Post Up: On Guard

Cavaliers 125 (17-10), Timberwolves 104 (5-22)

Kevin Love faced his former team for the first time last night after taking his talents to Cleveland. The Minnesota Timberwolves came to town, and Love welcomed them to his new home by dropping 20 points and 10 rebounds on ‘em. His teammates helped to welcome the Wolves too. Kyrie Irving—the latest man to cover SLAM—in particular showed off his scoring abilities, with 29 points. The Cavs cruised to a victory over the visiting team, building a lead as great as 25 at one point. They pulled away in the second half, despite the No. 1 Draft Pick’s attack mode that resulted in 27 points…and this:

Pacers 96 (10-19), Pelicans 84 (14-14)

George Hill had a pleasurable season debut for Indiana last night, after missing 28 games due to a knee injury. He scored 15 points off the bench in 21 minutes. Eight of those points came in the fourth quarter to help the Pacers wrap up a win over the visiting Pelicans. Hill received help from every one of his teammates who saw minutes—all nine Pacers scored at least six points, and six of them were in double-figures. Each Pelican who saw minutes scored points as well, but things fell more easily for the Pacers, as they shot 50 percent from the field.

Magic 100 (11-20), Celtics 95 (10-16)

When the Celtics came to visit the Magic last night, the Orlando squad wasted no time and showed off their special tricks right away. They outscored Boston 26-9 in the first quarter on 56 percent shooting and remained pretty efficient throughout, as they finished the win on 47 percent. Despite the poor single-digit first quarter and trailing by 25 at the start of the fourth, the Celtics weren’t ready to call it quits. They outscored the Magic by 20 points to cut the Magic’s lead to 3 in the final period, but were unable to finish the home team off.

Bulls 99 (19-9), Wizards 91 (19-8)

Two great teams with two elite point guards in the East promised a fun game last night. John Wall and the Washington Wizards hosted Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls in DC yesterday. Rose wasn’t ready to end the Bulls’ three-game winning streak, so he dropped a solid 25 points in the game. In the fourth, Chicago led 86-75 with about half the quarter remaining. Naturally, John Wall scored 10 straight unanswered points (with a pair of free throws for Paul Pierce coming in between) to give the Wiz a one-point lead with 3:44 remaining on the clock. Being this quick…really ain’t fair:

But Rose had enough. After Wall’s nifty performance, D-Rose and the Bulls finished the game on a 13-4 run. Rose scored 8 straight to put the home team away for good and claim a fourth consecutive W for his own.

Hawks 107 (21-7), Clippers 104 (19-10)

Atlanta is the hottest team in the NBA right now, and don’t let anyone else tell you different. With last night’s dub over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers, the Hawks won 14 of their last 15 and are on a current League-best winning streak with five in a row. So once again, #ATLshawty.

DeMarre Caroll had a big part to play in last night’s W. He recorded a career-high 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds as the Hawks continue to prove to everybody they’re true contenders. They overcame a 13-point Clippers’ lead and double-double performances from Blake Griffin (21 points and 11 assists) and DeAndre Jordan (15 points and 22 rebounds). Two of DJ’s points off a Chris Paul lob can be seen in this little highlight:

Nets 102 (12-15), Nuggets 96 (12-17)

Mason Plumlee and Joe Johnson were the men of the night, as the Nets took care of the Nuggets to win their second straight game. Plumlee had 19 points, a career-high 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the W—six of his points and six of his boards came in the fourth quarter, a period in which Brooklyn outscored Denver 26-19. Johnson finished with 27 points, with eight coming in that final period. Ty Lawson’s near double-double (29 points and 9 assists) night couldn’t stop the Nets, as the Nuggets lost their second in a row.

Sixers 91 (4-23), Heat 87 (13-16)

Okay. The Philadelphia 76ers came back from being down 23 in the third quarter on Miami’s home floor to win an actual ball game. Nothing to see here…except Philly stealing the ball eight times from the Heat in the third quarter to end that period on a 27-9 run. The impressive play continued into the fourth, and the 76ers finished on a 41-13 cross-quarter run. They held the Heat to a mere nine points in the final period.

The Sixers played with eight men, but each of them contributed to the final score. Michael Carter-Williams was the leader with 20 points and 6 steals, and Luc Mbah A Moute added 19 points and 6 rebounds. KJ McDaniels had 13 points, four of which came from these two plays:

The Hornets are on a nice little winning streak. With their victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee last night, Charlotte got its fourth straight. The visiting team with the fly jerseys overcame Brandon Knight’s season-high 34-point and 5-assist performance. The Hornets trailed by two points at the break, but they outscored the Bucks by nine in the second half behind everyone on the team really. Six Hornets were in double-figures, with Kemba Walker (27 points) and Gerald Henderson (20 points) leading the way. The Bucks dropped their second in a row, but sit in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.

Trail Blazers 115 (23-7), Thunder 111 (13-16) OT

Another battle of elite point guards—fun times! See Russell Westbrook (season-high 40 points and 10 rebounds) and Damian Lillard (40 points including career-high eight 3-pointers and 11 assists) battle:

Here’s that Lillard 3-pointer that sent the game to overtime, all in its own Vine:

Yes, it does look familiar doesn’t it? A lovely side-by-side comparison to last year’s #ILLARD shot that won the Playoffs series over the very same Thunder team, for your viewing pleasure:

Down 13 in the fourth, the Portland Trail Blazers came all the way back to force an overtime off that Lillard 3 above. Dame scored 7 points in the extra period. With Portland up seven and 40.6 left on the OT clock, LaMarcus Aldridge and Serge Ibaka got in a little tussle, and the refs ejected them from the game. Anthony Morrow scored a 3 at the very end, but the Blazers held on for the satisfying win at home.

Suns 124 (16-14), Mavericks 115 (20-10)

Eric Bledsoe’s second career triple-double (16 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists) and a 71-point second half carried the Suns over the visiting Dallas Mavericks for their fourth consecutive win. That triple-double, by the way, was sealed with this aggressive rebound over his own teammate Goran Dragic (25 points):

Besides these two guys, the rest of the Suns who saw minutes did work too. Each man scored at least four points to contribute to the final score. The Mavs had five of their own players in double-figures, plus a double-double from Tyson Chandler (22 points and 14 rebounds), but they couldn’t fully overcome the 19-point lead Phoenix built in the third quarter.

Lakers 115 (9-19), Warriors 105 (23-4)

No one thought the Los Angeles Lakers—without Kobe Bryant, mind you—would be the team that would give the Golden State Warriors their fourth loss of the season…except for maybe good ol’ St. Nick Swaggy P.

He continued to say that the world knew the Lakers were going to win, but I mean who wouldn’t be in such a good mood after a perfect victory over the best team in the L and receiving an early Christmas gift like this?

Seven of the 10 Lakers who played were in double-figures last night to build a lead as great as 24. Stephen Curry had 22 points for the Warriors, but the guys in purple and gold were feeling extra swaggalicious and gave the Los Angeles fans something to cheer for.