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Kelly Dwyer

Behind the Box Score, where the young bigs went at it

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie



Los Angeles Clippers 126, Minnesota 111

Awful defense and 1-16 three-point shooting put the Timberwolves away. Kevin Love(notes) overcame a slow start to get to the line and drop 26 points along with 11 rebounds (and before you accuse him of stad-padding, he left the game earlier than Blake Griffin(notes) did), while Griff (guarded by Darko Milicic(notes) most of the time; would like to have seen Love and Blake go at it) wowed his way toward 29 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.

Good activity from Baron Davis(notes), too, looking off Blake a few times to drive and finish with 20 points on only 12 shots. He took six threes, which is worrying, but he actually made half of them this time, which is a little worrying as well because it might persuade him to chuck in the future. Eric Gordon(notes) managed 23 points despite playing through a torn ligament in his shooting hand, and like I said, the Timberwolves play terrible defense.

Also, Ike Diogu(notes) is averaging about 15 and 10 per every 36 minutes he's on the court, making more than half his shots, and that's as he works his way back into shape after an ACL tear. He could have been yours, NBA.

***

Golden State 110, Indiana 108

A thriller that, with Griffin and gang holding down one spot, and a close (but miserable) game going down in Sacramento, I didn't get to see as much of this as I would have liked to.

Indiana turned it over 18 times but hung in there due to a strong showing on the offensive glass. Tyler Hansbrough(notes), Jeff Foster(notes), and Danny Granger(notes) had four apiece, and the Pacers nearly pulled off what would have been an impressive road win.

They couldn't do anything with Monta Ellis(notes), though. 36 points on 28 shots for Monta, including the game-winner, as he was able to probe the soft underbelly of the Pacers interior D (no Roy Hibbert(notes) in the loss, he was out with a bad cold). David Lee(notes) keeps rounding into form, 21 points and nine rebounds, while Andris Biedrins(notes) came through with a good one (eight points, five boards, three blocks in 24 minutes).

***

Portland 94, Sacramento 90 (OT)

All about survival for the Trail Blazers in this mess. LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) wasn't hitting, the Kings had taken away his jump hook by overplaying on his left shoulder, but the Blazers kept it close with ball movement and activity. The activity didn't often result in made shots -- neither team made it anywhere near 100 points per 100 possessions -- but you have to credit the Blazers for pulling this win out.

Beno Udrih(notes) nearly won it himself for Sacramento, he answered several mini-Portland runs with tough shots or finishes, but the rest of his teammates just played stupid, stupid basketball. Like coming out of a timeout to make one inbound pass to Tyreke Evans(notes), who held it for five seconds, and then shot a fadeaway three-pointer with five seconds left on the shot clock. I just don't hold much hope for a lot of these Kings. The talent is there, but the guidance is not.

Twenty points and six assists for Andre Miller(notes), and he could have had several more dimes had his teammates finished better. Nic Batum finished well from all over on his way to 24 points.

***

San Antonio 104, Toronto 95

Interesting game.

San Antonio started things off by scoring the first 10 points of the game. After that, the team decided it couldn't hit anything from the perimeter, and that it wasn't going to try and match Toronto's offensive intensity. It also decided, apparently collectively, to turn the ball over a lot, and the Raptors ended the half on a 53-32 run.

Then the Spurs started driving and passing and passing and screening and driving and driving and driving and came back, while bringing the big D throughout. It more than doubled up the Raptors in the third quarter, and Toronto didn't know how to respond with Andrea Bargnani(notes) needing 20 shots to score just 14 points. San Antonio owned the glass, Manu Ginobili(notes) got to the line 14 times (making each of his freebies), and Toronto just couldn't cope.

I liked DeMar DeRozan's(notes) all around game, but we need to be smart with this guy. 28 points on an active 10-19 shooting in the loss, but he still has a PER in the low teens, and struggles to contribute when the lanes to the basket aren't open.

***



Dallas 109, Los Angeles 100

There were times where I thought the Lakers could have played harder, tougher, and smarter. But mainly I just thought that there was no freakin' way Dallas was going to lose this game.

The Mavericks just hit shot after shot down the stretch, moving the ball and showing admirable focus on each shot. That last part is important, because little things count when you're heaving a shot at a 10 foot goal from 20 feet away, and the Mavs just had the eye on Wednesday night.

