by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz
Last night, Kyrie Irving went off against Milwaukee, the Lakers finally looked like a playoff team and the Celtics lost despite a triple-double from Rajon Rondo for the second consecutive night.
Wizards (10-31) 114, Timberwolves (17-23) 101
Washington has been solid since John Wall’s return, and outplayed the T-Wolves last night. They led by 14 points at halftime before playing a pretty even second half.
Wall started and made 6-of-10 shots for 14 points in 21 minutes. He added 5 dimes and a pair of blocks. Bradley Beal scored 16 and had 4 blocks, but it was Jordan Crawford who led the team with 19 points. However, he was a -11 while on the floor—very unimpressive in a double-digit win.
Minnesota won the rebounding battle by 13, but couldn’t stop the Wizards, who shot nearly 58 percent from the floor and made 8-of-17 tries from deep.
Derrick Williams started with both Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic injured, and was great in 31 minutes. He scored 18 points and grabbed 11 boards, and added a three and a steal. Andrei Kirilenko added 17. Ricky Rubio, who is averaging an extremely disappointing 4 points and 5 assists in 22 minutes this season coming off of a knee injury made only 1-of-8 shots with 6 assists and 5 turnovers.
The fall of the Timberwolves is one of the underratedly sad stories of the year. Last season they were an awesome surprise and looked poised for a bright future behind Love, Rubio and some young supporting players. Now, Love is unhappy with his contract and can’t stop breaking his hand and Rubio looks nowhere near as good as he did in his rookie campaign. I certainly hope they can turn it around, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.
Hawks (25-18) 123, Celtics (20-23) 111
Boston really choked last night. They led by 27 at one point, and were up 94-84 with 4:43 left before the Hawks caught fire. Atlanta hit threes on four consecutive possessions (three coming from Kyle Korver) late in the fourth to close the gap, but neither team scored in the final minute and the game went into overtime.
The game was tied with a-buck-thirty-four left in overtime, when again both offenses went cold. They headed to double OT knotted at 107 after Josh Smith made a clutch defensive play on Paul Pierce at the buzzer.
Boston failed to score in the first three minutes and 41 seconds of the sixth period, and Atlanta pulled away in the meantime. A 12-point final margin in double overtime game is pretty incredible.
Korver knocked down 8 threes on the night, and finished with 27 points. Al Horford (24 and 13) and Josh Smith (17 and 14) both double-doubled. Jeff Teague dropped 23 with 7 dimes and 3 steals.
Kevin Garnett was Boston’s high-man with 24. Rajon Rondo triple-doubled with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, though he did commit 6 turnovers. Paul Pierce shot 4-of-13 and was a -30 on the floor. Jeff Green dropped 17 off the bench, and Courtney Lee—another reserve—played well in 26 minutes. He finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Boston is probably tough enough to gather themselves come playoff time (assuming they make the postseason—only Philly can knock them from the 8 seed), but I’m not buying into them at all. The personnel simply isn’t good enough. They’re going to get out-rebounded and simply outplayed by superior teams. They’re lucky the East is lame, but even so I’d take Miami, New York, Brooklyn, Indiana, Chicago, probably Atlanta and maybe even Milwaukee over the Cs.
Heat (28-12) 110, Pistons (16-27) 88
The Heat led by just nine points at the break before opening things up in the final two quarters. LeBron James was efficient again, making 9-of-14 shots and finishing with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Dwyane Wade was great, too, hitting 12-of-20 shots for 29 points. He added 7 dimes, 5 boards and 3 steals. Shouldn’t-have-been all star Chris Bosh went for 14 and 7.
Greg Monroe was big for Detroit, making 12-of-17 attempts from the floor and 7-of-8 from the line for 31 points, and he added 12 rebounds. Andre Drummond went for 6 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks off the bench.
Also, this happened—
Grizzlies (28-14) 101, Nets (26-17) 77
Brooklyn failed to prove that they can keep up with the big dogs last night. Memphis beat them handily—leading by 23 at the break and 24 when all was said and done. Memphis won on the glass (45-37), and the Nets couldn’t hit from deep, but that didn’t keep them from trying (3/17 from three).
Marc Gasol was dominant for Memphis, making 10-of-15 shots on his way to 20 points and 9 rebounds. Zach Randolph added 12 and 9. Mike Conley made 6-of-7 shots with only one turnover (a near-perfect point guard game). Seven Memphis players scored in double-figures.
