By Jason Wojciechowski on December 16, 2009 at 7:40 PM
I had to spend an extra hour at work, followed by Christmas shopping last night, so I never got around to writing my NBA roundup for Monday's games. Instead, I watched Paper Heart, a positive adorable movie that I wrote a little about over at The Woj. Anyway, here's two days of NBA in one.
Pacers 98, Magic 106: Orlando started slow (30-17 first quarter), but finished strong (27-17 fourth quarter) on the back of Dwight Howard, who had a 20/20/20 game: 21 points, 22 free throws (13 made), and 23 rebounds (nine offensive). That's a season-high for the NBA this year. Howard also blocked four shots. It doesn't seem like he's had these kinds of games as often this year as he did in 2009, but maybe that's just my happy memories of his leading my fantasy team to a championship. Vince Carter had 28 points to lead Orlando, and the bench had 49, led by Anthony Johnson and JJ Redick, who also combined for 12 assists. Roy Hibbert was +11 in his time on the floor, but that time was only 15 minutes, as he ended up with five fouls (which goes a long way toward explaining Howard's 22 free throws -- Jeff Foster also had five). TJ Ford had 13/6/7, which if you squint kind of looks like an off night for Rajon Rondo. Tyler Hansbrough jacked up 12 shots in 24 minutes and ended up with eight points. He did have six boards and three assists, though. Active! The man is active.
Warriors 101, Sixers 117: Philly can't score, but one well-known remedy for scoring woes is to play Golden State. Seven guys with 11+ for Philly, with Elton Brand putting in 11 ... off the bench. In 17 minutes. Which he was apparently not happy about, making some kind of comment about how Mikki Moore was a starter in the NBA (he's the starting center for the Warriors these days) but somehow he wasn't. Eddie Jordan shook things up, going small with Jrue Holiday in the backcourt, pushing Andre Iguodala to the small forward. Holiday had 15/7/6 and three steals, so it worked alright for him. Allen Iverson shot 7-10, so it really worked for him. Thaddeus Young had 26/14/4 with three steals of his own, so that was nice. Iggy didn't do much with the change, though, shooting 4-20. He did have eight boards and three steals, though. (Three steals was kind of going around.) Corey Maggette scored 24 off the bench for the Warriors on the strength of 15 free throw attempts. Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry apparently couldn't deal with the defensive stylings of Iverson and Holiday, though, as they combined to shoot 8-27 and turn the ball over seven times. (Maggette had six turnovers of his own, it should be noted.)
Celtics 110, Grizzlies 105: Boston was only up two with 0:42 to play after an OJ Mayo jumper, but Ray Allen nailed a three 25 seconds later, and Rasheed Wallace stole a Z-Bo pass to seal things up. Wallace wound up with 15 points on 15 shots, including 1-6 from three. (By contrast, Ray Allen also shot six threes, but he made by of them.) It's hard to complaint, as a Celtics fan, since the team is 20-4, but Rasheed might well shoot his team right out of a playoff game or two if he does this all year. The big men got no love from the refs, by the way: Kendrick Perkins fouled out, KG picked up five fouls, and even Wallace had four. On the other side, Marc Gasol had five of his own fouls, and Hasheem Thabeet had three in 18 minutes. Z-Bo probably would have had more fouls, but we all know his reputation for physicality. Rudy Gay led Memphis with 23/7, but misssed all five of his threes. (The Grizz hit just one of their thirteen threes overall.)
Hornets 90, Mavs 94: Dallas led this by nine with four to play, but New Orleans closed to two on Darius Songaila buckets at 0:22 and again at 0:13. Dirk made a layup after the first basket and Jason Terry hit his free throws after the second, though. Chris Paul missed a three with seven ticks to go, and that was that. Paul, in fact, missed all four of hit threes, and shot just 9-22 overall, undermining a 20/4/16 line, with five steals to boot. Still, poor shooting or not, 16 assists to one turnover (especially when you create five turnovers of your own) is pretty damn impressive. Songaila hit all six of his shots in just eleven minutes of PT, while David West went back to being David West again: 11/4. That's awful. Dirk only scored ten against his nemesis, but JJ Barea had 23 on 10-13 shooting, and Jason Kidd had 13 assists of his own. Josh Howard had 14/8 off the bench, but five turnovers.
