Post Up: Jazz Buzzer-Beater…Again

Nuggets 108 (2-6), Pacers 87 (3-7)

The Nuggets pulled out their first win since they beat the Pistons in their season opener, and they will need to continue playing balanced like they did Friday night if they want to find success this season. Even though no one topped 20 points for Denver, Ty Lawson (11 points, 10 assists) ran the offense as seven Nuggets scored in double figures and two others reached seven points. They might not have a go-to guy, but they consistently had five guys on the floor who could put the ball in the basket. Unfortunately for the Pacers, they’re still struggling to find five healthy guys to get in the game. A.J. Price (14 points, 4 assists) led Indiana in scoring, but his team simply lacked any sort of offensive continuity. The Pacers only had 57 points with a few minutes left in the third quarter while trailing the Nuggets by 33. Denver rookie Gary Harris (13 points, 2 steals, 6-10 from the field) only made one of his five three-point attempts but looked fairly comfortable in his NBA debut, scoring his 13 points in only 18 minutes. Oh, and he also had the highlight dunk of the night.

Magic 101 (4-6), Bucks 85 (4-5)

With Victor Oladipo (13 points, 25 minutes) making his season debut and Tobias Harris (26 points, 10 rebounds) having one of his best game of the young season, the Magic showed a flash of what they could be with some time to develop. After the Bucks jumped out to an early 19-6 first quarter lead behind nine points from Brandon Knight (24 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds), Orlando started feeding Nikola Vucevic (18 points, 9 rebounds) down low and used a 19-11 run to get back into the game before the end of the quarter. The Magic outscored the Bucks in the final three quarter in the process of winning the fourth of their last six games.

Hawks 114 (5-3), Heat 103 (5-4)

Al Horford (19 points, 6 rebounds, 8-10 from the field) scored the first seven points of the game, and the Hawks never looked back, leading wire-to-wire even though the Heat made it close at times. With no Dwyane Wade (hamstring), Miami received big games from Chris Bosh (20 points, 8 rebounds), Mario Chalmers (23 points, 11 assists), Luol Deng (19 points, 3-5 on 3-pointers) and Shawne Williams (21 points, 5-6 on 3-pointers)…but not much from anyone else. The Hawks, on the other hand, had eight players in double-digits as only two players who got on the court failed to do so. Horford and Paul Millsap (19 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals) controlled the interior while Jeff Teague (16 points, 9 assists) continues to run coach Mike Budenholzer’s offense effectively. Part of that scheme includes knocking down three-pointers, and Kyle Korver (12 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) made four of them as he is now shooting a blistering 57.7 percent from deep this season. Thabo Sefolosha (12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks) got off to a slow start with his new Atlanta team but has now reached double-digits in consecutive games. Bosh and the Heat just couldn’t get enough stops, allowing the Hawks to shoot 56.0% from the field.

Cavaliers 122 (4-3), Celtics 121 (3-5)

The King wanted this one. Badly. Through the first two quarters, neither team really gained control as they were knotted at 59 each by halftime. (There wasn’t much defense from either side.) LeBron James (41 points, 7 assists, 16-27 from the field) poured in 22 points through the first 24 minutes as it became clear he was on a mission; he remained aggressive for almost the entire night. The third quarter, though, was all Celtics as they outscored the Cavs 42-25. Jared Sullinger (19 points, 10 rebounds) scored 11 of his 19 points in the third, living in the paint for most of his offense. During a 14-6 run to start the final quarter, Kyrie Irving (27 points, 5 assists, 3 steals) started the final 12 minutes with a bang by making three 3-pointers and then three free throws after being fouled on a trey. After having three straight double-doubles to start the season, Kevin Love (12 points, 15 rebounds) notched his first double-double in the past four games. Rajon Rondo (6 points, 16 assists, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) always brings his best when he takes on LeBron, and he was tossing dimes throughout the night, keeping his team in the game. After a Rondo layup with 2:29 left in regulation, the Celtics held onto a 118-113 lead and forced head coach David Blatt to call a timeout. Whether or not Blatt told him to do so, James then took his play to that other gear that defenses can’t control. The King scored seven straight points–including a powerful and-one–to give his Cavs a 120-118 lead with 1:11 left in the game. On the final possession, Rondo tried to do it himself, but with Shawn Marion (6 points, 4 rebounds) accepting the task of stopping the Boston point guard, Rondo wasn’t able to get off a shot. The Cavaliers have now won three straight games and are above .500 for the first time this season.

