by Abe Schwadron | Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
12 games in all to recap from last night, now with links to our nifty new in-house box scores, if you didn’t already notice the brand new scoreboard above, in all its glory. I won’t sugar-coat it, a good chunk of yesterday’s matchups were stinkers, most notably the early games. Only one game pitted two teams with winning records against each other (Indiana-Miami). But hey, you can always go play NBA 2K12 instead, like this guy. Or not. If you only click on one link in this post, that should be it, by the way. And then feast on these basketball words…
Andrea Bargnani had 31 points on 11-for-16 shooting and Toronto led by as many as 20 en route to an easy win over the Cavaliers. DeMar Derozan scored 25 and Jose Calderon had 11 assists to go with 14 points in the Raptors’ second straight win. Cleveland shot just 30 percent from the field, including just 12 points in the third quarter, and Kyrie Irving scored 12 points but shot just 3-of-13 form the field (he also had 4 assists, 2 turnovers). Antawn Jamison led the Cavs with 19 points and one of the team’s 13 offensive rebounds, but Cleveland just couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end—a trend you can expect to continue going forward. Last note from the Raptors side of things: James Johnson is quietly contributing productive minutes despite not scoring a whole lot. Last night, he finished with 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks in 28 minutes (okay, so he shot 1-8, whatever, I had to come up with something else to say about this game).
The Wizards missed 12 straight shots to open the game—really, it was incredible to watch—and this one was pretty much over after the Magic took a 13-2 first-quarter lead. Washington, now 0-6 for the first time in franchise history, is almost officially unwatchable. At least I can get started on my Draft scouting early, huh? Dwight Howard took advantage of the Wiz front line, to the tune of 28 points and 20 rebounds, completely dominating all night and leading Orlando to a seventh straight win over Washington. Ryan Andersen chipped in 23 and 15 for the Magic, who led by as many as 28. Bullets Forever blogger Mike Prada noted this fun stat: “Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson combined for 35 rebounds. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee combined for 10.” Honestly, it’s getting comical for the Wiz at this point. I’m about ready to take suggestions for a Western Conference mistress to root for this season, just to keep myself sane.
After these two crawled to a 35-34 halftime score (Nets on top), the Celtics broke out in the third quarter behind 9 of Paul Pierce’s 24 points, and took control to beat a New Jersey team playing without Deron Williams and Kris Humphries. Then again, Ray Allen didn’t play either, due to illness. Boston’s big guys dominated the Nets up front, as Kevin Garnett (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Brandon Bass (15 x 13) both posted double-doubles in 26 minutes apiece. Rajon Rondo also had 12 dimes and Jermaine O’Neal returned after missing time with a sore hammy to give the C’s a boost with 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. The Nets shot 4-of-20 from three-point range, including a combined 0-7 from Sundiata Gaines and Mehmet Okur (notable because those dudes are starters), and were once again led in scoring by MarShon Brooks, who had 17 points in 34 minutes. How badly did New Jersey struggle to score? West Virginia scored as many points as the Nets last night…in a football game.
About a hundred people watched the Bulls beat the Pistons last night, with Rip Hamilton making his return to Detroit with a solid game—he had 14 points (5-9 shooting), 5 assists, 3 rebounds in 32 minutes. Must be fun playing the 2 next to the MVP. Derrick Rose scored 17 points and handed out 10 assists, and while he was shaken up on a hard fall in the fourth quarter, looked to be okay. And damn, he’s fast. Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey wasn’t so lucky, as he missed the entire second half after suffering a groin injury. Meanwhile, Greg Monroe had a monster game, a shame his breakout season may go unnoticed in Detroit—how about 19 points, 13 boards and 5 assists? But the Pistons’ starting wings, Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince, shot 2-10 and 3-11 respectively, stifled by the Bulls’ defense. Joakim Noah added 13 points and 11 boards for Chicago, while Carlos Boozer matched Monroe for the high point total in the game at 19.
