NBA Catchup Post #3 (and final)
December 1stWizards 106, Raptors 102: Toronto officially sucks. Antawn Jamison had 30/12, and Chris Bosh needed 22 shots for his 22. Hedo continued to struggle, shooting 3-11 overall and 2-8 from three, although he did have nine boards and six assists. I won't use the b-word for him just yet, but you do start looking at his age, performance, and contract, and add in the fact that Chris Bosh probably leaves Canada next year, and wonder what's going to happen with this team for the next couple of years. Celtics 108, Bobcats 90: Well, that's as expected. Ray Allen had his first big game that I can remember, with 27 points on just nine field goal attempts and adding five assists to boot. No Bobcat scored over 16 (that was Nazr Mohammed, who endeared himself to me by getting into Garnett's face) and Gerald Wallace got stuffed (five points, eight boards). Suns 99, Knicks 126: That's a bit of a Twilight Zone score, but the Knicks played a great game: 50% shooting, 45% from three, just ten turnovers, a 50-40 rebounding edge, six guys in double digits. Big Cock hit six of his twelve three point attempts on his way to 27 points, a game high, and three off his career high, set on Halloween this year, when he hit eight threes. This game started to spell the end for Nate Robinson, though, as despite a couple of good scoring games before this one, and despite a 27-point victory, he got just eleven minutes and shot 0-2. Warriors 107, Nuggets 135: That, on the other hand, is a Reverse Twilight Zone score (i.e. exactly what you expect). Three bench players scored 10+ for Denver, Birdman being the one you wouldn't really expect, as he had 14 on 5-6 shooting to go with eight boards and five blocks. (And no fouls! Last guy with five or blocks and no fouls? Ronny Turiaf, April of last year, against the Jazz.) Anthony Morrow had 27 for the Warriors, tying his season high. Heat 107, Blazers 100: Oden eventually going down looks worse and worse as I go through these games, as I realize that the Blazers were really struggling. (I'll again mention Brandon Roy going back to the two-guard spot, though. Roy had 25 points on 25 shots in this one.) Michael Beasley led the Miami victory with 27 points on 8-15 shooting, one off his career high, which he put up twice last year. Dwyane Wade listened to me and shot just one three. Missed it, of course. Hornets 99, Lakers 110: Bynum: 21 on 9-10 shooting, nine boards, and (you may want to sit down for this) three assists. Lamar Odom had 8/8/6 (i.e. The Lamar Odom) and Kobe took the most shots of any Laker with eleven. When Jordan Farmar (4-9) shoots almost as much as Kobe Bryant, things are either going very well or very poorly. James Posey moved into the starting lineup for New Orleans, but it didn't matter.
December 2ndRaptors 115, Hawks 146: That's just awesome. Atlanta's lowest quarter was the fourth, when they put up 32 points. Nine guys scored 11 or more points. Mo Evans wasn't one of those nine, but he added nine points of his own. Only Jason Collins (who was shut out, sadly) scored less than six. Jeff Teague, whose name I only vaguely recall, scored 13. Josh Smith came off the bench and still had 16 (and four blocks). Chris Bosh, meanwhile, shot 0-2 in sixteen minutes (he had foul trouble in the first half, and the game was already a blowout in the second). Suns 90, Cavs 107: Whatever struggles the Cavs might have, they should be (and apparently are) still good enough to beat the Suns in Cleveland. LeBron James didn't shoot a single free throw and thus had just 12 points on fifteen shots (I actually thought that was a typo at first), although he added eight boards and ten assists. Nobody scored more than 14 (that was Big Z, appropriate, since this was the game where he broke the games-played record) for Cleveland, but nobody with more than a minute played scored less than eight, either, which is pretty remarkable spread. Knicks 104, Magic 118: Two shockers in a row was maybe too much to ask. Rashard Lewis had 20/11 and Dwight Howard had 19/10 despite the two combining for just 15 field goal attempts. Lewis and Mickael Pietrus hit five threes apiece. Wilson Chandler had 24 for the Knickerbockers, and Nate Robinson had his ass parked on the bench for the entire game, while Toney Douglas got 21 minutes. Darko? Nah. Jordan Hill got ten ticks, though. Bucks 102, Wizards 104: The Warrick-Ridnour bench team went off again, this time for 20 apiece, but they couldn't