Hornets (13-24) 98, Pelicans (17-18) 94
Kemba Walker is not in the discussion when it comes to the NBA’s elite point guards, but there’s no denying his clutch factor. With the game knotted at 94, Kemba drove to the right side of the lane and, despite an awkward release, banked home a floater plus the foul over Jrue Holiday with 1.4 seconds remaining. It was his third game-winner of the season, and oh yeah—he also dropped 31 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds in the process. Charlotte is 11-3 when Walker scores 30+ points in a game.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson had statlines of 13 points and 12 rebounds and 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, respectively. Anthony Davis put up 32 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in the loss. Holiday did a little bit of everything with 16 points, 9 dimes, 6 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
Rockets (24-11) 105, Cavaliers (19-17) 93
Cavs fans: “So uh, can like… LeBron come back now?”
Kyrie Irving went 15-26 from the field for 38 points and Kevin Love overcame a slow start to finish with 17/16/4, but Cleveland lost its seventh game in nine outings as Dwight Howard simply dominated inside. It’s no secret that the Cavs are lacking in the center department, and D12 took full advantage with 17 points and 19 rebounds. James Harden (21 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 7 turnovers) flirted with a triple double and newly acquired Josh Smith (16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) was efficient, making 7 of his 10 shot attempts. In his first game as a Cavalier, JR Smith went 0-5 from the floor, failing to find any sort of rhythm—not even in pre-game warm-ups (see below). Also, in case you missed it, Cleveland has just acquired Timofey Mozgov from the Nuggets for two first-round picks.
Bucks (19-18) 97, Sixers (5-29) 77
Milwaukee has now won five straight on the road as Brandon Knight (18 points, 5 assists), Khris Middleton (18 points, 5 steals) and company easily handled the lowly Sixers. The Bucks shot 54% from the field compared to Philadelphia’s atrocious 30%. Milwaukee got 37 points from its bench. Philly committed 24 turnovers. Nerlens Noel (13 points, 5 rebounds) and KJ McDaniels (14 points, 6 boards, 3 steals) were bright spots for the Sixers. Tony Wroten told reporters prior to the game that he’s “auditioning for everybody,” then proceeded to shoot 4-19 from the floor. It wouldn’t be a shock if he’s out the door soon.
Wizards (24-11) 101, Knicks (5-33) 91
Surprise, surprise: the Knicks are bad. Really, really bad.
New York has now dropped a franchise record 13 straight games, the latest coming at the hands of John Wall and the Wiz Kids. NYK dumped Iman Shumpert and JR Smith and were without Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire due to knee injuries, and, as a result, their starting five was as follows: Pablo Prigioni, Jose Calderon, Tim Hardaway JR, Quincy Acy and Cole Aldrich. You’re just not going to win an NBA game with that lineup. Scroll down to the clip of Aldrich and you’ll understand what kind of night it was for the Knicks.
Meanwhile, JWall picked up where he left off with the Knicks on Christmas by dropping a cool 18 points, 8 dimes and 3 steals. Nene banged down low and finished with 20 points, 6 boards and 4 assists. Marcin Gortat AKA the Polish Hammer provided a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Hawks (27-8) 96, Grizzlies (25-10) 86
The Hawks have been dubbed the “Spurs of the East,” and they certainly played like it last night against one of the toughest teams in the West: the Memphis Grizzlies. Atlanta has now won six straight overall and nine straight against Western Conference foes. For anyone who doubts that they can compete against the West, well, those numbers don’t lie. Jeff Teague scored 25 points, handed out 6 assists and grabbed 2 steals en route to his team’s 27th win of the season. Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Kyle Korver all contributed in major ways and Pero Antic led the charge off the bench. Memphis couldn’t find much offensive production apart from Marc Gasol’s 16 points and Mike Conley’s 17.
Celtics (12-21) 89, Nets (16-19) 81
Avery Bradley is showing us more and more that he can be an offensive threat in addition to being one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. The fifth-year PG out of Texas scored 21 points and pulled down 4 rebounds as the Celtics moved past the Nets to snap a three-game losing streak. Tyler Zeller was the other high scorer for Beantown, chipping in with 18 points on 7-14 shooting to go along with 6 boards and 4 dimes. While four starters scored in double figures for Brooklyn, the bench combined for only 18 points. The Nets were plagued with turnover issues, as well; they coughed up the rock 17 times to Boston’s 6. Despite jumping out to the early lead, BK couldn’t hold it together and will try to bounce back against Philadelphia on Friday.