Wasn’t Tyson Chandler supposed to bring some defense to the Knicks? If so, why did the Bobcats shoot 55 percent and 7-11 from downtown? And why is Boris Diaw scoring 27 points on 12-15 shooting, including 3 threes, after scoring 5 total points in his previous two games? And how did Byron Mullens score 16 points in 20 minutes? Seriously, New York’s defensive effort last night was nothing short of atrocious, especially down the stretch, when the Bobcats could get whatever they wanted. The Knicks had no trouble scoring, starting from the opening tip and led by Carmelo Anthony’s 32 points (plus 6 boards, 5 assists and 3 steals), but couldn’t get a crucial stop when they really needed it. Or, ever. Embarrassing, really—even Mike D’Antoni pretended to care that New York barely even bothered to put a hand in someone’s face. Sure, Amar’e Stoudemire had 25 and 12 in his return form injury, and Iman Shumpert was back on the court and making a difference with 18 points in 30 minutes, but desire on D is missing (along with a point guard). Plus, Shumpert hurt himself in the last few minutes—though he said later he was just cramping up. Stay tuned.
With Dwyane Wade on the bench nursing a left foot injury, the remaining two-thirds of the Big Three picked up the slack. LeBron James had himself one heck of a game, with 33 points, 13 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals and just 2 turnovers, and Chris Bosh added 22 points and 1 memorable assist as the Heat blew past the Pacers, silencing Indiana-as-contenders apologists along the way. Roy Hibbert had 16 and 10 and Tyler Hansbrough made 10 of 11 free throws en route to 14 points, but Miami led by 38 at one point and shot 53 percent from the field as a team, plus they made 26 of 28 free throws. The Heat held Danny Granger to six points on 2-of-13 shooting and forced the Pacers into 23 turnovers, resulting in 28 points for Miami. So, is Indiana as good as their 4-2 record shows? Their wins so far: Detroit, Toronto, Cleveland and New Jersey. As for the Heatles, peep this on your way out: through seven games, LeBron has attempted 1 three-pointer. He came in shooting 60 percent from the field for the season. Sixty!
Eric Gordon was back in action for New Orleans after missing four games with a knee bruise, and he scored a team-high 22 points (on 22 shots), but Jrue Holiday scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Sixers to a comeback win over the Hornets. Holiday shot just 3-for-9 from the field through three quarters before exploding in the fourth, and he also had 8 assists. Evan Turner had 21 points off the bench and Elton Brand put up a double-double (12 x 12) in his 33 minutes. The starting small forward matchup in this game was curiously bad—Hornets SF Al-Farouq Aminu finished with zero points on 0-4 shooting in 20 minutes, while Andre Iguodala shot 2-for-10 (one nasty dunk) and had 6 points for the Sixers—but both lead guards delivered nice performances. Overshadowed by Holiday, Jarrett Jack had another nice game for NO, with 19 points, 11 assists and 5 boards. Philly is now 3-2 and starts a four-game home stand on Friday, with Detroit, Toronto, Indiana and Sacramento coming to town.
In what was the best game of the night by far, the Grizz held on to beat Minnesota after getting the news that Zach Randolph will miss up to two months. Memphis responded by putting together a team effort led by an unlikely source of points in Tony Allen (who had 20) and a ten-deep rotation that ran all night long, leading to 25 fast break points. Rudy Gay had 19 points, including the biggest bucket of the night with just over 30 seconds to play and the Grizzlies needing a basket to preserve a two-point lead, and OJ Mayo scored 11 of his 14 in the fourth quarter. But, of course, regardless of the outcome, the talk of the game was Ricky Rubio. If you were hesitant to go all in on this kid, your time is running out—the bandwagon’s filling up fast. Rubio had 12 points, 10 assists (4 TOs) and 2 steals in 30+ minutes. And he drilled a three to bring the Wolves within one with under twenty seconds to go, nearly bringing Minny back in a game during which they trailed at one point by 15. Check out this slick oop to Michael Beasley. Apparently, Anthony Randolph is the only one who doesn’t get it—for some strange reason, he decided to not give Ricky the ball to lead a fast break on this play, causing basketball fans everywhere to hate Randolph even more than they already do. Oh, and Kevin Love had his usual night: 27 points, 14 rebounds. Per the AP, last night, he became the first player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975 to record 20 points and 12 rebounds in his team’s first six games. But hey, he plays in Minnesota, so nothing to see here.
