Post Up: 23 Straight

by March 19, 2013

by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz

Fan favorite Pete Walsh will be back tomorrow, but I’ve got Monday night’s games covered. A few games went down to the wire and a bunch guys scored 30+. To the main attraction!

76ers (26-40) 101, Blazers (31-35) 100
This game was neck-and-neck for the entire fourth quarter. Jrue Holiday gave Philly the lead on a jumper with 2:30 left, and they led by four with 13 seconds left. Damian Lillard knocked down a triple to make things interesting, and things got very interesting after a Thaddeus Young turnover. But Portland couldn’t convert on their game-winning opportunity.

Jrue dropped 27 with 8 boards and 6 dimes. Thaddeus scored 19 with 5 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks and Spencer Hawes double-doubled with 18 and 13.

Aldridge was great for the Blazers, hitting 13-of-28 shots for 32 points and 14 boards. He hit a three and all five of his free throw attempts, but couldn’t get the buzzer-beater to fall. Lillard hit 5 threes on his way to 27 points, and added 7 boards and 7 dimes. Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum were bad, though, combining to shoot 6-of-21. The Blazers are now 9-24 on the road, clearly the reason they’ll likely miss the Playoffs.

Nets (39-28) 119, Pistons (23-46) 82
Brooklyn dominated this one the whole way through. They won the first quarter by 13 and the third quarter by 17 in the blowout.

Deron Williams led the charge with 31 in only three quarters. He’s been playing very well lately, a welcome sight after he battled with bum ankles for the first half-or-so of the year. Brook Lopez scored 18, and Andray Blatche, MarShon Brooks, Jerry Stackhouse and Mirza Teletovic combined for 44 bench points.

Will Bynum (18) and Greg Monroe (17) were Detroit’s leading scorers, but they were each a -28 on the floor. Detroit hit a comical 1-of-18 threes—5.6 percent.

Bobcats (15-52) 119, Wizards (23-43) 114
I’ve grown so accustomed to the Bobcats losing that I started writing this thinking the Wizards had won, only to backtrack midway. Charlotte actually won a game last night behind big shots from Ben Gordon, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson.

Gordon tied the game at 111 with two minutes left, and a pair of Walker buckets put Charlotte up four late. A Henderson trey iced the game with 55 ticks left.

Henderson was the home team’s high-man with 27. He hit 10-of-11 free throws and added 8 assists. Walker dropped in 18 and Gordon hit 7-of-10 shots for 19 bench points.

John Wall scored 25 for Washington, but committed 6 turnovers and fouled out late. Nene was big with 21 points, 7 boards and 7 assists. Emeka Okafor went for 17 and 9.

I’m an obsessive proponent of maintaining cap flexibility in the NBA. Since the max contract exists (which it shouldn’t), teams can get great bang for their buck. Guys like LeBron get paid about the same as guys like Nene, DeAndre Jordan and Rashard Lewis. So, to me, the Wizards totally screwed up by trading for Nene and Okafor’s big contracts. But, at least, they’ve given them real consistency in the post this season.

Pacers (41-26) 111, Cavaliers (22-45) 90
Indy blew the Cavs out in the middle two quarters and easily held on in the fourth. Gerald Green led the team in scoring with 20 off the bench, and Tyler Hansbrough scored 18 with 11 rebounds with David West out.

Paul George wasn’t huge—14 points, 4 boards, 4 assists—but suddenly games like last night’s count as bad for him. Earlier in his career, he was prone to horrible shooting nights. This year he’s absolutely taken off and is reliably leading a very strong Pacers club.

Four Cavs starters—Alonzo Gee, Dion Waiters, Shaun Livingston and Tyler Zeller—combined for 27 points on 29 shots. Tristan Thompson was big (20 & 11), but it’s nearly impossible to beat a team as good as Indiana without production from 80 percent of your starters.

Mavericks (32-35) 127, Hawks (37-30) 113
The Hawks lost at home despite shooting 56 percent from the field. Pretty pathetic.

Dallas made over 57 percent of its shots, including 13-of-22 from deep, in the win. Dirk Nowitzki hit 7-of-11 shots, and three guys—Mike James, OJ Mayo and Vince Carter—combined to shoot 9-of-13 from downtown. Darren Collison (10/14, 24 & 5) and Brandan Wright (12 & 8 ) were great off the bench.

Atlanta had seven scorers in double-figures. Al Horford was the leading man with 16, and added 11 boards and 4 assists. He’s one of only three guys in the NBA averaging 17+ and 10+ in 50+ games (Cousins and D Lee are the others).

Grizzlies (45-21) 92, Timberwolves (23-42) 77
Not a single T-Wolves starter scored double figures last night. Three guys accomplished the feat off the bench, but nobody eclipsed 12 points. Needless to say, the game wasn’t too close.

Memphis got a massive 12 points and 14 boards from Tayshaun Prince, and Mike Conley led the team with 20 points, 6 assists and just one turnover. Zach Randolph went for 14 and 10, and the NBA’s best center, Marc Gasol, posted 16 points, 8 boards, 5 assists and 4 blocks.

Warriors (39-30) 93, Hornets (22-46) 72
Golden State is starting to play well again. After dominating the Rockets in their last game, they easily handled the Hornets on Monday night.

Stephen Curry dropped 30 in New Orleans, adding 7 boards and 6 threes but 7 turnovers as well. David Lee posted 20 points and 11 boards, and Klay Thompson scored 13.

