A real cracker of a game, and kindly ask your non-racist grandparents what the other-other use of that word means. Lively and entertaining and worth each of our eyes, the Heat got out to a monstrous lead based on some of the most exciting basketball that we've seen from them this year, only to relent as certain members of the Indiana rotation made life difficult on all involved. The scene shifted when Pacer rookie Paul George(notes) entered the game, and used his length to distract Dwyane Wade(notes) into tough, tough shots. Previous to that, Wade had dropped 18 points in the game's first six minutes, finishing the first half with 31.
"Just" 41 points at the end of the game for Wade, who was mercury-like in his glides to the basket in that first quarter. LeBron James(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) picked up the pace in the second half, but outside of the game's first 12 minutes, this was a spirited affair that saw Indiana bringing the defense and consistently forcing the Heat into tough, tough shots.
Though both teams acquitted themselves well in the final box score, the end-game offensive marks don't really reflect how tough this game was because of the blowouts on either side during the first and second quarters. Paul George easily had his best game as a pro, also finishing with 14 points and making a heady entrance pass from out of bounds to Danny Granger(notes) (who had sealed off LeBron James) for the lay-in. Tyler Hansbrough's(notes) defense has relented of late, but he is the rare interior scoring sparkplug off the bench. And A.J. Price(notes) pushed the ball and made up for Darren Collison's(notes) tough 1-11 shooting night. Though Collison, it should be pointed out, didn't do himself any favors with his shot selection.
In the end, Miami was quicker to open'ish looks offensively, and quicker to stops. They're bigger, stronger, and faster than you, and it showed in this win. I also saw some fun, some anger, and some heart. Limited praise, I know, but this was a team that wanted to come out take the Pacers down, from the start. And after having to hear about Boston's supposed dominant streak over the Heat over the last two days (I'd choose Boston in a seven game series right now, but I'm not going to forget that the Heat could have easily won each of those three losses to the Celtics), it was good to tune into. That, and for all the dunks.
Little things build up over the course of an NBA game, and you've got to give the Chicago Bulls credit for taking advantage of the chances they had.
Things like Keith Bogans(notes) and Kyle Korver(notes) combining to put up 18 points in seven possessions based on threes alone. Derrick Rose(notes) taking it to the hole and inviting contact, on his way to eight free throw makes. Carlos Boozer(notes) may have looked pretty bad defensively at times ("at times?" Geesh ...), but he also saved more than a couple broken Bulls possessions. And the result, even with nobody but Luol Deng(notes) playing out of their minds? The Bulls put up 120 points per 100 possessions against a great Bobcats defense.
24 points for Deng. He was superb, hitting long jumpers to end Charlotte runs. He also played 44 minutes , so I'll continue to worry about May.
The Bobcats tried, but the timing just seemed to be off. Playing in home uniforms, on the road, on the second night of a back to back against a great team will do that. Gerald Henderson(notes) continued his warming trend with 22 points off the bench.
Strong start, strong finish for the Grizzlies. That's all coach can ask for. Actually, coaches ask for about twice that much, they'd like you to perform well in the second and third quarters, but this was nearly as good.
Strange start to the game, because you couldn't quite figure out just why the Grizzlies were blowing out the Sixers. Memphis appeared to be twice the team, moving their feet defensively and getting out when necessary, but it did feel as if Philly was too talented to have that sustain much longer -- and I suppose that's a nod toward the direction of how good the 76ers have been recently.
The Sixers did come back, Lou Williams did some work in that second quarter, and the starting five that ruined things in the first quarter did the bulk of the damage chipped away at that Memphis lead in the third. Before Lou Williams came in again and, you guessed it, did some work.
Mike Conley(notes) dropped 15 in that fourth quarter, though, and 22 in the second half. Got past all manner of defenders (though getting past Lou Williams, despite all his "work," isn't the toughest thing to do) and put the Grizz on his shoulders. Zach Randolph(notes) added another gem to his All-Star level season (21 points, 10 boards, seven assists, two steals, one block, zero turnovers, wow), and Tony Allen(notes) (13 shots, 10 points) was Tony Allen. "Not that he needs any more confidence," Pete Pranica said, and I laughed very loudly.
Philly tripled Memphis up in turnovers, which hurt quite a bit.
There were other elements, too. I could point out Deron Williams(notes) nearly making what could have been a tying shot late, or the fact that Al Jefferson(notes) is still rushing shots in the Utah offense despite his brilliant performance (32 and 10). Williams, overall, had a terrible night with six turnovers and 2-11 shooting. But Utah could have won it, were it not for one of those nights from Channing Frye.
The whippet-thin Suns center managed 31 points and 11 rebounds, he hit six threes and had a huge defensive rebound late, but it comes on a sour note because you just know that this is Channing Frye. And that it might not mean anything moving forward.
The box score will tell you that it was over quickly. I'll tell you that this was over very, very quickly.
The Kings had their spurts. Omri Casspi(notes) got hot for about 90 seconds, and DeMarcus Cousins(notes) (21 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks, five turnovers) played a good brand of basketball in the free game he gave the Kings, but Oklahoma City's pressure just made this a non-starter for the whole squad.
Good on Scott Brooks and his crew of old young men. These Thunder cats play like vets, and it shows in games like this, stomping on the neck of a Kings team that had its mind elsewhere.
There are so many players on the New Orleans who should just not be taking shots. So while Chris Paul(notes) is at fault for this loss partially because he couldn't score for the first 39 minutes of the contest , he's mainly at fault because he acts as if he has the '27 Yankees to pass to on this Hornets roster. Hell, the Yankees were better at scoring.
So when David Andersen(notes) and D.J. Mbenga(notes) and Trevor Ariza(notes) and Willie Green(notes) pile up the shots, you can see why the Hornets barely topped the 100 points per 100 possessions mark.
Stephen Curry(notes) scored 13 points on five shot attempts, Vladimir Radmanovic(notes) had 12 points in the second quarter, and Golden State overcame an off night from Monta Ellis(notes) to pull out the safe win.