robinson has actually been more effective against PGs – while Hinrich has been better overall.
    - Holiday has been really really good. But as the team fell off, so did his play. Which is probably all effort related. The first 30 or so games of this season Holiday was far and away the best defensive PG in the league, imo.

    - Bledsoe has been GREAT defensively. He just doesn’t play a ton of minutes, and I can’t put him over Conley who has been a terrorist defensively for the second best defense in the league, while playing 35 minutes a game.

    .
    .
    Conley is the engine because he provides constant pressure, both on offense and defense. He controls the pace and puts his team in position to win as good as any point guard in the league whose last name doesn’t start with P, and he gives 100% effort all game every game. His teammates love him for these reasons (at least, this is what i gather).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    Damn….why does it seem like you come here the day after Kobe plays well to put down Wade and prop up Kobe but you are mighty quiet whenever he has a bad shooting night.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    I used to be high on Eric Gordon but not anymore. I never seen a player suffer from such a bad case of tunnel vision. There were numerous occasions last night when his teammates were wide open (notably Ryan Anderson) but EG looked them off in an attempt to score.

    Also…..AD is already one of the best at finishing around the basket.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Probably not a good idea to judge Gordon based on anything happening this season. He hates New Orleans. And he’s forced to be there. Nothing good was ever going to come from that, he’s always been too emotional. He showed that in college.

  • Caboose

    Do you really need an answer to that question?

  • Caboose

    Is that -3.4 points per 48 relative to other team or to time with him in the game?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    not really.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    on court / off court.

    .

    They are -.5 offensively with Rubio as opposed to without

    They are +2.9 defensively with Rubio as opposed to without (give up 2.9 more points on defense, + isn’t a good thing lol)

  • Caboose

    Yikes.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    it’s a little broken with Rubio and the Wolves. He can’t force people to make shots. I bet their “open looks” stat, if that existed, would be drastically different.

  • LakeShow

    Yeah i’m just picking and choosing games…. That’s why I was referring to the entire season game totals….. He’s been beasting all year.
    Wade can keep his 50+% FG’s. He has not been as good as Kobe this year. That much is obvious.
    I’m just waiting on you dodo’s to realize it and admit you were wrong.

  • LakeShow
  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    LOL, i’m happy you believe that.
    .
    he’s more healthy than last year. and he’s definitely healthy enough to play.
    .
    but, as Stern has already proven, you have to say your players are too injured…even if they aren’t. Or you will get fined.
    .
    Come on bruh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    I’m just waiting on you to realize that the reason why Kobe has better all-around numbers (ppg/apg/rpg) is due to him playing more mins (4 more per game) and using a higher percentage of his team’s possessions.

  • Alyson Miller

    just before I saw the paycheck which had said $6495, I did not believe ...that...my neighbours mother woz like they say actually bringing in money in there spare time online.. there uncle has done this 4 less than 13 months and as of now cleard the dept on their villa and bought themselves a Lotus Elise. I went here, Big31.com

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