Post Up: Rock Bottom

by January 09, 2012

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

Greetings from the NBA basement, folks. The Wolves ran up the score in D.C. yesterday, and Washington now sits at 0-8, with no signs of anything getting better. Thankfully, there were five other games on the docket last night. Hope you all consumed some hoops in between all the NFL playoff action over the past two days. Props to Pete for writing us through a crazy weekend of games. Let’s get it.

Timberwolves 93, izards 72

No, that’s not a typo. Starting today, I will not be including the letter “W” in Washington’s mascot name until they get a win. Let’s hope the izards can get it done on Tuesday against Toronto, because after that it’s Chicago, Philly twice, Houston, Oklahoma City, Denver and Boston. I’d prefer not to spend much time on this game, but it’s worth noting that with Mike Beasley out of the lineup, Derrick Williams played 30 minutes and finished with 14 points and 7 boards, Kevin Love did his thing as always (20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) and Ricky Rubio toyed with defenders all afternoon long. Rubio had 14 assists and 13 points, enough to make a izards fan bang their head against the wall when you consider how he ended up in Minnesota. In case you forgot. A major change is desperately needed in the nation’s capital. Like, major change. The izards are uninspired, uninterested, very terrible at basketball—they shot 35 percent yesterday from the field and 56 percent from the free throw line—and there’s a report that Rashard Lewis has quit on the team. Beautiful! John Wall must hate his life (and shooting 3-for-10 with 10 points doesn’t help, but he did go hammer to the hoop once). As excruciating as the izards are these days, the Wolves are one of the most exciting teams in the L right now despite being just 3-5, and a League Pass must on a nightly basis.

I’ll leave you with this, before we move on to more professional teams in action last night: Is this defense?

Magic 104, Kings 97

Just when he was stringing together a handful of vintage games, Dwight Howard laid an egg last night. But thanks to season-high scoring days from Jason Richardson (22) and Big Baby Davis (20 off the bench), and 3-for-20 three-point shooting from the Kings, Orlando escaped Sacramento with a 6-3 record. Howard got into early foul trouble and played just 20 minutes, finishing with 5 points on 1-of-2 field goals (3-5 from the line) and 4 rebounds. He got his first board in the fourth quarter and scored his first points with just under 7 minutes to go in the game. Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Andersen (19 points, 11 rebounds) each hit big three-pointers down the stretch to pull away from the Kings in the final minute. Tyreke Evans had it going for the Kings, and he finished with 28 points on 10-16 shooting plus 8 dimes, while DeMarcus Cousins chipped in a double-double on 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jimmer Fredette continues to struggle early this year, as he finished with only 2 points in 14 minutes of action.

Thunder 108, Spurs 96

After getting the news on Sunday morning that reserve point guard Eric Maynor is out for the season with a torn ACL, the Thunder took down the Spurs behind 21 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists from Kevin Durant. And he might have notched his first career triple-double if not for the fact that he sat out the entire fourth quarter (along with the rest of OKC’s starting lineup) after helping Oklahoma City put the game out of striking distance. Rookie Reggie Jackson got the bulk of what would have been Maynor’s minutes at backup point, and he finished with 11 points (4-9 FG), 4 assists and 2 turnovers, while James Harden poured in 20 off the bench. The win marked the first time this season an NBA team has won on three consecutive nights, and OKC joined the Heat as the first teams in the league to get to 8 wins. San Antonio allowed the Thunder to shoot a tick better than 51 percent from the field, and were led in scoring by Gary Neal, with 18 points. Rookie Kawhi Leonard had a nice night off the bench—13 points, 10 boards. Oklahoma City finally gets a day off today, before traveling to Memphis and New Orleans for a mid-week back-to-back.

Suns 109, Bucks 93

Steve Nash had 10 assists in the first quarter, and the Suns led by as many as 28 points as Phoenix got back to .500 at 4-4 on the year. Nash finished with 17 dimes in all, plus 10 points. The biggest beneficiary of Nashty’s helping hand was Marcin Gortat, who dropped 18 points on 9-for-10 field goal shooting—looks like he might nearly be back at full health—and as a team, Phoenix shot 56 percent. The Bucks’ leading scorer ended up being rookie Tobias Harris out of Tennessee, who scored 15 points in 23 minutes, while Brandon Jennings had a rough game, scoring just 5 points on 2-of-7 shooting. And how about this nugget from the AP recap: “The Suns beat the Bucks in Phoenix for the 24th straight time, the NBA’s second-longest active streak behind San Antonio’s 27 wins in a row at home over Golden State.” For perspective, Jennings was not yet born the last time Milwaukee won in PHX (1987). Sheesh!

Trail Blazers 98, Cavaliers 78

The Blazers bounced back after a curious drubbing at the hands of the Phoenix Suns on Friday night, beating the Cavaliers to a pulp thanks to 28 points from LaMarcus Aldridge and 24 from Wes Matthews. Portland held Cleveland to 37 percent field goal shooting, and the Cavaliers made just 3 of 24 three-pointers while turning the ball over 24 times. Antawn Jamison, the Cavs’ leading scorer, put up just 3 points on 1-of-8 shooting. But Kyrie Irving had another nice game, with 21 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds (4 turnovers) and fellow rookie Tristan Thompson had 10 points, 5 boards and 3 blocks in limited action—he may not be a pretty player, but he’s active as hell. The fans in Portland were still cheering to the final buzzer…because they wanted the Blazers to top 100 points, winning everyone in attendance a free chalupa. Unfortunately, sportsmanship got in the way in the final seconds, and thousands at the Rose Garden went home hungry. Somehow, I think they’re still happy with the blowout W. Portland hosts the Clippers on Tuesday in what should be a huge game.

Lakers 90, Grizzlies 82

One Gasol brother had a fantastic game and his team won. The other had a terrible shooting night and his team lost. Pau’s final line included 13 points, 15 rebounds and 4 assists in 40 minutes, while Marc shot a woeful 0-for-9 from the field—though he did fill up the rest of the box score, with 11 boards, 7 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. Jokes aside, the two didn’t match up with one another much. Kobe Bryant dropped 26 points and 9 dimes to lead the Lake Show to a sixth straight home win (0-4 on the road). L.A. jumped out to a 31-22 lead after one quarter, and despite scoring just 12 points in the fourth, held off the Grizzlies, who got 19 points from Rudy Gay and 17 points from new addition Mareese Speights. Memphis got within four after rattling off six straight points to start the fourth quarter, but Kobe and crew made sure it never got closer than that. The Lakers won despite turning the ball over an astonishing 27 times (only 8 for Memphis), and despite the Grizzlies scoring 31 fast break points. But Los Angeles out-rebounded the Grizz 53-34, Andrew Bynum delivered a 15-15 double-double and Steve Blake made 3 threes off the bench (13 points).

Line of the Night: KD’s 21 points (5-9 FG, 10-10 FT), 10 rebounds, 7 assists in only 29 minutes.

Honorable Mention: Steve Nash — 17 assists and 10 points in 27 minutes.

Dunk of the Night: Rudy Gay delivers the put-back funk on Matt Barnes.

WTF of the Night: Hey, at least Jan Vesely’s looking good!

Tonight: Six games lined up for Monday, including the Rubios against the Raptors and the Bobcats’ return to New York—where last time those two hooked up, Boris Diaw got his groove on and Charlotte walked all over the Knicks. But the game of the night is Pacers at Sixers, which tips off at 7. Philly is 2-0 at home, while all five Indiana starters average double-digit points.