Post Up: Powering Forward

by Brett Weisband | @weisband

Knicks 101 (2-3), Bobcats 91 (3-3)

The circumstances weren’t ideal, with first-year Bobcats coach Steve Clifford at home with heart problems. But Patrick Ewing made his NBA head coaching debut after interviewing for jobs for the past several years, and it just so happened to be against the team his spent most of his career with. Unfortunately for Ewing, he’s starting his career 0-1. (Note: the loss actually goes on Clifford’s record.)

After Carmelo torched the Cats for 32 earlier in the week, he came out hot again, scoring 16 in the first half and 28 for the game. After starting the season looking very much like the guy the Raptors couldn’t wait to get rid of, Andrea Bargnani finally broke out for the Knicks, with 15 in the first half. The Cats stayed right in it despite those two scoring outbursts behind Ramon Sessions’ 12 points in the first and the ability of Kemba Walker (25 points) and Gerald Henderson (18 points, 9 rebounds) to get to the line.

The Knicks stretched their lead after halftime, outscoring the Bobcats by 12 in the third quarter. Things didn’t get any better for Charlotte, as Melo (12-22 shooting, 8 rebounds 6 assists) and Bargs (25 points, 8 rebounds and 5(!!!) blocks)  kept pouring it on, powering the Knicks to their first win in their last four games.

Pacers 91 (6-0), Raptors 84 (2-4)

The Pacers remain the last undefeated team in the league after suffocating Toronto down the stretch, getting the win at home. Rudy Gay was – gasp! – efficient for Toronto in the first half, putting in 22 points on just 13 shots as Toronto took a slim halftime lead. As a team, the Raptors seemed to break the vice that Indiana has put on teams all season, shooting 45 percent in the first half. That’s 7.5 percentage points better than what the Pacers are allowing opponents to shoot on the season. George Hill (14 points) was back in the lineup for Indy, and made his presence felt with 11 points at half, including 2-3 three point shooting.

Predictably, Indiana locked it down in the second half. After their solid shooting early, the Pacers forced clank after clank from the Raptors, dropping them down under 39 percent for the game. Gay’s efficiency dropped big time, as he ended with 30 points on 26 shots. Paul George overcame a poor shooting night (7-21) to score 23 points, and also had 8 points and 6 rebounds. Roy Hibbert put up 20 points and 7 rebounds, and only 2 blocks, his lowest total of the season.

Celtics 91 (2-4), Magic 89 (3-3)

After starting off 0-4, the Celtics have strung together a little winning patch, giving the Magic their first home loss. This was an ugly game between two teams projected to be among the worst in the league at the outset of the season. Both teams shot under 40 percent for the night, and there were 31 turnovers in the game (20 by Orlando).

The Magic seemingly attempted to take a foul as the Celtics inbounded the ball with about 20 seconds left on the clock, but allowed more than 10 seconds to run off the clock before they finally got Brandon Bass (16 points). Down three, the Magic worked a good corner shot for Arron Afflalo (23 points), who had a huge fourth quarter with a 3-point play and a 4-point play, but he stepped on the three-point line as he drained the jumper with 4.5 seconds on the clock.

Nik Vucevic put up another double-double for the Magic with 14 points and 13 rebounds, while Avery Bradley had 14 points, 8 boards and 3 steals for the Celtics.

76ers 94 (4-2), Cavaliers 79 (2-4)

Turn this tank around! The Sixers pulled out yet another win, running Cleveland off the court in the second half. Kyrie Irving (10 points, 9 assists, 4-17 shooting) played facilitator early on, with 6 assists in the first half. The Sixers were in a giving mood, turning the ball over to Cleveland 10 times in the first half alone. Andrew Bynum, making his return to a city he never played in, was predictably booed heavily every time he touched the ball. The Sixers battled back to overcome a 14-point hole after one quarter to lead by 2 at half, led by a scoring flurry from Tony Wroten (13 first half points, career high 18 in the game on 7-14 shooting).

The tide turned heavily for the Sixers in the second half, as they forced turnovers and destroyed the Cavs in transition. Speaking of destruction…

Thad Young (16 points, 8 rebounds) wrecked hometown kid Dion Waiters’ dunk attempt. Ouch. Waiters did manage to shake off that decimation to score 18 points in his hometown.

The Sixers ended up outscoring the Cavs by 14 in the third and kept the pressure on in the fourth, holding the margin and bringing the win home. Evan Turner was once again excellent, the high man in the game with 22 points as well as 10 rebounds. Michael Carter-Williams kept up his well-rounded play with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, while Spencer Hawes had 6 blocks for Philly. The Cavs struggled from the field all night, shooting 33 percent as a team. Not a good start for a team with playoff ambitions.

