by Brett Weisband | @weisband
Magic (18-42) 101, 76ers (15-43) 90
This sure looked like a game between and second- and third-worst teams in the League, with the Magic pulling out an ugly one over Philadelphia. The Magic had three players register double doubles, with Victor Oladipo going for 17 points and 11 boards, Nik Vucevic putting up 21 and 13 and Jameer Nelson celebrating his homecoming with 16 points and 12 assists. Orlando got its first win on the road in over two months, snapping a 16-game skid.
The Sixers, meanwhile, have dropped 11 in a row, 12 straight at home and finished February with a spotless 0-11 record. Thad Young battled his way to 19 points for Philly, while Tony Wroten went for 15 off the bench. The Sixers shot just under 40 percent on the night, but showed improvement after getting spanked by Milwaukee earlier in the week.
Celtics (20-39) 115, Hawks (26-31) 104
Rajon Rondo was in fine form in leading the Celtics over Atlanta, deepening the Hawks’ tailspin. Rondo put up his second straight double double with 22 points and 11 assists, shooting 8-14 from the field and even knocking down a triple. Jerryd Bayless got the starting nod next to Rondo and poured in a season-high 29 points for Boston.
The Hawks wings have been clipped by injury in recent weeks, as they were missing five players, including Paul Millsap. Jeff Teague put up 26 and Kyle Korver (17 points) hit 4-5 from 3-point range for Atlanta, while DeMarre Carroll scored 24. The Hawks gave up an early lead, going up 23-8 early before Rondo led a Boston surge.
Bulls (31-26) 103, Warriors (35-23) 83
It seems like no one told the Bulls they were supposed to fall apart after losing two of their three best players earlier in the season to injury and trade, respectively. They won their seventh game in eight tries, thumping the Warriors in Chicago. Taj Gibson led the charge with 21 points, while Joakim Noah put up another weirdo, near-triple double line with 8 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Warriors were bullied into 35 percent shooting on the night while hitting just 5-21 from long range. Stephen Curry suffered through what might have been his worst outing of the season, scoring just 5 points on 2-10 shooting. None of the Warriors starters hit double figures, but David Lee came off the bench to score 11. Jordan Crawford was tops in the scoring column with 16 points. The Dubs usually top-notch defense was just as off as the offense, allowing the Bulls to grab 16 offensive boards and shoot 45 percent.
Mavericks (36-23) 108, Pelicans (23-34) 89
A bad season got worse for the Pelicans on Wednesday, as they dropped yet another game and lost blossoming star Anthony Davis to a shoulder sprain in the first half. Dirk Nowitzki (18 points, 7-13 shooting) shook of a shoulder tweak of his own to help lead Dallas, while Monta Ellis slithered his way to 23 points. The Mavericks, one of the top offensive teams in the League, were as efficient as ever, hitting 52 percent from the field and knocking down 10-22 3-pointers.
New Orleans managed to stay afloat offensively without their star (50 percent shooting), but struggled without their only real plus defender. Eric Gordon put up 19 points, while backcourt mate Brian Roberts had 17.
Grizzlies (32-24) 108, Lakers (19-39) 103
Memphis, one of the hottest teams in the West, was able to withstand a late barrage of long-range bombs from the Lakers to hold on for the win. Courtney Lee put up 18 for the Grizzlies, while Marc Gasol had a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Tony Allen, whose defensive game far outpaces his offense, put up 17 for his first double-digit scoring game since returning from injury. Memphis has lost just seven games since the calendar flipped to 2014, going 19-7.
The Lakers rained in 7-11 from deep in the fourth quarter to cut a 15-lead all the way down to just a three-point deficit before running out of time. Jodie Meeks was the game’s top scorer with 19, while Wesley Johnson had 18 and hit 4-8 from 3-point range.
Cavaliers (23-36) 114, Thunder (43-15) 104
The Cavaliers’ misguided attempts at trading for pieces as if they were a contender looked like they were the right calls on Wednesday as they rallied to beat the Thunder. Kyrie Irving turned it on late, netting 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to power the Cavs, also picking up 9 assists and 4 steals on a 10-19 shooting night. Cleveland couldn’t miss in the fourth, hitting 14 of 21 shots in the quarter to climb out of a seven-point hole. New addition Spencer Hawes got the start and did exactly what he was brought in to do, knocking down 3-6 from long range and scoring 18 points.
