By Jason Wojciechowski on December 10, 2009 at 7:50 PM
Fresh off the local bar association's annual welcome/holiday party, here's last night's action.
Bulls 83, Hawks 118: That's a nice statement by the Hawks that they are actually one of the teams to contend with in the East. A contender should blow out the Bulls at home, and I think a 35-point win counts as a blowout. Jamal Crawford had 29 off the bench for Atlanta, who outshot Chicago 50% to 36% while forcing 19 turnovers and giving up just eight of their own. The rookie James Johnson had 17 on just seven shots as a Bull reserve, and he's one to keep an eye on, I think. It seems like he produces when he gets minutes.
Blazers 102, Pacers 91: I read elsewhere some doubts about the Blazers after this game. "Shouldn't they have won by more, even going on the road on a back-to-back and even missing Oden, Fernandez, and Outlaw?" No, they shouldn't. That's three of the team's, what, top six? Along with Aldridge, Roy, and Webster? (In no particular order.) No, I think a double-digit win against a bad-but-not-talentless team is just fine for a Portland squad in this state. Roy had 29/7/5 to lead Portland. Dahntay Jones paced the Pacers (ha! Google that phrase -- I bet I've used it four times already) with 19. When Dahntay Jones is leading your team in scoring, you're probably losing. Psycho T had 13/11 off the bench for Indy, although he shot just 4-14. Hard work on the boards though. Maybe he really can play, much as him being on this Pacers team is basically Larry Bird making a parody of himself.
Pistons 90, Sixers 86: The guys on ESPN last night were saying something about how awesome Rodney Stuckey is, but there are just too many nights when he's Allen Iverson instead of Chauncey Billups. Iverson's a great player, of course, but a fatally flawed one, and Stuckey could use a little more efficiency in his game. That said, last night's 27 came on 19 shots, which isn't world-beating, but it's better than his usual work, especially when you consider his eight dimes. The Pistons only took eight threes all game, which is good, because they only made one. Meanwhile, Iggy and Thaddeus Young took 15 of the Sixers' 18 threes (making five), and the actual Iverson, not this weird imposter in a Pistons jersey, shot 3-10, which is downright restrained.
Warriors 105, Nets 89: I really thought New Jersey would put up a better show than this. E-Sex (he's back!) asked me how many games I thought the Nets win. I went with something in the 12-14 range, as I recall. I'm doubting myself. They've got their players back. They fired their coach. They were at home to a west coast team that doesn't play defense. And they still scored 89 points, shooting 43% and turning the ball over 22 times. Maybe this team really will win only the number of games they're currently on pace for (7-8).
Brook Lopez had 21/10, but six giveaways; Devin Harris got to the line 15 times but shot 4-11; CDR shot 5-13 for ten points. These are the reasons why this team is just a terrible offensive team. (Much as I like CDR and his Tweets.) Anyway, only three bench guys for the Warriors played, but they scored 11, 13, and 18, so that worked out pretty well. Monta Ellis did his usual work, scoring 18 of his own on 20 shots, turning the ball over five times. He did have eight assists and four steals, though.
Raptors 95, Bucks 117: Speaking of historic, the Bucks aren't exactly an offensive powerhouse, but they shot 53% in this one and only turned the ball over nine times en route to that impressive point total. Brandon Jennings got back on track with 22 to lead the team, with four threes, and six guys scored between twelve and seventeen points behind Jennings, the most notable being Roko Ukic (the immortal!), who had 17. Chris Bosh had his usual 26/10/L, Hedo continued to look like a bust (nine points), and Sonny Weems (I have no idea who this is) put in 12 off the bench on 5-6 shooting.
Hornets 97, Wolves 96: That's a tight win for the Hornets over a bad Wolves squad. They needed everyone one of Marcus Thornton's 20 off the bench. Chris Paul's 14 assists and Peja's 5-6 shooting from downtown jump off the page. Peja had an old-school game, a game that's been sadly less and less frequent for him. Peja used to be my favorite King back in those Kings-Lakers rivalry days. I liked Chris Webber, but not that much. I had a weird dislike of Vlade Divac's flopping ways, although I look back on him fondly now. Mike Bibby I flat-out disliked. Hedo was ok, but he didn't really play enough. No, Peja was the guy that kept me from going all hater on them, so to see his back-injury-and-age-induced decline is pretty sad, especially since it's been taking place in locations like New Orleans and Indiana. Not a ton of spotlight for the guy.
Ryan Gomes continued to score for the Wolves, putting in a team-best 21. Al Jefferson, speaking of old school, had 17/16, and Kevin Love, still coming off the bench for moment, added 12/11.
Cavs 85, Rockets 95: This was a delightful game for me. Mike Brown got tossed, and three Cavs got technicals, LeBron shot 8-21 and turned the ball over five times, Mo Gotti missed eight of his ten shots, and Delonte West was the team's second-leading scorer with 14. Meanwhile, the Rocket backcourt of Ariza and Brooks had 53 on 36 shots. That's especially important for Ariza, who hit four of his six threes. He's really been struggling with his role, as I've mentioned before, so to rise to the occasion against a good defensive team has to give Houston fans heart.
Kings 106, Spurs 118: Coach Pop has to be tearing his hair out at the Kings get 62 points in the paint and 24 points on the fast break. San Antonio won anyway, helped along mightily by 8-9 shooting from three (Roger Mason had the team's only miss) and by getting outfouled 26-14. Richard Jefferson had the first good game in recent memory with 23/8/3. The delightful part of the game was apparently Omri Casspi matching up against Manu Ginobili. Each of them finished with 20, but Manu finished with a +21 +/-, while Casspi's mark was -3, so Manu will take it.
Jazz 77, Lakers 101: This was a close game. L.A. led by two going into the final period, but they proceeded to win the fourth 28-6. 28-6! That's completely insane. This isn't the Nets or the Wolves. It's the Jazz, a 12-8 team coming into the game, a team with Boozer and Williams and Okur. The Lakers just worked 'em. The L.A. box score ended up looking like it always does: Kobe -- 27/6/8/2/2; Artest -- 16/7/3; Pau -- 19/12/4 on ten shots; Odom -- 7/10. Bynum was kept off the glass (just four boards), and Jordan Farmar continued his solid play with eleven points in 21 bench minutes, but other than that, win #17 ends up looking a lot like most of wins one through sixteen. And don't think I'm complaining about that!