Clippers (7-4) 110, Heat (6-6) 93
The Clippers led 39-15 through 12 minutes—the largest deficit after one quarter at home in Heat franchise history. Los Angeles never looked back, cruising to victory thanks to a dominant performance from Blake Griffin (26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) and solid production from his frontcourt mate, DeAndre Jordan (12 points, 11 rebounds, 6 dunks). CP3, as always, played the role of court maestro to finish with 26 points and 12 dimes. The Clips shot a terrific 56% from the field including a scorching 65% by their starting five. The Heat were once again without Dwyane Wade, who missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained left hamstring. Chris Bosh led the way for Miami with 28 points and 7 rebounds, while Mario Chalmers—stepping into the two-guard role until Wade’s return—had 13 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Shabazz Napier had the best game of his young career with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in 32 minutes off the bench, and Luol Deng chipped in with 13 and 5.
Kings (7-5) 103, Bulls (8-4) 88
Miami wasn’t the only team to sorely miss production from its injured star guard on Thursday night. Derrick Rose was forced to miss his third straight game, which makes seven of the Bulls’ first 12 in which he’s sat out. The absence of Rose (strained left hamstring) and Pau Gasol (strained left calf) didn’t seem like it would be a huge deal heading into last night’s matchup, because the Bulls have looked so freakin’ good away from their home arena. However, Sacramento’s play proved otherwise, as six Kings players scored in double figures to snap Chicago’s six-game road win streak.
Boogie Cousins (22 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists) was an absolute force, knotting his ninth double-double of the season to tie Nikola Vucevic for most in the league. Meanwhile, the Kings might have their best fit at point guard since the Mike Bibby/Bobby Jackson era. Darren Collison is playing tremendous basketball through 12 games; last night he dropped 17 points, 12 assists, and 6 rebounds. The first half of the game was the Rudy Gay show, and he would go on to finish with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Chicago clearly lacked the extra scoring from Rose and Gasol; however, there were bright spots. Jimmy Butler (23 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals) continued his stellar play and is looking like the most improved player in the league. Joakim Noah posted a 12/11/6 statline and Taj Gibson put up 12/8 while filling in for Pau in a starting role.