by Adam Figman | @afigman
Remember Joe Johnson? Nah, I’m not even talking shit—serious question. It just seems like when one of the League’s best guards go down for one-to-two months—putting a huge damper on his team’s entire regular season—fans and the media tend to make a bigger deal of it than they currently are. Anyway, I guess the Hawks haven’t noticed too much either, because they keep winning. Jamal Crawford (26 points, 8 assists) is getting more minutes at the 2, and he’s capitalizing, but it was Josh Smith who carried Atlanta last night with 34 points (14-16 from the field) and 7 assists. They’ve been sliding J-Smoove down to the 3, and starting Jason Collins at the 5, and apparently it’s working. Al Horford (24 points, 10 boards) has also been playing great. Bropez led the Nets with 24, but there was little defensive effort coming from his squad, and the Hawks took advantage, scoring 116 points off a 60.3 percent shooting performance.
Both teams shot 50 percent or higher, but it was Philly who prevailed, utilizing a well-rounded effort (seven players scored in double figures) led by Thad Young’s 26 points and 11 boards. The Sixers have now won four of five, which means tomorrow’s nationally televised game against Boston might actually showcase some competition—though I wouldn’t count on it. The loss was the Cavs’ fifth straight, and their Lottery odds seem to be improving every night. No shots.
This would’ve been a cool story: George Karl, in the state where he played college ball, coaching against his good friend Larry Brown, gets his 1,000th win as an NBA coach. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. These two battled for the full 48, and with the Bobcats up two in the final quarter, Chauncey Billups grabbed a rebound with seven seconds remaining and pushed the ball up the court. Karl elected not to call a timeout, hoping the fast break would present a better opportunity, but it didn’t, and Billups forced a jumper from 20 or so feet away that rimmed out as the clock expired. Stephen Jackson led the ‘Cats with 23, and his stat line also included 9 boards, 7 dimes and 5 threes. Karl will go for 1,000 again tonight in Boston.
After a rocky start to ’10-11, Houston has now won three out of four, and seems to be putting some things together and looking to make a little run. They slowly crept ahead of Detroit last night, and took a 10-point lead into the fourth that they protected well. Luis Scola held my fantasy team down with 35 points and 12 rebounds, while Kyle Lowry contributed 22 points, 12 dimes and 6 steals. The Rockets are off until Friday, when they’ll be in Milwaukee.
Another close one for the Mavs, but they stepped up in the fourth quarter to bring home their 10th straight. Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points, blocked 4, and drained a few clutch hoops, while Jason Terry’s Sixth Man of the Year campaign (peep the Polladaday) continued, as he went for 20 points on 8-12 shooting. Stephen Curry’s 21 points led the Warriors, who put up a really strong effort that would’ve defeated most teams that aren’t amidst double-digit winning streaks.
I don’t know how else to say this: The Trail Blazers are weird as hell. They disappear against weak opponents and have no clear-cut superstar (Brandon Roy has struggled with injuries and hasn’t really brought it yet), but they’ll randomly step up without warning to—somehow—take down some top-notch squads. Last night they defeated the high-octane Suns, who shot over 50 percent and got a 24-point, 15-assist performance from point man Steve Nash. You see! I don’t know. Wesley Matthews led Portland with 24, while LaMarcus Aldridge and Roy each went for 20.
After ending their four-game losing streak with a win against Sacramento a few days back, the Lakers continued their positive turnaround with a victory over the Wiz. L.A. brought a 13-point lead into halftime, and the Wiz clawed back in the third, but Kobe and Co. hit a variety of big shots to seal things up in the fourth. Kobe Bryant dropped 32 and Lamar Odom had 24, though Washington put up an impressive effort; John Wall had 14 dimes to go with his 22 points, Nick Young scored a strong 30 spot, and Gilbert Arenas put in 23. The Wizards fell to 6-14 with the loss, and have still yet to earn a W away from their home court.
Performance of the Night: Luis Scola: 35 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block.
Moment of the Night: Chauncey Billups coming thiiis close to hitting that jumper and forcing OT makes for a solid MOTN, but since I’ve got a video of Nick Young’s acrobatics, we’ll let the two of ’em share it. Layupadaday! Check it: