by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad
Ten games to get to this morning, with the big news of the day obviously being the first loss on the season for both the Heat and the Thunder. Plenty to tackle from that game and the rest of last night’s action. Is Atlanta for real? Did the Knicks really lose again? Pistons over the Magic? How bad is Ginobili’s injury? What was Greg Stiemsma’s statline? Ready, set, read.
Steve Nash got Nashty in the fourth quarter, dropping 13 of his 21 points to lead the Suns past the Warriors in yesterday’s only matinee matchup. The ageless wonder also had 9 assists, while the Suns got a nice breakout performance from Markieff Morris, who scored 16 points and hauled down 9 boards in 32 minutes. Morris got with Jared “JMZ” Dudley post-game to break things down, see here. Golden State was without David Lee, who earlier in the day was hospitalized with an undetermined illness. Former Wizard/King/Bobcat Dominic McGuire stepped in and actually played pretty admirably, finishing with 14 points and 9 rebounds for the Warriors—who played their first road game of the year after hosting four at home to open the season. Monta Ellis scored 18 points (6-for-16 FGs) and had 11 assists and Stephen Curry chipped in 10 points in 23 minutes while still monitoring that nagging ankle injury.
I promised not to bore you on back-to-back nights, so we can cut to the chase: Boston beat my Wizards for the second straight night, led by 22 points from Ray Allen (6-7 on threes, though he shockingly missed two free throws), who scored 11 in the fourth quarter. This game was a thousand times more interesting than the previous night’s, though. For starters, Flip Saunders was ejected less than two minutes into the game, and in fairly epic fashion—he committed the no-no of touching a referee in response to a tough non-call for the Wiz in the early going, and his night was done. Insert joke about him not having to watch the rest of the game here. Andray Blatche was the high-point man for the Wizards with 28, while John Wall put up just 11 points (4-13 shooting) and 8 assists with 7 turnovers in 40 minutes. Washington kept it competitive—even had a one-point edge at halftime—but the C’s wore down the winless Wiz and improved to .500. Lastly, you guys called me out for trashing Greg Stiemsma yesterday, and he clearly was reading, as he delivered a 13-point, 7-rebound night in his first career start. Fine, he’s not terrible. But next time you have to watch him beat your team, come back and let me know what that feels like. I’ll wait.
Dwight Howard scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the first half, but fouled out with 2:56 to play and Orlando down 8, allowing the Pistons to escape with the double-digit win. Howard added 7 rebounds and 5 steals in 40 minutes of playing time, but Detroit dominated on the boards, out-rebounding Orlando 39-28, including 11 offensive rebounds—6 from Greg Monroe alone. The Pistons shot 50 percent from the field as a team, and Ben Gordon paced the offense with 26 points and 6 assists. Glen “Big Baby” Davis continues to struggle off the bench for the Magic: in his last four games, he’s averaging less than 7 points in 20+ minutes, and he’s shooting 36 percent on field goals for the year. And Jameer Nelson scored just 4 points on 1-5 shooting in 31 minutes, but did have 5 dimes.
Hello, Hotlanta! The Hawks downed the Heat last night in Miami despite facing an early double-digit lead, a nasty throwdown from Chris Bosh and a 28-point, 7-rebound, 6-assist game from LeBron James. Atlanta held Miami to just 10 fast-break points (the Heat came in averaging 25.8 for the season) and turned the ball over just 10 times, keeping MIA’s explosive offense from breaking out. The Hawks took the lead with a 17-5 run in the second quarter, then went zone down the stretch and outscored Miami 33-21 in the fourth quarter, helped by a pair of big threes and an all-around good effort from Tracy McGrady (16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists). Joe Johnson scored 21 points and Jeff Teague added 15 for the Hawks, who went into Miami’s house and handed the Heat loss No. 1 on the season, in front of Lil’ Wayne and his ridiculous outfit (and apparent friend Adrien Brody). On the upside for Miami, Shane Battier hit 3 threes off the bench and Norris Cole scored 10 points in 18 minutes in a reserve role. Dwyane Wade finished with 12 points and 10 assists. The hits keep coming for the Hawks (4-1) who play at Chicago tonight.
Don’t look now, but Indiana is 4-1, and they get the Heat on Wednesday in Miami—should be a good test. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, as last night the Pacers got 21 points from Paul George and shot a season-high 53 percent as a team to take down the lowly Nets. George was 5-for-5 on threes and 8-10 from the field overall, and scored nine in the fourth quarter to push the Pacers to the victory. Danny Granger struggled from the floor (4-14) but still had a productive game, with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Hey, good thing New Jersey got to play Washington in the opener, huh? Deron Williams scored 22 points (6-of-14 shooting) and had 8 assists, and Young Mamba Marshon Brooks had 21 points and 7 rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench, but Kris Humphries missed the game with a shoulder injury that he is scheduled to have an MRI on today. Shelden Williams was in the starting lineup, and he threw one down, but c’mon—Shelden Williams in the starting lineup? If New Jersey’s looking to stop the bleeding, the schedule is of no help. Their next 5: at Boston, at Toronto, home for Miami and Atlanta, at Denver.
New York played a second straight game without Amar’e Stoudemire, but even having STAT wouldn’t have helped solve an abysmal shooting night for the Knicks, who seemingly couldn’t generate offense from anyone not named Carmelo Anthony. That, and their inability to execute down the stretch, cost New York a game against a seemingly inferior Eastern Conference foe. In the second quarter, the Knicks scored just 11 points and made only 3 baskets from the field. Then, in the waning seconds of the game…well, the AP recap says it best, after describing a botched play out of a timeout with New York down 3 points and possession: “Coach Mike D’Antoni was all the way on the court hollering for [Toney] Douglas to move before the ball was thrown in, and he said after the game the Knicks forgot the play that was to be run.” Forgetting the play is usually a no-no in pro hoops. Melo finished with 35 points (on 13-31 shooting), 11 boards and 4 assists while the Knicks shot 36 percent as a team and made just 10 of 35 three-pointers on the night. Andrea Bargnani and DeMar Derozan continue to lead the Raps—they poured in 21 points apiece, and former Knick Anthony Carter iced the game with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left. Hey, at least the Giants won!
The Wolves scored 65 points in the first half en route to a big win over San Antonio, who now may be without Manu Ginobili for several weeks after he broke his left hand late in the second quarter. Manu himself tweeted the following after the game:
Minnesota got 24 and 15 from Kevin Love and 19 points apiece from Luke Ridnour and Michael Beasley, who played with five stitches on his left index finger. Wes Johnson added 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting in 30 minutes as a starter—as a team, the Wolves shot 58 percent, and at one point in the third quarter were shooting above 70 percent for the game. That’s crazy. And yes, Ricky Rubio played, racking up 3 assists and 6 points, even 1 block, in 24 minutes. With Ginobili on the sidelines, the Spurs slumped, shooting just 35 percent from three-point range. Tim Duncan and Richard Jefferson did most of the heavy lifting for San Antonio, with 16 points each. The Spurs are now 0-2 on the road, while the Wolves have won two straight.
There’s the Dallas team we know. The Mavs handed the Thunder their first loss on the year and avoided moving to 1-5 thanks to 26 points from Dirk Nowitzki and 47 bench points. Oklahoma City got 27 from Kevin Durant, and the Thunder had all the highlights from this game—first quarter, second quarter, third quarter—but Dirk and the defending champs outlasted the young guns down the stretch. Jason Kidd took just one shot (and missed it) in 34 minutes, but gave out 9 assists, helping teammates to easy buckets all night long—56 off the Mavs’ 100 points came in the paint. Jason Terry scored 15 off the bench, Vince Carter had 14 and Shawn Marion had 17, while the Thunder got little on the offensive end outside of Durant, Russell Westbrook (18 points on 8-20 shooting) and James Harden (16), and OKC couldn’t capitalize when Dallas opened the game shooting 2 for its first 11 from the field.
In the last game of a “back-to-back-to-back,” the Nuggets beat the Bucks behind 21 points from Danilo Gallinari (a season-high for him, plus 10 rebounds) and 17 points off the bench from Al Harrington, despite being without Nene, who was nursing a bruised left heel. Denver finished 2-1 over the three-game sprint, and now sits at 4-2, with four of their next five games against the likes of New Jersey, Sacramento and New Orleans (twice). After going for 20+ in his first three games on the year, Brandon Jennings shot 5-for-12 from the field and finished with 12 points (0-4 from 3-point) for Milwaukee, whose leading scorer for the evening was Stephen Jackson with 17 on 7-of-18 shooting.
After an 0-2 start, the Hornets have now dropped three in a row and are still without Eric Gordon thanks to a knee injury. Al Jefferson scored a team-high 22 points for the Jazz and Devin Harris came through in the clutch with a three-pointer and three free throws down the stretch as Utah eeked out the win. Josh Howard and CJ Miles chipped in double figure performances off the bench for the Jazz, with 13 and 11 points respectively, and Earl Watson came off the pine to hand out 7 assists, too. New Orleans came out hot, making seven of 11 shots to start the game, but were outscored 24-16 in the fourth quarter. Jarret Jack led the Hornets in scoring with 27, and added 11 assists and 5 rebounds in 40 minutes.
Lines of the Night: Paul George’s 21 points, 8-10 FGs, 5-5 3-pointers, and Steve Nash’s 21 and 9 assists.
Moment of the Night: Rubio to DWill, as the Wolves upset the Spurs.
Posterization of the Night: John Wall on Greg Stiemsma. Let me have this one.
Tonight: Six games, including an NBATV double-header of Hawks-Bulls and Rockets-Lakers, and a pair of intriguing 8 o’clock starts, as the Blazers visit Oklahoma City and Sacramento takes on the Grizzlies in Memphis—where both teams could be without their starting power forwards.