By Jason Wojciechowski on December 19, 2009 at 8:10 AM
I forgot to do Thursday's games yesterday, so it's a good thing it was a short night, with just three contests.
Knicks 89, Bulls 98: The Knicks won the first quarter by eleven, lost that lead, came back to be up two with 7:05 to play, and were outscored 21-10 from there. Luol Deng had a huge game for the Bulls with 24/13/5 and John Salmons added 20/7/4 of his own. Taj Gibson put in a double-double off the bench with 12/10. The teams grabbed the same number of offensive rebounds despite the Knicks putting up twelve more chance on their offensive glass (49 total rebounds on the Knicks' offensive side; 37 on the Bulls' side). The Knicks did win the turnover battle by committing just nine gaffes, but they outfouled the home team 22-12. The big number, though, is that the Knicks shot themselves into the game and they shot themselves out. They took 47 threes, 15 by Big Cock, 13 by Al Harrington, 10 by Chris Duhon, and six by Wilson Chandler. They shot an ok percentage (34%), led by Duhon's 5-10 effort, and if your approach is "from deep or at the bucket", then great, but the Knicks had just 24 paint points and 12 free throws, and they shot 36% overall, barely better than their 34% three-point mark.
The Knicks went with an even shorter rotation than usual, as just six players got more than four minutes. Eddy Curry and Toney Douglas each played four, leaving Cock as the only reserve to actually have an impact. Jonathan Bender, by the way, is active for the Knicks, which is interesting.
Magic 86, Heat 104: The Magic never looked competitive in this one, losing the first and third quarters by a combined 29 points. The entire fourth quarter was garbage time,s o the 26-15 score there isn't really indicative of anything. Dwyane Wade finally shot a good percentage, hitting 10-17 for 25 points, and Michael Beasley had another good night with 22/8. Wade, Carlos Arroyo, and Mario Chalmers evenly split 20 assists amongst them, while the Magic had just twelve total, on 34 field goals. Dwight Howard had 17/14 with two blocks.
Suns 102, Blazers 105: Portland won the fourth quarter by 14 to take this one, so the Suns have to be disappointed. The Suns were in the lead all the way to the 4:16 mark, when a Brandon Roy free throw tied it. Portland continued their run, opening up as much as a five point lead with 0:33 to play, but Steve Nash hit a three at that point to get the game down to one shot. Martell Webster, though, grabbed an offensive rebound off a Jerryd Bayless miss with 0:11 to go and the Blazers hit enough of their free throws to win. If the Suns manage to get that rebound, maybe things turn out differently. Rebounding wasn't a problem for most of the game for the Suns (26 of 38 on the defensive glass; 10 of 39 on offense), they just couldn't grab that crucial one. Bayless led the Blazers with 29 points in 29 minutes, on 15 shots, helping make up for Brandon Roy's 9-22 shooting night. With Jason Richardson out, Goran Dragic started alongside Nash, but Jared Dudley wound up getting more playing time. Nash had 13 dimes and Amare had 27/11.
Nets 95, Raptors 118: This wasn't as close as it looks. The Raptors won the first half 70-33 and just coasted home from there. Seven players scored in double digits for Toronto as they shot 59% and hit six of their nine threes. Amir Johnson actually led the team in scoring with 18 in 19 minutes, adding seven boards, two steals, and two blocks. Hedo had 14/4/7 in just 24 minutes and Chris Bosh had 16/8 in 26. The Nets were led by CDR's 16.
Jazz 83, Hawks 96: Another one that wasn't as closed as it looks -- Utah won the fourth by 17 to close the gap to a 13-point loss. The Jazz only managed 18, 16, and 17 points in the first three quarters. The Hawks didn't exactly go off in the first half, either, but they had a solid 10-point lead at the intermission, and then ran up 37 points in the third. Josh Smith did his thing with 16/8/5/5/2 on just nine field goals. Joe Johnson missed his threes but ended up with 12/9/7 anyway. Wes Matthews was the only Jazz starter to crack 10 points, and didn't do it by much, ending up with 11. AK47 wound up with a team-leading 13, but it took him fourteen three-throw attempts to get there (he hit just seven of them). He did have six boards, six dimes, and two blocks, though. Paul Millsap played 17 minutes and hit all four of his shots but grabbed just a single rebound. It's not his worst rebounding performance ever: he did have a 16-minute, zero-rebound game against Dallas in 2008, and he's had one-rebound games of 18 and 19 minutes as well. Still, it's pretty rare.
Sixers 98, Celtics 97: Boston lost the second half by 12, and it was a see-saw game in the fourth quarter, with the biggest lead for either squad being the Celtics' six-point margin with just two minutes gone. From the 6:46 mark on, neither team led by more than two. The game came down to Elton Brand getting a tip-in on the offensive glass to give the Hawks a one-point lead with 0:07 to play before Paul Pierce missed a midrange jumper at the end. (Ray Allen actually got the offensive rebound and threw up a desperation turnaround at the buzzer, but that was a hope and a prayer more than a real shot. Pierce's shot was presumably the designed play.) Pierce shot just 4-12 overall, so the load fell on other guys: KG had an excellent night getting to and hitting from the line (11-11), ending up with 21/10/4/1/4 overall, Kendrick Perkins grabbed sixteen boards, eight offensive, and Rajon Rondo dished ten dimes. Rasheed Wallace got ejected after just nine minutes of run, however, leaving more playing time for the likes of Shelden Williams. Williams acquitted himself well with 3-3 shooting, but didn't grab a single rebound. Allen Iverson missed the game for the Sixers, with Willie Green stepping into the starting spot, leaving Elton Brand in his new role as the sixth man, a role he played well, managing 23 points, eight boards, and the aforementioned game-winning tip-in.
