Kelly Dwyer

Behind the Box Score, where Philly put it together

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

Philadelphia 123, Phoenix 110

The spacing was really excellent for Philadelphia in this win, and there are a few good reasons for that.

For one, Andre Iguodala(notes) didn't play. I respect Dre's game, all-around skills, and drive to win. But he's been out of place and out of sync in Doug Collins' offense all year, and each of this teammates are thriving with him off the court.

Secondly, the Sixers are really listening to Collins. There was a purpose in them, a drive within this game. They're listening, and it's easy to tune Doug (even this early in the season) out.

Last? Phoenix is just so, so terrible defensively. So bad. Couldn't stay in front of anyone, and seemed to be a step slow mentally on that end all night. We'll get into that deeper later in the afternoon.

A breakout game from Evan Turner(notes), who scored 23 points on just 12 shots. None of his makes had me feeling any rosier about his NBA future, sadly, but I hope he proves me wrong in that regard. Jrue Holiday(notes) (25 points, seven assists) was the stir, Andres Nocioni(notes) (22 and 12 rebounds) was the drink, and Philly's mark of nearly 134 points per 100 possessions was the highest mark of an 11-game night.

***

Washington 104, Indiana 90

An ugly game. Very few redeeming qualities to this one as a viewer, and I'm firm in my hope that both of these franchises turn it around, but this was just middling. John Wall(notes) returned for the Wizards, to great applause, but Washington still looked mostly clueless out there. And Indiana just stepped in it, again. Roy Hibbert(notes) was in 2008-era foul trouble all night, and Danny Granger(notes) actually raised his December field-goal percentage (36 percent from the floor) with a miserable 7-18 night.

Over 110 points per hundred possessions for the Wiz, who clearly benefitted from Wall's 12 assists and overall "whoosh." Nick Young(notes) needed 26 shots to score 25 points, but he also dished three assists, which has to be some sort of personal record. There were audible groans in the audience, I swear I'm not piling on, as Andray Blatche(notes) needed 23 shots to score 22 points, the Wiz shot under 40 percent from the floor, and ... how did this team put up so many points?

Nine 3-pointers, in 21 attempts, and just eight turnovers all night. Meanwhile, the Pacers just can't play good stretches of winning basketball, anymore. The defense has fallen off, the offense remains putrid.

***

Atlanta 103, Golden State 93

From the outset, the Hawks were really into making the extra pass. So many lobs, in this one, as the Hawks just dumped it over the top of a smallish Golden State team that always seemed out of place. Lou Amundson and David Lee(notes) aren't the tallest guys around, but the similarly sized Al Horford(notes) and Josh Smith(notes) kept playing like a couple of Yao Mings out there, catching passes on the fly and laying them in with ease.

Golden State gave good effort throughout, but little things count, and the Warriors just weren't all there. Little defensive screwups, or poor choices offensively added up, especially in the first half. Not trying to shame a career game -- 32 points, 11 rebounds -- from Dorell Wright(notes), but he also made a series of mistakes defensively that nearly hurt his team, and not even in dealing with the guy he was charged with guarding. This team is just full of really, really bad defenders.

The Hawks passed their way to a win. Thirty-one assists on 44 field-goal makes for Atlanta.

***

Charlotte 101, Cleveland 92

Mo Williams(notes) was out, to start, for Cleveland. So you know they had no chance, even up against a below average team in the Bobcats. As the game moved along, Daniel Gibson(notes) had to take a seat as his legs pulled up lame. And the Bobcats were moving the ball and hitting from the field.

Because Cleveland is Cleveland, though, it came back. It worked hard and rallied around Ramon Sessions(notes). And because Charlotte is Charlotte, the Bobcats gave in a bit, because they really aren't that great. But it takes a lot to laugh and a train to cry for Cleveland these days, and there was no way they were pulling this one out.

Eighty-nine possessions in this game, which is around a league-low number (please don't let them convince you that Paul Silas is acting a damn D'Antoni down in North Carolina). The new Bobcats coach is doing well to inspire confidence in his players, through. They're not thinking twice before letting loose, and the creampuff schedule (Detroit and Cleveland? Sweet) was exactly what Charlotte needed.

Thirty-eight points for Stephen Jackson(notes), in the win, as he hit 13 free throws. D.J. Augustin's(notes) 3-point percentage has shot up from 35 percent to 39 percent after two games with Silas, and the Cavs just couldn't keep up.

***

Sacramento 100, Memphis 98

I'm sorry, but this was such an awful game.

The last couple of minutes, sure, fun stuff. The last 5.5 seconds were the stuff of legend. But the game, even with all that young talent, was a chore.

Memphis would have lost this game by 20 had Zach Randolph(notes) not worked his tail off. His line is great, 35 points and 17 boards, but he also put in effort and smart play when his teammates were drifting. There's not much more I can add to that -- you've seen Tyreke Evans'(notes) shot, DeMarcus Cousins(notes) was steady with 21 and 16 off the bench, and you have to feel glad that the Kings finally won a close one at home.

