Thu Mar 04 10:30am EST
This was a scary, almost, blitzkrieg from the Suns in the second half. They just ran right down Los Angeles' throats, with little resistance, over and over again. Even knowing what we know about the Clippers (a good defensive team, at times, but airheaded) and seeing what we've seen from the Suns for the last five and a half years (Koko signs "fast, run, score, quick, Nash"), this was an odd, entertaining sight to behold.
The Suns had 136.6 points per 100 possessions, and for comparison's sake, they lead the NBA at 114.3 points per 100 possessions (after that blowout, mind you). Just got a miss, and ran it. Got a make and ran it, too. No screen roll defense from the Clippers, nobody stopped the ball, nobody knew what to do when smaller Suns headed to the post; and though I actually liked what the Clipper coaching staff brought (a good offensive first half that looked rather un-Clipperish in its sets; and the Clips seemed to score out of every timeout in the second half), there is only so much you can do with players like these.
Phoenix out-rebounded the Clippers by 20, and despite shooting 55 percent overall and missing just six free throws, the Suns still destroyed Los Angeles on the offensive glass. The Suns scored 70 second half points. A number so good that I barely even bothered to write out that they scored 57 (maths!) in the first half.
They've taken some lumps and worked through the trade deadline, and the Suns are fifth in the West in the first week of March. Very impressive. Keep on.
Atlanta 112, Philadelphia 93
I saw that the 76ers came back a few times, Louis Williams(notes) made 11 of 15 shots, this team does have some talent and could ideally match up well with Atlanta, but the Hawks just had these guys on a string for most of this win. Just absolutely toyed with them with extra passes and sound spacing and good interior dishing. Good exterior dishing, too. Josh Smith(notes) once again tied for the team lead in assists, with five, and a few of those came from a step inside the three-point line.
Philly just doesn't have the patience nor the willingness to compete at this level. Collectively, they're rudderless; and while I understand Eddie Jordan's frustration with having three guys making eight figures a year on his team and no leaders in the locker room, um, you're paid to lead in the locker room as well, Eddie.
The Hawks shot 50 percent, but they still managed 13 offensive rebounds and a 15-rebound advantage overall. Two And-1s for Marvin Williams(notes), along with a nice tip dunk in the second quarter, as he finished with 21 points and eight rebounds.
And wouldn't it be nice if one of the two active veterans making eight figures a year would give a little talk to Jrue Holliday about eating deep-fried, processed non-foods 90 minutes before the game? I mean, I knew not to eat that crap before junior high games, so this is on Holliday as well, but what a mess. What an absolute mess. Hat tip to Sir Skeets.
The Warriors competed. They came back a few times to put the deficit into single digits, and you never got the feeling that this team was lazing about. But the Magic's talent made sure that Orlando bullied this thin, wispy little thing from Northern California around. The eight-deep/D-League-heavy Warriors didn't have a chance. And kudos to the Magic for, in Stan Van Gundy's words, making the outcome turn out "as it should."
Dwight Howard(notes) had 28 points, 12 rebounds, no fouls, two assists, three turnovers, two steals and two blocks. He was upset at a few non-calls early, but kept his wits about him. Vince Carter(notes) tossed in a few nifty left-handed finishes, Jameer Nelson(notes) missed some chippies and needed 14 shots to score 13 points, but this was a rout.
Pouty after actually trying hard in a loss to the Celtics on Tuesday and falling short, the Pistons came out with absolutely no intensity in the world's most famous arena, barely bothered to contest nor compete, and gave up over 136 points per 100 possessions to a team that entered the night averaging 106.1 points per 100 possessions (good for 18th in the NBA).
Just a miserable showing from Detroit. I don't want to hear about injuries - a lineup featuring Jason Maxiell(notes), Jonas Jerebko(notes), Tayshaun Prince(notes), Rodney Stuckey(notes) and Rip Hamilton should stylistically and athletically match up just fine with the goofball Knicks rotation. Especially when you bring Will Bynum(notes), Ben Gordon(notes) and Charlie Villanueva(notes) off the bench. It's been a tough season and the Pistons aren't perfect, but come on. These are the Knicks. This is a team to take advantage of, to have fun with. Sure, the Knicks are at home, but that doesn't mean you have to get blown out.
