NBA catchup post: November 25-27
Feel free to skip this, my two dear readers. I'm really doing it for my own benefit, because I kind of lost track of who was hurt, who was playing well, who came back from injury, and so forth during and just after my Thanksgiving break.
Wednesday, November 25thClippers 73, Pacers 86: Scintillating stuff. Twelve points for Indiana in the first, 30 points in the entire second half for the Clippers. Baron Davis finally had a good scoring game with 25, and Marcus Camby brought the noise with 15/21/3/3/2, but Chris Kaman's 3-19 shooting was pitiful. Troy Murphy had his best game of the year with 18/11 (although just 2-7 shooting from three), but when you're basically starting Dahntay Jones at the small forward (with Danny Granger hurt), you're not in a good place. Raptors 81, Bobcats 116: The Raptors have a historically bad defense. The Bobcats just aren't that good. There's no way they should score 116 points, even when Gerald Wallace is going off for 31. You can't let Gerald Henderson score 15 off the bench, or Nazr Mohammed get 11/9 in 18 minutes. Tyson Chandler also had six blocks for Charlotte, which is the same as the number of Jose Calderon turnovers. (See that? Transition!) Chris Bosh had 18/14 but shot poorly, and Hedo had just five points and no rebounds. Sixers 110, Celtics 113: Boston had to win the fourth quarter by nine to take this one. The Celtics sure have been shaky, haven't they? They're 11-4 anyway, but they don't feel like they should be that good. Philly kept this one close at the three-point line, hitting 13-20, with Jason Kopono's 4-6 leading the way. Thirteen extra foul shots for Boston really helped them -- Kevin Garnett's 9-12 from the line gave him 19 on the night, but you wonder where his rebounding went: just four in the game? That's his fourth game this year with five or fewer rebounds. In his career, KG has 77 games of 20+ minutes and five or fewer rebounds. That's 73 times in 14 years prior to this one, or about five per year. And he's, I'll say again, got four already this year in just 20 games. (Well, 20 as of the date of this writing. It was four in 15 games on November 25th.) Heat 99, Magic 98: Dwyane Wade couldn't get the ball in the hole (6-22), but 15 offensive boards for the Heat (seven for Jermaine O'Neal) and just eight turnovers allowed them to take eight more shots than the Magic, helping make up for their sub-40% shooting on the night. Dwight Howard hit just six of his eleven free throws, limiting him to 12 points. The Artist Formerly Known as White Chocolate had 25 points to lead Orlando, along with eight assists and just one turnover. That's positively Nashian. The front-court production was weak for Orlando: 9-31 shooting from the starters. Sometimes Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus might be a little undersized, but this is a Heat team starting James Jones at the SF and Michael Beasley at PF, so you can't really blame size this time. Bucks 99, Hornets 102 (OT): Michael Redd came off the bench and shot just 4-16, Brandon Jennings had 14/7/8 and four steals but shot 4-15, and the team had 18 turnovers and 26 fouls. You can credit Hakim Warrick and Luke Ridnour for keeping this a game at all, as they had 22/10 and 23/7/10 respectively. Darren Collison did a reasonable Chris Paul facsimile for New Orleans with 18/7/8 and two steals. David West took another step toward showing me that everything was Byron Scott's fault, not his, with 27/10/5. If he can do that with some regularity, then he's an elite power forward, even if his defense is as indifferent as it sometimes seems. (That could be pure perception, though -- his defensive rating numbers for his career are pretty good.) Cavs 98, Pistons 88: LeBron: 34/8/7. Rodney Stuckey had 25 for the Pistons, but seemed to forget he was the starting point guard: zero assists. Game finder time! At least 25 points, zero assists. It's happened 17 times this year, with Dirk Nowitzki's 41/0 leading the way a week before this game. However, just two games on the list were made by guards, the other being Kevin Martin's 29/0 on Halloween against the Spurs. (Team record in these games? 