The Post Up: MKG Arrives

by November 11, 2012

by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz

On Saturday night, the Bobcats upset the Mavericks, the Wizards and Pistons remained winless and the Warriors choked late. Let’s get to it.

76ers (4-2) 93 at Raptors (1-5) 83
This was a strange game. The Raptors led by six after one quarter, but were outscored 32-7 in the second period, and trailed by 19 at the break. However, Toronto dominated the third quarter, and trailed by just seven entering the fourth. They cut the lead down to six at one point, but that’s as close as they got as the Sixers picked up their second win in as many nights.

Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young and Dorrel Wright totaled 47 points for Philadelphia, but combined were a -24 on the floor. Nick Young was the real star, scoring 16 points while being a +25 while on the court.

For the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani led the team with 23 points, while Jose Calderon posted 14 points and 11 assists. Toronto was 12/26 from downtown, but just 30/79 overall. They also got out-rebounded, 46-35.

Wizards (0-5) 85 at Pacers (3-4) 89
Washington nearly won their first game of the season last night. They led by two points entering the fourth quarter, but trailed by two after Emeka Okafor knocked down a jumper with 36 seconds left. They had a chance to tie the game after Indiana’s Paul George missed a three, but Trevor Booker couldn’t connect on a shot he probably should have hit. The Pacers got the rebound and sealed the game at the line.

George was great, scoring 20 points on 12 shots to go along with 7 rebounds. Gerald Green chipped in 15 points off the bench. Playing without Danny Granger, those two are going to be relied on heavily on the wing. Last night they delivered.

For Washington, Bradley Beal scored 17 points and is now 13-for-25 in his last two games. AJ Price had a big game as he continued to fill in for the injured John Wall. He scored 12 points and racked up 14 assists.

Mavericks (4-3) 97 at Bobcats (2-3) 101
This game seemed over at halftime when the Mavericks led by 11, but Charlotte came roaring back and won. With 26 seconds left, a pair of OJ Mayo free throws put Dallas up by four. Four seconds later, Brendan Haywood made a layup for the Bobcats and got fouled doing it. He missed the free throw, but Kemba Walker grabbed an offensive rebound, and a Ramon Sessions bucket tied the game.

Vince Carter missed a jumper for the Mavs as time expired, and the game went into overtime. In OT, the Mavs scored the first two points, but then went scoreless for over three minutes. The Bobcats had a four point lead with 26 seconds left, but a Darren Collison layup cut the lead to two. From there, Charlotte knocked down all of their free throws and sealed the game.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (8/12, 25 points, 12 rebounds) and Kemba Walker (26 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 8 steals) were incredible for the Bobcats. Walker has played well all season and MKG is beginning to come on, and all of the sudden Charlotte’s future doesn’t look so terrible. Byron Mullens also played a strong game, pulling down 14 rebounds.

Timberwolves (4-2) 80 at Bulls (4-2) 87
The T-Wolves and Bulls are having similar seasons. They’ve both been without their best players (Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio for Minnesota, Derrick Rose for Chicago). They’ve both gotten nice contributions from a number of players. They’ve both done well early on.

Chicago led Minnesota by four points entering the fourth quarter, but quickly expanded the lead and maintained at least a seven-point buffer for most of the quarter.

Nate Robinson is having a great season off the bench for the Bulls, and scored 18 points last night. Joakim Noah added 17 and Luol Deng 16. For Minnesota, Nikola Pekovic led the team in scoring with 18, while Andrei Kirilinko posted 11 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists.

Pistons (0-7) 82 at Rockets (3-3) 96
Detroit has a few promising young players, but they just can’t buy a win this season. Last night, Greg Monroe double-doubled and Brandon Knight scored 16 points and handed out 7 assists.  They out-rebounded Houston and made just one less field goal, yet this game wasn’t really close. The Rockets crushed Detroit in the post (44-28 down there), and it led to a fairly easy win.

James Harden led the Rockets with 20 points on 14 shots. Omer Asik continued to improve offensively, and scored 14 points on 12 shots to go along with 8 rebounds and 4 steals. It wasn’t a great looking win for Houston, but they’ll take the W.

Celtics (3-3) 96 at Bucks (3-2) 92
The Bucks just about sunk the Celtics for the second time in five games last night. Milwaukee led by four points entering the fourth quarter, but Jeff Green put boston ahead 74-72 with six minutes to play. With 25 seconds left, a Marquis Daniels (now on the Bucks) jumper cut Boston’s lead to 91-90. On the next three possessions, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo would each split a pair of free throws, opening the window for a Bucks comeback. However, Milwaukee’s offense stalled, and the Celtics moved to .500.