Wizards 112 (2-3), Nets 108 (2-3) OT

The young Wizards showed some grit against a still-gelling Nets team, picking up their first OT and home win of the season. It was their second in a row after starting out 0-3. John Wall commanded the game for Washington, with 17 points and 14 assists to go with 4 steals.

Brook Lopez (23 points) was a beast early on, as the Nets grabbed a 5-point halftime lead. The Wizards quickly made it up in the third quarter, going up 9 at one point in the frame. The Nets came right back, riding a scoring spree from Joe Johnson (16 points) to tie it up heading into the fourth quarter.

Just when it looked like the Nets were pulling away in the fourth, the Wiz turned it on, with Bradley Beal (29 points, 3-6 from three) and Nene pushing them into a slim lead with 90 seconds remaining. With under a minute to go, Kevin Garnett hit his biggest shot to date in a Nets uniform, draining his patented elbow jumper to go up 99-97. John Wall drove the ball to tie it up, but Garnett swatted it away with ease. The Wiz got one more chance to extend the game, and Nene tipped in another missed layup by Wall with 1.2 seconds left to send it to OT.

In the extra period, the Wiz jumped out to a quick 4-point lead. As you’d expect from a team of vets, Brooklyn refused to go away. The Wizards took the Nets’ best punch – a corner three from Deron Williams – and hit a knockout blow with Trevor Ariza’s three pointer with 40 ticks left. Washington took care of business at the line to hold on for the win.

Thunder 119 (4-1), Pistons 110 (2-3)

Man, it is good to have Russ back. After looking dismal without Russell Westbrook in the lineup, OKC rolled to their third straight win since his return.

Things marched on as usual for the Thunder in the first half, where they grabbed a 55-51 edge and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 27 points. Steven Adams had a strong start to the game with 8 points and 3 boards in the first half, along with the Thunder being +14 with him on the court.

The second half saw the Thunder stretch their lead to double digits in the fourth after the Pistons briefly look the lead early in the second half. Josh Smith (25 points, 8 rebounds) was the player that drives people crazy, jacking up jumper after jumper. Fortunately (or unfortunately for Pistons fans), he had a good shooting night from the perimeter, going 10-20 overall and 3-7 from three, which will only encourage him to continue putting up threes and long twos. Also for Detroit, Brandon Jennings put up a double-double with 22 points and 11 assists, while Monroe had his own with 20 and 15 boards.

Westbrook cooled off in the second half, but KD sure didn’t, finishing with 37 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists as he narrowly missed a triple-double. Adams had the best game of his young career, finishing with 17 and 10, and no elbows to the dome. The Thunder were +20 with him out there. For the record, they were -15 with Kendrick Perkins in the game. Just sayin’.

Bulls 97 (2-3), Jazz 73 (0-6)

Much has been made of the Bulls’ early-season struggles, as they re-incorporate Derrick Rose into their game plan. Turns out, the Jazz are pretty good medicine for all your basketball woes. Chicago got out to a lead early and piled it on against Utah. They led by 11 at halftime and stretched that to 18 by the end of the third.

Rose still did not look like himself, but the rest of the Bulls’ big names stepped it up for Chicago. Carlos Boozer had an 18-10 double-double, Luol Deng fell one assist shy of a triple-double with a 19-11-9 line, plus 5 steals, and Joakim Noah went for 14 and 8 boards. Rose was 3-8 for his 12 points, and hit just 2-6 shots in the restricted area, where he thrived in the past with his wild array of layups. The rust will eventually get shaken off, but in the meantime the Bulls will have to lean on their defense.

That defense, by the way, was nasty against Utah. Chicago held the Jazz to just 29.4 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 15 points and chipped in 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

Timberwolves 116 (4-2), Mavericks 108 (3-3)

Two teams that are among the best offenses in the league didn’t disappoint as Minnesota rode some hot shooting late in the game and Kevin Love’s all-around beastliness (32 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists) to grab the win.


Love was fantastic all night, and got the Wolves off to a strong first half start. He already had a double-double and was closing in on a trip-dub through 24 minutes with 15 points, 10 boards and 6 assists. Still, the Mavs led by a point at the half. Dirk Nowitzki put in 12 points in the first half, but only netted one more basket the rest of the way for his 14 points, which might explain why the Mavs faded.

