Post Up: Melo’s Night

by January 25, 2014

by Brett Weisband | @weisband

Magic (12-32) 114, Lakers (16-28) 105

Tobias Harris beat up on the Lakers, posting a 20-20 game with 28 points and 20 boards as the Magic pulled away from Los Angeles late. Orlando had three players score more than 20 points, with Harris being joined by Arron Afflalo (23 points, 7-12 shooting, six assists) and Jameer Nelson (22 points, six assists), while Victor Oladipo posted a double double with 15 points and 12 boards along with five assists.

The Lakers, at the tail end of their annual Grammy road trip, hit a wall in the third quarter. Following a hot start to the game, they were up 65-55 three minutes into the second half. From that point, they watched the Magic take off on a 36-15 run to end the quarter, going scoreless over the final 3:33 of the frame. Kendall Marshall had 19 points and 14 assists in the losing effort, while Pau Gasol put up 21 and 11 boards.

Raptors (22-20) 104, 76ers (14-29) 95

Kyle Lowry celebrated his homecoming in style, posting a triple double in his return to Philadelphia, where he grew up and played his college ball. Lowry went for 18 points, 13 assists and 10 boards for the Raptors as the broke a tight game open late. DeMar DeRozan (34 points) scored 16 in the fourth quarter to kill any chance of comeback by the 76ers.

Michael Carter-Williams had 20 points to lead the Sixers, who were within two points before DeRozan reeled off nine straight early in the fourth. Spencer Hawes posted a 14 point, 12 rebound double double for Philly.

Spurs (33-10) 105, Hawks (22-20) 79

The Spurs had no need to worry about managing the minutes for their aging roster as they raced out to a double digit lead in the first quarter and never relented. Tim Duncan had a vintage performance with 17 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks in just 27 minutes. Gregg Popovich was able to pull his stars after the third quarter with the Spurs leading by 28. Boris Diaw had 21 points off the bench as the Spurs hit 11-18 3-pointers and held the Hawks to just 38.2 percent shooting.

Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 15 points, but he had a rough time getting there on 6-17 shooting. The Hawks hit just 2-13 triples for the game and got crushed on the glass, 54-36. Friday marked the first time all season that the Hawks have failed to crack 80 points in a game. Jeff Teague went out early with a sprained ankle for Atlanta. 

Thunder (34-10) 101, Celtics (15-30) 83

Playing without both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for the first time since the two became teammates, the Thunder had no trouble dispatching the Celtics. Jeremy Lamb showed his scoring touch, dropping 19 off the bench (9-17 shooting) in a season-high 30 minutes. Serge Ibaka, usually relegated to secondary scoring duties, put up 21 on 9-13 shooting. Even missing the earth-scorching scoring force Durant has turned into of late, OKC won their sixth straight, shooting 53.8 percent and picking up 24 assists on their 43 made shots.

Rajon Rondo dished out eight assists for the Celtics, his most since being activated, but shot just 2-7 for five points in 22 minutes. Jeff Green led Boston in scoring with 16 points, but his 3-point shooting from Wednesday failed to make an appearance as the Celtics shot just 5-27 from deep.

Nets (19-22) 107, Mavericks (25-20) 106

Remember when everyone was laughing at the Nets’ misfortune and Jason Kidd’s ineptitude? Look out now: Brooklyn is 9-1 since the calendar flipped after a tight win over the Mavericks. Dallas cut an 11-point hole down to two thanks to a string of free throws and Monta Ellis slashes to the hoop, but couldn’t finish of the comeback. Brooklyn benefitted from an offensive explosion from Mirza Teletovic, who scored 24 of his 34 points in the second quarter. Teletovic hit six threes in the second as the Nets made 16-21 shots in the period. 

Dallas got 18 from Dirk Nowitzki, but he had to labor through 5-15 shooting to get there. The Mavs, who have lost three of their last four and four of six, shot 43.6 percent on the night. Vince Carter had 19 off the bench, while  Ellis had 16, including a 3-pointer in the final seconds that made the final margin a bit closer. The Nets have beaten six current Playoff teams (including Atlanta twice) in this stretch as they’ve climbed to seventh in the East. Deron Williams pitched in 18 points and 11 assists, coming off the bench once again.

