A busy, busy day of hoops tipped in OKC, with the visiting Heat taking down the Thunder in a close one. These two battled down to the final minutes, and both groups were trading clutch buckets and in need of clutch stops till the final buzzer. But when LeBron James passed up a three—cue Internet riot—and found a wide open Eddie House, who drained the trey, it gave Miami a lead they wouldn’t let go. Kevin Durant put the Thunder on his back, scoring 33, while Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook combined for 44. The Thunder had their chances, though, and their inability to get key stops down the stretch and get an opportunity to go up by more than a point or two made all the difference. For Miami, Dwyane Wade was great, putting up 32, while Bron scored 23 and dished 13. After the contest, Durant called Chris Bosh one of the “fake tough guys” (#noshots??), so make of that what you’d like. The next time these two face off, things might get even more interesting—though if these 48 minutes of basketball didn’t bring you satisfaction, I don’t really know what to tell you.
A lot of people were pretty excited for this. Kevin Garnett even wore some special sneakers. Unfortunately, the non-Kobe Bryant members of the Lakers didn’t seem to care too much, and they kinda just left their leader hanging. Kobe dropped 41, but it wasn’t enough, as the other LA starters and the bench brought zero firepower, and the deeper and more well-rounded Celts took advantage. Paul Pierce scored 32, Kevin Garnett (who was cut up and required five mid-game head stitches) went for 18 and 13, and Ray Allen added 21 in the victory. The C’s just wouldn’t miss, shooting 60.3 percent (!) from the floor in the victory. Afterwards, Phil Jackson acknowledged that his team isn’t where it needs to be yet, but said he thinks it will be by the time the Playoffs get going. And you know what? I believe him.
Twenty. An important number for both teams. For the Magic: Dwight Howard’s 20 points and 20 boards, which, given the amount of interior domination those numbers tend to imply, means a win for Orlando. For the Cavs? Their 20th straight loss, just three away from the NBA’s record consecutive losses. Eek. Ryan Anderson led the Magic (word?) with 23 points, while Manny Harris put in 20 for the Cavs.
One of the biggest problems with the Nuggets—and presumably one of the reasons their leader wants out—is when Carmelo Anthony has an off game, the chances they’re getting a W are close to nil. Proof: last night. Melo scored just 12, as the Sixers had six guys go for double figures en route to the win. The loss is Denver’s first in five contests. Tonight, Melo and Co. hit…yep, Jersey, where, as you can imagine, the media will be waiting and want some answers. The questions? Well, come on. Take a guess.
One difference between this Knicks team and the past bunch of them: They close games. Not the way the League’s very best do, but they are definitely getting better and better at that little and wildly important character trait. This battle was all tied up going into the final quarter, when the Knickerbockers took off behind a bunch of Amar’e Stoudemire (33 points) dunks and Danilo Gallinari (29 points) jumpers. Oh, and check this: Timofey Mozgov! Dude managed 23 points and 14 rebounds, taking advantage of the minutes he was given as Wilson Chandler sat out with a sore calf. Ben Gordon led the Pistons with 35 in the loss.
The Suns played a solid game, one that looked like it was all but wrapped up. But an eight-point last minute lead was thiiis close to being blown, as a big Chris Paul three and a couple free throws tightened it up, and a CP3 off-balanced buzzer-beater would’ve given the Bees a victory—had it fallen in. But fall in it did not, and the Hornets dropped their second straight after piling up 10 W’s in a row. Marcin Gortat scored 25 for PHX, while Paul put in a game-high 26.
With Deron Williams out with a hyperextended wrist, the Jazz never really threatened the Warriors, losing a little ground each quarter all the way through. Monta Ellis (2 points) struggled horribly, but Stephen Curry (27 points, 7 dimes) had his back, picking up the backcourt slack for Golden State. For the Jazz, well, their problems had an obvious root: They really need their All-Star point guard. Straight up.
Actual Stats: Dwight Howard: 20 points, 20 boards, 2 assists, 2 blocks
Moment of the Night: LeBron finds an open Eddie House, and then…