The odd couple backcourt of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon kept Dallas afloat, but they were a tale of two guards. Calderon got his 21 points on just 11 shots, knocking down 6-8 from three. Monta, after being lauded all week for his new-found efficiency, took more shots than he scored points, going 9-24 from the field for 23.

Dallas got within 3 points late, but the Wolves used an 8-0 to ice the game, with Love and Kevin Martin, who had 32 points of his own, twisting the dagger.

Pelicans 96 (3-3), Lakers 85 (3-4)

There’s only one thing in New Orleans more terrifying than the Pelicans’ mascot, and its name is Anthony Davis. The long-limbed, unibrowed athletic freak almost single-handedly destroyed the Lakers, going for a career-high 32 points, along with 12 rebounds and 6 blocks in the ‘Cans’ win.

This one stayed close more most of the game. The Lakers trailed by no more than 5 points in the first half, and briefly took the lead in the third quarter. On the second night of a back-to-back, LA just didn’t have the legs to run with the young Pellies as the game wore on. It was as close as a four-point margin with 3:30 to go before New Orleans took off, with Davis doing most of the damage. He scored 7 of his points in that final stretch, and threw in some stifling one-on-one defense against Pau Gasol. The Brow put an exclamation point on the win by stuffing Pau’s layup attempt, then running the floor to finish a layup plus the foul on the other end.

Gasol had another rough night for LA, shooting 3-12 for his 9 points. The Lakers were led by Chris Kaman’s 16, while New Orleans got contributions from Eric Gordon (16 points) and Jrue Holiday, who posted a double-double with 13 points and 13 dimes.

Spurs 76 (5-1), Warriors 74 (4-2)

The Warriors hung nearly as many losses on the Spurs in last year’s playoffs – two – as San Antonio’s other three opponents did. With Stephen Curry sidelined after tweaking his ankle on Wednesday, the Warriors couldn’t pull out a win, dropping their 30th straight regular season game in San Antonio.

In Curry’s stead, Toney Douglas stepped up to the plate and netted 21 for the Dubs. Pretty much everyone for Golden State struggled, as they shot just 40 percent on the evening. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 18, but was uncharacteristically off from the line, going 4-10.

The Warriors forced San Antonio into tough shots all throughout the fourth quarter, but it didn’t matter. Seemingly every time a Spurs shot came off the rim, one of their own players managed to pull in the offensive rebound; the Spurs had 11 offensive boards for the game. Parker missed two free throws that could have iced it, giving the Warriors a final possession to either tie or win. After nearly throwing it away, the Warriors ran an isolation play off an inbounds pass for Andre Iguodala. Iggy drove hard to his left  and got the ball up to the hoop, but it rimmed off and the Spurs escaped.

Suns 114 (4-2), Nuggets 103 (1-4)

No game on Friday night had bigger swings than this one. The Suns blew a big lead, only to reclaim it late and run away for the win. Markieff Morris, who I think we can now confidently call the better of the twins, keyed the attack with 28 points and 10 boards.

The Suns worked their way to a 15-point halftime lead, and stretched it to 18 with nine minutes to go in the third. By the time the fourth quarter got going, though, Denver had taken a lead. Ty Lawson who finished with 29 points, went crazy in the third. He scored 19 of his points in the period, dragging the Nuggets to an 87-84 lead.

The fourth belonged to Markieff and his brother Marcus (11 and 8 rebounds), as they combined for 15 points in the quarter to pull the Suns back into the lead and snatch the victory. Eric Bledsoe had 17 points and 9 assists for PHX, including a layup and three late to stretch the lead from 4 to 9.

Trail Blazers 104 (2-2), Kings 91 (1-3)

Damian Lillard kept up his fast start to the season, improving upon his ROY campaign from a season ago. Dame pumped in 22 points and approached triple-double territory with 8 rebounds and 7 assists as Portland topped the Kings.

After the first quarter, Portland didn’t give up the lead, but DeMarcus Cousins did everything he could to keep Sacramento in it. The fiery big man poured in a cool 35 points on 13-25 shooting. He didn’t have a sidekick like Lillard did, though, as LaMarcus Aldridge dropped 20 for the Blazers. LMA netted 10 points in the fourth quarter, and broke the Kings’ collective back in the final minutes. After Cousins cut the lead to 92-86 with 3:30 to go, Aldridge knocked down three jumpers for Portland to push their lead up to 12.

Wes Matthews pitched in 18 points and 7 rebounds for Portland, and the Kings got contributions from Greivis Vasquez (12 points, 6 asissts) and Isaiah Thomas (13 points).