January 13, 2010
The Lakers are beat to hell — Ron Artest(notes), Jordan Farmar(notes) and a guy named Kobe Bryant(notes) are in pain; Pau Gasol(notes) didn't even play — and they were on the road. Topping that, they're the champs.
The last bit means teams have it out for them. It means teams get up for the best. And while Tim Duncan(notes) has never needed an excuse to rule the entire half-court defensively, he easily turned in his best defensive performance of the season against Los Angeles. Every angle was covered.
On top of that, 25 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, four blocks, two steals, only two turnovers. It was a masterful performance.
Kobe Bryant shot better with his splint back on, but he played only 32 minutes in this blowout and had to leave the contest with back spasms. The Lakers allowed the Spurs to shoot 57 percent, and though things were somewhat close even in the fourth quarter, San Antonio was in complete control all night long.
Houston didn't get some calls, and the Rockets went one-on-one way too much in this loss, but the killer was the obvious offensive killer that made all the highlighs. Charlotte's Stephen Jackson(notes) dropped 43, as he was having his way with Trevor Ariza(notes) even before his fourth quarter explosion that saw the Bobcats wing toss in 16 points.
Jackson had 43 points on 22 shots and simply (somehow) couldn't be covered. Flip Murray(notes) had 14 off the bench despite strong defense from the Rox, and Boris Diaw(notes) flipped his way toward 19 points.
Houston scored well (almost 107 points per 100 possessions against one of the league's best defenses), but the Rockets just failed time and time again to see themselves through a defensive set.
Parts of this were spirited — the Wizards looked good in the first half, Detroit clearly wanted it in the second half — but this may have been the worst game of the NBA season.
Poorly executed, poorly-considered basketball. Bad basketball. Detroit won, it deserved to win, but this was a miserable watch.
What we put up last night holds up. An ugly game, neither team really played as if the whole world was watching in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers can't blame the water main break for their defeat.
Baron Davis(notes) was fantastic, nearly registering a triple double in the first half and finishing with 27 points, 12 boards, 12 assists and five steals, but he had a tough time down the stretch with O.J. Mayo(notes) (!) guarding him. Meanwhile, the Grizz took advantage of loose balls and broken plays to score against a Clipper team that was playing without Chris Kaman(notes) and (in the second half) Marcus Camby(notes).
The Magic won because the ball went through Dwight Howard, and he dealt with the responsibility effectively, and efficiently.
Howard made 12 of 17 free throws, not a world-beating percentage but passable enough, and he turned the ball over just three times despite numerous touches in the win. He totaled 30 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and three steals, and Orlando put up 118 points per 100 possessions.
The Kings gave a game effort but shot just 35 percent, and it was almost a surprise that this was even somewhat close in the third quarter.