Thunder 93, Nuggets 102: All that stuff about this maybe being the year for Hijack City is looking less and less good, as they're now a 12-11 team. Kevin Durant had 32/10 in this one, and for once his +/- was the best among the starters, albeit still negative (to be expected when you lose, of course). Birdman had 15/11, three blocks, and three steals for the Nuggets, and hit nine of this ten free-throw attempts. That's pretty good for a guy who's at 64% for his career. Carmelo had another 30-point game.
Wolves 110, Jazz 108: I can't get a handle on Utah, and I doubt anyone else can, either. They beat good teams, lose to bad teams. They're 14-10, but two of the ten were to Minnesota? The Wolves got 22+ from Corey Brewer, Al Jefferson (who added 12 boards), and Jonny Flynn, and Kevin Love had fourteen more rebounds. Deron Williams had 38 points and 13 dimes with just one turnover (which is remarkable -- the guy took 20 shots, 18 free throws, and had 13 assists, and he turned the ball over just once? Come on, that's absurd), and Carlos Boozer had 14/14 before fouling out, but they got beat on the glass (Minnesota took 34 of 41 on defense and 14 of 43 on offense) and gave up a go-ahead layup with three seconds to go to Jonny Flynn.
Wizards 95, Clippers 97: Another close one! Antawn Jamison's 32/11 wasn't enough to overcome Gilbert Arenas's poor game (4-14 shooting, 1-7 from three, six turnovers, fouled out in 34 minutes), despite 12 team steals and a four-block game by Brendan Haywood. Chris Kaman had 23/11, Baron Davis couldn't hit a shot (2-14), but had twelve assists, and Eric Gordon went off (10-15) for 29, tying his season-high.
Nets 89, Cavs 99: Brook Lopez! 22/15. Rafer Alston! 20 off the bench. Final score! Lose by ten. LeBron had an understated game with 23/6/7 and six turnovers, but Shaq and Big Z had identical 7-9 shooting nights, for 16 points apiece (they each made two free throws, although Shaq took six attempts to Z's three). Both also had five boards, a steal, and three blocks. Shaq out-assisted Z by 2-1. That's a pretty awesome center combination, though, not just because of the identicality, but because you get yourself 47 minutes of pivot play that results in 32 points on 18 shots, ten boards, three assists, and six blocks. With just three turnovers and five fouls? And the opposing center shoots 6-17? Fine job, gentlemen, fine job.
Knicks 87, Bobcats 94: The Knicks led by eight going into the fourth, had a six-point lead with 4:00 to play, and had some lead all the way until the 1:57 mark, when Flip Murray completed the Bobcat comeback with a three on a Boris Diaw assist. From there, Ray Felton hit two layups, Stephen Jackson dunked +1, and Felton hit two free throws to ice it. From the 3:57 point until the end of the game, the Knicks got exactly one basket, a Wilson Chandler layup. Not pretty. Stephen Jackson wound up with 24 (but on 22 shots, and with five turnovers), Felton had 18 (six assists, five turnovers), and Gerald Wallace made his usual multifaceted contributions with 21/8/5 and four steals. I wonder if this Bobcats team is any fun to watch. Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, and Boris Diaw, with Tyson Chandler catching an occasional lob at center and Ray Felton running a solid point, has to be fun, right? Somehow, I bet Larry Brown kills any joy the team might bring. Big Cock missed all his threes for the Knicks, and Jared Jeffries had six steals, but fouled out. Chris Duhon led the team in scoring, which is not a phrase you want to hear me utter.