pull the game out. Andray Blatche shot 5-5 for Washington, Antawn Jamison had 15 points on eight shots, and Gilbert Arenas had 22. I won't tell you how many shots Arenas took, out of a sense of kindness. Mavs 117, Nets 101: And that one breaks the record. Hey, at least they got to do it at home, right? CDR had 24 and Brook Lopez had 16 on just six official field goal attempts, but Trenton Hassell is still the starting small forward, and Dirk and Jason Kidd both came reasonably close to triple-doubles: 24/7/8 and 16/8/10 respectively. Kidd also had five steals, which likely contributed to Devin Harris and CDR turning the ball over nine times combined. Pistons 85, Bulls 92: Just one Piston starter scored in double digits (Stuckey, 17 points on 16 shots), but part of that is Charlie Villanueva missing the game with a broken nose and John Kuester pushing Ben Gordon to the bench in favor of Chucky Atkins. ("In favor of" doesn't really describe it, since Atkins played 11 minutes to Gordon's 31.) Either way, though, they lost, and John Salmons led the Bulls with 22 points. Grizzlies 97, Wolves 95: Gay and Conley returned for the Grizz, although Conley came off the bench, and given that it was a two-point victory, the twenty points apiece Memphis got from those two guys looked pretty important. Marc Gasol had an off game, shooting just 1-4. At some point, though, you have to look at the teammates and ask why he's not getting the ball. Of the guys who played 20+ minutes, he shot the fewest times by far (the next-fewest being 12 shots apiece by Sam Young and Mike Conley). Anyway, they won despite Ryan Gomes's 20 and Brian Cardinal coming within a personal foul of a four-trillion. Sixers 106, Thunder 117: 28 for Iggy wasn't enough despite Russell Westbrook's 1-11 struggles, because Westbrook still had 15 dimes, helping Kevin Durant to 33 points. The teams shot nearly identically, but Hijack City took eleven more field-goal attempts, a number that just so happens to equal the offensive-rebounding gap (18-7). Pacers 105, Kings 110: Danny Granger had 33, but no help. Tyreke Evans had 26, and got assists from Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes, who had 22 and 21 apiece. That young front line for Sacramento is pretty good. Combine them with Evans and, eventually, Kevin Martin in the backcourt, throw in a nice glue guy like Andres Nocioni at the small forward, and you've got yourself a team. Which explains why they're 9-8 (as of this game) and right in the playoff picture in the West along with San Antonio, Houston, Utah, Hijack City, and probably Portland. Rockets 102, Clippers 85: Aaron Brooks led the team with 22, and Chase Budinger was the designated second banana in this one, scoring 19 on 6-9 shooting, including 3-4 from three. Baron Davis had the kind of game I referred to earlier, with 20 points on 17 shots, six assists, and five turnovers. Teen Wolf!
December 3rdCeltics 90, Spurs 83: Tim Duncan had 16/15 and DeJuan Blair had 18/11 for the Spurs, who grabbed 20 offensive rebounds (to 30 defensive by Boston), but they still couldn't pull out the victory. KG's 20 had something to say about that, but 2-16 shooting from three had more to say, as did 7-17 shooting from the free-throw line, which is horrifying. And five of those seven were made by George Hill. The Celtics had fewer turnovers than usual, but I think they have to count themselves a little lucky in this one. Matt Bonner doesn't shoot contested threes, but he missed all of his, and obviously there's no defense for free-throws. You can't count on the other team shooting that poorly every game. Heat 96, Nuggets 114: Hey, look, Dwyane Wade went 0-3 from three, and shot 8-20 overall. Also, the Heat lost. He should hire Arron Afflalo for shooting lessons, as Afflalo went 3-3 from three in the game and 7-9 overall. Afterward, both of their mothers should call me for spelling lessons. Rockets 111, Warriors 109: Hey, look, Monta Ellis shot 9-27. And the Warriors lost. (I can do this all day). Vlad-Rad had an awesome game, though, shooting 8-13 overall, and 4-7 from three, en route to 20 points. Anthony Morrow was nearly identical, with 8-13, 4-8, and 21 points. Apparently Vlad Rad was the difference all game until Nellie inexplicably sat him in the fourth quarter. You'll notice that the Rockets won the fourth 28-20. But let's give credit to the victors, too: Carl Landry had 22 on 8-10 shooting and Aaron Brooks led the team with 25, helped by five threes.