Cavaliers (16-27) 93, Bucks (8-34) 78

It wasn’t pretty, but Cleveland grinded their way to a win over the Bucks. Kyrie Irving celebrated his selection as an All-Star starter with 10 points and 10 assists, his fifth double double of the season, while Anderson Varejao paced the scoring with 16 points. Cleveland shot just 42 percent, but Milwaukee was even worse: 40 percent from the field, 29 percent from long range.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of the lone bright spots for the Bucks, scoring 10 points to go with seven rebounds and two blocks. Khris Middleton was the only other Milwaukee player in double figures with 13. 

Pelicans (17-25) 103, Pistons (17-26) 101

The Pelicans snagged a last second win away from Detroit as Eric Gordon (15 points, seven turnovers) twirled in a layup with just under two seconds to go. New Orleans took the best the Pistons had to offer, as Motown hit them with a 30-6 run to get out to a 16-point lead late in the third. The Pellies responded with a 9-0 run of their own, fighting their way back into it throughout the fourth. Anthony Davis had 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Pelicans, who have won two of three after an eight-game skid. The Pistons had a chance in the final seconds, but Brandon Jennings failed to call timeout after Gordon’s hoop. 

Andre Drummond outplayed Davis, his fellow 2012 draftee, beasting his way to a 21 point, 20 rebound stat line, including an absurd 10 offensive rebounds. Despite his miscue Jennings had 28 for the Pistons. Detroit did their best to make up for having eight of their shots blocked in a 43.5 percent shooting performance by getting to the line 28 times. It was defense that once again did them in, as they allowed Nola to shoot over 50 percent from the field.

Knicks (16-27) 125, Bobcats (19-26) 96

As a sports fan, these are the games you wait for and savor. As an athlete, these performances are why you want to play in New York, no matter the drama. Carmelo Anthony gave the Madison Square Garden faithful a night they’re not likely to forget, scoring 62 points, an arena and team record as well as career high.

It was obvious from the jump the Melo had it going, as he hit his first three shots and made 8-10 in the first quarter for 20 points, but Anthony has started hot before. He kept it up in the second quarter netting another 17 heading into the break. The potential for something special was there when he eclipsed his scoring average and then some within 20 minutes of game play, but just how special? When he drilled a runner from half court at the halftime buzzer to give him 37 after two, you knew Melo was in a zone unlike any other.

As the Knicks pulled away in the second half, Anthony’s teammates had no trouble giving him the ball and letting him work. Somehow, the open looks kept coming, and Melo kept knocking them down. He set a career high and passed Kevin Durant’s season-best 54 by the end of the third. With the game well in hand, there were just two things left to do: break the team scoring record of 60, set by Bernard King in 1984, and reclaim the the Garden record for the Knicks, held by Kobe Bryant at 61 coming into the night. Clearly exhausted to start the fourth, Anthony left a few jumpers short while fighting through double- and triple-teams, but worked his way to the 60-point plateau. With 7:24 to go, he pivoted on the wing and leaned in for a banker, giving him both records for himself. Anthony finished with one of the most remarkable lines you’ll see this decade: 62 points, 23-35 from the field, 6-11 from behind the arc, 10-10 at the free throw line, 13 rebounds and no turnovers in 39 minutes. He became the sixth player in NBA history to post a 60-10 night, and scored the most points without a turnover in the history of the Association.  Take a bow, Mr. Anthony.


Carmelo Anthony shot chart

(Image via @ESPN_Numbers)

In the words of Knicks play-by-play man Mike Breen, “no one cares,” but the Knicks got 14 points and a few highlight assists from J.R. Smith off the bench, while Al Jefferson put in 25 on 11-19 shooting for the Bobcats. Everyone else on the court was irrelevant on Friday; the Garden belonged to Carmelo Anthony.

Clippers (30-15) 115, Bulls (21-21) 95

Los Angeles picked up a relatively easy win over the grind-it-out Bulls, leading by double digits for the majority of the second half. Blake Griffin led the way, notching a double double with 26 points and 13 rebounds while also registering seven assists – his third straight game with five or more helpers. The Clippers shot a hair under 54 percent from the field and made 62 percent from long range against a Chicago defense that allows opponents to shoot just 42.9 and 36 percent, respectively. L.A. had six players in double figures, with Jamal Crawford netting 19 off the bench and J.J. Redick dropping 18 on 4-7 shooting from deep.

Chicago got strong efforts from their power forward duo of Carlos Boozer (22 and nine) and Taj Gibson (18 points), while Joakim Noah had 13 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The Bulls just didn’t have enough firepower, shooting just 43 percent, to keep up with the high-powered Clippers. L.A. owned the Bulls in their two matchups this season, winning by an average of 28 points.

