Ball Don't Lie - NBA



Houston 108, Denver 103

It was exactly what the box score tells you. Carmelo Anthony(notes) had it, scoring 50 points and getting a good look seemingly every time he wanted to (the Rockets were even sending a second guy to double him at the top of the three point arc a couple of times, and Anthony was still scoring), but his teammates could not keep up on either end, and the Rockets pulled off an impressive road win.

Denver's offense had no rhythm, both Al Harrington(notes) and Kenyon Martin(notes) weren't finishing well, and the loss of Chauncey Billups(notes) in the first quarter to a strained left knee clearly hurt his team's chances. Meanwhile, Houston moved the ball, it wasn't great on the defensive glass, but it scored well enough (Kevin Martin(notes) managed 37 points) to match Anthony's hot night.

***

Charlotte 94, Boston 89

Charlotte seemed to have three legs, and the Celtics none, in the fourth quarter of this Bobcat win.

Shaun Livingston(notes) (18 points on 10 shots, four turnovers) did well to use his size playing ahead of D.J. Augustin(notes) in the clutch, Gerald Wallace(notes) and Eduardo Najera(notes) bounced off each other nicely at the forward spot, and Paul Pierce(notes) missed some shots he usually makes late in the game. Gerald Henderson(notes) also played his tail off, showcasing some actual NBA-styled athleticism. I wouldn't want him in my rotation moving forward, but he did play well.

This contest had the feel of a Game 3 in the first round, with the home team roaring back to defend its turf after losing the first two elsewhere. The Bobcats, and the team's crowd, were really into it. Something to think about, for late April.

***

Phoenix 104, Golden State 92

A surprisingly-slow game (90 possessions) that never really seemed to be in question. Phoenix got out to a good enough start, topping the Warriors 33-17 in the first quarter, and it wasn't much of a contest after that.

Golden State missed 16 of 18 three-pointers in the loss, but they also seemed a bit cross with themselves following, so that's got to be a good thing. 15 points and 14 assists to just one turnover for Steve Nash(notes) in the win.

***

Minnesota 104, New Orleans 92

There's are several reasons why people tend to wrongly assume that Derrick Rose(notes) is having a better year than Chris Paul(notes), but the biggest among them is clearly what a lot of them call the "eye test," and I don't blame these people.

It's easy to miss Paul's afterthought 1-2 shooting from long range, or the eight free throws he hit that you didn't notice. It's not easy to forget Rose's astonishing forays to the hoop, because he's easily this league's most exciting guard, on his way to 23 points on 19 shots. Paul just picks up points and rebounds and assists and steals, and you hardly even notice them, where Rose (though he's not purposely flashy) comes through with astounding points by the look-at-me load.

But Paul does have his failings. And though Rose himself couldn't stop the bleeding in two recent left coast Bulls losses, Chris' Hornets have lost five of six, Paul couldn't come through with the sort of 19-point quarter needed to make up for a Wolves team that turned NOLA on its ear with Paul on the bench in the second quarter. Minnesota scored 37 points in that term, making most of its hay with Jarrett Jack(notes) and Willie Green(notes) (clearly out there for his defense, ahead of Marcus Thornton(notes)) on the court, and an efficient Paul-led attack over the final two and a half quarters only managed to match Minnesota's points moving forward.

27 points on 12 shots and 17 rebounds for Kevin Love(notes) because that's what he does.

***

Portland 109, Chicago 103

The world is slowly getting wise to Carlos Boozer's(notes) terrible help defense, and while it hasn't completely cost Chicago two road wins over the last three days, it certainly hasn't helped.

The Bulls power forward doesn't move, defensively. His defensive rebounds help a team's bottom line, but he's an apathetic help defender, and an absolute liability in terms of pick and roll defense, rotations in the paint, or in terms of guarding big men one-on-one. And I write all this before even really thinking about LaMarcus Aldridge's(notes) dominant 42 points on Monday night. Derrick Rose still needs help off the ball, defensively, but it is Boozer that is the real mitigating factor on that end for Chicago.

Around 124 points per 100 possessions for Portland, a superb mark, as Andre Miller(notes) (27 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, four steals) also seemed just as dominant for the Blazers as LMA. And that would be pretty flippin' dominant.

36 points for Derrick Rose, who shot 13-21 from inside the arc.

***

Utah 107, Sacramento 104

A steady attack, led by the marvelous Deron Williams(notes), and the Jazz pulled this tough one out. I dug the way the referees didn't fall for chintzy flops and such, and while a loss like this burns for Kings fans, they can warm themselves at the idea that DeMarcus Cousins(notes) (25 points and 14 rebounds, in only 30 minutes) is making quick decisions with the ball, and scoring at will at times.

Sacramento's offense (17 points) dried up down the stretch, but these things are going to happen with players like this. Tyreke Evans(notes) is a ball dominator, and he's going to have nights like this. There really isn't a smooth scorer to be found amongst this lot, and the Jazz took advantage.

***

Dallas 99, Cleveland 96

Dallas slogged through a slow start, missing its first eight shots, but it also earned 11 more free throw makes than the Cavaliers, as Cleveland couldn't create enough offense down the stretch in its (yikes) 25th straight loss.

The Cavs are on pace for 14 wins, but even that seems like a bit of a stretch, because that "pace" includes the team's overachieving 7-9 start to the season. Six wins in two more months might not seem like too much, but when a group has won just one time in nine weeks, you can see what that might feel like a bit of a stretch.

Peja Stojakovic(notes) started and scored eight points on nine shots for the Mavericks, and I have no idea why. This is not a player that should be starting on an NBA team, right now.

***

Los Angeles Lakers 93, Memphis 84

Stops and threes and threes and stops. The Lakers usually have a competitive back and forth with the Memphis Grizzlies, and this was no different, but the champs managed a sound enough fourth quarter and pulled away without much complication late in this one.

Grizzlies big Zach Randolph(notes) was frustrated (2-14 shooting) with the Laker length all night, Marc Gasol(notes) missed a crucial reverse late in the contest, and the Lakers kept answering with ball movement and quick hits when things counted the most. Just 16 fourth quarter points for Memphis in the loss.

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