(GIF via @SBNation)
You may have heard this, but the Thunder are now 0-3, all at home, since Rusell Westbrook returned from injury after the All-Star break. Russ wasn’t the issue tonight, as he scored 24 points and dished out 9 assists. The Thunder’s defense has been struggling as of late, and the fourth quarter was no different as they allowed 42 points. Kevin Durant fell just short of a triple double with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
Spurs (41-16) 120, Pistons (23-35) 110
A blown-out sneaker didn’t stop Manu Ginobili and the Spurs from running past the Pistons in their first home game in nearly a month. San Antonio was sharp most of the night after a slow start, running Gregg Popovich’s offense to near perfection with Tony Parker out of the lineup. The Spurs finished with 34 assists, a season high, and shot 54 percent. Marco Belinelli had 20 points off the bench, hitting all four of his 3-pointers, while Ginobili posted 16 despite having a shoe explode on him.
The Pistons shot 50 percent from the field but couldn’t keep up with the Spurs’ ruthless efficiency as the game wore on. After the Spurs broke a tie with five and a half minutes to go in the third, Detroit trailed the rest of the way. Josh Smith stayed inside the arc most of the night, leading the Pistons with 24 points (10-19 shooting, 2-3 from deep) while collecting 6 rebounds and 5 assists, although he was minus-18 on the night. Brandon Jennings left after a toe injury in the first half, leaving Will Bynum (18 points) and Rodney Stuckey (17 points) to step up off the bench in his absence.
Jazz (21-36) 109, Suns (33-24) 86
Gordon Hayward narrowly missed a triple double, falling one assist shy, as the Jazz picked up a win over the guard-challenged Suns. Hayward finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, one of seven Jazzmen to score in double figures. Diante Garrett had a career-high 15 points as the Jazz shot 57.5 percent from the floor, the highest shooting number the Suns have allowed this season.
Phoenix was without three of its best guards, as Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa joined Eric Bledsoe on the injury list. Without their engine in Dragic, the Suns struggled to generate any kind of scoring, hitting just 39 percent of their shots and missing lots of contested shots in the paint. Gerald Green popped in 17 points, while Archie Goodwin, the League’s youngest player, hit for 16 on 6-10 shooting off the bench. Phoenix has lost three straight games.
Trail Blazers (40-18) 124, Nets (26-29) 80
Damian Lillard has been doing everything for Portland while LaMarcus Aldridge nurses a groin injury. He didn’t have to do much on Wednesday as the Blazers smoked Brooklyn. Will Barton played the role of sparkplug off the bench, scoring 20 points and snaring 11 boards in the blowout, registering a team-best plus-39 rating. Mo Williams hit 3-5 from deep and 8-13 overall to finish with 21. Lillard played less than 30 minutes and finished with 14, earning a much-deserved breather in the fourth quarter. After a few lackluster offensive outings with Aldridge, the Blazers were back to their gunning ways, hitting 54 percent from the floor and sinking 13 triples.
Brooklyn simply didn’t have the energy as they near the end of their west coast trip. Jason Kidd recognized that early on and saved their legs for the second leg of their back-to-back in Denver on Thursday, as no one played more than 27 minutes for the Nets. Deron Williams scored 12 points to lead Brooklyn as the Nets shot under 40 percent.
Clippers (40-20) 101, Rockets (39-19) 93
If defense is the issue for the Clippers when discussing their title aspirations, they showed they’re ready to contend as the held the Rockets in check at the Staples Center. Houston was held under 100 points for just the second time in February as the Clippers locked all windows and doors. On the other end, Blake Griffin was aggressive all night, going at both Dwight Howard and Omer Asik in the post on his way to 23 points (11-25 shooting) and 13 rebounds. L.A. lost Jamal Crawford for the second half to a calf injury, but Darren Collison picked it up in his absence, going for 19 points on 8-14 shooting. Chris Paul helped control the flow with 14 points and 9 assists, while DeAndre Jordan had a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while blocking 4 shots.
This game had all the makings of a shootout, with a quick pace for much of the night, but both squads struggled from the field (44 percent shooting each). The Rockets turned the ball over 20 times, which allowed the Clippers to get out in transition early and often and turn them into 30 points. Dwight Howard shook free for 23 points and 11 boards on 9-12 shooting, but James Harden struggled en route to 18 points, shooting just 6-16 from the field.