Pierce dropped a team-high 25 points along with 9 rebounds. Rondo double-doubled again—he’s done it in every game this year—while Kevin Garnett scored 18 points and pulled down 6 boards. Rookie Jared Sullinger was demoted to the bench in favor of Brandon Bass, and played just seven minutes.

Monta Ellis was excellent for the Bucks, pouring in 32 points on 24 shots. Larry Sanders, who has been a pleasant surprise this year, had 10 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Oddly, Brandon Jennings shot just 1-of-11 from the floor.

Suns (3-4) 81 at Jazz (3-4) 94
Utah had a miserable offensive performance against the Nuggets on Friday night, but bounced back nicely on Saturday.  Al Jefferson led the way with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Paul Millsap (13 boards) and Gordon Hayward both scored 18. Veteran Jamaal Tinsley had a huge game, dishing out 14 assists.

For Phoenix, who trailed by 16 entering the fourth quarter, Luis Scola scored 21 points, but took 19 shots. Jared Dudley played well, scoring 16 points on 10 shots.

Spurs (6-1) 112 at Blazers (2-4) 109
Don’t tell me there’s no such thing as a moral victory in professional sports. In the past two games, the young Blazers have faced the Clippers and Spurs—two of the West’s best teams—and lost by three points each time. Tough losses, but impressive ones, if those exist.

Last night, they got great games out of a bunch of guys. Nicolas Batum had a career night, scoring 33 points while totaling 5 threes, 7 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block. LaMarcus Aldridge was huge, too, scoring 29 points while blocking 4 shots and handing out 7 assists. JJ Hickson, whose career has been revived in Portland, scored 13 points and grabbed 14 boards. Rookie Damian Lillard scored 20 points on 16 shots. All of that, yet they couldn’t pull out a win.

The Blazers brought a six point lead into the final quarter, but the Spurs opened up on an 14-0 spurt. But Portland rallied back, and tied the game with 40 seconds remaining on a Batum three. They forced a Spurs miss on the following possession, but a Gary Neal offensive board led to a pair of go-ahead free throws from Manu Ginobili. Portland wasted two opportunities at the end of the game, and San Antonio picked up their sixth win of the season.

Neal exploded for the Spurs, leading the team with 27 points on just 16 shots. Tim Duncan was solid with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while Ginobili contributed 17 off the bench.

Nuggets (4-3) 107 at Warriors (3-4) 101
Golden State gift wrapped this one for Denver. In a tie game in the fourth quarter, Jarrett Jack missed a would-have-won-it floater at the buzzer. In overtime, a Stephen Curry jumper put Golden State ahead, 94-92, with 47 seconds remaining. The Nuggets missed a pair of shots which would have tied the game, and had to foul Klay Thompson with 13 seconds to play. The second-year man missed both free throws, giving Denver a golden opportunity to steal the game.

With a few seconds left, Danilo Gallinari got the ball at the top of the key and ran through an open lane for a dunk. The Warriors had a foul to give, but didn’t use it. With two seconds left, an inbounds pass to Carl Landry was stolen by Andre Iguodala, sending the game into double-overtime.

In the sixth period of the game, Thompson knocked down a triple which put the Warriors up five with 2:47 to play. Golden State led 101-97 with 1:22 left, when Carl Landry missed a pair of free throws. In the next thirty seconds, Igoudala and Gallo both hit threes for the Nuggets, while Landry missed a layup for the Warriors. A late Thompson miss gave the ball back to Denver, and Iggy iced the game at the line.

The Warriors easily could have–and probably should have—won last night, but awful late-game management cost them dearly. The Nuggets looked mediocre, especially in their half-court offense where they struggled to find any rhythm.

The team stats are ugly. Each squad shot just above 38 percent from the floor. The Nuggets connected on just 5-of-24 three-point attempts. Golden State had a 23:14 assist:turnover ratio. With that being said, a few guys played very well. Kenneth Faried was unstoppable, scoring 18 points and snagging 17 rebounds for Denver. Iguodala shot just 7-for-24, but had 19 points, 12 boards and 8 assists.

For Golden State, Landry dropped 22 points and 9 boards. None of his teammates shot 50 percent or better.