Jazz 102 (4-6), Knicks 100 (2-8)

The Jazz have had an interesting start to their season with a lot of close wins and losses. After the Jazz took down the Cavs earlier in November thanks to a step back buzzer-beater from their starting small forward, their starting point guard decided to join in on the late-game antics. Before this game approached its waning moments, it was all about Carmelo Anthony (46 points, 7 rebounds), who put on a dazzling show by incessantly attacking the paint. With 5:01 remaining in the game, the Jazz led 87-81 after a Derrick Favors (21 points, 12 rebounds) dunk. Gordon Hayward (33 points, 6 assists, 4 steals) continues to look like he’s worth the pay-day, reaching the 30-point plateau for the second time in his past three games. Melo, though, went into scoring mode by pouring in 17 of his team’s final 19 points in just under five minutes. The Knicks were playing without Iman Shumpert, who went down in the opening minute with a bruised right hip. But this night belonged to second-year guard Trey Burke (13 points, 8 assists, 5-9 from the field). Up to this point in his young career, he has been criticized for his low shooting percentage and inability to get his teammates involved. Friday night, Burke kept his shot count to a reasonable amount and distributed the ball as well. But with 2.3 seconds remaining and the game tied 100-100 after a Melo 3-pointer, Burke knew his team needed a big shot. He received the inbounds pass, took a dribble and nailed a step back jumper at the buzzer to give the Jazz their first win at Madison Square Garden since 2009. The Knicks have now lost seven games in a row and have their second worst 10-game start in franchise history.

Rockets 88 (8-1), 76ers 87 (0-9)

The Rockets started this game slow after traveling back from Mexico City and looked sluggish up until James Harden (35 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 5 turnovers) saved them in the closing seconds. The shooting guard knocked down two free throws with 35.5 seconds and then hit an off-balance layup with 9.0 seconds remaining to turn a three-point deficit into a one-point lead. He got plenty of help from Dwight Howard (21 points, 16 rebounds, 7 blocks, 6 turnovers), who controlled the interior on both ends of the floor. Sixers point guard Tony Wroten (19 points, 8 assists) led the team in scoring again while Michael Carter-Williams (13 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 turnovers) continues to get back into NBA shape. Philadelphia actually held Houston to only 37.2 percent shooting from the field but allowed them to get to the line (23-37 on free throws). In search of their first win of the season, the Sixers will face the Spurs on Monday and Celtics on Wednesday.

Pelicans 139 (5-3), Timberwolves 91 (2-6)

A night after the Mavs earned a franchise record for largest margin of victory in obliterating the Sixers, the Pelicans set their own franchise record for margin of victory as they handed out a similar pounding to the inexperienced Timberwolves. This was one of those nights when everything was clicking for New Orleans, and when a team like Minnesota is still trying to find its identity, there is no stopping that Pelicans freight train. Jrue Holiday (24 points, 9 assists) seemed to have a clear path to the hoop all night, Ryan Anderson (16 points, 4-8 on 3-pointers) couldn’t miss from deep and Anthony Davis (22 points, 2 blocks, 2 steals) remained a legitimate MVP candidate. The Unibrow didn’t have an eye-popping stat line–and he didn’t need to with seven guys in double-figures–but he still had a major impact in this one. The Pelicans starting five shot a scorching 32-43 (74.4 percent) from the field while the entire Timberwolves team only shot 40.3 percent. Andrew Wiggins (20 points, 5 rebounds, 7-10 from the field) reached 20 points for the first time this season, but it was obviously overshadowed by the Pelicans dominating performance. With some hobbled and struggling Western conference teams towards the middle of the pack, New Orleans might just have a chance to sneak into the playoffs with their big man leading the way.