December 4thRaptors 109, Wizards 107: Raptors win! (It's not the biggest win of the night. I'm saving my all-caps for that one. You know it's coming.) Chris Bosh: 31/16. That's how you do it! He'd had a couple of down games, but that's a nice comeback. Gilbert Arenas had 34, and Brendan Haywood had 16 rebounds, but it took the two of them to match Bosh. Also, Earl Boykins played 39 minutes. Knicks 114, Hawks 107: The Knicks are on fire (relatively) and the Hawks are officially struggling. Chris Duhon had his first good game that I can remember, scoring 25 and dishing 10 dimes. Al Harrington moved into the starting lineup and scored 27 as Big Cock sat this one out. Jared Jeffries also moved into the starting lineup, pushing Larry Hughes to the bench, which I guess means that he was the power forward, with Harrington at the three, leaving Wilson Chandler as the shooting guard? Well, that's the beauty of the D'Antoni system, or one of the beauties anyway: positional flexibility. It helps that the Hawks don't have a big punishing power forward in the mold of Kevin Garnett or Pau Gasol to make the Knicks pay for their lack of size and strength up front. Joe Johnson looks like he took advantage of being matched up with slower defenders for some portion of the game, though, as he went for 29/8/8, although he missed all five of his threes. Josh Smith wasn't much of a factor, either, as he got tossed. Wolves 89, Hornets 98: Al Jefferson had 20/14, so I guess his knee felt better for this one, but Chris Paul's return (16/6/15 and eight steals) was too much. Last guy with eight steals in a game was Delonte West, last March against the Bucks. Last guy with at least eight steals and at least 15 assists was Brevin Knight, March 24th, 2005, playing for the Bobcats, against the Magic. In the Play Index database, by the way, which goes back to the '87 season, the only guy to pull the 15/8 feat more than once is John Stockton, who did it five times, including twice in '88 season, just two weeks apart (and the first of those two was 21/8). Stockton also had a 28-assist, eight-steal game in 1991. Remind me who's overrated again? Goodness gracious. Bulls 87, Cavs 101: This is the game when Joakim Noah moved from "he's a lot better than I thought he'd be and he's also fun to watch" to "I root for him" when he bitched at LeBron James to quit his dancing. James was shooting a free throw late in the game and had recently danced on the court following a dunk. Joakim didn't take kindly to it and told him to knock it off. LeBron, being the "tough guy" that he is, decided to walk over and have a word. Guys dance on the bench all the time, and I find it acceptable. When you're winning, you get to have fun. Showboating after a dunk or a three is even acceptable up to a point. But dancing? Call me a crotchety old man, but let's leave that for football. Noah was within his rights to call LeBron out, and LeBron needs, very simply, to learn better sportsmanship. If you're going to dance on the court when you win, then you'd damn well better shake the hands of your opponents when you lose. Anyway, the Cavs won. Bucks 96, Pistons 105: Brandon Jennings shot poorly again (6-20, 3-10 from three) and didn't get to the line, but he did have eight assists. Wasn't enough to beat the powerhouse Pistons, though, who saw Rodney Stuckey finally calm down a bit with the shooting, hitting 7-11 for a 19/6/9 line. Bobcats 91, Nets 97: NETS WIN! (Told you.) Kiki Vandeweghe took over at coach just in time, and is now 1-0. Stephen Jackson and Ray Felton scored 28 apiece for the 'cats, but Brook Lopez's 31/14 and Courtney Lee's 27 overcame a combined 4-26 shooting by Devin Harris and Terrence Williams. Gerald Wallace: 13/20/5. Celtics 105, Thunder 87: Kevin Durant had 36, and Russell Westbrook had an ok 15, but nobody else had more than seven. By contrast, seven Celtics hit 10+, led by Kevin Garnett's 23 on 10-11 shooting. I feel like this is KG-redux: just eight rebounds, but tremendous shooting. The Celtics can live with that if Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Rasheed Wallace contribute on the glass. Mavs 82, Grizzlies 98: That's not a score the Mavs should lose by when they're playing the Grizzlies, road or otherwise. Especially when the Grizz get just six from Marc Gasol and fifteen from their bench. But O.J. Mayo led the way with 25 for Memphis and Dirk and JET combined for 12-38 shooting, so that was that. I'm not sure, by the way, that 20 games into the season I've mentioned Shawn Marion more than two or three times. He had eleven boards, seven offensive, in this game, but in general, he seems like he's been a nonfactor, which is not what Dallas needs from him. Pacers 87, Jazz 96: Danny Granger had 26, but Carlos Boozer went off for 35/13, which by my count is his third straight very good game. Paul Millsap added 12 boards off the bench, and Deron Williams had 13 dimes. Heat 107, Lakers 108: The Lakers got very lucky to win this game, as Kobe had to hit a crazy off-balance, fading to his left three to win it at the buzzer. As I tweeted, though, the Heat took the lead originally about 45 seconds earlier as a ball bounced loose under the basket, ending up Dwyane Wade's hands, who put up a little one-hander that went in. In that situation, anyone could come up with the ball, or it could go out of bounds, and then once he got the ball, it wasn't the easiest of shots. Of course, the Lakers shouldn't have been in a dogfight down to the last minute with the Heat anyway, especially with Dwyane Wade shooting 7-21 and hitting just 12 of 18 free throws. (Let it not be forgotten that Wade missed a free throw with three seconds to play that, had he then made the second shot as he did, would have made it a three-point Heat lead going into L.A.'s last possesion.) L.A. only turned the ball over seven times, but they gave the Heat 42 free throws to just 28 of their own (I emphasize "they" -- the whistles didn't seem terribly imbalanced, although Kobe thought he got fouled a few times when he didn't get the call). Ron Artest didn't have his best shooting night ever, especially with his quartest of missed wide-open threes, Kobe shot below 50%, and 8-16 and 7-14 from Pau and Bynum, respectively, are not great nights for them, especially against an undersized Heat team.
