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Kelly Dwyer

Behind the Box Score, where the Knicks piled it on



New York 131, Utah 109

Limited length, poor defensive footwork, questionable effort, and an inspired opponent combined to create an embarrassing loss for the Jazz on Monday night. The Knicks seemed to get whatever they wanted both on the perimeter and on the interior, this was a massive blowout by the time the first quarter ended, and Utah didn't really seem to mind.

Al Jefferson(notes) played well offensively, tossing in 36 points, but on the whole the Jazz seemed content to let the Knicks pile up a ridiculous 133 points per 100 possessions.

This isn't to dismiss New York. Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) and Carmelo Anthony(notes) look like they could average 30 points playing in their socks at this point.

***

Dallas 108, Minnesota 105

Four three-pointers and three steals off the bench for Purdue's all time leader in steals, Brian Cardinal(notes). Our man took off in the second half while Dirk Nowitzki(notes) sat with foul trouble, and the Mavs played clutch and opportunistic basketball down the stretch of a needed win.

Don't worry about Dirk, he got his 25 points in 27 minutes, and Kevin Love(notes) came through with 23 points, 17 rebounds, and five assists (though ho-lee-cow is his defense bad), and the Mavs stayed a game and a half ahead of the rampaging Lakers out West.

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Memphis 107, Oklahoma City 101

Nick Collison(notes) was covering angles and moving his feet defensively, but the Thunder needed more than the Shane Battier(notes) treatment from their backup center. He managed just one rebound in 20 minutes of play, as the Grizzlies' continued activity and work on the offensive glass were the difference in this entertaining game.

Mike Conley(notes) didn't score all that efficiently, 20 points on 20 shots, but he also dominated the ball for nearly 40 minutes and didn't turn the ball over once. Tony Allen(notes) managed to score 20 points, and Marc Gasol(notes) was working well on his way to 18 points in only 29 minutes of play.

Hurry home soon, Kendrick Perkins(notes).

***

Chicago 85, New Orleans 77

Chicago won this game with defense, as it has done all season. This team absolutely locks you down, and this was an impressive win on the second night of a back-to-back. But those Hornets can really, really lock down. We can't forget how good this team can be on that end.

NOLA almost won this game without Chris Paul(notes) because it moved its feet so expertly in the half-court, while shutting down several Chicago transition opportunities. The Bulls prevailed, though. His shot abandoned him late in the fourth, but Derrick Rose(notes) had a clinching nine points on seven shots in the quarter.

***

Los Angeles Clippers 92, Charlotte 87

The Clippers aren't the strongest defensive outfit, but they couldn't help but look like world-beaters on Monday as a depleted Charlotte Bobcats club struggled to score. Tyrus Thomas(notes) and Stephen Jackson(notes) are still out, Gerald Wallace(notes) was traded a few weeks ago, and D.J. Augustin(notes) had a terrible (4-16) shooting night.

Los Angeles wasn't ultra hot from the field itself, but the team did hit 10 more free throws than the Bobcats, and that was plenty. Sixteen points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Chris Kaman(notes), in 31 minutes. No turnovers, either.

***

Portland 89, Orlando 85

This seems like a cheap anecdote, that I'm taking advantage of a terrible night that was co-incidentally paired with a famous absence, but Jameer Nelson(notes) has long been Orlando's most pivotal player, and his work doomed the Magic on Monday. With Dwight Howard(notes) out, Nelson whiffed on a chance to shine in this slow-down game, turning the ball over five times (miscues were the difference in this game) and missing six of seven shots in the loss.

Great win for the Blazers. They swarmed well defensively and did well to stop the Magic from running effectively.

***

Houston 123, Sacramento 101

This was a fun watch, though I clearly admit that Houston's sterling play offensively had a lot to do with terrible Sacramento rotations. The ball was whipping around so much that Houston's 23 assists don't really do the movement justice, because trips to the free throw line aren't counted in the assist column.

128 points per 100 possessions for Houston. Memphis won, though, which means the Rockets are still three full games out of the playoff bracket despite being a game over .500.

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