Bill Walker(notes) continued to play well for New York, but I'm not going to go too over the top. He entered the game with a 13.4 PER with New York, below average, and I'll need a bit more before I decide what's what (it's at 16.6 after the game). I didn't lose my mind over Wilson Chandler(notes) when he started chucking away a few years back, and I'm still OK with that. Kudos to Walker for keeping his head straight, he's not chucking like Chandler, and he's clearly a player in this league, but give me a bit before I can comment intelligently on him. I'm not going to pretend I know something I don't, especially when I had 11 games to flip around through on Wednesday.
He looked great, though, from what I saw, with 22 points on just 13 shots, three assists to zero turnovers in his first start. Really appreciate the way he didn't let the lack of playing time get to him.
Tracy McGrady(notes) had 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds; starting the tone early with his solid passing, and David Lee(notes) managed 21 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists to zero turnovers. Not sure why he was on the court for nearly 44 minutes in a 24-point win, there, Mike D'Antoni. You're losing fans.
Just reading this, it still blows me away.
"Brook Lopez had 21 points and 14 rebounds to lead New Jersey (6-54)," whoa, 6 and 54?!?
This thing just won't quit.
LeBron James(notes) had eight first quarter assists, he nearly nailed a 50-footer at the buzzer of that first frame, and the game was more or less over by then. As mentioned, Brook played well, but the Cavs were just so, so much better.
New Jersey got to the line a bit to keep it close, but with James offering 14 assists (the Cavs had 29 assists on 44 field goals in total), and J.J. Hickson(notes) dropping a bomb, New Jersey didn't have a chance.
Hickson, who is starting at center, had 20 points, 13 rebounds, a couple of steals and zero turnovers in 26 minutes. I dig that. There might be a paucity of bigs now and/or a logjam later, but go with what works for LeBron.
James had 26 points, seven rebounds, three steals, three turnovers and a block, though I don't understand why he had to play 40 minutes in a game in which the Cavs were up 35-15 after 12 minutes.
Miserable offensive showing for the Bobcats, which shouldn't be a surprise. The Celtics are tops in this league defensively, and Charlotte entered the season forcing a lot of us per-possession nutters to wonder if they were going to rank amongst the worst offensive teams of all time. At least of the post-hand check era.
And all they talked about postgame was bad defense, which isn't a surprise, either.
Just under 90 points per 100 possessions for Charlotte, which shot 36 percent and didn't hit a three-pointer. Not too many instances where you can win with those last two stats. Charlotte's Stephen Jackson(notes) didn't like Paul Pierce's(notes) potty mouth at times, but knock me over with a feather. You know the Celtics, at times, are going to act like a bunch of punks. They're going to act like they've never been there before. Whatever gets them through the night. Go eat some popcorn, Stephen.
Nate Robinson(notes) had nine points to close out/start off the first quarter/second quarter, and Pierce had 27 points on 13 shots in the win. Jackson had eight points on six shots with four turnovers.
A couple of things ...
In the first quarter of this game, Morris Peterson(notes) went in for a four-foot runner, and shot the ball seven feet. He made two of five shots in this game, managed five points with a rebound, a foul and one made free throw in two attempts, in under 17 minutes.
Marcus Thornton(notes) had 24 points off the bench two days after giving the Spurs 30 points -- after averaging 19 a game in February. Appreciate the idea to keep the bench potent, but forget this. Play Thornton 48 minutes. Win some games.
Also, Rudy Gay(notes)? Had he not ended up with the game-clinching steal and slam, I could have sworn he was going to write some really, really angry poetry after this game. Put it on his MyBook or FaceTube or something. He could not get a call, all game, and also saw all his best attempts at acting a proper passing forward go for naught when his teammates weren't ready (actually, it's Rudy Gay; can you blame them?), or good shots off his dishes wouldn't go down. That was an angry young man.
No matter. Mike Conley(notes) had the footwork and the stroke working on Wednesday night, bringing the Grizzlies back in the fourth quarter, as the team took advantage of 20 New Orleans turnovers to pull out the win.