7-10.) Martin's game was much more notable than Stuckey's, however, because to go with his zero assists, he also had zero rebounds and zero fouls. He did have a steal and two turnovers, though. Nuggets 124, Wolves 111: 1-14. Remind me why Lawrence Frank got fired? Corey Brewer had 22/13 for Minnesota, but Denver shot 53%, hit ten threes, and managed a remarkable 30-33 from the free-throw line. The hot shooting offset the 19 turnovers, but it's possible some of the turnovers came as a result of excellent ball movement: 30 assists on 42 made field goals. (Or maybe it just came from Chauncey Billups being sloppy, as he had seven of the 19 turnovers.) Mavericks 130, Rockets 99: Ouch. Aaron Brooks, meet Jason Terry. JET went for 27 on 10-11 shooting and added ten assists. Brooks and Kyle Lowry had all sorts of trouble guarding JET and Jason Kidd, picking up nine fouls between them. Tim Thomas had 23 off the bench for Dallas, although he did foul out in just 25 minutes. Carl Landry led the Rockets with 24 points. Warriors 104, Spurs 118: Forty-two for Monta Ellis! But 32 for Tony Parker. It's like a one-on-one game, except that Parker's teammate is Tim Duncan (20/10/6 and three blocks) while Ellis has Mikki Moore. Grizzlies 111, Suns 126: Steve Nash had 16 assists. Again. It was his fifth 16+ assist game of the year. (He added a sixth four days later.) This one was especially remarkably because he did it in 29:45 of run. It's a good thing Phoenix shot 62%, though, because Memphis had 22 offensive rebounds, the same number of defensive boards that Phoenix had. I don't seem to be able to use the game-finder to see how often this has happened this year. It's probably rare, and it's probably not usually associated with victory. Z-Bo, by the way, had ten of those offensive rebounds by himself, but, in no small part due to the Suns hitting all those shots, had just three defensive rebounds. This was actually the first double-digit offensive rebound game of the season, although Brook Lopez had 10 the same night, and four other games have happened subsequently, including two from Ben Wallace. Three defensive rebounds is the lowest number out of the bunch, though. (Interestingly, just one of these six games resulted in a win. I guess there being enough offensive rebounds available such that one guy can get ten of them is not a recipe for winning.) Nets 83, Blazers 93: This is the aforementioned Brook Lopez game: he had 32/14 overall, and the team had 52 points in the paint, but after Chris Douglas-Roberts's 18 points, the next-highest total was ten for Trenton Hassell. This team just cannot score. The Blazers didn't exactly go hog-wild with the offense, either, but they did have six guys in double-digits. Greg Oden had six offensive boards and four blocked shots. Knicks 97, Kings 111: David Lee had 25. No other starter had more than eight. Nate Robinson did have 25 off the bench, though. The Kings, meanwhile, had seven guys with 10+, led by Donte Greene's 24. Greene also blocked six shots.
Thursday, November 26thMagic 93, Hawks 76: The Hawks have kind of been sliding since right around this game, when they got trounced at home by the Magic. Too much turkey, I guess. Or maybe not enough Al Horford: 1-3 shooting for two points, while his opponent, Dwight Howard, went for 22/17 and blocked four shots. Jason Williams followed up his awesome game on Wednesday with an 0-3 shooting performance. There's only so much chocolate left in the tank, I guess. Bulls 86, Jazz 105: Speaking of teams that can't score. 26 for Luol Deng, 19 for Derrick Rose, and ten for rookie James Johnson. Those are your leaders. Carlos Boozer had 28 on 12-14 shooting for Utah, and Deron Williams added 21 on 9-11. The team shot 61% overall, dragged down by Andrei Kirilenko's 1-7 (but six assists, tied for the team lead with Williams and Ronnie Brewer).
Friday, November 27thWizards 94, Heat 84: Sometimes you see the Heat and figure that Dwyane Wade can carry them farther than they should go, that Jermaine O'Neal's contract-year stylings can pull them along, that Michael Beasley's continued improvements will push them over the top. And then sometimes they lose by ten at home to the Wizards. Nick Young needed 23 shots to get it, but he scored 22 points, and Antwan Jamison led the way with 24/13. The Heat, meanwhile, got seven points from their bench, all from Daequan Cook. Udonis Haslem scored zero points in 24 minutes. Beasley, O'Neal, and Mario Chalmers all shot the ball well, but Wade's continued FG struggles sunk them, as he hit just six of his nineteen shots, including just one of this six threes. Wade's never been a very good three-point shooter, hitting a career-high 32% last year. He's at just 25% this year, right around his career average of 28% (which is an average heavily weighted by last year's performance, since he took almost four times as many threes in 2009 as he had in any season before that), but he's shooting them even more than he did last year (3.8 per game, up from 3.5). People, myself included, criticized LeBron James for shooting too many threes, but LeBron at least has a career 33% rate from downtown. Wade needs to go back to his 1.0-1.5 per game rate, I think. Hawks 100, Sixers 86: There's only so much