Brook Lopez scored 18 points for Brooklyn, but reverted back to his old ways and grabbed just 4 rebounds. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams both struggled, each shooting 4-of-10 from the field. Reggie Evans double-doubled with 11 and 10.
Cavaliers (12-32) 113, Bucks (22-19) 108
Milwaukee led by as many as 20 in the third and nine entering the fourth quarter before some new Cavs took over. Marreese Speights and Wayne Ellington were huge in the final quarter, sparking a comeback for Cleveland. Kyrie Irving sealed the game late.
Kyrie, who I believe should be starting for the Eastern Conference All-Stars, finished with 35 points on just 17 shots. It’s the sixth time he’s scored at least 30 points in 12 January games. The Cavs are 5-1 in those six and 0-6 when he scores less than 30. He needs help. Tristan Thompson, who’s developed nicely with Anderson Varejao out of the lineup, posted 18 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Speights finished with 10 points and 6 boards in 18 minutes. Ellington only made one shot, but it was a big one. His three with 6:31 left gave Cleveland a lead they never relinquished.
Ersan Ilyasova, who’s suddenly on fire for Milwaukee, dropped 30. Monta Ellis scored 21 with 9 assists, Brandon Jennings scored 14 with 12 assists, and Larry Sanders double-doubled with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Bulls (26-16) 103, Warriors (26-16) 87
The Warriors just didn’t come to play last night—a rarity for them this season. They trailed by 18 points after the first quarter and couldn’t erase the deficit.
Kirk Hinrich led the Bulls with 25 points. Amazingly, each of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler had a points-rebounds double-double. Chicago won the boards battle by 19. Nate Robinson dropped 22 off the bench.
The Warriors got 20+ from Stephen Curry and David Lee, but Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson combined to make just 4-of-17 field goal attempts. Neither Jarrett Jack nor Carl Landry got things going for them off the bench.
Rockets (23-22) 100, Hornets (14-29) 82
New Orleans was within four points early in the third quarter before letting things slip away. Houston led by 15 after three.
James Harden dropped 30 points. He knocked down all 12 of his free throw attempts, and might be the best player in the NBA at getting to the line. Patrick Patterson posted 18 points and 13 boards.
The Hornets got a team-high 20 from Eric Gordon. Ryan Anderson chipped in 19 off the bench, and Anthony Davis posted 10 points, 7 boards and 3 steals.
Spurs (35-11) 113, Mavericks (18-25) 107
A huge fourth quarter by Dallas made this game look closer than it really was. San Antonio led by 20 entering the final period.
Tiago Splitter played well again in Tim Duncan’s absence, double-doubling with 13 and 12. Tony Parker dropped 23 points and tallied 10 assists. DeJaun Blair broke out in a massive way, making 10-of-13 shots in just 19 minutes off the bench. He had scored 26 points throughout January entering the night, but scored 22 on Friday. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich missed last night’s game with the flu, so Blair finally got a chance to play.
Roddy Beaubois led Dallas with 19 points. Vince Carter dropped 17. Elton Brand grabbed 13 boards, and Dirk Nowitzki scored 15 in 34 minutes.
Thunder (34-10) 105, Kings (16-28) 95
Sacto led by three points after the first quarter, but trailed by seven at halftime and 19 after three quarters. Kevin Durant (11 rebounds) and Kevin Martin each scored a team-high 24 for OKC. Russell Westbrook dropped 18 points and 14 dimes.
DeMarcus Cousins scored 14 points for the Kings, but needed 16 shots to get there and committed 7 turnovers. Tyreke Evans scored 16, and Marcus Thornton added 13 off the bench. James Johnson led the Kings in assists with 4. Pathetic.
Lakers (18-25) 102, Jazz (23-20) 84
The Lakers actually looked like a functional team last night. Kobe Bryant attempted just 10 shots, but made 7 of them and just missed a triple-double. He finished with 14 points, 14 assists and 9 boards. Dwight Howard was efficient with 17 points (8/12) and 13 boards. Pau Gasol shot 7-of-8 for 15 points off the bench, and Steve Nash and Metta World Peace combined for 32 points.
It was an overall solid effort for LA, who shot 54 percent for the game and held the Jazz to just 37 first-half points. They’ll have to play a few more equally-energized games before I believe they’ve figured things out.
Utah was led in scoring by Derrick Favors (usually a bad sign), who scored 14 (always a bad sign). Nobody on the team recorded more than 7 rebounds, and Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap combined for only 22 points. Utah’s prone to playing some ugly games, and this was certainly one of them.