Boston 100, Utah 91
(Yes, KG, we do. 23-2. Nicely done, friend.)
A fun game, despite my once-weekly batch of antipathy for Tom Heinsohn.
Usually, and unlike most that I've found, I have a good sense of humor regarding Heinsohn. I honestly do. He knows the game, there's so much to learn there if you can take Tommy with a pinch of salt, and assuming you can get past the fact that his nose hairs are sometimes audible on a live broadcast.
In fact, you almost root for the referees to blow a bunch of calls in Boston's favor, because it means Tommy will be in a good mood, and I can learn more about the game we love from a smart and creative guy who likes to talk and teach.
But every so often, as I've found is the case for most, everything he says gets my blood boiling. The hyperbole about "Boston gets fouled on every play, and yet the Celtics never commit a foul" is entirely and utterly true with this guy. And yet nobody's around to call him on it, mainly because he deserves to bitch and moan because he's been with the team for 52 years.
It doesn't stop with Celtics talk. Take the other stuff, like whining about the firing of Maurice Cheeks because the 76ers had "injuries, injuries, injuries."
Um, to whom? They've played 24 games, and as far as I can tell, there are a lot of 24s on this page. Some 22s and 23s, too.
Back to the contest, a fantastic game featuring some brilliant point guard play (despite 10 combined turnovers from Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo). Rondo was on it, scoring and disrupting things and finishing with 25 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. All long arms and good spins for the Kentucky product.
Williams battled through foul trouble, only playing 31 minutes, but finished with 15 and seven assists while doing his best to keep Paul Millsap flying toward the hoop at every given chance. 32 points and 10 rebounds for Millsap in Carlos Boozer's absence, as the burly forward just kept all the angles in his favor, while finishing strong off the pointed or extra pass.
In the end, Boston's depth prevailed. A 50-30 rebounding edge for the champs, Kevin Garnett (19 and 10, four assists, three turnovers, three steals, two blocks) answered a few Utah runs with tough makes, and Paul Pierce scared everyone by limping off the floor towards the end of the game after Mehmet Okur landed on his knee.
(Memo to Boston fans:
One can show their appreciation for a fallen player without having to resort to "M-V-P!" chants. Pierce is a Boston legend at this point, but his shooting just recently eased past 40 percent on the year.)
Without even considering Vince Carter's presence, this had to be a gutting loss for the Raptors. Toronto got out to a 16-2 start, and put up 20 points in the first five minutes of this game, only to score just 67 points over the next 43 minutes against one of the worst defenses in the NBA. The Raptors threw in a series of embarrassing offensive dry spells, the usual crummy rebounding, and some poor defense of their own on the way to the loss.
Carter wasn't at his best, but he was all New Jersey had early on, and VC finished with 20 points (on 24 shots), 10 rebounds, five assists, and zero turnovers in 37 minutes. Carter held down the fort until Devin Harris could take over in the fourth quarter, and the New Jersey point guard came through with 16 points on just six shots in the final 12, actually playing the entire final 12. Hotter than hell, this guy.
Ryan Anderson continued his knockout rookie year for New Jersey, playing the most consistently righteous game of all, and finishing with 21 points (on just 11 shots) and nine rebounds in about 33 minutes off the bench. There is so much to love about this Nets team, and they're in a rebuilding year.
Toronto was just flailing offensively, Chris Bosh missed 11 of 15 shots, Andrea Bargnani only shot 2-6 off the bench, and Jose Calderon mixed his characteristic bad defense with an uncharacteristically turnover-prone night (five miscues to eight assists), along with an inability to do as much damage with his Nash-like live dribble.
A truly pitiful (about 99 points per 100 possessions) offensive night for Toronto, and that's including the white-hot start.
An impressive showing on a bummer of a Monday (though he isn't the most popular Warrior right now, Corey Maggette might be out for a while with a hamstring tear) for Golden State, though it should be noted that Orlando was never nervous in this win.
Jameer Nelson had one of those nights that make most of the rest of the nights worthwhile, he finished with 32 points on 25 shots, allowing the Magic forwards Hedo Turkoglu (eight assists) and Rashard Lewis (five) to lead the team in assists.
Also, Marcin Gortat started in place of Dwight Howard (iffy left knee) and finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks; so it's become obvious that Howard is nothing more than a product of the system.
Golden State got its 98, but some of these guys were woefully inaccurate. Stephen Jackson, Kelenna Azubuike, and Jamal Crawford combined to shoot 11-45 from the floor (24 percent), as it fell on Andris Biedrins (23 and nine rebounds) to collect the caroms and Marco Belinelli (19 points and six assists in 31 minutes off the bench) to flop in those transition pull-ups.
Magic rookie Courtney Lee tossed in 16 points on eight shots on what Matt Guokas annoyingly (if not accurately) kept calling his "right-to-left jumper."