Dirk Nowitzki’s 1,000th game was the second straight win for Dallas, and the Champs are inching back to top form. Dirk scored 20 points to go with 7 assists and 6 rebounds, and Jason Terry chipped in 18 off the bench for the Mavericks (now 3-4), who led by as many as 21 and finished with 30 assists as a team on 38 made field goals. Lamar Odom had his best game as a member of the defending champions, with 15 points and 5 rebounds. Coming into the game, he was sporting a sub-20 percent field goal percentage. The Suns finally got the kind of game they’ve been expecting from Marcin Gortat, who put up 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Steve Nash was Nashean as usual with 15 points and 12 dimes, but Phoenix shot just 5-of-17 from three-point range and lost the rebounding battle 53-42.
As the Notorious B.I.G. once said, “No Manu, no problem.” Wait, what? Coulda sworn those were the lyrics. Semantics aside, the Spurs won game one without their go-to shooting guard and his 17+ PPG, taking down the Warriors despite 38 points from Monta Ellis. Tony Parker led San Antonio with 21 points and 8 assists, and Tim Duncan had a double-double (15 points, 11 boards) and the Spurs came back from a 5-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter. The Spurs outscored the W’s 31-20 in the fourth quarter, but the big news from this game, outside of San Anton’s solid win, was Stephen Curry’s ankle, which just will not go away. He rolled it in the third quarter and did not return. If Curry can’t go for a while, then this stat should be ominous for Golden State, from @gswscribe: “Curry/Ellis: 58 points on 22-for-41 FGs (53.6%). Rest of Warriors: 37 points on 15-for-39 FGs (38.5%).”
I flipped over to this game about two minutes into the second quarter, and watched Jimmer Fredette miss three shots in a row on one possession. And then I looked at the score. And then I changed the channel. Fredette finished 3-for-13 from the field with 7 points, while the Nuggets once again put their ridiculously deep roster on display, and blew out the Kings without Nene. A total of 12 players got burn for Denver, and every single guy scored at least 6 points, the high man being Al Harrington with 15. Twelve guys, all between 6 and 15 points, they win by 27 points. That’s awesome. I guess it helps when you shoot 61 percent from the field and rack up 68 points in the paint and 31 fast break points. But I mean, Kosta Koufos had 10 points and 10 boards! The Nuggs are 5-2 and are 3rd in the NBA in points per game. Things are clearly still awkward in the Sacramento locker room, but DeMarcus Cousins still managed to score 26 points in 25 minutes off the pine.
That Chris Paul was a good pickup, eh? In the first quarter, he led L.A. to 41 points as a team on 11 points of his own, 6 assists and 2 steals. In all, he only needed 29 minutes to go for 20 points and 10 assists, before taking a seat on the bench with the rest of the starters. Blake Griffin had 22 and 9 rebounds and the Clippers shot 57 percent in a rout of the Rockets. Since this one was over almost from the start, I’ll leave you with some random thoughts on the last game of the night:
— Mo Williams lob cities it to Blake.
— At one point, DeAndre Jordan swished a pair of free throws. I almost passed out.
— Chandler Parsons dunked on Blake. Then he stared him down. LMAO, indeed.
— The Clippers announcers refer Brian Cook as “Cookie.” Like, constantly. That needs to stop.
— Those same announcers insisted on talking about “their first time” after Travis Leslie’s first NBA dunk.
Line of the Night: Dwight Howard’s 28 Pts (8-10 FGs), 20 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Blk
Dunk of the Night: Rudy Fernandez to Kenneth Faried. Altitude sickness.
Other Dunk of the Night: Air Blake, courtesy of CP3. (This came right after a DeAndre Jordan lob, too.)
Tonight: Only four games, but every one save for Bucks-Kings has major intrigue. First, Atlanta hosts Miami as the Heat look for revenge against the team downed them on Monday for their first loss of the season. Then, the Mavs are in San Antonio and the Lakers are in Portland. ATL-MIA and LAL-POR are parts one and two of the TNT Thursday Doubleheader, so no doubt we’ll pay extra attention to those games. And Charles Barkley.