Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Denver 132, Toronto 93

Shockingly dominant win for the Nuggets, who hoisted the Keon Clark Cup after running roughshod all over the Raptors from the get-go.

I don't go down this path, because the MVP should go to the league's best player, but the "look where they'd be without him!" crowd of nutters should have its top candidate in Chauncey Billups. It's not so much that the Nuggets would fall flat were he to be replaced by an average player, but it would be pretty close to flat, and his presence alone allows the Nuggets to play how they should play. How they've been playing over the last month. With all the winning and such.

Slowed down, occasional drives, stout perimeter D, lots of live dribbles. Efficiency. Love it.

Billups had 24 points on just 12 shots, with 14 assists to one turnover. Brilliant, brilliant basketball player.

The Raptors badly need another player (besides Chris Bosh, who hit 10 of 10) to get to the free throw line when the shots aren't falling, and for a team that isn't always lights-out from long range, these sorts of nights are going to happen. And I don't think Roko Ukic (6-6 from the line in 16 minutes) is the answer, here. Or maybe he could be. Who knows? You might even be the answer, ever thought of that? Say "hi" to your mother for me.

Just 20 combined turnovers in a pretty speedy game (99 possessions) for both teams, impressive.

Indiana 118, Los Angeles Lakers 117

This game was blacked out here, this seems to be happening more and more this year with Pacer games than ever before, and I'm a little bummed by it, but I don't prefer the alternative (blacked out Bulls games).

I'd kind of like to know just how you can beat the Lakers. I know Troy Murphy tipped in a shot just before the buzzer, but what happened beyond that? Lasers? Sorcery? Mirrors and swords and some sort of Pegasus with a robot face? I'm not that good with science fiction. My favorite Choose Your Own Adventure books all had to do with being a Civil War prisoner of war, trying to escape some guy named Ezekiel. You'll have to help me.

The Lakers scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter, after averaging almost 34 a quarter over the first three, Indiana doubled them up in the final frame, and the Lakers (with a 50-41 disadvantage) just could not take care of the boards. Somehow, Los Angeles also lost while shooting 24 more free throws than the home team. Yikes.

Nine rebounds in about 48 combined minutes from Pau Gasol and Chris Mihm surely didn't help, especially while Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts combined for 23 in just about the same amount of time. The Lakers also appeared to have trouble forcing their usual rash of turnovers, Los Angeles is forcing teams into cough-ups in about 18 percent of their possessions so far this year, but the Pacers (with 13 miscues) only turned it over 12.9 percent of the time on Tuesday.

T.J. Ford, one turnover, 21 points, and eight assists in 34 minutes. Nicely done, sir.

Portland 104, New York 97

Quick teams still bug the Trail Blazers, they had huge issues with Detroit's Rodney Stuckey the other day, and Chris Duhon's 23 points and 13 assists kept New York in this one.

The Knicks had some defensive and rebounding issues of their own, big shocker there, and the Trail Blazers took advantage. A 54-34 rebounding edge for Portland on Tuesday, as Joel Przybilla (eight points, 14 rebounds, two blocks in just under 27 minutes) had another knockout game. I'm not saying he'll keep it up, but so far this year Przybilla might be his conference's most improved player.

Washington 108, New Jersey 88

Such is life, when you play really, really, really bad D. The toast of Phoenix one night, the Edsels of East Rutherford the next.

(YOU come up with some bad name that starts with "e." I took ten minutes to come up with that, and if you don't like it, ask for your money back. I believe you had a hat.)

New Jersey just couldn't stay in front of an active Wizards team that was playing hot potato with the rock all night. A frightfully-good 33 assists on 44 field goals for the Wizards, who welcomed DeShawn Stevenson (21 points, 5-8 from long range) to the 2008-09 season.

Not that they deserved more attempts, but Washington shot just 11 free throws all night, making seven. Not a very promising "in spite of"-stat, if you know what I mean.

New Jersey is now ranked 29th in defensive efficiency, though well ahead of the hapless 30th-ranked Kings.

Philadelphia 103, Chicago 95 (OT)

Derrick Rose didn't get Andre Miller again (Dre kind of did the splits in his vicinity once, but not after a crossover), and Miller scored a small measure of revenge in this Philly win. It took him 26 shots, but he scored 28 points, nearly fouled Rose out in overtime, and bogarted his way to a 76er victory.

Rose needs some people to pass to. He had just two assists all night, and is averaging less than six per game this year in spite of big minutes and in spite of having the ball quite a bit. The problem is that both Ben Gordon and Drew Gooden (six turnovers, zero field goals, progress) need the ball in order to score (Gooden thinks he can nail that 20-footer off a screen and roll but, no, he can't), Andres Nocioni is just killing Chicago on both ends at this point, and Kirk Hinrich's spot-up shooting is out until February.

Andre Iguodala had his head on straight Tuesday night, it's a weekly thing, but it's nice to see when it happens: 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists, five turnovers. Dominated Luol Deng, who is just a shadow (10 points on 11 shots, two rebounds in 37 minutes) now.

Tyrus Thomas, who appeared to take November off, chipped in with 14 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks in the loss.

Detroit 89, San Antonio 77

Good to see Detroit's effort level perk up for this win, they really hounded San Antonio into some nasty shots, while making half of their own attempts on the other end.

17 turnovers for San Antonio, which may not sound like too egregious a stat until you factor in how slow these teams play, and then you realize that the Spurs turned it over on a fifth of their possessions. This allowed Detroit's delayed transition game to spring out, Rasheed Wallace (19 points on 11 shots) was hot, and the Pistons earned an impressive win.

Dallas 100, Los Angeles Clippers 98

A tidy little comeback win for the Mavericks, which would seem like a joyous occasion until you realize that they were down 15 to the Los Angeles Clippers. Who were playing without Chris Kaman. And with Paul (zero points and two rebounds in 14 minutes) Davis. In Dallas.

The Maverick starters shot just 32.5 percent with Jason Kidd whiffing on all six of his attempts (he did contribute seven rebounds, eight assists, three turnovers and four steals), so it had to be Jason Terry (26 points on 17 shots, what a year for this guy) and Jose Juan Barea (15 points and six assists in 24 minutes) in a super small lineup that went all zone-y at times defensively.

The Clipper bench was abysmal, combining for just seven points, three rebounds, and two assists in over 40 minutes of "action."

Utah 99, Sacramento 94

Nice to see Kevin Martin (22 points on 16 shots in almost 33 minutes) back in action, but it wasn't enough for the Kings on Tuesday. Even with Carlos Boozer out and Deron Williams (four turnovers in under 30 minutes) still a bit rusty.

Williams still came through with a solid game, 14 and seven assists, and he truly is the straw that stirs the drink the way he commands so much attention with a live dribble. Utah won despite turning the ball over a ridiculous 25 times, though they did manage 24 assists on 36 field goals. Morris Almond also did good things (12 points) with good minutes (almost 26), and Kosta Koufos (six fouls, six points, five boards, two assists, one turnover, one block, one steal, lots of numbers) got his licks in.

The Kings were out-muscled on the glass and didn't shoot well (5-17, 29.4 percent) from long range. Other than that, bang on.

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