By Jason Wojciechowski on November 15, 2009 at 10:00 AM
I know the big news from last night's NBA action involves some Italian kid from Milwaukee or Compton or something, but you'll just have to wait for that, because I take these things more or less chronologically, because that's just the way I am.
Hornets 98, Hawks 121: Both teams were playing back-to-backs, and both teams had to travel before the game (although one team got to sleep in their own beds), and both teams were involved in sweeps. The problem is that the Hornets got swept by the Blazers and Hawks, while the Hawks had won the night before in Boston. As New Orleans looks less and less like a threat and more and more like a team that good teams just have to take care of business against, it's good to see Atlanta move to 8-2 by doing just that: taking care of business. They won every quarter, and after going up 8-6 with 2:34 into the game, never gave up the lead. Peja did have 25 for New Orleans, but with Darren Collison starting at the point and David West being David West (4-17 from the floor), I don't think the Hornets ever had a chance. Josh Smith had an awesome 17/17/4/3/2 line, which is why Josh Smith is just as fun to read about as he is to watch. Joe Johnson added 26/5/7 of his own.
Celtics 104, Pacers 113: Panic in the streets of Boston! Granted it was a road back-to-back, but (a) it was the Pacers; and (b) they'd lost the night before. Danny Granger rained threes, though, shooting 6-9 en route to 29 points, and with Indiana hitting shots and refusing to turn the ball over (just eight turnovers on the night), Boston didn't have enough offense to keep up. The weirdness of NBA scheduling: the game was Boston's eleventh of the year, but just Indiana's seventh.
Jazz 103, Cavs 107: LeBron James didn't really go off, putting up 21/6/9, but Mo Williams added 21 off the bench as Mike Brown went to a big starting lineup, with Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker starting with LeBron, JJ Hickson, and Big Z (Shaq has a strained shoulder). Deron Williams missed another game for Utah, and you have to wonder if they could have wont his game if he were there, seeing how close it was without him. Eric Maynor did score 24 in his place, but he had just four assists.
Nets 80, Heat 81: Oh so close for New Jersey! Instead, they're 0-10, while Miami moves to 7-2, since an ugly win still counts as a full W. In addition to the usual missing guys for New Jersey, Bobby Simmons missed this one for personal reasons. Josh Boone and Eduardo Najera combined for zero points on three shots in 41 minutes, which is a pretty awesome dedication to refusing to put the ball up at the basket. Dwyane Wade had 22/8/6/6/2, which is a Josh Smith-esque line. His subpar scoring was picked up by, of all people, Udonis Haslem, who led everyone with 28 points off the bench. He also led everyone with 12 rebounds. It wasn't his birthday or anything, so I have no idea what's up with that. He took twenty shots, by the way, which also led both teams. Just odd.
Pistons 106, Wizards 103: Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva both shot 10-21, and they shot 5-8 and 4-7 from three, respectively, but the little guy actually got to the line five times (to just one for C.V. (should we call him "Resume"? I'm going to call him "Resume" from now on)). Wee man Earl Boykins had 20 off the bench for the Wizards, matching Mike Miller for the team high. Charlie Resume, by the way, also fouled out, so it wasn't all good for him.
Blazers 80, Bobcats 74: Ugh. Four blocks and six fouls in 17 minutes for Oden. 25/7/5 for Brandon Roy. Twenty-one for Boris Diaw. Done.
Sixers 88, Bulls 94: Joakim Noah had 14/12, including five offensive boards, and Iggy's 24/5/6 couldn't overcome Chicago's balanced scoring: four players had 14, two had nineteen, and of the players with more than four minutes of PT, only Taj Gibson was under 14 (unfortunately, he was way under fourteen: fourteen under fourteen, as a matter of fact).
Wolves 87, Grizzles 97: Marc Gasol had 17/16 but he turned the ball over six times and fouled out, so half of his stat-sheet-stuffing came in the wrong columns. Ramon Sessions had eight assists for Minnesota.
Warriors 125, Bucks 129: Granted that it was the Warriors, it's pretty impressive that Brandon Jennings broke LeBron James's record for youngest-ever to reach fifty points in a game, especially since LeBron wasn't a rookie when he did it. Jennings did it mainly on the strength of 7-8 shooting from three. Further, despite taking 34 shots, he still managed five assists, which is solid, and while a 5:4 assist:turnover ratio isn't great, it's at least not a ridiculous number of turnovers given how often he was creating offense. Monta Ellis and Jennings were presumably guarding each other, and Ellis shot 11-19, including 3-4 from three, so it doesn't look like either guy was all that excited about the defensive half of the game.
Thunder 101, Spurs 98: The Spurs are now 4-4, which kind of takes the air out of a nice Hijack City victory. The Thunder have now beaten the Spurs on the road and took apart Orlando in Oklahoma, but their other wins were over Sacramento, Detroit, and the Clippers. I think I'm still waiting for that definitive victory to announce that the team has arrived: over Boston or the Lakers anywhere, or over Denver or Portland on the road. Should Orlando count as that victory? Does it matter that it was at home? I guess the question is whether the Magic without Rashard Lewis count in Boston/L.A.'s class or Denver/Portland's. They've played very well and won games, but I just can't see them as one of the elite teams, especially since Vince Carter also missed that game. No, I propose we continue to wait on the Thunder.
As to the actual game, Timmy Duncan had 22/10, but the Spurs put Kevin Durant on the line fifteen times (which you like to see out of KD -- it shows he's not just shooting long jumpers all game long), bailing him out of a 6-18 field-goal-shooting night.