This isn't to take away from Cleveland or Dallas, two teams that deserved their wins over Boston, but as we saw a week and a half ago in the Celtics' loss to the Cavs, Boston is still capable of going 48 minutes all out ... of sorts.
Bad pun, to be sure, but that's how it is with this lot. They'll just spend an entire, close, game looking a bit thick. Imprecise, a little out of it, not entirely lacking in effort but certainly lacking in just about every other area. This was a 10-point game at the half and, really, it should have been a walk for Dallas.
But, to make it a little thick, Boston is really, really good, so the C's hung on. And it nearly pulled out a win, too, were it not for Dirk Nowitzki's(notes) jumper late in the fourth quarter. Boston just has to work so hard offensively, in that complicated and option-heavy offense, to secure good looks. And if it doesn't really commit to all those screens and weak side machinations, then things can fall apart. To say nothing of declining opportunities in transition.
Dallas just took advantage, getting good penetration and helping well defensively. Dirk was solid with 25 points, Jason Terry(notes) had 17 points off the bench, and Tyson Chandler(notes) managed a double-double in just under 33 minutes with a pair of blocks (including a huge one, late, on Paul Pierce(notes) and a changed shot against Kevin Garnett(notes) in the final minute).
One and done for the Nuggets on Monday. I know we shouldn't be expecting them to clear the offensive glass with Chris Andersen(notes) and Kenyon Martin(notes) still on the shelf, but the team missed 51 combined field goals and free throws and managed just six offensive rebounds, while Chicago (already one of the best teams in the NBA in limiting offensive rebounds) had enough in its interior for the win.
This was a game Chicago could have given up on a few times, but Joakim Noah's(notes) active play, a solid crowd atmosphere (how many times do I point that out?), and Derrick Rose's(notes) touch down the stretch helped. Rose (7-21 shooting, 18 points) was pretty iffy overall, but he kept pushing the ball in transition after those Bulls defensive rebounds, and Noah (13 points, 19 rebounds, four blocks) was just a beast.
32 points and four steals, 50 percent shooting, from Carmelo Anthony(notes) in the loss. Denver's not at full strength right now, but the Bulls have split their first six without the presence of a 20-point scorer up front, and that's to be commended.
Now, stop losing to the stupid Knicks.
He's hitting 44 percent of his threes on the year, but he's also acting the part of Grant Hill(notes), more or less, but a Grant Hill that doesn't seem to defend as well nor know the plays. This would be great coming off the Phoenix bench, allowing the Suns to have some sort of balance while Goran Dragic(notes) (who has been fantastic of late, seven points and four assists in 17 minutes in Monday's loss) goes nuts, but as a starter he's hopeless. And his one rebound in 21 minutes (while his Memphis counterpart, Zach Randolph(notes), came through with 20 in twice as many minutes) isn't helping things.
Great all-around effort from Memphis in this win. The ball was moving, and though you can tell sometimes that it's almost a strain for these guys to sustain concentration, consistency was the order of the day. Good thing, especially after Friday's less-than-cerebral loss to the Suns in Arizona.
All Xavier Henry(notes) does is shoot at and this point in his career, that's OK. 14 points off the bench. Rudy Gay(notes) continues his solid year with 22 points, and the Suns just weren't potent enough (9-31 from long range) to make this game their own.
After watching the Raptors waltz through parts of a home game against a mediocre team on the road playing the second night of a back-to-back, I moved on to other, closer, contests on other channels. I gave this game the short shrift thinking that I could re-watch it later on NBA League Pass Broadband, forgetting (give me a break ... it's been since April that I've had to) that NBA TV games were blacked out from archived showings.
But I'm pretty confident that my quick take is the right take. Toronto just didn't show up. And a mere show up could have handed the Raptors a needed win. Instead, Golden State acted professionally and pulled out the win.
Golden State turned the ball over quite a bit (20 miscues), but they also shot 53 percent from the floor and made 26 free throws. Great numbers for a team that can fall in love with the bomb, and often has to take in smelling salts to look alive on the road. Stephen Curry(notes) and Monta Ellis(notes) combined for 11 of those turnovers, but they also combined for 62 points, so who cares?
Jarrett Jack(notes), with 24 points and eight assists, seemed to care for Toronto; but as is often the case, he didn't have much help. And when Jarrett Jack is the guy on your team that isn't getting much help, your team is in trouble. It's not like we're talking about the 2006-07 Cleveland Cavaliers, here.
Gary Neal(notes) hit five three-pointers off the bench for San Antonio, who managed good spacing when it mattered the most behind Manu Ginobili(notes), and the Bobcats look like a team without an answer at this point.
Charlotte has lost five of six to start the season, and the team is flailing away. This wasn't a terrible showing, in fact it was a close game throughout, but the Bobcats are struggling to score and, surprisingly, struggling to defend. This loss dropped them to 20th overall in defensive efficiency, and things aren't going to get much better if Tyrus Thomas(notes) continues to come off the bench instead of starting.
9-39 shooting combined from D.J. Augustin(notes), Stephen Jackson(notes), Gerald Wallace(notes), while Jack had six turnovers in just under 28 minutes of play. It'd be foolish to write these guys out of the playoffs, but with a five game handicap already in place, it's not the best of starts.
Ginobili scored 26 points on just 17 shots, but the points don't tell the story. He had the Bobcats on their heels, defensively, all night, and was the difference (and not Neal, though the rookie was great) in what could have been an unnecessary loss for San Antonio.
Not the prettiest offensive exhibition, by any stretch, but there was plenty of hustle and heart on both sides, here. The Hawks could have given up, several times, and Marcin Gortat(notes) really energized the home crowd with his diving theatrics in the first half. The result was a fun little game, but (as is typically the case between these two teams, unless Josh Smith(notes) tips something amazing in at the buzzer) Orlando prevailed.
27 and 11 in 30 foul-plagued minutes for Dwight Howard(notes), who made 7-11 free throws in the win. Al Horford(notes) and Josh Smith combined to put up 29 and 18 in almost 63 total minutes, but Atlanta could never string the stops and scores together that it needed to overcome the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year.
Still, there's hope here. Though the Magic were without Jameer Nelson(notes) (turned ankle) and essentially without Rashard Lewis(notes) (2-7 shooting), Atlanta doesn't seem to regard them as a team worth bowing down to. The Hawks still aren't at Orlando's level, but that doesn't mean they can compete with their Southwestern roomies.