by Anton Kudriavtsev/@TheDiesel
Welcome to the night of too many blowouts! At least 6 of the games were snooze-fests, hence the short recaps. Let’s get it.
The Nets and their cast of league pariahs were doing just fine against an equally futile Pistons team, as Anthony Morrow scored 10 straight points in a second-half run that put the New Jersey up for good. Detroit was led by Tayshaun Prince’s 16 points but the team had about as much spirit as a cursed casino. By my calculations, Rip Hamilton was paid $135,000 to sit on the bench for this game. Come on, Dumars! Have your people talk to my people because I’ll do that for half the price. No wonder Carmelo didn’t want to come to Jersey, even their victories somehow look depressing.
The Spurs won their 8th straight game in a row and avenged an earlier loss to the Knicks (they gave up 128 points in the loss). Amar’e Stoudemire had 18 points and 15 rebounds but shot just 8-for-25 from the field while Raymond Felton (23 points) kept the Knicks within striking distance with a mini-run by himself in the 3rd quarter. San Antonio played a stellar defensive game, led by Tim Duncan’s 21 points and 16 rebounds but it was DeJuan Blair’s impact that was felt the most. Playing starter’s minutes over Splitter (who logged in 27 seconds), Blair scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in addition to playing great defense and limiting mistakes. Stealing the ball off an inbounds play despite having a low center of gravity and standing just 6’7” as a center? Check. Blair might be the sneakiest athletic big this side of Big Baby, and his ceiling might be higher if he keeps working at it. Also, if his coaching style is any indication, Gregg Popovich must be a dad who’s impossible to please. Forgetting this game, but Landry Fields should be the runner-up Rookie of the Year. It’s amazing how some writers still have Wall winning the award as they attempt to justify their storylines from the beginning of the season, but we all know who the real number one is. Fields gives you versatility and consistency, as he’s third in rebounding and scoring among rookies in addition to guarding tough perimeter players every game. Though his numbers won’t be seen too often on the “Check My $tats” segment, fans of his game know his impact on the Knicks’ success.
In case your Griffin goggles have you seeing all Blake all the time, Dwight Howard would like to remind you that he’s a beast. Superboy had 31 points and 19 rebounds, albeit against a frontline as threatening as Girl Guide cookie salespersons. Ryan Anderson took advantage of his increased minutes with 21 points and 10 rebounds while DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 16. Jose Calderon might be the only point guard in the NBA to slow down a fast break in many indecisive ways. Good to see Dwight demand the ball a lot more to play inside-out, especially against a weak team where the strategy is the easiest to execute.
The Suns continued their journey to .500 with a win over the lowly Wizards. Channing Frye scored 25 points while ¾ man, ¼ amazing added 12 points and 10 boards. Nick Young held it down with 25 of his own but like John Wall said: “We just gave up pretty quickly”.
Of all the blowouts on this night (did I mention there were many?), this one was the least expected. The Hawks are usually competitive but got blown out by 41 points against the Hornets. Atlanta were held to the lowest-scoring game in franchise history while Chris Paul managed the game with 16 points (on only 10 shots) and 8 assists against a team that shot 29% from the field. On the bright side, the Hawks now have a no-brainer corporate sponsor to go after: Four Loko energy drinks.
The Big Green Celts kept it rolling with contributions from everyone and Ray Allen’s mother, led by Garnett’s 21 points. Notable is the solid play from Semih Erden, with 14 points and 7 rebounds off the bench which will be needed once Jermaine O’Neal returns to re-injure himself on the bench. I don’t know what’s more intimidating, getting to play the 4th quarter as a rookie on this team, or having Garnett bark at you while you’re on the floor. Speaking of injuries, Shaq Daddy left the game in the first quarter with a hip injury and is doubtful for today’s game against Washington (good thing they’re only playing the Wizards). As for the Jazz, they were as flat as Utah’s nightlife as Deron Williams had a season-low 5 points while Earl Watson had 12. I have to disagree with Charles Barkley saying that Utah’s struggles indicate Williams’ lack of leadership skills. Deron’s going through a bit of a funk but that doesn’t mean he’s a mentally weak player who doesn’t care about wins. Chuck’s statement irked me since he just finished talking about Rose’s greatness, considering Rose has as much leadership aura as Mike Brown.
All those Bucks fans who have been waiting for the team to crack triple digits as part of their drinking game – rejoice! Andrew Bogut got his mojo back with 23 points and 6 rebounds while the Cavs couldn’t beat the worst shooting and lowest-scoring team in the league. Ramon Sessions scored 22 points but Cleveland have now lost 15 straight games heading into their road trip. Need more bad news? The Cavs haven’t won a road game since Nov.9th.
One of the nights’ few close games saw Memphis pull away late, led by Zach Randolph’s big 29 points and 19 rebounds. Z-Bo didn’t simply put up empty numbers, as Randolph went to work inside and scored 12 points in the 4th quarter including a clutch drive that essentially sealed the game for the Grizz. Kevin Martin led the Rockets with 32 but the team couldn’t come back after leading by 11 early as Houston host just 32% after half-time. Considering that the Grizzlies haven’t beaten the Rockets since the 2008-2009 season, this game serves a reminder of what the team can achieve if they play physical, emphasize defense, and get on the boards. Oh, and for the love of Zeus – feed Z-Bo.
Kobe and his travelling band of snakes won in typical road game fashion – a barely interested first half followed by a cohesive push and cruise over the Nuggets. Bryant scored 14 of his 18 points in a decisive 3rd quarter that saw the Lakers take control of the game going into the 4th. Half crazy, half ineffective Ron Artest scored a season-high 19 as L.A. got well-rounded production from their bigs and bench. Carmelo scored 23 points on 24 shots (hey Melo, Kobe wants his stat line back) while Arron Afflalo added 22. The Lakers out-rebounded the Nuggets 47-27 and limited Denver’s fast-break points and got booed the whole time. In addition to his negative layup swag, sign that Ron Artest might be falling off #43: he doesn’t know what to do on a pick and roll anymore. Take it up with your therapist, Ron.
Artest: “So the number 15 I was supposed to be guarding disappears, and now I have another guy in front of me. It’s like, what am I supposed to do?”
Therapist: “Well, what did you feel like doing?”
Artest: “I felt like hoisting up a three and yelling ‘Queensbridge!’ but we weren’t on offense. “
I’m telling you, this small backcourt is never going to work. Monta Ellis and Steph Curry combined for 62 points as the Warriors beat the Kings in overtime. Ellis scored 28 points including a game-tying jumper that sent the game into overtime while Curry added 34. The Warriors were down 9 with 3 minutes to play but rallied for a 22-5 run in the 4th quarter and overtime to steal the win. Tyreke Evans scored a career-high 35 points with 5 assists but his Kings collapsed in the 4th quarter to lose their seventh of their last eight games. Even if Sac-town avoided folding, they could have at least kept it closer but missed 12 free throws in the game and committed 20 turnovers.
“Check My $tats” of the day: Dwight Howard – 31 points, 19 rebounds. I don’t care if you’re playing the Wolves’ cheerleaders, that’s still a monster game.
While not totally safe for work (unless you work in a liberal and carefree office), this Brett Favre/LeBron crossover ad is hilarious.
I’m out like inhibitions at a Z-Bo celebration dinner.