***

Detroit 104, Boston 92

Credit the Pistons, because every possession counted for them in this win.

Nearly every possession. The first couple in this game, with Charlie Villanueva(notes) clearly going after Kevin Garnett(notes) in a rather pathetic display (three fouls, two of which were called, and a distracted fumble of an easy rebound that went out of bounds before he was pulled), weren't exactly cerebral. But beyond that the Pistons covered Boston's angles very well, and kept the pressure up every time Boston tried to get it together for a comeback.

Boston clearly misses the way Rajon Rondo(notes) keeps defenses on edge with his passing. They missed Kevin Garnett, sure, as the game moved along (Garnett injured his right leg in the second quarter and will have an MRI Thursday), but Rondo gets this team easy baskets when the options fall apart, and Boston needed that on Wednesday.

Detroit? It just rode whoever had it, offensively, forced turnovers defensively, and made 10-15 3-pointers. Tracy McGrady(notes) clearly has no confidence in his defense, but he did put up 21 points and eight assists in the start, and for the second game in a row Chris Wilcox(notes) has given the Pistons terrific minutes.

***

Miami 125, Houston 119

Houston played fantastically all night on offense by getting to the line a ton, and only turning the ball over six times in what was a very high-paced game. That last stat can't be overlooked. If you want to know why the Rockets were able to drop 120 points per 100 possessions (119 overall; as I said, it was a fast game) against one of the league's best defenses while shooting 42 percent and only making a third of their 3-pointers, look to the turnovers.

The problem beyond that was the fact that Houston wasn't stopping anything. Miami may have nearly tripled them up in miscues, but the Heat shot 58 percent from the floor and made 32 free throws. Houston just couldn't get in the way of Dwyane Wade(notes) (45 points) and his teammates.

***

Oklahoma City 114, New Jersey 93

Great work from the Thunder bench in this game. Oklahoma City clearly went in with a mindset to put this away early, and not have to wonder what life would be like in a close game with the Nets down the stretch, and as a result the Nets were down big once the Thunder reserves set to work.

Twenty-seven points for Kevin Durant(notes) in the win, but this was a balanced showing, as the Thunder shot 55 percent and dished 31 assists. New Jersey didn't recover quickly enough in both transition and delayed transition, from what I saw, and the Thunder acted the part of a veteran winner.

***

Denver 119, Minnesota 113

Great ball movement and activity (Chauncey Billups(notes) is good, Ty Lawson(notes) is fast) from the Nuggets on Wednesday, they overcame an entire missing frontline and top reserve (Al Harrington(notes)) and rode Billups (36 points) to an impressive win on the second night of a back to back.

Minnesota just didn't appear to talk enough, defensively. They certainly weren't quick enough, on the back end, but things were compounded by everyone appearing to be out of place. I don't want to completely dismiss Denver's role in that, but Minnesota could have done better. Good offensive showing for the Wolves, Kevin Love(notes) had 26, 14 rebounds, and five assists, but the team could not string together the stops needed to win.

***

Los Angeles Lakers 103, New Orleans 88

This is what championship teams do. They take advantage when you're looking the other way, or when you let your guard down. They keep tabs on every possession, and they come at you with waves of execution.

Twenty-five assists on 41 field goals, 58.6 percent shooting, for Los Angeles; who pulled ahead because they have Lamar Odom(notes) running the show in reserve against the other team's second tier. The Lakers destroyed New Orleans on the glass, and the defense was super-sticky. Only a rash of Los Angeles turnovers (20 overall, Kobe Bryant(notes) had seven in an otherwise fine game) kept the Hornets from a real embarrassment.

More movement, please. More passing. Andrew Bynum(notes) should be the only black hole on this team, because he's usually getting the ball just a few feet from the basket. We encourage his black hole-ness, because we want him to be aggressive with his shots. Everyone else? Move, pass, and react accordingly.

Six-27 shooting combined for Hornets Marco Belinelli(notes) and Marcus Thornton(notes) in the loss.

***

Utah Jazz 103, Los Angeles Clippers 95

Give it up to the Clippers, they compete. But they also fall apart for stretches long enough for very good teams (and Utah is a very good team) to pull away. Eric Gordon(notes) looked to rush a few shots from deep (he shot 7-20 overall), the team was crossmatched a few times defensively, and the Jazz have plenty of options offensively.

Gordon Hayward(notes) had 17 points and six rebounds, which is nice, but it was Al Jefferson(notes) that was the giant difference. Al had his eyebrows working, getting the Clippers up in the air, finishing with 31 points, 10 boards, and three blocks. Great to see.

Thirty and 12 for Blake Griffin(notes) because it's his world and we're all just living in it.

Thanks for reading.

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