Post Up: Grizz Still Grinding

by November 16, 2014

Wizards 98 (7-2), Magic 93 (4-7)

The entire Magic starting lineup scored in double figures, but they lost this game when their second unit went into the game. The Wizards, on the over hand, had three starters and three bench players who reach double digits. John Wall (15 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds) picked up his second straight double-double and sixth of the season. Kris Humphries (16 points, 6 rebounds) had his best game of the year while Rasual Butler (10 points, 4-5 from the field) has now reached double figures and made two 3-pointers in each of the last two games. All of the Magic starters had solid games, including Victor Oladipo (18 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds), who returned from injury last night. After Channing Frye (14 points, 4-6 on 3-pointers) drilled a 3-pointer with 1:54 left in the third quarter, the Magic only trailed 64-62. Behind balanced play led by Wall, though, Washington went on a quick 12-4 run to take control for good. The Wizards now have a three-day break before the Mavs travel to the Verizon Center on Wednesday night.

Cavaliers 127 (5-3), Hawks 94 (5-4)

This was a matchup between two of the hottest teams in the East as the Hawks had won their last four and Cavs had won three straight. The Cavs, though, made this one a blowout by making their first 11 3-pointers. LeBron James (32 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4-5 on 3-pointers), Kyrie Irving (20 points, 5 assists, 3 steals, 4-7 on 3-pointers) and Kevin Love (13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3-7 on 3-pointers) all were locked in from deep, and with no DeMarre Carroll (groin), the Hawks lacked perimeter defenders Saturday night. Rookie Joe Harris (12 points, 4-5 on 3-pointers) reached double-digits for the first time in his career while as a team, Cleveland shot 54.4 percent from the field. The Cavs led 46-25 early in the second quarter and the Hawks never got within reaching distance the rest of the way. Cleveland passed the ball extremely wall, dishing out a season-high 39 assists on the night. Paul Millsap (16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) led the Hawks in scoring while Cleveland held Kyle Korver scoreless for the first time since November 2, 2012.

Raptors 111 (8-2), Jazz 93 (4-7)

DeMar DeRozan (27 points, 10-17 from the field) led the way for Toronto as Jonas Valanciunas (17 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks) posted a big double-double, taking it to the Jazz frontcourt. Behind 13 first half points from Enes Kanter (18 points, 5 rebounds), though, the Jazz looked good through the first 24 minutes. The Raptors stepped it up in the second half behind 10 points each from Kyle Lowry (19 points, 4 assists) and Patrick Patterson (16 points, 5 rebounds). They outscored Utah 30-23 in the third quarter and 35-21 in the fourth. The Jazz had solid performances from Alec Burks (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Derrick Favors (18 points, 9-11 from the field), but not much help from the role players, as their bench was outscored 42-23. The Raptors have suddenly emerged as one of the most offensively sound teams in the League, reaching 100 points in nine of 10 games so far. They look to be in midseason form with most of the players already understanding their roles. They will have a tough test on Wednesday when the 9-1 Memphis Grizzlies come to town.

Pacers 99 (4-7), Bulls 90 (7-3) 

Jimmy Butler (32 points, 6 rebounds, 11-14 from the field) continued his strong campaign in earning a career-high in points by doing what he does best–get to the line. However, the Pacers took this one thanks to three players reaching 20 points for the first time this season. Luis Scola (21 points, 11 rebounds, 10-12 from the field), A.J. Price (21 points, 2-5 on 3-pointers) and Solomon Hill (21 points, 12 rebounds) all reached this mark, combining to shoot 23-37 (62.2 percent) from the field. Hill scored eight of Indiana’s final nine points while the Bulls didn’t have enough scoring options down the stretch. After Butler knocked down two free throws with 9:25 left in the game, they didn’t score again until Butler drained a 3-pointer with 5:44 to go, and by that point, the game had been all but decided. With no Derrick Rose (hamstring), Kirk Hinrich (15 points, 7 assists, 7-17 from the field) and Aaron Brooks (6 points) took most of his minutes. The Pacers outrebounded the Bulls 46-34, as no Chicago player grabbed more than six rebounds.

Grizzlies 95 (9-1), Pistons 88 (3-7)

This one might not have been Memphis’ most dominating performance, but they played well enough to retain the NBA’s best record. Saturday night, they had a worst shooting percentage from the field and from 3-point range, but the Grizzlies clamped down defensively as the game moved along with Marc Gasol (23 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks) being the anchor. Fellow big man Zach Randolph (17 points, 22 rebounds) posted a huge double-double on a frontcourt that, on paper, should be stout. Going into the locker room at halftime, Memphis only led 51-50 before holding the Pistons to only 25 points from the start of the third quarter to 3:30 left in the fourth quarter. Kyle Singler (21 points, 5-7 on 3-pointers) had one of his best games as a pro, finding his touch from deep, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2 points, 1-11 from the field) continues his roller coaster of a season. This team truly goes with their shooting guard.