Grizzlies (21-20) 88, Rockets (29-16) 87

Memphis watched shot after shot fall against them, and true to their nature they kept grinding. With the Grizzlies clinging to a one-point lead, Mike Miller was called for an offensive foul, handing the ball back to Houston. As the Rockets took a crack at stealing the win, the Grizz forced the ball out of the red-hot hands of Chandler Parsons (34 points) and new addition Courtney Lee forced up an airball by Patrick Beverly as time expired.

Despite the Grizzlies leaving with the win, the biggest story was Parsons’ 3-point shooting. After missing his first three attempts from deep in the first half, Parsons found some of the Tune Squad’s Secret Stuff and went into video game mode. The swingman hit 10 straight 3-pointers after halftime, setting an NBA record for most 3s in a half and a team record for most in a game.

Lee was a factor for Memphis offensively as well, netting 19 points for the second straight game. The Grizz limited James Harden to 10 points, holding him to just six free throw attempts, although Harden did pick up 13 assists. Dwight Howard had a double double for Houston as well with 10 points and 12 rebounds. 

Wizards (21-21) 101, Suns (24-18) 95

Washington hung on for a gritty – and sloppy – road win over the Suns. Bradley Beal (17 points, 8-15 from the field) came up big for the Wizards, knocking down a huge jumper and finishing the game off with a dunk. Washington overcame a few self-inflicted wounds, turning the ball over six times in the fourth quarter. John Wall had 18 points and 12 assists in a big night for the young Wizards backcourt, while Trevor Ariza led the team in scoring with 23.

Goran Dragic paced the Suns with 19 and 11 assists, as they kept it close after giving up the lead midway through the third quarter. Phoenix was thrown off of their usual strategy though, as the Wizards slowed down the pace and clamped down on defense, limiting them to 71 field goal attempts – 14 less than their average. That was helped by Washington forcing 21 giveaways, four of them by Dragic. Channing Frye dropped 16 for Phoenix, including hitting 4-7 from deep.

Pacers (34-8) 116, Kings (15-27) 111 (OT)

Coming in, this looked to be one of the biggest mismatches of the year. The Kings, playing without DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, flipped the script, racing out to a lead early and holding it for much of the game. No surprise, Indiana scrapped their way back into it. Down by four with less than 30 seconds on the clock, Paul George (36 points, 12-22 shooting, four steals, two blocks) ripped a 3-pointer, drawing a questionable foul in the process and draining the free throw for the four-point play, sending it to OT. In the extra period, George scored eight points and made yet another pivotal play, stripping Isaiah Thomas on the game’s last meaningful possession.

Despite the loss, the Kings got sublime efforts from their starting backcourt. Thomas and Marcus Thornton both set career highs, scoring 38 and 42, respectively. Thornton was remarkably effective for a career 43 percent shooter, knocking down 16-27 from the field and 7-15 from long range. They were the only two Kings in double figures, though. For Indiana, David West had 22 points, including a crucial 3-pointer in overtime, and 24 from Lance Stephenson. Roy Hibbert had 10 points, 11 boards and five blocks.

Timberwolves (21-21) 121, Warriors (26-18) 120

Minnesota gave up a wide-open game winning look to the Warriors, but they walked away from a wild shootout unscathed after a back-and-forth fourth quarter. The win finally gave the Timberwolves their first win in a game decided by four points or fewer this season, having dropped 11 straight close ones this year. With 8.4 seconds remaining on the clock, Kevin Martin (26 points, 10-17 shooting) came free in the corner, draining a jumper to put the Wolves up a point. On the Warriors’ final possession, Steph Curry (33 points, 12-21 from the field, 6-10 from deep, 15 assists) found Harrison Barnes by himself on the wing, but his jumper caught iron as time expired.

Neither team showed any interest whatsoever; Minnesota shot an even 50 percent, Golden State hit better than 55 percent of their shots and both teams shot 9-22 (40.9 percent) on 3-pointers. While the defensive effort probably frustrated both coaches, it was aesthetically pleasing, as both teams flew up and down the court with impunity. Minnesota got some big numbers from All-Star starter Kevin Love, who had his customary double double with 26 points and 14 boards, along with eight assists. Nikola Pekovic nearly matched him, with 22 and 14 of his own. Golden State got contributions from David Lee (23 points) and Klay Thompson (18 points). Andre Iguodala had 16 for the Dubs, and the shaky free throw shooter coolly sank two from the line in crunch time to keep the Warriors in it.