Jazz (13-23) 97, Bulls (25-11) 77
Who saw this one coming? Two nights after showing Houston what was good with a 114-105 win, the Bulls slipped at home against the Jazz. The Bulls’ offense has been surprisingly good this season with the addition of Pau Gasol and the vast improvement made by Jimmy Butler, but the scoring just wasn’t there against Utah. Derrick Rose couldn’t buy a bucket, shooting 3-15 from the field for 7 points. Joakim Noah was 0-3 for 1 point and Kirk Hinrich went 0-5 to finish with a donut. Pau (13 points, 6 rebounds) and Butler (16 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals) had good games but failed to get the necessary production from teammates. Chicago as a whole shot just 28-84 (33%) from the floor.
But it wasn’t just an off-night for the Bulls. Utah deserves credit for an impressive outing. Derrick Favors (20 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals) led the way while Gordon Hayward (18 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) and Trey Burke (17 points, 4 assists) contributed as well.
Pistons (12-23) 108, Mavericks (26-11) 95
How ’bout them Pistons? Detroit is now 7-0 since getting rid of Josh Smith. Is it too soon to say that they look like a playoff team in the East? After dismantling the defending champion Spurs on Tuesday, the Stones beat up another tough Western Conference squad in Dallas. Greg Monroe was a force to be reckoned with against the Mavs last night, scoring 27 points and adding 18 rebounds and 6 assists. Brandon Jennings continued his strong play with 14 points and 6 dimes, while DJ Augustin shot lights out off the bench for 26 points (17 in the fourth) including 4 three-balls.
The Pistons led the Mavs for all 48 minutes. Tyson Chandler (9 points, 15 rebounds), Dirk Nowitzki (19 points, 5 rebounds) and Monta Ellis (16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 dimes) had nice games but Dallas, as a whole, lacked intensity on the defensive end.
Nuggets (16-20) 93, Magic (13-25) 90
Orlando kept it close the entire way, but in the end, the Nuggets got the best of the Magic thanks in large part to Ty Lawson, who scored 23 points and dished out 5 assists. Arron Afflalo dropped 17 points and 6 rebounds against his former team, while Nate Robinson put up 13 and 7 off the bench. Nikola Vucevic eclipsed his scoring average with 20 to go with his usual 11 rebounds. Victor Oladipo posted 17 points, 6 assists and 4 steals in the loss. The Magic cut the lead to three with a minute left, but Evan Fournier couldn’t hit a game-tying long-ball.
Suns (22-16) 113, Timberwolves (5-29) 111
The T-Wolves were so close.
They were an Andrew Wiggins three-pointer away from breaking a brutal losing streak, but the ball clanked off the rim as the buzzer sounded. Minnesota has now lost 13 straight, to no fault of the aforementioned Canadian. The rook has now scored 20+ points in seven of his past eight games and he had it going last night, as well, dropping 25 points and collecting 3 steals. His teammates had no issues finding the cup, either; Mo Williams and Thaddeus Young scored 23 and 13, respectively. Even Anthony Bennett played well, coming out of his shell a bit to provide 14 points and 10 rebounds. However, it was the other side of the ball that was the problem for the struggling Wolves. Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas combined for 59 points and Gerald Green scored 15 of his 21 in the fourth quarter to apply pressure. Before Green’s three-point explosion in the final 12 minutes, PHX was just 2-20 from beyond the arc.
Kings (15-20) 104, Thunder (17-19) 83
Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Darren Collison combined for 75 points and the Kings ended their 12-game L streak. As he is so apt to do, Boogie controlled the post, coming away with 15 boards and 3 blocks. Russell Westbrook shot just 3-19 and committed 7 turnovers. KD and Serge Ibaka picked up some of the slack with 24 points/9 rebounds and 11 points/10 rebounds/8 blocks respectively, but OKC shot just 33% as a team. Dion Waiters shot 1-9 for 4 points in his Thunder debut.
Warriors (28-5) 117, Pacers (14-23) 102
The Splash Bros were on display last night, as Klay Thompson went for 40 (!) on 14-25 shooting and Steph Curry finished with 21 points, 15 dimes and 4 steals. After the game, Steve Kerr told reporters that his Warriors’ 117-102 win over the Pacers was one of his favorites of the season. The Pacers were up 11 early but GSW battled back and eventually took control in the second half. One center returned, another exited: Andrew Bogut came off the bench after missing 12 games with a right knee injury, and Roy Hibbert had to leave the game with a sprained ankle.
Clippers (24-12) 114, Lakers (11-25) 89
Blake Griffin’s 27 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals anchored the Clips’ 25-point blowout of the Lakers. CP3 did his thing, too; the savvy veteran PG had 24 points, 11 assists and 3 steals, and in typical fashion, made it all look easy. Matt Barnes had 19. Kobe Bryant shot an abysmal 2-12 for 4 points, yet he did have 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Jordan Hill’s 13 points and 5 rebounds were not enough to propel the Lake Show to a win against the other Los Angeles franchise. Best part about this game, and probably the night, though? Easy. Steve Ballmer going absolutely ham with the dance moves while Fergie performed: