Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Memphis 102, Denver 96

Memphis roared out to a significant lead in this win, the Nuggets had a miserable time trying to finish in the lane on both contested and uncontested short shots, and Zach Randolph(notes) went off for some eye-popping (32 points, 24 boards) numbers. Everything seems to scream "fluke," but this was anything but. The Grizz dominated from the outset, and executed when it needed to down the stretch in order to preserve that lead.

The Grizzlies still allowed Denver to come nearly all the way back, mind you. Lionel Hollins' team waited to turn on that previously noted execution for a while, but Denver is a tough out — even without Chauncey Billups(notes). Memphis nearly blew it — at home and without Billups in the Denver lineup — but they do deserve credit for the win overall. It was pretty cool to watch.

And Denver? Just could not buy one in the paint, early on. So many missed lay-ups and chippies, and you can't feel sorry for them. This wasn't random, or Memphis forcing odd angles (though that certainly helped). This was a lack of concentration. And George Karl's team wasn't exactly up for it on the other end, as Randolph and Rudy Gay(notes) went off at times, and the Grizz cleaned up on the offensive glass despite roaring out to a huge start shooting percentage-wise.

Memphis rookie Hasheem Thabeet(notes) didn't have much to do with that — just one rebound overall, offensive, in 13 minutes — but he was paired with Marc Gasol(notes) in the first half in a defensive-minded lineup that I'd love to see more of as the year moves along. As mentioned, Zach Randolph had his way on the glass all night, Gasol netted a double-double (14 and 13, though he did turn it over five times), and Gay (19 points) was up to hit some tough (if not necessarily "good") shots all night.

Carmelo Anthony(notes) got to the line and finished with 41 points in Denver's losing effort.

***

Toronto 98, New Orleans 92

Playing on a bum left ankle, Chris Paul(notes) was clearly handicapped in this loss, unable to put his team over the top by himself. That doesn't mean that New Orleans couldn't have had this game, even with CP at (far?) less than full strength. The Hornets just didn't play sound and smart enough defense to pull out what could have been a needed road win.

This doesn't discredit Toronto's spacing, and the way it made a point to attack. This wasn't the prettiest offensive turn from the Raptors, but it was enough to win. This does mean the (relative) offensive struggles will continue for Toronto, but as the team desperately tries to claw its way back to .500, they'll take it.

Chris Bosh(notes) led the Raps with 25 and 11, though he added six turnovers. Jarrett Jack(notes) looked borderline out of control as he drove the lane all afternoon, but the Raptors starting point man didn't turn the ball over all game, while coming through with seven assists and 15 points. 24 assists overall for Toronto, as New Orleans constantly had its collective head turned.

***

Boston 122, Minnesota 105

Your typical dominant performance against a team that just doesn't know what it's doing defensively. The C's were just better and more aggressive (this is the older team, mind you) in all areas, as Boston just took it to the Wolves from the outset and never looked back.

124 points per 100 possessions for Boston, the final score is pretty indicative of the way things flew, though it should be pointed out that Minnesota played Boston nearly to a hilt in the second half.

Seven Celtics finished in double-figures, including all the starters, as Paul Pierce(notes) (29 points) nailed all six of his three-point attempts. Minnesota was led by Jonny Flynn(notes) (21 points), who scored well but was absolutely terrible defensively.

***

New York 98, Charlotte 94

With more than a few games going on at once, I didn't see much of this battle, despite these two teams' history (remember David Lee's(notes) tip in from this time three years ago?), and the presence of ex-Knicks coach Larry Brown on the Charlotte sideline.

Lee was fantastic in the win, handing out seven assists (!), while bringing the usual 15 and 15. 30 free throw attempts for New York, which is just a massive amount for the Knicks, as they made 23. Wilson Chandler(notes) and Danilo Gallinari(notes) were crucial down the stretch, combining for 14 points in the fourth quarter, as Danilo saved the game with a big block on a too-aggressive Acie Law(notes) in Charlotte's last offensive possession.

15 offensive rebounds for the Bobcats, who still have a lot to figure out.

***

Los Angeles Lakers 93, Detroit 81

Huge drop off from starters to substitutes for the Lakers, as it's been all year, but the final outcome was never in doubt. Not even a 10-point fourth quarter from Los Angeles could bring the Pistons all the way back into it, though you have to wonder if the Laker bench will ever begin to contribute.

3-22 shooting combined from Shannon Brown(notes), Adam Morrison(notes), Jordan Farmar(notes), and Josh Powell(notes); as the second unit struggles to run the offense they've been practicing for years. Good thing Kobe Bryant(notes) was around to rack up 28 points and five steals, as the Laker D held the Pistons to a miserable night (85 points per 100 possessions, yikes) offensively.

Also, the AP?

Three of Detroit's best players wore sportcoats: Richard Hamilton(notes), Ben Gordon(notes), and Tayshaun Prince(notes).

Over their uniforms? Classy.

***

Portland 102, Miami 95

It was great to see. Brandon Roy(notes), who has been struggling (relative to his own underrated 2008-09 campaign), nearly unable to miss from the field. Carrying Portland on his back as they worked to win against a tough Heat team in Miami.

28 points on just 14 shots for Roy, knockout efficiency for a perimeter (or any, really) player, as he made all five of his attempts from long range and managed 11 points in the last four minutes of the close Portland win. Eight assists, as well, for the Trail Blazer go-to guy.

Miami's go-to guy, TV's Dwyane Wade(notes), managed 10 assists of his own; but he was clearly off, battling back issues and missing 18 of 31 shots from the field. 28 points for D-Wade, who did well to only turn it over three times (just 17 miscues in the game, combined, for both teams) considering his state. Quentin Richardson(notes) nailed seven of seven threes in the loss, but the Heat are just ill-prepared for a shootout if Wade is off. And Wade was off.

He made fewer than half his shots, but LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) tossed in a needed 23 points, with eight rebounds.

Would have liked to have seen Michael Beasley(notes) involved a lot more, Miami. Especially late.

***

Dallas 102, Cleveland 95

This was a good offensive game from teams that sometimes struggle in that area (Dallas is 14th in offense after the win, Cleveland 10th), and the Mavs were just a little more precise in the win.

Which is kind of a downer for Cleveland fans, because Dallas happened to be playing without the team's best player. A fella (Dirk Nowitzki(notes)) who is pretty sound on that end of the floor.

But, especially down the stretch, the Mavs just felt quicker and more together than Cleveland. Passes were where they were supposed to be, good shots went in, and the team turned it over just six times all night. One turnover every eight minutes. Not bad at all.

Cleveland only turned the ball over 12 times, but in a slow-down game this sticks out a big, and it's hard to beat a team on the road while doubling them up in this area no matter how small the totals. Meanwhile, the Mavs were just good enough from long range (7-19), the ball was really moving from beginning to end (25 assists on 38 field goals), and Tim Thomas(notes) (22 points on 14 shots) can still stroke.

25 points for LeBron James(notes), but he missed 14 of 23 shots, and while you hate to bring this up, this is the truth we're faced with - Delonte West(notes) is clearly not going to bring it every night, but he brought it on Sunday (18 points, seven boards, four assists), and the Cavaliers wasted his contributions.

Dirk?

"I'm on every pill there is."

Well, alright.

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