Post Up: Grudge Matches?
Banged-up rivals meet up in an ugly night of hoops
by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Knicks (4-13) 113, Nets (5-14) 83
Do we have to? We do? Let’s make this painless. The Knicks blew out the Nets out in a battle of two of the worst teams in the worst division of the worst conference of all time. Good enough? No? Okay, here are a few details.
The Knicks took advantage of the Nets’ super-awful defense all night, draining 16 threes to snap a nine-game losing streak and help keep Mike Woodson employed for another day. Carmelo Anthony dropped 19 points on 8-12 shooting, adding in 10 boards and six assists. Seven Knicks shot their way to double figures. Even Amar’e Stoudemire looked like a capable offensive player, scoring 11 off the bench. He turned back the clock on defense, too, skying for a block like it was 2007:
For the Nets…let’s not even go there. Brook Lopez scored 24 points and we can pretend like the rest of the box score doesn’t exist. But, if you must know, the Nets shot just 39 percent (25 percent from long range), turned the ball over 16 times and only one other Brooklynite, Joe Johnson (13 points on 4-15 shooting) cracked double digits in the scoring column. To put things into perspective: Andrea Bargnani (16 points) took advantage of Kevin Garnett’s defense all night, even talking smack to him before getting tossed for scuffling with KG.
The first half was actually semi-competitive. The Knicks looked unlike they have all season from the start, zipping the ball around the perimeter, knocking down open jumpers and looking something like the team they were last season. Of course, that performance was aided by the Nets’ league-worst defense, but Woodson will take it, no doubt. The Knicks still led just 50-43 at half; Lopez having seven offensive rebounds in the first half – his most in a full game since 2010-11 – certainly helped the Nets stay in it, despite some typically poor shooting. Melo was a big part of the Knicks’ early success, playing one of his best halves of the season despite scoring just nine points, as he helped move the ball around more than usual.
As it has all season, things fell apart for the Nets coming out of halftime; the Knicks won the third 34-16, and the lead ballooned from there. Outside of suiting up (which he did in shootaround), coach Jason Kidd needs to figure out something to make the Nets competitive until this team gets healthy. That is, if he makes it that long.
Clippers (13-7) 101, Grizzlies (9-9) 81
A real rivalry game, between two good basketball teams? Ah, if only we were so lucky. The Clippers pulled away in the second half, as the short-handed Grizzlies couldn’t hang with their most-hated rival. After Memphis took a two-point lead into halftime, the Clips came back to outscore them by 13 in the third quarter, a deficit the Grizz came nowhere close to making up the rest of the way. The Clippers shot 56 percent in the second half, and the bench unit handled the fourth quarter, letting Chris Paul and Blake Griffin (14 points, nine reboudns, five assists) get their rest. As always, CP3 set the tone for the Clippers, tying for the team scoring lead with 15 and handing out eight dimes, while Griffin flashed his underrated passing skills.
Memphis, already without their offensive and defensive lynchpin in Marc Gasol, lost one of his backups early on, as Ed Davis – quietly solid in limited time this season – limped off the floor early on. Zach Randolph (12 and 12) made a quick return from surgery on an ingrown toenail (gross), but his presence wasn’t enough. The Clips got a great effort out of their bench, as Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison each scored 15 in the absence of JJ Redick. On the whole, LA won the bench battle 50-31. Kosta Koufos paced Memphis with 17, while Mike Conley scored an efficient 16 (6-8 from the field).
Doc Rivers picked up the 600th win of his career as the Clippers pulled even with Houston in the standings. Congrats, coach.
Bulls (8-9) 107, Heat (14-5) 87
Another matchup of teams that don’t like each other, another matchup riddle with injuries. Both teams were missing their Chicago-born All-Star guard (Dwyane Wade was sick and stayed at the hotel, while Derrick Rose addressed the media earlier in the day for the first time since season-ending meniscus surgery) as well as a key role player (Chris Andersen and Jimmy Butler). To the Heat, it must not have felt like a rivalry, as they came out flat against the Bulls and got blown out as a result.
The offensively challenged Bulls shot 50 percent from the field and knocked in 10-19 triples. Chicago had its best offensive night of the season, scoring 122 points per 100 possessions, tops on the year. They crushed Miami inside, too, winning on the glass by 22 rebounds, 49-27. Joakim Noah was a monster, going for 17 and 15, while Luol Deng scored 20-plus for the sixth straight game, hitting for 20 to go along with five boards and five assists (although, even in the rout, Deng still played 42 minutes). The Bulls’ power forward duo of Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson both had a big hand in the blowout, with Boozer netting 27 and Gibson going for 19.
LeBron James scored 21 for the Heat, and Michael Beasley dropped in 15 off the bench. The Heat have now dropped two straight as they get going on a four-game road trip.