They needed it. The win helped put some life back into Dallas' championship hopes. They won't win their division, this year, but they do still have a chance at the West's second-best record. Nearly as important was Jason Kidd's(notes) return to respectability from the field. Kidd shot a terrible 28 percent in the 12 games leading up to this contest, but he made 8-12 from the field on Wednesday as Dallas pulled away in the second half.

The Lakers tried to drive through a tornado in this one, nothing to get too upset about if I were a fan.

***

Houston 104, New York 89

A good all-around, active game for Houston. The team brought good effort to both sides of the ball, overcame tough shooting (if not scoring) night from Kevin Martin(notes), and eked out a home game it needed to win.

With New York needing a comeback in the second half, Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) tried to take the game over, as he should. And while I won't tell you that Chuck Hayes(notes) shut him down (Stoudemire made half his shots, dropped 25 points, and shot a passable 42 percent in the fourth quarter), he did keep him from going off, and that's an accomplishment against a stud like Amar'e.

Eighteen points and four assists for Kyle Lowry(notes) in the win, and unofficially I'd say he could have doubled that assist total had Kevin Martin (who missed 12 of 18 shots) had his stroke on Wednesday.

***

Milwaukee 100, Washington 87

For a while, a short while, it honestly looked as if the Wizards were about to win their first road game of the season.

Milwaukee just couldn't score. And while Washington wasn't exactly burning the nets with their lasers of white hot precision that would somehow come out of their shots and decide to burn nets instead of the rim or their opponents or some other productive thing, the Wizards looked good to start the game. Andray Blatche(notes) even made a nice pass. I was around to see it.

But every other time I flipped over, Washington was doing something stupid with the ball. Or off the ball. Milwaukee is terrible offensively, but Washington allowed them to score 108 points per 100 possessions, which is just NUTS. 23 points for Keyon Dooling(notes), and he wouldn't even score that much in a month if he was the fourth guard on a good team.

Also, while I appreciate him gutting through it, it's clear that Andrew Bogut(notes) needed to sit the first half of this season out. No way around it. The guy missed five of eight shots and all four of his free throws in this game, ending the night with six points and looking terrible offensively throughout. He still changes things, defensively, but he has no confidence offensively and it's clear that his right arm is still bothering him. And because he missed out on extended rehab time, is this going to be the Andrew Bogut we see every other night for the rest of the season?

***

New Orleans 103, Memphis 102 (OT)

Awful execution in tiny spurts for Memphis in the loss, the Grizzlies had several chances to put New Orleans away with a sound pass or finish, but Lionel Hollins' team just couldn't close things. Of course, Mike Conley(notes) Jr. getting raked across the arm as he went up for a potential game winner toward the end of regulation should have put New Orleans away, but the foul went uncalled.

A fun game. Rudy Gay(notes) had a tough time shooting but he kept his wits about him for the most part, O.J. Mayo(notes) made some nice plays with the ball off the Memphis bench, Marcus Thornton(notes) was all sorts of crazy on the other end with 20 points, and Chris Paul(notes) yo-yo'd his way to another fine performance (20 points and 12 assists in a slow game).

Also, Trevor Ariza(notes) (2-12 shooting, ohfer three behind the arc) still has the worst shot selection this side of DeMarcus Cousins(notes).

***

Boston 86, Detroit 82

Kevin Garnett(notes):

"It's like being at a party, and the record skips, and you've got to get back on beat," he said after helping the Celtics erase an eight-point, fourth-quarter deficit and beat the Detroit Pistons 86-82 on Wednesday night. "So, you know, the record skipped a bit. But I'm at the party; I've just got to find that groove again.

"For y'all who can't dance, don't take it personally."

Kevin Garnett, like me, is so old that he still listens to records that skip.

It took a while for Boston to pull away from Detroit. In fact, we're still waiting for Boston to pull away from Detroit, because they never really pulled away from Detroit. The Pistons kept the pressure on with good penetration throughout, as did the Celtics. Both teams were driving hard, with little perimeter success, 21 of 29 three-pointers were missed in this contest combined, and the broken plays often resulted in a series of interior finishes by big men both young (Detroit's Greg Monroe(notes), who didn't miss a shot in five tries) and old (Shaquille O'Neal(notes), who managed a season-high 12 rebounds).

