Post Up: Lillard Lights It Up Late

Wizards (19-6) 105, Heat (12-15) 103

John Wall’s numbers aren’t as gaudy as the James Hardens, Steph Currys and LeBron Jameses of the league, but if you’ve been watching Wizards games this year, then you know why the fifth-year point guard should at the very least be in the discussion for league MVP at this point in the season. He’s been the do-it-all leader for a Washington squad that has won six games in a row and currently sits at second place in the Eastern Conference. At 19-6, the Wiz Kids have matched their best start through 25 games in team history.

Last night, JWall dropped 20 points, 10 assists and came up with crucial plays down the stretch en route to a come-from-behind victory. Brad Beal put up 16 points and 7 rebounds as well as the game-sealing steal, Nene provided 20 points and 6 boards in his new role off the bench and Paul Pierce chipped in with 14. For Miami, Chris Bosh sat out his fourth straight game with a calf injury. DWade stepped up and had himself a monster outing with 28/8/4 but he couldn’t muster enough magic late to fight off Washington’s rally. Other bright spots for the Heat were Luol Deng (19 and 5) and Mario Chalmers (14 and 5).

Hornets (7-19) 109, Sixers (2-23) 91

After finally winning a game a couple weeks back, the next thing on the Sixers’ to-do list is getting a W at home. Kemba Walker (season-high 30 points, 5 assists) made sure that Philadelphia’s first win at Wells Fargo Center wouldn’t come on Friday night, as he controlled the game offensively, getting to the cup with ease and shooting the outside J with confidence. The Sixers turned the ball over 24 times and the Hornets took full advantage; they led by double digits for pretty much the entirety of the matchup. Al Jefferson provided his usual muscle down low, pouring in 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, Gerald Henderson had 11 points, 4 dimes and 2 blocks and it was smooth sailing for the Lance Stephenson-less (pelvic strain) Hornets. Michael Carter-Williams has been the de facto leader of the young Sixers and had a nice game with 14 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds. Teammates Robert Covington and Tony Wroten posted 19 points apiece.

Cavaliers (15-10) 95, Nets (10-15) 91

Kobe recently passed the GOAT for third on the all-time scoring list, and last night, LeBron moved into 23rd as if to say, “Hey, I’m pretty good, too.” The King’s 22 points (he also notched 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals) catapulted him ahead of Charles Barkley as the Cavs edged the Nets at Quicken Loans Arena. David Blatt inserted Mike Miller into the starting lineup and it paid dividends; Miller was unguardable from beyond the arc, hitting 7 threes on 8 attempts. Brooklyn made a run late in the fourth quarter but it was too little too late. Kyrie Irving posted a 16/4/4 statline and Kevin Love battled inside for 14 rebounds, though he only scored 6 points. Will Cleveland figure out how to properly use Love on the offensive end before the playoffs arrive? Joe Johnson was cooking—he scored 26 points to go with 5 assists and 4 rebounds—but he didn’t get much help, as backcourt mate Deron Williams left the game in the second quarter with a calf injury and didn’t return. Mason Plumlee played an efficient game, going 5-9 from the field for 14 points and grabbing 9 rebounds.

Raptors (21-6) 110, Pistons (5-22) 100

It’s no secret: the Pistons are not a good basketball team. Especially at home. Detroit as now lost 12 straight at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and Stan Van Gundy’s team is clearly frustrated as evidenced by some of the behavior that took place last night:

As for the actual game, Jonas Valanciunas and Kyle Lowry were key in the Toronto win with 17 points and 7 rebounds and 15 points and 7 assists, respectively. Lou Williams continues to be one of the most dangerous sixth men in the L as he dropped 15 off the bench. And oh, if you haven’t heard, Lou has been in the news recently for certain—ahem—non-basketball related activities. Do you, Lou! Okay, back to basketball… The game was tied at the half but the Raps, fueled by chants of “We The North” at an away game no less, pulled away in the third quarter. Brandon Jennings’ 22/8/4 and Greg Monroe’s 17/7 look nice in the post-game box score but didn’t add up to a win.

Jazz (8-19) 101, Magic (10-19) 94

The Utah Jazz have enjoyed their business trip to the state of Florida. Following a win over Miami on Wednesday night and a victory against Orlando last night, the Jazz have now strung together two straight games for the first time this season. Derrick Favors’ 23 points and 10 rebounds laid the groundwork for the seven-point W, while Gordon Hayward (20 points, 6 assists) and Enes Kanter (11 points, 7 rebounds) did their thing as well. For the Magic, Tobias Harris scored 24 points including a downright dirty dunk over Favors. Nikola Vucevic had 16 and 9, Evan Fournier finished with 21 and 4 and Elfrid Payton came up with 11 and 11 off the bench.