Mavericks 131 (7-3), Timberwolves 117 (2-7)

The Timberwolves had lost four straight going into this game, and it only got worse against one of the best offenses in the NBA. Led by Monta Ellis (30 points, 11-21 from the field) and Dirk Nowitzki (15 points, 6-9 from the field), the Mavs reached at least 28 points in all four quarters and had eight players score in double figures. This team has come together early with players settling into their roles. One of those players is center Tyson Chandler (12 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks), who changes this team’s defensive mentality. The big guy has put up a double-double in four of the past five games and helps give the Mavs just enough stops to allow their offense to blitz out to big leads. J.J. Barea (14 points, 5 assists) and Brandan Wright (13 points, 5 rebounds, 6-6 from the field) act as spark plugs off the bench, keeping the energy and flow going when the starters need a rest. Lost in the abysmal defense that allowed Dallas to shoot 55.3 percent from the field, Kevin Martin (34 points, 12-17 from the field, 4-6 on 3-pointers, 6-6 on free throws) couldn’t miss from anywhere on the court. However, as his plus-minus shows (-21), Minnesota needed more from him than just scoring. The Mavs also showed balanced passing as four players had at least five assists. They now hit the road and will take on Charlotte Monday night.

Blazers 97 (7-3), Nets 87 (4-5)

The Blazers were without forwards LaMarcus Aldridge (upper respiratory) and Nicolas Batum (knee) Saturday night, but that didn’t stop them from picking up their fourth consecutive win behind strong play from Damian Lillard (28 points, 10 assists). Deron Williams (19 points, 6 assists), Joe Johnson (20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and Brook Lopez (21 points, 4 rebounds) put up a fight, but the Nets could only manage three total points in the final 2:30. During this time, Portland knocked down all its free throws to earn the home victory and hand the Nets their third straight defeat. Reserve center Chris Kaman (12 points, 5 rebounds) reached double figures in scoring while Meyers Leonard (7 points, 12 rebounds) took advantage of his start by snatching a career-high 12 boards. Any time the Brooklyn started to cut the deficit to a reasonable amount, Portland responded with a run of its own, never letting its opponent have a chance in this one. The Nets weren’t doing themselves any favors, either, as they shot 1-19 (5.3 percent) on 3-pointers.

Kings 94 (6-4), Spurs 91 (5-4)

The matchup down low between DeMarcus Cousins (25 points, 10 rebounds) and Tim Duncan (15 points, 8 rebounds) was fun to watch; however, Saturday night, Boogie showed the old-timer how dominant he can be late in games. The Kings big man scored 11 of his team’s final 16 points, including nine straight points when the Spurs kept cutting the deficit to a one-possession game. Sacramento had blown both a 24-point lead and 26-point lead in its past two games, so it had to feel nice in taking down the defending champs and snapping a nine-game losing streak against San Antonio. One of the key factors in this one came in the interior, as the Kings outscored the Spurs in the paint 58-34. Cousins also received help from Rudy Gay (18 points, 6 assists) and Darren Collison (19 points, 5 assists), as they both had big plays down the stretch. Manu Ginobili (21 points, 5 assists) had a strong night but only made one of his seven attempts from deep. The Kings found a way to pull this one out despite shooting 0-12 from 3-point range.

Warriors 112 (7-2), Hornets 87 (4-6)

This game showcased one team with an clear identity already in midseason form with another still trying to figure out what type of team they are going to be. Behind superior shooting from Stephen Curry (19 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds) and Klay Thompson (21 points, 5 assists, 3 steals), the Warriors took control in the second quarter when they extended their lead from 39-34 to 67-46 by halftime. The cruised to a victory the rest of the way as Harrison Barnes (17 points, 4 rebounds, 3-5 on 3-pointers) had one of his strongest games of the year. If he can excel in the starting lineup and Andre Iguodala (4 assists, 4 rebounds) accepts his sixth man role, that gives Golden State quality depth at the wing position. The Hornets had quality games from Al Jefferson (19 points, 6 rebounds), Lance Stephenson (16 points, 4 assists) and Brian Roberts (17 points, 20 minutes), but when Kemba Walker (8 points, 5 assists, 3-14 from the field) struggles to get anything going against one of the best backcourts in the League, it’s going to be difficult to keep up. The biggest disparity in this one, though, was efficiency as the Warriors shot 51.7 percent from the field while the Hornets shot 38.1 percent.

Clippers 120 (5-3), Suns 107 (5-5)

The Clippers have yet to lose consecutive games this season as they took down a Suns team struggling to find its defensive ways. It’s difficult to do that when Chris Paul (32 points, 9 assists, 10-13 from the field) takes over in the second half and DeAndre Jordan (12 points, 18 rebounds, 7 blocks) plays a complete game. Jordan has now played in 248 consecutive regular season games, the longest streak among active players (impressive for a big man). His career has gone to a different level since Doc Rivers came to town. Spencer Hawes (14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks) also had a big game off the bench, giving his team valuable minutes when Blake Griffin (19 points, 8 rebounds) needed a rest. Gerald Green (26 points, 4-8 on 3-pointers) had a strong offensive showing before letting his emotions get the best of him by getting ejected with 1:57 to go. Point guards Isaiah Thomas (19 points, 7 assists) and Goran Dragic (19 points) had decent games, but the Suns only managed to shoot 38.4 percent from the field, compared to 52.9 percent for the Clippers. Eric Bledsoe (1 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 0-6 from the field) struggled against his former team and failed to score a field goal for the first time since May 3, 2013–when he was still with the Clippers.