by Adam Figman | @afigman
With Carmelo Anthony sidelined (knee inflammation), the C’s jumped out with a big first quarter lead that they held on to, but only after the Nuggets crawled back into the game with strong second and third quarters. Boston—led by Ray Allen’s 28—was efficient from the floor (55.9 percent) but not the line (69.4 percent), though they’ve still won eight in a row and remain atop the East. George Karl continues to sit at 999 wins, though he’ll have a better opportunity to reach four digits Friday night in Toronto.
The Derrick Rose show, ladies and gents. He dropped 29 in total, and with his team trailing by two and just under 20 seconds remaining, Chicago’s point man beat Mo Williams to the hole and forced in an and-1 to put the Bulls ahead. A defensive stop and some freebies sealed it up, giving the Bulls their third straight win and the Cavs their sixth straight L. Antawn Jamison’s 21 led Cleveland, who couldn’t close after roaring back with a strong third quarter.
Hell of a game. With the Knicks going for six in a row, these two went back and forth for the full 48. Andrea Bargnani had a career-high 41, and Amar’e Stoudemire (34 points, 14 boards) went hard in the paint for his sixth straight 30-plus effort, but it was Raymond Felton (28 points, 11 dimes) who was the difference maker. Felton, seemingly invigorated by some Jerryd Bayless trash-talk, facilitated NY’s offense all game, and with under five seconds to go, Ray came off a STAT screen and drained a trey—after the ball rolled around the rim for what felt like a few hours—that put the Knicks up three. Bargs missed a contested deep bomb as time expired, giving New York its 11th win in 12 contests. Stoudemire and Co. will be in Washington Friday night, and that’ll conclude what’s been a favorable stretch of scheduling for the Knickerbockers.
It just keeps getting colder in the D. The Hornets slowly crept ahead of the Pistons last night, jumping ahead a few points each quarter in what ended as an easy W for the Bees. Chris Paul had a sneaky-good game, scoring only 6 but distributing 14 assists and swiping 5 steals, while David West led the team in scoring with 25. Nawlins’ win was its first in three games, and they’ll host the Thunder Friday in what’s bound to be another entertaining CP3 vs. Russ Westbrook battle.
Andrew Bogut, FTW. Literally. With 0.5 seconds to go, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s in-bounds pass found Bogut’s hand only a few feet from the hoop, and the Bucks center was able to tip it into the basket as time expired. Game, set, match. Brandon Jennings scored 22 for Milwaukee, who won an ugly one—they shot 36 percent and only hit three treys. Danny Granger led Indiana with 26 points, and the loss squares his team evenly at 10-10.
After losing a tough one in Dallas, the Warriors had to take on the League-leading Spurs (#WesternConferenceProblems), who have been hotter than hot and came out fiery last night. San Antonio jumped out to a 10-point advantage after one, and only built on it as Pop’s guys chugged along towards an easy W. We saw the standard well-rounded offensive attack from the Spurs (Tony Parker led them with 19 points), who also shot 51.2 percent and drilled 12 triples. Golden State’s Reggie Williams unexpectedly went off for the Warriors, draining 8 threes and scoring 31. They lost, but still. He’s on my fantasy team, so I respect the stats. And the effort. And the stats.
Down two entering the fourth, Russ Westbrook and Kevin Durant put the team on their shoulders—sound familiar?—and carried the Thunder to a victory in Minneapolis. KD had 30 points and 11 boards (and a couple of clutch threes in the final minutes that wrapped it up), while Russ scored 25 and dished 8. Also, Serge Ibaka: 8 blocks. Darko was out, but the rest of Minnesota’s frontcourt played well, as Michael Beasley put in 26 and Kevin Love beasted for 22 and 21. Unfortunately, as is often the case these days, it wasn’t enough. The TWolves have a decent bounce-back game tomorrow night against the struggling Pistons.
This was impressive. After tearing through a bunch of sub-par opponents, the Heat finally got some real competition, and stepped up, getting solid performances from both LeBron (30-9-7) and Wade (28-4-4). The Jazz played well, too—they shot 50.7 percent and got strong showings from all of their starters—but Miami’s weapons were too powerful. As if some Bron/Wade dominance wasn’t enough, Zydrunas Ilgauskas‘ mid-range J was wet, and he managed 16 points to go along with 10 boards. The impending Lakers-Heat Christmas matchup is starting to look better and better.
Damn, can’t we spread all this good basketball out over the week? This was another exciting one, as the teams traded threes to end regulation—Rudy Gay’s corner bomb as time expired sent it to extra time—and a Zach Randolph floater sealed things up for the Grizz in overtime. Z-Bo was forceful, exploiting the weak Phoenix frontline for 34 points and 17 rebounds, while Mike Conley went for 11 points, 14 dimes and 3 steals. You see guys, worth every penny…
No John Wall, no Andray Blatche—no win. The Kings did work last night, getting 45 combined points out of Jason Thompson and Beno Udrih and shooting 54.2 percent from the floor, earning a home victory with ease. Sacto is off until Saturday, when they’ll host LeBron and friends.
I guess such a crazy-ass night of pro ball could end no other way. After both teams traded some clutch baskets—including a DeAndre Jordan slam that looked like it’d be the game-winner—Derek Fisher beat Eric Bledsoe to the left (don’t let him go left!) and lobbed up a lay-up that, well, check the Moment of the Night for the finale. Kobe Bryant scored the number on his jersey, while Blake Griffin took advantage of Lamar Odom multiple times en route to 16 points and 11 boards.
Performance of the Night: Z-Bo: 34 points, 17 boards, 1 three, 1 game-ending floater.
Moment of the Night: There were literally seven or eight moments last night that would’ve been MOTN on any other night (including a Shannon Brown half-court shot, Bogut’s game-winner, and many, many huge dunks). And I’m sure some of those will pop up on this site today, so stay tuned. Anyway, here’s Derek’s buzzer-beater, which might be the most buzzer-beatering buzzer-beater of the season. Check it:
Last note: I’ll be holding down SLAM’s Twitter account (@SLAMonline) during tonight’s NBA on TNT games, so follow along for a live rendition of the Post Up (or holler at me there if you wanna talk hoops). And if you aren’t following @SLAMonline at this point, I don’t know what to tell you. Step your game up, peeps. Back tomorrow.