Little things hurt the Pistons, as always. I've always hoped for more minutes for Chris Wilcox(notes), on each of the teams he's worked for, but his defense was awful in this loss. And the bench chuckers, Charlie Villanueva(notes) and Ben Gordon(notes), combined for 21 points on 20 shots. Glen Davis(notes), on the other hand, was perfect on both sides of the ball while finishing with 11 points and six boards off the pine.

***

Orlando 99, Philadelphia 98 (OT)

Games like this leave you wondering just how it is that the Philadelphia 76ers have either won the 17 games they've won this year (how can a team this erratic be on its way to a 34-win season?), or lost the 24 games it has lost this year (how can a team this athletic and talented have lost 24 times already?). Philly had the Magic on the ropes, denying all sorts of good looks inside and out, and it should have won this game.

Instead, two ridiculous four-point plays nearing the end of both regulation and overtime allowed the Magic to both come back, and pull away. Eight points on two possessions kind of means quite a bit in a game where both teams were a couple of ticks under 100 points per 100 possessions in the contest, so the 76ers just couldn't quite recover.

Before that, though, the team was working its tail off. It hit the offensive glass, denied penetration (more specifically, Philadelphia denied successful penetration), and sent Dwight Howard(notes) (who only had five field goal attempts) to the line 22 times. Howard only hit 10 free throws, he fouled out and received a late game technical foul that appeared to clinch the game for Philadelphia in regulation. But Philly couldn't put Orlando away, even with a five point lead and less than 30 seconds left in the game.

Ryan Anderson(notes) had 20 points and four rebounds off the Magic bench because he is absolutely ballin' right now.

***

New Jersey 103, Utah 95

An odd game, from either side, whether you watched on the Jazz or Nets-styled broadcast. The night started with Mikhail Prokorov's grandstanding over Carmelo Anthony(notes), which bled into a Russian Heritage night that Prokorov (dining out with several scribes) wasn't even around for. Andrei Kirilenko(notes) responded by playing like 2004-era Andrei Kirilenko for a while, until he realized his body couldn't hold up to the strain of such, and by the second half AK wasn't even playing any defense; just zoning up looking for blocks, steals, rebounds, and the next Big Play.

Just 19 points in the first quarter for Utah, the league's worst first quarter team by miles, but the group came back before the half ended. Then Brook Lopez(notes) started finding his way to the hoop in the third quarter, scoring 11 points, and he was yelling at everyone. I have no idea what the hell was going on, but Lopez was just screaming throughout, perhaps in some happy relief over a season gone terribly wrong. He wasn't lambasting teammates, he was just yelling, and it was strange. Utah scored only 16 points in the third quarter, and the game was effectively over. Those lineups to start the half, for whatever reason, are killing the Jazz.

***

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Denver 112, Oklahoma City 107

Denver got a little physical with the Thunder on Wednesday, and though the Thunder pushed back, it just couldn't string together enough stops to make this game work on the road.

Denver wasn't really running much, but it was scoring efficiently in the half court (125 points per 100 possessions), and Carmelo Anthony's 35 points on 25 shots was a clear bust out game. Nene missed just one shot in eight tries, while Kenyon Martin(notes) had a needed 11 rebounds and a few slaps of the backboard along the way.

Overall, Oklahoma City was very good offensively, but it felt short as Kevin Durant(notes) missed 12 of 18 shots, and Jeff Green(notes) needed 12 shots to score 11 points. Still, a good showing in a tough setting against a determined Denver team.

***

Phoenix 106, Cleveland 98

The Suns have a way of making most teams look like they play terrible defense, but this was some truly terrible defense from the Cavaliers in this Wednesday loss. Worse, the Cavs could only manage 99 points per 100 possessions (a mark that would far and away be the league's stingiest) against the worst defense in the NBA.

Grant Hill(notes) had his second straight 25-point game, finishing with 27, the Suns outrebounded Cleveland by eight, and Cleveland never really threatened after giving up 36 first quarter points.

Sixteen points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks off the bench for Suns big Marcin Gortat(notes), which is nice because starter Brook Lopez played nearly 11 minutes without picking up a single rebound.

13 games, geesh. Thank you for reading.

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