December 5thSixers 105, Bobcats 106: Allen Iverson signed, but was listed as "DNP Not with Team" by ESPN. Willie Green might be feeling some heat, though, because he shot 10-15 for a team-high 26 in this game. The Bobcat forwards would not be denied, though, as Gerald Wallace had 24/14 and Boris Diaw shot 10-12 for 28 points. Raptors 110, Bulls 78: That's the kind of hurting the Raptors can put on a bad offensive team, one that has trouble taking advantage of Toronto's defensie inadequacies. John Salmons led the Bulls with a grand total of 13, which is not good. Chris Bosh rounded back into form with 25/12 on 9-12 shooting and Marco Belinelli had 15 solid points off the bench. Jazz 101, Wolves 108: That's a pretty ugly loss for the Jazz, who had its enire K-patrol on the bench: Kirilenko, Korver, Koufos, and Fesenko (yes, it starts with an F, but it has a K prominently featured; besides, Kyle Korver and Kosta Koufos have enough Ks to go around -- they can share). Carlos Boozer had 21/13, but Minnesota had 7 guys in double digits, including the returning Kevin Love, who had 18/10 in 26 minutes. Ryan Gomes continued to score, putting up 23 on 9-10 shooting. With Love back and Gomes hitting his shots, maybe it's time for Minnesota to go on a little roll! Youneverknow. Nuggets 106, Spurs 99: I think I have 12 or 13 forks available. We'll need them. The Spurs are done. Twenty-seven and twenty-six from Parker and Duncan, and they can't win at home? Outrebounded by the Nuggets? Nineteen turnovers? These aren't your daddy's Spurs. Hell, these aren't MY Spurs. Carmelo, by the way, is still scoring: 34 points in this one. Hawks 80, Mavs 75: Struggles over! Or maybe struggles are contagious, and these two teams just spent all game swapping bodily fluids, struggling together and the Hawks only won because someone had to. Neither team could crack 40% shooting despite Jason Terry moving to the starting lineup, supplanting Rodrique Beaubois, who got a zero trillion for his efforts. Joe Johnson scored 31 and Marvin Williams grabbed 15 boards. Kings 107, Suns 115: Steve Nash either felt the need to take the scoring load or really liked his matchup with Tyreke Evans, because he took 23 shots en route to 32 points and only picked up six assists. Amare only hit five of thirteen, but he was active on the boards with 21 rebounds, nine offensive. Somebody on the Suns woke up the zombie Kenny Thomas, though, as he managed 18 rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench. Rockets 89, Blazers 90: At least Portland won the game. They lost Greg Oden, likely for the year, to a knee injury. Yes, another one. At this point it's just sad. Brandon Roy (starting two-guard) and Andre Miller (bench guard) combined for 52 points, which was much better than the Houston backcourt: Ariza, Lowry, and Brooks put up 22 total, with Ariza shooting a particularly egregious 3-12. Magic 126, Warriors 118: Twenty-seven for Vince Carter, maybe related to being drafted by this team all those years ago? It was a balanced night for Orlando, as no Magician took more than 13 shots (although Carter used more possessions than that, going to the line 12 times and dishing seven assists). Monta Ellis had 33 in the loss, and Anthony Randolph added 28/13/5 off the bench. Pacers 72, Clippers 88: Al Thornton, who I think actually debuted in 1973 with the Knicks, led all "scorers" with 19. This kind of game leaves you searching the box score for notable things. I guess Marcus Camby's 17 rebounds is notable. That'll have to do. And that's it! Conclusions from the week I missed. The Hawks started fast but have cooled off. The Mavs aren't actually that good. San Antonio is completely finished. Minnesota is probably worse than New Jersey, despite beating the Jazz. The Jazz have a lot of guys with K's in their names. The East has a lot of really boring teams. I think that's it.
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