Post Up: Durant, Curry Shine

by December 30, 2013

by Jay Wallis | @JayWallis11

Warriors 108 (19-13), Cavaliers 104 (10-20) OT

Golden State had to fight for its 5th straight victory. The player throwing the most punches was Stephen Curry (29 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds), who just missed his second straight triple-double. Even though he came out of halftime shooting 1-11 from the field, Curry continued to compete and eventually hit a big-time shot towards the end of overtime. Andre Iguodala (8 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) also had a very well-rounded game, as he usually puts together. These two Warriors passed the ball efficiently, leading the way to 30 team assists. Golden State locked down defensively in overtime, not allowing a single point after Dion Waiters (8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 turnovers) made a free throw with 2:56 left in the game. Draymond Green (5 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks) showed his toughness all night long, accounting for the first 2 blocks of 3 straight blocks on three Cavaliers possessions in a row during the final minutes of overtime. David Lee (19 points, 4 rebounds) was nonexistent in the 1st half, before scoring all 19 of his points in the 2nd half. Kyrie Irving (27 points, 9 assists) had 11 4th quarter points, including a game-tying 3-pointer to send this one into overtime, but then shot 0-3 during the extra period. Cleveland was outscored in the paint 48-24, not having much of a presence down low besides Tristan Thompson (17 points, 12 rebounds).

Magic 109 (10-20), Hawks 102 (17-14)

After three straight overtime games and playing in its 3rd game in 4 nights, Atlanta looked tired on the defensive end of the floor, allowing seven of nine active Magic players to score in double figures. Arron Afflalo (21 points, 7 assists) led these seven players in scoring and hit a big jump shot to take the lead with 9:58 to go along with a 3-pointer to take a 10-point lead with 2:51 to go. Nikola Vucevic (16 points, 14 rebounds) had his 7th double-double in the last 9 games and Tobias Harris (17 points, 7 rebounds) continued to look like the player he was at the end of last season. Harris is averaging 16.4 ppg and 7.6 rebounds over the past 5 games. As usual, Paul Millsap (17 points, 7 rebounds) remained a force, Jeff Teague (22 points, 8 assists) distributed the ball and Lou Williams (18 points, 4-11 on 3-pointers) provided an offensive punch. This team just couldn’t make enough stops as the game moved along. Kyle Korver (8 points, 2-4 on 3-pointers) has now made a 3-pointer in 100 straight games. Orlando outscored Atlanta 46-26 in the paint, as the Hawks looked like they were missing a certain big man down low. The Magic have shot 86-159 (54.1 percent) from the field during their 2 straight wins.

Thunder 117 (25-5), Rockets 86 (21-12)

No Russ, no problem. In what was supposed to be a quality matchup between two West elite teams, Kevin Durant (33 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists) took control of this game with Reggie Jackson (16 points, 8 assists, 0 turnovers) filling in very well for Russell Westbrook. Everything was rolling for the Thunder on Sunday night, as they jumped out to a 13-0 lead and didn’t allow the Rockets to score until Dwight Howard (9 points, 9 rebounds, 4-13 from the field, 1-7 on free throws) made a hook shot with 5:27 to go in the 1st quarter. As was often the case during his time with the Magic, when Howard’s supporting cast can’t make 3-pointers, the offense becomes stagnant. With all of OKC’s big men playing well and rebounding, D12 failed to grab 10 rebounds for the 2nd time in the last 3 games. Kendrick Perkins (2 points 9 rebounds) has now grabbed 19 rebounds in his last 2 games and looked somewhat like a basketball player. Jeremy Lamb (career-high 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 8-10 from the field, 3-4 on 3-pointers) was firing from all over the floor, making almost all of his jump shots. With Jackson now in the starting lineup, Lamb will need to carry the bench until Westbrook gets back. The Thunder held the Rockets 11 percent (36.5 percent) under their season average for field goal percentage (47.7 percent). After a Chandler Parsons’ (15 points) 3-pointer on the 1st play of the 3rd quarter, the Rockets cut the deficit to single digits, 56-47, for the 1st time since the Thunder’s run to start the game. OKC would then respond by going on a 15-0 run and putting this one away for good.

Spurs 112 (24-7), Kings 104 (9-20)

Even though this looks like yet another loss for the Kings, they did a good job of fighting against a very good Spurs team. And for the Spurs, they won this the old-fashioned way—with their Big 3 leading the way. Tony Parker (22 points, 7 assists, 0 turnovers), Manu Ginobili (28 points, 4-9 on 3-pointers) and Tim Duncan (17 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks) played one of their best games collectively this season. The Kings had their new Big 3 go toe-to-toe with the more experienced Big 3. Isaiah Thomas (27 points, 9 assists), Rudy Gay (24 points, 9 rebounds) and DeMarcus Cousins (29 points, 14 rebounds) all put up big numbers on the night. However, Spurs big men Tiago Splitter (11 points, 8 rebounds) and Boris Diaw (14 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists) gave just enough more production that the Kings couldn’t match. After Thomas hit a 3-pointer with 11 minutes to go, the Kings actually held a 90-81 lead. But then as the Spurs so often do in the 4th quarter, they tightened the screws and went on a 13-4 run to tie this one up. Behind the Spurs Big 3 scoring the final 23 points of this game, including a 16-4 run to close this one out, the Kings ended up looking like the young, inexperienced team they are. For a good part of this battle, though, Sacramento showed some promise with its Thomas-Gay-Cousins combination. The Spurs just know how to take care of business, as they are now 17-0 against teams below .500.

76ers 111 (9-21), Lakers 104 (13-18)

The Sixers finally halted their 13-game road losing streak and did so by getting just enough stops against a free-falling Kobe-less, Gasol-less Lakers team. They might have been playing well without Kobe at the beginning of the season, but the Lakers have lost their touch since his 2nd serious injury, currently on a 5-game losing streak. They are giving up 107.2 ppg during these five games. After a 52-52 tie at halftime, the Sixers used a 34-25 3rd quarter to take control. Even though he took 21 shots on the night, Nick Young (26 points, 6 rebounds, 6 turnovers, 12-12 on free throws) continued to look like a different man off the bench and was a slight bright spot on a night his team shot 36.9 percent from the field. Jordan Hill (18 points, 13 rebounds) and Shawne Williams (11 points, 10 rebounds, 3-7 on 3-pointers) both had double-doubles as the Lakers actually outrebounded the Sixers 55-49. However, the Lakers turned the ball over 20 times while the Sixers only turned it over 10 times. Michael Carter-Williams (13 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals), Evan Turner (22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists) and Spencer Hawes (19 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks) all had well-rounded games while taking care of the ball. Carter-Williams hit two clutch free throws with 13 seconds left to extend Philadelphia’s 3-point lead to a 2-possession game. Thaddeus Young (25 points, 9 rebounds) also put up good numbers, as he had 5 straight points before MCW’s two free throws. The veterans of this squad—Turner, Hawes and Young—continue to fight and play through a disappointing season.