Celtics (10-14) 114, Timberwolves (5-20) 98

The Celtics took on the lowly Timberwolves in their first game without Rajon Rondo and came out on top thanks to big games from Kelly Olynyk (21 points, 8 rebounds), Jeff Green (18 points, 7 rebounds) and Avery Bradley (14 points, 7 assists). Minnesota kept it close, drawing to within three points with six minutes remaining, but late buckets from Green, Jared Sullinger and Marcus Smart allowed breathing room for Boston. Shabazz Muhammad dropped 26 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists last night and is quietly having a solid year at 12.9 PPG and 3.6 RPG. Chase Budinger scored 19 points in the loss.

Bulls (17-9) 103, Grizzlies (21-5) 97

THREE-KOLA! Nikola Mirotic went a perfect 6-6 from three-point land and finished with 27 points and 8 rebounds to bolster Chicago against the Grit-N-Grind Grizzlies. In the most enticing matchup of the 10 games last night, the Bulls showed us once again why they’re a force to be reckoned with even without a healthy Derrick Rose. After a 35-point outing against the Knicks on Thursday, Jimmy Butler found his groove again and scored 31 points to go with 10 rebounds. As is the case with seemingly every point guard that plays a stint under Coach Thibodeau, Aaron Brooks has been a pleasant surprise this season. Last night, his 17 points and 4 assists provided a huge relief off the bench. Marc Gasol (13 points, 10 rebounds) outdueled is brother Pau individually, but in the end the smash bros of Memphis failed to extend their win streak to seven games.

Blazers (21-6) 129, Spurs (17-10) 119

The Spurs have now played two triple overtime games in the span of three nights—that’s a lot of basketball for anyone, let alone for the dinosaurs on their roster. Coming off a 3OT loss to Memphis Wednesday night, San Antonio was looking to get its 18th win in a home tilt against the Blazers. Unfortunately for Pop and company, Damian Lillard had other plans. After sending the game to overtime with an aerial finish over Tim Duncan, DLill continued his torrid play in the extra periods. The Nor-Cal native dropped 16 of his career-high 43 throughout the three overtimes, including a three-ball at the end of the first OT to keep his team’s chances alive.

Meanwhile, LaMarcus Aldridge was a beast down low with 32 points and 16 boards. Wes Matthews provided his usual perimeter game, adding 16 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. For the Spurs, it was Timmy leading the charge with 32 points and 10 rebounds while Danny Green went 6-9 from three-point range for 27 points as well as 10 rebounds. San Antonio was once again without its late-game maestro Tony Parker due to an injured hamstring.

Nuggets (11-15) 109, Clippers (18-8) 106

The Nuggets led by 16 at halftime, but that margin would quickly evaporate as the Clippers opened the second half with a 16-0 run. However, Denver avoided a colossal meltdown thanks to threes late in the game from Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler as well as 20 points from spark plug Nate Robinson. Denver boasted a balanced scoring attack—seven Nuggets scored in double figures. Blake Griffin led the way for the Clips with 32 points and 12 rebounds. The matchup of the night was CP3 vs. Ty Lawson, a battle of two of the league’s quickest guards. Paul (17 points, 15 assists) got the best of Lawson (10 points, 14 dimes) on a stat-stuffing tip, but the latter’s team earned the prize that really matters.

Thunder (13-14) 104, Lakers (8-18) 103

Kobe (9 points, 8 assists) had a chance to redeem a horrific 3-15 shooting night, but it was not to be. Bryant missed a 17-foot jumper at the horn that would have won it for Los Angeles; however, Andre Roberson blanketed the Mamba causing him to miss short off the front rim. OKC was without Kevin Durant, who sprained his right ankle at the end of his incredible first half performance on Thursday night against the Warriors. Naturally, Russell Westbrook (31 points, 10 assists) decided to take matters into his own hands. Serge Ibaka contributed 16 points and 7 rebounds and Reggie Jackson complimented Russ nicely with 25 points and 5 dimes. Ed Davis (18 points, 9 rebounds) and Carlos Boozer (14 points, 6 rebounds) were the highlights for the Lake Show. And when those are your best players on a given night, uh… yeah, you’re probably not winning that game.