Nuggets 92, Hornets 98: Chris Paul can take all the credit for this win as he went bonkers: 30/9/19 with just four turnovers. That's 20 field goals, three free throws, and nineteen dimes while turning it over four times. His teammates helped him out by committing just five turnovers combined themselves. Peja had 24 and Emeka Okafor grabbed12 boards. Chauncey Billups was out for the Nuggets, leaving Anthony Carter the starting duties. Ty Lawson actually played more minutes, though, and he scored 14, but managed just two assists. JR Smith led the team in scoring with 25 as Carmelo had an off night, hitting 5-16 from the floor. Kenyon Martin grabbed 13 rebounds but shot only 1-4.
Bucks 82, Cavs 85: Milwaukee actually led by two heading into orange slices, but Cleveland stomped them 24-12 in the third quarter before withstanding a run that got the Bucks to the point where a Brandon Jennings three with 0:04 to go could have meant extra time. Instead, he was completely blanketed on defense and missed the shot badly, leaving Cleveland to escape with a narrow victory against a mediocre opponent. LeBron narrowly missed a triple-double with 26/10/8, although he did turn the ball over six times. He only missed seven shots and two free throws, though, so his efficiency overall wasn't terrible. Jennings missed a ton of shots, hitting just 5-21 en route to 18 points. He did have eight assists, though. Ersan Ilyasova tied for the team lead with 18 of his own. Andrew Bogut had eight boards in 17 minutes, but that minute total was low because of his five fouls.
Kings 96, Wolves 112: Minnesota got well-balanced offense, with the entire starting lineup scoring between 12 and 20, although it wasn't a particularly assist-happy game, as they racked up 21 on 47 field goals. Kevin Love was one of the guys with 20, and he added 16 boards and five rebounds for what was probably his best game as a pro (a 23/12/3 performance against Dallas in March coming the closest to challenging this one). Tyreke Evans had an off game, missing eight of his twelve shots and turning the ball over five times. Omri Casspi led thet eam with 21, while Jason Thompson did solid work, ending up with 18/9. Beno Udrih added 18 off the bench.
Clippers 91, Knicks 95: That's a solid home win for the Knicks against a Clipper team that is probably better than they are. David Lee had a big game with 25/11 and Chris Duhon ran up 17/8/10, the closest he's come to a triple-double since he had 15/9/14 last December. (Duhon actually does have one triple-double in his career, an 18/10/12 game in the '06 season.) Big Cock moved into the starting lineup and missed a bunch of shots (5-14), but he did have three steals. Al Harrington, back in the sixth-man role, missed even more shots (3-15). I mentioned Jonathan Bender above, and he actually got run in this one, racking up 14 minutes and ending up with nine points on 2-4 shooting. This is, of course, Bender's first NBA game action since November 5, 2005. The talented high-school draftee actually announced his retirement because of all his injuries, so it's great to see him back. The Clippers? 20/9 from Chris Kaman. There.
Pistons 98, Thunder 109: Rodney Stuckey's 31 weren't enough to stop the Thunder, who had six players in double-digits, including James Harden and Serge Ibaka off the bench, led by Kevin Durant's 27 on 17 shots. Harden also added eight assists in his 26 minutes.
Pacers 94, Grizlies 107: Every starter for the Grizzlies was over 17 (that being Marc Gasol, who added 14 boards and five dimes), led by Z-Bo's 26/16/3 with three blocks. Only Rudy Gay shot worse than 50%, and his line was merely bad (6-16), not horrible. He contributed four steals as well. On the other side, the Pacers were led with 16 apiece by Mike Dunleavy and TJ Ford, while the other three starters combined for 22. Dahntay Jones and Psycho T each had 14 off the bench, but Jones did his on 6-6 shooting, while Hansbrough hoisted thirteen shots, missing four. Hansbrough actually led the team in field-goal attempts (tied with Ford) in just 22 minutes (Ford played only 23 himself). Something tells me he hasn't learned that he's the not the best offensive player on the floor in these NBA games.
Rockets 116, Mavs 108: Dallas was down eight heading into the fourth, but came back to tie it before losing 16-8 in overtime. They did this almost entirely without Dirk, who played just ten minutes after he drove to the basket early in the game and ended up with his elbow in Carl Landry's mouth, resulting in pieces of Landry's teeth being stuck in Dirk's elbow. Is that the grossest thing you've ever read on this blog? It's probably the grossest thing I've ever written, so you're going to have to just nod your head "yes". With each team's best scorer out, Kyle Lowry picked up the slack for Houston with 26/6/10/5/1 off the bench. That's a point guard picking up six boards and a block, yes. Jason Kidd had another patented "just missed a triple double by two points" game with 8/11/10 while JJ Barea led the team in scoring with 23. (Kidd has 23 games in his career in which he's had nine or fewer points while grabbing at least ten boards and dishing at least ten dimes. Pretty remarkable.)
Wizards 118, Warriors 109: This one had all the defense you'd expect right from the start, a 39-31 first quarter. The teams slowed down from there as they never scored more than 29 in a period over the final three, but big offensive numbers were going to result from this game either way. Gilbert Arenas had 25 on just 25 shots to go with 13 assists, which I'm pretty sure is his first "Arenas!" game of the year. Caron Butler added 28/10 of his own and was one of three Wizards to crack 10 rebounds, teaming with Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood. Monta Ellis had 30 points, seven dimes, five steals, and eight turnovers for the Warriors, which is pretty much the definition of a Monta Ellis game. Stephen Curry added 27 and managed eight boards despite being approximately the size of my larger cat. Curry's 27 was a career high, marking the second time he's topped 20 in a game.