by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
While most of you were watching the “Next Big Things” during last night’s entertaining Final Four, eight games went down around the league. Catch up on all of them below…
Kobe Bryant could have built a house with all the bricks he was throwing up last night. Mamba only scored 11 points on 3-21 shooting, but of course, his third made shot of the evening turned out to be the deciding basket of the game. Trailing the depleted Hornets (New Orleans only dressed eight guys) for most of the game, the Lakers finally regained the lead late in the fourth quarter with a Kobe Bryant three, then buckled down defensively to close out the contest. Andrew Bynum (19 points and 10 boards), Pau Gasol (21 and 11) and Ramon Sessions (10 points, 10 assists) picked up the slack with double-doubles and helped trigger an 8-0 run that spanned the final minute and thirty seconds of the game. With the win, Los Angeles moves to 32-20 and 21-5 at home. Hats off to the Hornets who have continued to play hard despite a whirlwind of a season that saw their franchise player get moved and their new roster decimated by injury. Jarret Jack, who quietly has had a great season, finished with 18 points and 10 assists and Jason Smith posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards.
After receiving news that Jeremy Lin would most likely miss the remainder of the season with a torn meniscus, the Knicks responded with a 16-point victory over the Cavs–a team that has had their number over the past two season. The Knicks controlled the game from the jump and finished off the visiting Cavaliers, who were coming off the second-worst loss in franchise history, with a 15-3 run highlighted by J.R. Smith. Smith scored 12 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth; he also contributed 9 boards and 5 steals in the win. Carmelo Anthony finished with 19 points, Tyson Chandler notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards and Iman Shumpert dropped 10 for the injury-plagued Knicks. With Kyrie Irving out with a shoulder injury, Antawn Jamison scored 13 points but didn’t find much help elsewhere.
Elton Brand posted a season-high 25 points, including 13 in the fourth, to go along with his 10 boards and 5 assists. It was the first time Brand posted a stat line of 20-10-5 since April 15, 2007. Brand absolutely owned the fourth quarter and after Marvin Williams swished a 3-pointer to bring the Hawks within two, Brand responded with an ice-cold 14-footer to extend the Sixers lead with 90 seconds remaining and took the wind out of the Hawks’ sails. Andre Iguodala finished with 18 points, 8 boards and 4 assists and Jrue Holiday had a solid night with 9 points, 8 boards and 6 dimes. Josh Smith posted a season-high 34 points, 9 boards and 5 assists–dude has been beasting the whole second half after being snubbed from the All-Star Game. Joe Johnson chipped in with 15-5-5, but the Hawks couldn’t muster the energy after beating the Knicks the night before down in Atlanta.
Not sure if anyone actually watched this game, but the Pistons used a 12-4 run, triggered by two Brandon Knight 3-pointers, in the final two minutes of regulation to force overtime where they eventually pulled out the victory. Tayshaun Prince scored 24 points, Will Bynum netted 17, including the game-tying three with 16 seconds left and five overtime free throws, and Greg Monroe finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 16 points and 9 boards. The Bobcats, who lost their seventh straight, were led by Byron Mullens who finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds.
The Grizzlies used a 24-point effort from Zach Randolph, and double-doubles from Rudy Gay (17 and 10), Mareese Speights (10 and 10) and Marc Gasol (13 and 15) to steal a win on the road last night in Milwaukee. The Bucks were clinging to a 62-56 lead midway through the third quarter before going ice cold and missing their next eight shots which allowed the Griz to go on a 14-0 run. Milwaukee never got within three after that. Memphis owned the Bucks on the boards, outrebounding them 58-39 which turned out to be the telling stat in the game. For the Bucks, Brandon Jennings finished with 24 points, Drew Gooden posted 20, and Ersan Illyasova had a monster double-double with 20 points and 16 boards.
With last night’s victory over the Pacers, San Antonio has now won seven straight and they are making a serious case for the “Best in the West” title heading into the last month(!) of the season. The Spurs blew the game open in the first half after going on a hot streak that saw them stretch the lead to 22 points. Indiana eventually cut the lead to seven with five minutes to go in the game, but the Spurs never truly felt threatened after their first half run. Tim Duncan finished with 23 points and 11 boards, Tony Parker had 18 and 5 assists, and Manu Ginobili came off the bench to drop 18 points. For the Pacers, Danny Granger and Paul George scored 18 apiece and Roy Hibbert finished with 15 points and 7 boards in the loss.
Deron Williams more than likely won’t be the centerpiece of the Nets franchise after this season, but the super talented point guard is certainly going out with a bang. Williams finished with 19 points and 15 assists and now has 35 dimes over the last two games. It’s wild to thank that D-Will has put up huge numbers on two continents over the last year and it’s a shame that the highlight of his year was getting his number retired out in Turkey–he deserves to be on a contender. Anthony Morrow hit six three-pointers and led all scorers with 24 points and Kris Humphries had a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards. The Nets used a big third quarter to take a 15-point lead into the final quarter and cruised to an easy victory. DeMarcus Cousins earned another double-double with 14 points and 12 boards and Tyreke Evans scored a team-high 23 points in his first game back after nursing an injured back.
It seems like ages ago when the Clippers were spiraling out of control and rumors of Vinny Del Negro being on the hot seat were swirling. It’s funny what a few wins can do for a franchise. Now that the Clippers have won five straight, it seems that all talk has turned to just how far this team can go in the playoffs. After briefly leaving the game with a bruised elbow, Chris Paul returned and lit up the Jazz to the tune of 26 points and 6 assists. Blake Griffin had 24 points, 8 boards and 6 assists while teammate Randy Foye (who has been giving the Clippers great minutes as of late) chipped in with 17 and 6 dimes. Utah chipped away at Lob City’s 19-point lead, eventually cutting the lead to four, but Randy Foye responded with a three that triggered a 14-4 run that put the game out of reach. Al Jefferson had his second straight big night with 26 points and frontcourt mate Paul Millsap had 18 points and 9 boards.
Stat Line of the Night: Anthony Davis with a dominating 18 points, 14 boards and 5 blocks to lead the University of Kentucky to the championship game.
Play of the Night: Mamba hits the go-ahead bucket.
Dunk of the Night: Ant Davis with two huge dunks.
Tonight: Abe is back to take you through a matinee doubleheader followed by six night games. Should be a great Sunday.