you can struggle when you're playing the Sixers. Twenty-two for Thaddeus Young is solid, and Iggy had 16/9/8, but six turnovers and 7-18 shooting aren't good. Jamal Crawford led the Hawks with 24 off the bench, and tied for the team lead with five dimes. Cavs 87, Bobcats 94: Ouch. LeBron had 25/6/4, but turned the ball over six times, and Gerald Wallace, who he was presumably guarding, had 31/14. LeBron also got whistled for four fouls to just one for Wallace, which is likely partially the cause of Wallace shooting 14 free throws to just four for LeBron. Nazr Mohammed had another solid game off the bench with 13/6 on 5-7 shooting. Until the Cavs show something more, I think we have to stop mentioning them as championship contenders. They're not a bad team, but they're just not on the level of Denver, L.A., Boston, and maybe Orlando. Raptors 103, Celtics 116: Boston was happy to take advantage of Toronto's famous defensive largesse, scoring 68 points in the paint and shooting 62%. They also took advantage of 25 Raptor turnovers, including seven by Hedo Turkoglu. Hedo ruined a perfectly nice shooting night (20 points on 11 shots) with all those turnovers, and wasted another fine game by Chris Bosh (20/13). Kevin Garnett shot a perfect 6-6, but did not touch the free-throw line and committed five fouls in 28 minutes. That's why they signed Rasheed Wallace, though, and he came through for 15 points and four steals. Kendrick Perkins shot 8-8 himself, but missed two free throws, so he wasn't able to be 100% perfect, which would've been neat. Clippers 104, Pistons 96: Chris Kaman had a nice comeback game with 26 on 11-13 shooting, and Baron Davis added a whopping 25 on nine shots to go with ten assists. That's not quite the Baron Davis we know and love (the Baron we know and love shoots 9-21 to get 25 points and ten assists), but it's a better one than we were seeing earlier in the year, that's for sure. Rodney Stuckey filled the role of Baron Davis admirably, shooting 10-24 for 21 points while adding seven assists. Ben Wallace had the third 10-offensive-rebounds-but-lose game of the year. (See above.) Mavs 113, Pacers 92: 31 for Dirk. Danny Granger returns but shoots 5-16. Troy Murphy grabs two rebounds. Spurs 92, Rockets 84: That's a good old-fashioned Spurs score, with a good old fasioned 21/14/3 and four blocks from Tim Duncan. Trevor Ariza had 17/11, but shot just 6-21. He's shooting 38% on the year and is very clearly struggling with his new role (a career-high Usage Percentage of 23.7, an almost-career-low Offensive Rating of 98). You start to wonder whether Dork Elvis really spent his money on the right guy. Knicks 125, Nuggets 128: The 38-36 fourth quarter score makes me wish I'd watched that one. This was the fourth one-shot loss by the Knicks of the year. They're not a good team, so I'm hard-pressed to say they should have won two of them, but it's also not out of the question. Of course, that'd still make them just 5-11 instead of 3-13. Al Harrington had 41 off the bench and David Lee added 23/10, but Carmelo had the second 50-point game of the year, going for exactly 50 on 17-28 shooting. You can almost say "Fine, Carmelo, take your 50," but what you can't do is let Carmelo get 50 while also having Chauncey Billups score 32 on 9-17 shooting. Suns 120, Wolves 95: I won't make a Lawrence Frank crack this time, because there's no way the Wolves can hang with the Suns. This isn't the game to mention it. This one was over early, so no Phoenix starter played more than 27 minutes, which keeps everyone's counting numbers down. Steve Nash still had 11 assists, though. Earl Clark hit 6-6 for fourteen points, but had zero of everything else in his 13 minutes. Ramon Sessions shot 10-13 for 23 points for Minnesota. Bucks 90, Thunder 108: 33/12/5 for Durant, 6-7 shooting for James "Not Rich" Harden, and nothing at all of note for Milwaukee. Grizzlies 106, Blazers 96: That's a quality win for Memphis and a bad loss for Portland. Brandon Roy, who apparently whined his way out of the small forward position, had 26/8/9, but (a) shot 9-22; and (b) lost. Marc Gasol, on the other hand, shot 6-8 en route to 19/15/5 despite being at best the fourth offensive option. Nets 96, Kings 109: Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, and Chris Douglas-Roberts all scored 20+, but Harris shot 6-22, and Lopez and CDR were both slightly under 50% shooting. Harris did get to the line 17 times, but ten Net assists on 36 field goals probably tells the story best. Beno Udrih had 21 for the Kings off the bench, and the multitude of contributions added up to 55% shooting for the team (compared to 38% for Jersey).
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