Ball Don't Lie - NBA



New Orleans 91, Utah 87

No, the fabled Chris Paul(notes)/Deron Williams pairing didn't really produce much fireworks until the game's last few minutes, when both players seemed bent on stealing each other's passes. It was the work of a journeyman wing (already nearly traded again this season) that put New Orleans over the top.

Earlier this year, Devin Brown(notes) decided to stop jumping on his three-point attempts. He's now offering a flat-footed fling from behind the arc, and the results have been pretty potent.

Brown is shooting 61 percent from three-point range over his last six games, the Hornets have won four of six, and for some reason he's been glossed over by the opposing team's scouting reports. 5-8 three-point shooting in the win on Monday for Brown (30 points), who was allowed to lope into his shot with room time and time again, as the Hornets overcame a slowish start to pull out an impressive road victory.

A strange game, for bouts. Chris Paul seemed a little unsure of when to attack offensively, almost catching himself mid-shot with a pang of regret for not passing - too late to stop the shot (and likely miss), though. Deron Williams(notes) started fine but seemed to press as the game went on, the Jazz announcers attributed it to DW being a dime away from his 3000th career assist - which is a bit odd, considering the fact that even the most ardent NBA observers really don't have a clue as to which raw number milestone is about to be broken by whatever player.

(Also, Williams topped 3000 in about as many career games as John Stockton needed to get to 3000. The difference? Stockton backed Rickey Green up for the first three years of his career, starting just 45 games in 246 tries.)

David West(notes) really seems to hate playing with Emeka Okafor(notes) these days, Emeka doesn't seem too thrilled with his gig as it is (four turnovers, five points in almost 31 minutes for Okafor), and before a game-saving steal and lay-in, CP3 was shooting just 4-14 from the floor. Not the stuff of champions.

It was enough, though, to beat a Jazz team that saw its wings (C.J. Miles(notes) and Wes Matthews) shoot 6-19. Mehmet Okur(notes) and Paul Millsap(notes) both shot 3-11, and the Jazz couldn't hit down the stretch. New Orleans' defense was pretty stout, especially in the second half, but the Jazz could have had this. 

***

Miami 92, Atlanta 75

Is it too lazy to suggest that the Atlanta Hawks may have had their interested piqued by something a bit beyond basketball on Monday (or Sunday) night? Because Mike Woodson's team showed absolutely no interest in playing the sort of all-around ball that had Atlanta winning 21 of 32 contests entering last night.

Instead, the Heat dominated both ends, destroyed Atlanta on the offensive glass, and put this game out of reach within the first part of the opening quarter. Miami was just +1 over the final three quarters, so the damage was done early, with the Hawks standing and watching defensively, and failing to hustle into sets or move offensively.

Michael Beasley(notes) played a so-so game overall (22 points on 21 shots isn't great, and someone like him should be pulling in eight rebounds in 39 minutes), but he was all over the place early. 11 first quarter points, 20 in the first half as Beasley ran circles around three Hawk forwards (Josh Smith(notes), Marvin Williams(notes), Al Horford(notes)) that should have had a good physical matchup with the second-year forward.

Dwyane Wade(notes) managed 28, and though starting center Joel Anthony(notes) only pulled in one rebound in 27 minutes, both Quentin Richardson(notes) and backup pivot Jamaal Magloire(notes) managed 10 apiece as the Heat out-boarded the Hawks by 22.

Jamal Crawford(notes) hit 12 free throws to score 23 points, but the Hawks shot 35 percent overall in the loss.

Joe Johnson(notes) needs to settle down, and realize that it was his play as a semi-star willing to blend in a bit that made the Hawks so potent to start the year. The team has lost four straight, and his insistence on breaking down the opposing defense by his lonesome is what's killing the ATL offense. 15 shots to score 11 points for Johnson on Monday.

***

Oklahoma City 95, Chicago 88

It's Chicago. So, all Bulls leads are safe, if you're the opposition.

The Bulls raced out to an early lead in the first quarter before steadily getting worse and worse on the offensive end, as the Thunder gained more and more confidence in its offensive game. Just 33 second half points for the Bulls, who shot just 35 percent. Derrick Rose(notes) (guarded mostly by Thabo Sefolosha(notes) during his dry spells) led the team with 19 points, but he needed 20 shots to get there, and only got to the line one time in nearly 37 contact-avoiding minutes.

Oklahoma City turned it over 20 times, but it also got penetration whenever it needed it, and the open jumpers were falling. Russell Westbrook(notes) bullied his way to 29 points and six assists (he could have had a few more, actually, had some of his teammates' shots fallen), and Kevin Durant(notes) added 25 on what appeared to be more than a few broken plays.

The Bulls just can't score. They run a very rudimentary offense designed to encourage low-percentage attempts (or low-percentage non-attempts, in the case of Brad Miller(notes)) from the floor, and for some reason they think it's working despite the team's 29th ranking offensively. Why else, then, would they stick to it?

***

Los Angeles Clippers 105, Portland 95

Sound, sound execution on both ends for the Clippers in this win. They got what they needed offensively - mainly utilizing Chris Kaman's(notes) versatile scoring ability in a half-half-dozen ways - and did a terrific job making life hellish for Brandon Roy(notes).

Roy shot 3-12, but it barely felt like he got three shots off, much less 12. The Clippers didn't play a sterling defensive game - giving up 108 points per 100 possessions - but if the point was to shut down Roy, then the Clips managed a bulls-eye.

Kaman managed 20 points and eight rebounds, but he didn't even attempt a shot (nor play many minutes) as the Clippers pulled away in the fourth quarter. Craig Smith(notes), Ricky Davis(notes) and Sebastian Telfair(notes) ran the show that put Portland to bed. Fantastic balance for the Clippers in this win.

Baron Davis(notes) looked as if he couldn't be stopped on some trips down court, but eight turnovers were too much for a team that coughed it up on nearly a quarter of its possessions. Still, 15 points, nine assists, three steals.

Sebastian Telfair? For someone with a single-digit PER, he's sure looked pretty good at times this season. Six points and four assists without a turnover in 13 minutes on Monday.

The Blazers were led by Martell Webster(notes) with 25 points, while Juwan Howard(notes) (the starting center) contributed 16 points and four rebounds in almost 36 minutes. Yeah, that can't be what they were expecting last summer.

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