The Wizards turned the ball over on 22 percent of their possessions, and that's exactly what Milwaukee is after. The Bucks weren't a bang-up offensive team in the half-court, but they did take advantage of all those miscues and ran when the situation called for it. Not the brightest night out for Milwaukee, but the Bucks created their own good fortune with that defense.
Elsan Ilyasova had 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the win. And John Salmons(notes) continues to play fantastic basketball for Milwaukee, never turning the ball over against Washington, adding 22 points on 15 shots with four steals.
This game ... this game was gross.
I like both teams and just about all of these players, if not their shot selections, but both squads had points per 100s in the mid 90s, and it was just an outright clang-fest.
Sacramento took exactly a hundred shots, which hasn't happened since the last days of the Eisenhower administration, making 32. It crashed the offensive glass, Carl Landry(notes) had 22 points in his return to Houston, and the Rockets just couldn't shoot straight.
The hot hand theory, well, there's no such thing as a hot hand. Certainly not in this game. But you felt like Shane Battier(notes) was playing in slow motion - in a good way. Seven blocks, a career-high, for the floor-bound Battier.
First off, credit where credit is due, even if I don't believe for a second that this the right move.
With Al Jefferson(notes) taking part in a team-induced suspension for a DWI arrest the other night, Darko Milicic(notes) started in his absence alongside Ryan Hollins(notes). Now, I Tweeted Thursday night about how moronic it seemed to stick yet another stiff in the starting lineup with Kevin Love(notes) coming off the bench, just because Kurt Rambis thinks "he's a bench guy."
Now, this is ridiculous, and I'll lay waste into Rambis later on, but Hollins (who I'd probably bench while keeping the admittedly terrible thus-far Darko in the lineup) had a big part in Minny's strong start, and Milicic managed a not-bad six points and two boards in only 14 minutes. He also fouled a ton and had a big role in handing Dirk Nowitzki(notes) 10 free throw attempts (Dirk made, as you'd expect, 10 free throws). It worked, for now. There's no reason for it, both players aren't going to suddenly turn into average players all of the sudden (they're both far from it), and Love (14 and 14 in 33 minutes off the bench) continues to post superstar numbers off the bench.
But it did work, so there's that. Live another day, Rambis.
Minnesota made a game out of this, but the Mavs had this. Jason Kidd(notes) sat to rest his legs for an opponent worth his time, and Jason Terry(notes) had to sit for a stretch after Corey Brewer(notes) crushed his face, but the Mavs prevailed. Nowitzki was ultra-solid to start and to finish, and the Mavs hung on despite being out-rebounded by 19.
Oklahoma City looked like all sorts of things in this loss. Nervous, tight, tired, impatient, and above all? Bad at offense.
This was a 29-point win for Denver, and it wasn't that close. The Thunder youngsters (Thunderyoungsters!) managed to whittle the lead down out of the 30s late in garbage time, but Denver absolutely dominated this one. A mediocre defensive team entering this game, the Nuggets roared back to attack Oklahoma City's sticking point - an offense that comes and goes.
Kevin Durant(notes) came and went, so-so early on, disappeared in the second half, and Russell Westbrook(notes) seemed to have no goodly idea as to how to solve Denver's traps and zones. I, myself, prefer the triple post offense; but it might be too late in the season for that.
Just 89 points per 100 possessions for OKC, a miserable number.
It was a trap game, the first one back home for Portland in a week and a half, and the Pacers could have had this if they weren't the bleedin' Pacers.
Indiana had just 15 assists on 33 field goals, and a day after bringing a big game to a loss against the Lakers (a career-best night that an obviously-proud Pacers coach Jim O'Brien called "irrelevant"), Josh McRoberts(notes) played under five minutes in the blowout. Put it this way: I was Obie's last fan.
Playing against the big (Dre Miller and Brandon Roy(notes)) Portland backcourt and long (Marcus Camby(notes), at 6-11ish; Nic Batum at 6-10, LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) at 6-11ish) front court, Obie decided to go small with two tiny no-good point guards in T.J. Ford(notes) and Earl Watson(notes), with Brandon Rush(notes), Danny Granger(notes) and Troy Murphy(notes) up front. As you'd expect, the Blazers consistently outscored them run by run, and Indiana never threatened.
Thanks for reading.