Raptors 95, Heat 115: Chris Bosh had 28 on 13 shots, but a bunch of Ratpors shot for shit in this one: 3-11 from Hedo, 2-9 from DeMar DeRozan (still shaking off the effects of almost getting knocked the eff out by Trevor Ariza?), and 0-7 from Marco Belinelli were the lowlights. Also, Bosh was kept off the boards in a big way, as he had just two rebounds. Two boards in 31 minutes? You know what that means. Basketball-Reference Play Index! I searched Chris Bosh's history for 30+-minute games with two or fewer rebounds. I found four games in his career. This wasn't his low, as he had a one-rebound game in 35 minutes against Washington in the '07 season. His two other two-board games both came in the '04 season. In other words, this was a pretty rare feat accomplished by Miami.
The Heat dominated the boards in general, getting 33 of 37 available boards on defense and grabbing 12 of 40 on offense. Michael Beasley led the team with 11 (and also led the team in scoring with 28 -- that's precisely the kind of game Heat fans have been waiting on), but Haslem, Wright, and Anthony contributed a combined 21 in 64 minutes off the bench as well. Carlos Arroyo moved into the starting lineup, but Mario Chalmers actually played more minutes (27 to 21) and had eight dimes while missing all four of his threes. Neither one could do much for Dwyane Wade, who shot 8-19. Wade only played 29 minutes because he sat the entire fourth quarter. (This may have had something to do with Beasley leading the team in scoring, since he played 36 and thus was presumably the main offensive option during garbage time.)
Lakers 96, Bulls 87: Not the most impressive final score by LA, but a road win is a road win. The Celtics were the "first team" to twenty wins, but Boston and L.A. have the same number of losses, so if LA gets a win in their next contest, they'll be on even footing. Anyway, this game: Kobe shot the ball 26 times and had eight turnovers, which is sort of vintage Kobe, but he did end up with 42 points, so his efficiency actually wasn't bad. This was good, because Ron Artest was awful on offense, shooting 3-14 (but with zero turnovers in 45 minutes) and the Lakers got destroyed on the glass: Andrew Bynum had just three boards, Joakim Noah had 20, and the Bulls grabbed 22 of 53 rebounds on their offensive glass while permitting the Lakers just 6 of 35 on the other end. Pau got 16 boards, but he only managed eight shots and four free throws, so the Lakers continue to fail to get him the ball. It is beyond me why L.A. is struggling so much with this facet of the game. Anyway, I mentioned Noah's 20 boards, but I didn't mention yet that 14 of them were offensive. He may have been cleaning up his own garbage, though, as he shot just 4-16. Either way, it's the best offensive rebounding game since Shaq's 14 in 2003. The last guy to top 14 was, of course, Dennis Rodman (who else?), who had 15 two days before Christmas in 1997. (Weirdly, Jayson Williams had 14 of his own two days after Christmas in 1997. Big holiday for offensive rebounding.)
Pistons 96, Rockets 107: Chase Budinger got the start for Trevor Ariza, out with a forearm (a forearm aimed at DeMar DeRozan's head, that is). He made the best of it with a 16/12/5 game. He missed four of five from three, but shot 5-6 otherwise and hit his three free throws. The kid really can play. Aaron Brooks also had a nice game with 23 points and 10 dimes despite also missing a bunch of threes: 0-6, in fact. The Pistons were led by the mighty backcourt of Rip 'n' Stuck, who combined for 38 points on 46 shots. Ouch. (Still, admit it, you like "Rip 'n' Stuck" -- it's a good nickname.)
Spurs 104, Suns 116: Tim Duncan went all vintage for a night with 34/14 and three blocks, but the rest of the team shot 26-64. That includes Roger Mason's solid 7-13 night (5-8 from three), so if you take him out, too, you're down to 19-51, which is not good. Amare pretty much matched Duncan with 28/14 of his own -- no blocks, but three steals, which are better since you get the ball, not a guarantee with a block. Nash added 25 and 13 dimes and Goran Dragic finally had a good game, shooting 4-5 from three en route to 18 points in 25 minutes.
Kings 88, Blazers 95: Portland may be a walking MASH unit, but they've still got enough to beat the Martin-less Kings. Tyreke Evans scored an efficient 19 to lead Sacramento, and Beno Udrih continued to pour it in off the bench with 17, but LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy each had 25 (Roy adding ten dimes and Aldrige grabbing nine boards) to lead the way.