Pistons 96 (3-6), Thunder 89 (3-7) OT

The Thunder seemed to be in control of this one through the first two quarters, holding a 48-42 lead with Jeremy Lamb (career-high 24 points, career-high 10 rebounds), Serge Ibaka (19 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Reggie Jackson (20 points, 12 assists) leading the way. They looked good defensively and were forcing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (8 points, 3-10 from the field, 1-6 on 3-pointers) to regress to his inefficient ways. When teams have done that this year, they have a good chance of winning. Being at home against a Pistons team that had lost three games in a row, the Thunder needed this one. But Brandon Jennings (29 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds) had other plans coming out of the locker room after halftime. The electric point guard went off 25 points in the second half and overtime, including eight of Detroit’s 14 points in overtime. Jackson had a clean look at the end of the fourth quarter to give OKC a buzzer-beating win, but he hit back rim. The Pistons ran through Jennings almost every possession late in this one. When Jennings is hitting the deep ball and finding a lane to the left side of the hoop, the crafty lefty becomes a legitimate source of offense. He just needs to find his consistency. Greg Monroe (14 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, +30) was great Friday night, as his team outscored the Thunder by 30 points when he was on the court. For the Thunder, they simply lacked offensive options. After having two efficient games since returning from injury, Anthony Morrow (10 points) did not look good against the Pistons. The 3-point specialist shot 4-15 from the field and 2-9 on 3-pointers.

Hornets 103 (4-5), Suns 95 (5-4)

The first two quarters were filled with huge runs from both teams, as the Suns won the first quarter 28-14 and the Hornets took the second quarter 33-19. But in the second half, Kemba Walker (19 points, 4 assists) scored 12 of his 19 points and Lance Stephenson (13 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals) finished off another well-rounded performance. Even though Born Ready still hasn’t completely settled into his offensive role, he continues to impact the game in more ways than simply scoring. Head coach Steve Clifford decided to give big man Bismack Biyombo (11 points, 10 rebounds, 14 minutes) the bench minutes he has been giving to Jason Maxiell (DNP-CD) up to this point in the season. He was the surprise of the night and finally showed some offensive life in picking up his first double-double since November 1, 2013. There is a reason Charlotte took Biyombo with the seventh pick in the 2011 draft, and he showed a flash of that Friday night. All five Suns starters reached double-figures, with Eric Bledsoe (22 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) and Marcus Morris (17 points, 7 rebounds) leading the way, but a team with a usually strong bench lacked any punch. The Hornets bench outscored the Suns bench 43-20. Charlotte picked up its first road win with the victory, and the team will stay in California Saturday to take on the Golden State Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back.

Spurs 93 (5-3), Lakers 80 (1-8)

The Lakers scored the first two buckets in building a quick 4-0 lead, and then the game went as expected that point forward. The Spurs built a 29-19 first quarter lead and controlled the game the rest of the way thanks to a double-double from Tim Duncan (13 points, 11 rebounds), who surpassed 25,000 career points on the night. Tony Parker (11 points, 9 assists) and Manu Ginobili (9 points, 8 assists) distributed the ball well, and as a team, the Spurs dished out 28 assists. They have looked much better of late after their rocky start. The Lakers didn’t pass the ball well (17 assists), but the most glaring issue had to be shooting guard Kobe Bryant (9 points, 6 assists, 1-14 from the field), who had one of the worst shooting performances in his 19-year career. Carlos Boozer (19 points, 8 rebounds) and Jeremy Lin (15 points, 4 assists) got their points, but none of them came in any significant manner. The road doesn’t get any easier for L.A. as this one-win team must take on the Warriors, Hawks, Rockets and Mavericks in its next four games.