Ryan Anderson scored 21 off the Hornets’ bench despite shooting just 1-of-6 from deep. Anthony Davis scored 16 points with 7 boards, and seems to be putting up those exact numbers every night. He tacked on 2 steals and a block. Greivis Vasquez scored 14 with 9 assists.

Nuggets (46-22) 119, Bulls (36-30) 118
This was a wild game. Denver led by 11 with seven minutes left and eight with 3:26 left after an Andre Iguodala three. But Nate Robinson answered right back with a three of his own, and with 13 seconds left hit another three to tie the game. A Ty Lawson jumper was off the mark at the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

Chicago led by two with 18 seconds left in OT when Iguodala put Denver ahead with another trey. With one second left, Marco Bellineli missed a shot, and a Joakim Noah tip-in was called offensive goaltending, ending the game. At first glance it was unclear, but the replay showed the refs made the right call.

Chandler and Robinson, a pair of former Knicks, were both huge for their respective teams. Wilson dropped 35 on 13-of-21 shooting from the floor and 8-of-9 free throws. He added 9 boards, 4 dimes and 2 steals for Denver. So far this month, he’s scored 35 twice and 24 once but fewer than 8 points three times and between 11-13 points three times. That is absurd inconsistency.

Corey Brewer, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson and Iguodala joined Chandler in double-figures. Iggy had 10 boards and Andre Miller had 13 assists in 29 minutes off the bench. Denver has now won 12 straight.

Nate led Chicago with 34 points, 6 threes and 7 assists. Luol Deng added 21 and Noah went off for 14 points, 12 boards, 6 assists and 7 blocks. He’s having an amazing season.

Heat (52-14) 105, Celtics (36-30) 103
What an unbelievable game. Jeff Green led the Celtics to a 12-point lead after one, but Miami was within four entering the final quarter.

A 9-0 Miami spurt put them on top 101-100 with 2:40 left, but Avery Bradley responded by connecting on a three from the corner. A quick bucket from LeBron James tied the game with 1:21 left.

Boston missed on consecutive possessions, giving Miami the ball with 31 seconds remaining. LeBron faced up against Green and knocked down a go-ahead 20-footer. Shane Battier made an amazing defensive play on Green on the following play, and a missed three by Paul Pierce with a few seconds left effectively ended the game.

Green was dominant the whole way through. The 6-9 Georgetown product hit 14-of-21 shots overall, including 5-of-7 threes, and 10-of-13 free throws in 40 minutes. Add it all up, and it was a career-high 43 points for Green. He snagged 7 boards and blocked 4 shots, and single-handedly kept Boston in the lead for most of the night. Paul Pierce and Courtney Lee combined for 30 points.

Miami got 37 (16/29), 12 dimes and 7 assists from LeBron. Mario Chalmers hit 4 threes on his way to 21 points, and Dwyane Wade added 16. It seemed like the Celtics were primed to break Miami’s 22-game win streak, but give the Heat tons of credit for turning on the jets late.

Their 23-game stretch is the second-longest in NBA history, and with Cleveland, Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando coming up, they should be at 27 in no time. The only teams with a realistic chance of stopping them from breaking the record for most consecutive wins in a season are the Bulls (March 27), Spurs (March 31) and Knicks (April 2). The first two games are on the road. All three are nationally televised (if you count games on NBA TV as “nationally televised,” which I don’t usually do).

Also, a random stat courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info. A player has scored 31+ against Miami nine times this season, and the Heat are 9-0 in those games. Goes to show that it takes a balanced attack to take down the East’s finest. Unless you have Dirk Nowitzki circa June 2011.

Suns (23-45) 99, Lakers (35-33) 76
The Lakers have visited Steve Nash’s old stomping grounds twice this year and lost both times. Last night, they played a close game before allowing Phoenix to dominate the fourth quarter 28-10. It took Yellow LA three minutes to get their first bucket of the final quarter, and they didn’t make a shot from the floor in the final 4:15.

Six Suns scored double-figures. Wes Johnson went for 14 and 9, Goran Dragic scored 12 points with 10 assists and Luis Scola added 14 off the bench.

Nash led the Lakers with 19 points. Dwight Howard scored 16 with 11 boards and Metta World Peace scored 12. The three of them combined to make just 17/52 shots (32%), right on par with the Lakers’ 33.3 percent night from the floor.

Four more telling stats: 1. Somehow Phoenix won the rebounding battle by 10 without Marcin Gortat. 2. The Lakers shot 5-of-22 from deep. 3. The Lakers combined to block just one shot. 4. Every Lakers starter committed multiple turnovers.

Knicks (39-26) 90, Jazz (34-33) 83
The Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire last night (combined salary this season: $53 million, which is more than Rockets entire team), but still came away with a win in a tough environment.

JR Smith scored 18 second half points, and terrible offensive execution by the Jazz in the last couple of minutes cost them a chance at a win. Ray Felton scored 19 for New York, and Chris Copeland added 14.

The Jazz could have jumped the Lakers for the 8 seed tonight, but couldn’t capitalize on LA’s loss. Gordon Hayward led the team with 17. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap combined to shoot 8-of-22 from the floor, and Mo Williams connected on only 4 of his 14 attempts overall. Credit Kurt Thomas, who played through a foot injury and was nothing short of stellar defensively. He shut Jefferson down in the fourth.