Also annoying and accurate: I was blacked out of this contest, and NBA.com's broadband version destroys my ancient computer. Good thing we have some help:
One line from me? OK, it's nice to see Marquis Daniels (20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) partying like it's 2004.
Classic offense vs. defense. Defense won out, but offense won the game. Dig?
Charlotte can't score, and Atlanta doesn't want to stop you from scoring. And though the game turned into a notsogreat offensive affair, Atlanta still prevailed.
It was nice to see new Bobcat Boris Diaw stay aggressive with his offensive game (really great, actually, because I'm a fan), and he finished with 25 while going straight at Josh Smith at times. But Boris also had four fewer rebounds than Jason Richardson did for Phoenix on Monday while playing four more minutes.
Three boards for Diaw, and Charlotte was out-rebounded 47-33 overall. Ouch. Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace pulled out 11 and 10 rebounds a piece, but guys like Raymond Felton (one, in 39 minutes), Diaw, and Raja Bell just aren't going to help in that area. They could, but they won't.
Masterful game for Joe Johnson. Yes, he played a ton of minutes (almost 45), but he also dropped 28 with eight assists in a slow, 84-possession game. Zero turnovers, as well.
Bum night for the Hawk bench, as they contributed more turnovers (four) than field goals (three) despite plenty of practice (17 shot attempts).
No. No, I didn't catch much of this one. Though if Reggie Theus had been demoted from coach to small forward of the Kings yesterday, and suited up for 28 minutes, he probably could have dropped 14 with six assists.
Not what I'd call a "sterling" defensive effort from Kevin McHale's Timberwolves.
I know this was the second night of a back-to-back, and that the first night was played in a different time zone, but you'd at least like to take one game of an in-Memphis/at home vs. Milwaukee back-to-back. Miami couldn't pull it off.
As I neglected to mention yesterday, the Heat missed Udonis Haslem in the loss. Both losses. And, yes, he played in the second loss, but Erik Spoelstra only played the guy 7:32 against Milwaukee, continuing to rely heavily on Daequan Cook and a smaller lineup.
Look, Cook (hey!) surprised us all with a hot start to his rookie season last year, but he's got a 8.7 PER at this point, and all he's doing is hurting the Heat by playing nearly 25 minutes a night. This has to change.
Milwaukee got out to an early lead because Michael Redd (16 points in the first quarter) was quite hot in the first quarter, nailing four three-pointers. The ball kept moving, and Andrew Bogut was often the recipient of the final pass, as he finished with 20 and 11 on just 12 shots.
Dwyane Wade had another poor shooting night, scoring 15 points on 16 attempts. And Joel Anthony (two points and six rebounds) inexplicably played 39 minutes. Erik, if you want that sort of production, that's why we gave you Mark Blount.
Dallas showed flashes, making a game out of it, but Denver just had its way with the Mavericks, in Dallas no less.
34.9 percent shooting for Dallas, and while there were some bad decisions here and there, that's pretty much all on the Nuggets. I went on and on about how average-to-good Denver's defense was over the first 50 games last season, but they never approached this sort of level (5th!) defensively.
The team's offense continues to come and go, but they still managed 104.3 points per 100 possessions (below average) against Dallas' improving defense, and on the road.
Chauncey Billups wasn't really looking for his own shot (4-10 from the field), and Carmelo Anthony (23 points, eight rebounds) nearly mitigated his scoring output with six turnovers, but J.R. Smith had 25 points off the bench, and the team was hitting (10-19) its three-pointers.
Dirk Nowitzki (27 and 10) had another fine game, but he also turned the ball over an uncharacteristic five times. And Dallas' starting backcourt shot 5-21, which will never work. Jose Juan Barea had his shot blocked four times, a direct result of (especially in the first half, if not always with Barea) Denver forcing the wrong guys to have to create with the shot clock dwindling.
The Nuggets look real good at this point. If they get away with a few things defensively, they can hold their own with anyone.
Exactly what you'd expect. The Suns are a pretty good offensive team at this point, and played like it against a horrible defensive outfit. The Knicks have the green light, and while this digs them some pretty formidable holes, it also means they can rip off a 9-2 run in 90 seconds. This is why things stayed close.
Though the Knicks never really threatened, if we're honest. Nate Robinson had a good night with 27 points, nine rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers, but who knows how many fast breaks he started with his 1-10 mark from long range. Actually, who knows if he started a single one, because the Suns just don't really run a great break at this point.
And when you factor pace in, this was a pretty crummy offensive game. 108 and 100 points per 100 possessions for the Suns and Knicks, marks that would leave them about 12th and 29th in the NBA should they average that out for 82 games.
Luckily, the Knicks won't. Hopefully -- please, somebody, end it -- the Suns won't either.
On an obscure note, Louis Admundson looked brilliant in five minutes for the Suns in the first half (four points, one rebound, one assist, one block, one shot that rolled in and out), but didn't see a second in the second half. Great.