Tonight in the world of NBA basketball, eight teams were looking to turn their seasons around with a statement win; four emerged back on the right track, while the other four were left to put the pieces back together.
On Wilt Chamberlain bobble head night, the Golden State Warriors (33-27) and Philadelphia 76ers (23-34) both entered the game hoping for a spark. The Sixers were in the midst of their worst losing streak in three seasons, big time acquisition Andrew Bynum hasn’t played a minute, and doesn’t look to be on his way to the court anytime soon.
The Warriors started off hot from the field and held an early 54-51 advantage through the first half. But the Sixers hung around, thanks to their own shooting barrage, hitting 8-for-10 from downtown.
Curry led the way for the Warriors with a team-high 30 points, eight assists, and three steals. But it wasn’t enough, as the Sixers remained hot from the field, connecting on more than 51 percent of their attempts. The real story of the game was the Sixers’ shooting clinic from three as they hit an impressive 66 percent.
Evan Turner had 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, while Jrue Holiday dropped 27 points and seven assists to snap the Sixers losing streak. Dorell Wright came up big off the bench with 13 points and seven rebounds, shooting 3-of-5 from three-point land.
Though Curry was coming off a career-best 54 points against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, and has managed to score more than 25 points in the last three games, the Warriors have dropped the last 8-of-11 games, and haven’t been able to shoot better than 50 percent from the field over that stretch.
The Chicago Bulls (34-25) were in the lead for the majority of the game and the Brooklyn Nets (34-26) just couldn’t put together a win on the road.
Joakim Noah had a big night for the Bulls, simply bullying the Nets in the post while notching his second straight double double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and five steals.
Carlos Boozer also added 20 points, eight rebounds, and five steals for the Bulls. Jimmy Butler had 13 points, while Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich both put up 12 points in the all-around effort.
Down 53-59 going into the third quarter, the Nets just couldn’t put together any substantial runs in time to make a dent in the deficit. Brook Lopez led the way for Brooklyn with 22 points, and Deron Williams posted a meager 14 with six assists, shooting only 4-of-12 from the field. The Nets are only 14-13 on the road this season.
The Toronto Raptors (23-37) fell to the Milwaukee Bucks (29-28) on the road in a hard fought overtime loss. Raptors forward Rudy Gay sat due to back spasms, and his absence was felt as the Bucks ran away with the game in overtime.
To seal the win for the Milwaukee, Ersan Ilyasova scored 29 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and two steals. Monta Ellis chipped in 23 points, five rebounds, and five assists, while Brandon Jennings dished out a career-high 19 assists. Jennings is averaging 6.1 on the season.
The Bucks made it count at the free throw line, converting on 25-of-30 attempts. Defensively, Bucks center Larry Sanders made his presence felt with five blocks and 12 rebounds, seven of which came on the defensive end. JJ Redick logged 35 minutes and 16 points off the bench.
Without Gay, the Raptors had a great all-around effort from the squad, with seven of the nine players suiting up scoring in double figures. Amir Johnson led the way with 19 points and nine rebounds. DeMar DeRozan put up 18 points and dished out nine assists. Alan Anderson and John Lucas added a combined 37 points off the bench.
In the end, it wasn’t enough and the Raptors lost their fourth straight, dropping their record on the road to a dismal 8-21.
With a win tonight, the Portland Trailblazers (27-31) have now beaten the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-36) in 21 of their last 23 meetings. Not exactly a budding rivalry.
Damian Lillard led the way for Portland with 24 points. Eric Maynor had career-high 12 assists, while adding seven points off the bench. JJ Hickson punished the Timberwolves down low with 18 points, 16 rebounds, and thunderous dunks. LeMarcus Aldridge added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Nicolas Batum contributed 12 to the winning effort.
The Timberwolves came into the game on a four game losing streak, still trying to battle through injuries that kept Kevin Love, Andrei Kirilenko, and Nikola Pekovic out of action. Poor shooting plagued Minnesota throughout as they only connected on 1-of-12 from 3-point range, and shot 39 percent from the field overall.
Derrick Williams was the high-point man with 23, and Luke Ridnour chipped in 18 points to go along with six assists. Ricky Rubio still doesn’t seem to have gained his step back after undergoing knee surgery, but he was able to put up 12 points, nine assists, and nine rebounds. The Timberwolves are now 4-16 in their last 20 games.