By Jason Wojciechowski on December 11, 2009 at 7:45 PM
I don't know if it's because of a deal with the NBA, but TNT Thursdays always seem to involve a slate of two to four games. Last night was no exception, with just a Nugs-Pistons matchup breaking up the TNT doubleheader slate.
Nuggets 99, Pistons 101: Three contenders played last night, and only one of them won. Since the Pistons aren't a contender, you know I'm not talking about this game. Denver has to be a little embarrassed. Close game, sure. Back-to-back on the road, sure. But this is Detroit, a 10-12 team missing Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon, and even Will Bynum. Chucky Atkins was in the starting lineup. So was Jonas Jerebko. And yet there was Rodney Stuckey having another efficient game with 25 points on 14 shots. And there was Charlie Villanueva, with 27/5/5 on 19 shots. And on the other side, there were JR Smith and Chauncey Billups combining to shoot 11-32. The box score tells the story of ball domination by those two and Carmelo, as they combined for 60 of the team's 76 shots. Carmelo put in 40, but when the other two struggled, nobody else could provide enough help to beat Detroit. Detroit!
Celtics 104, Wizards 102: And there's your contender winning, although it's not the most impressive win ever. One, Boston should beat the Wizards by more than two. Two, Boston should beat the Wizards by more than two when the Wizards did something no one's seen in at least seven years, and maybe ever: Washington failed to grab a single rebound, on either the offensive or defensive end, in the second quarter. I can't even imagine that. (I wasn't watching yet when this happened.) How does this occur? Don't you end up with a rebound by accident? Either way, I don't know if the Celtics thought they had the game in the bag going into the half up 14, but the Wizards came out and won the third period 24-19. Washington, in fact, won the first, third, and fourth quarters. If they'd grabbed a rebound or five in the second, this game would have been theirs.
Anyway, individuals. KG: 17/5. Eh. Kendrick Perkins: 16/11 on 5-7 shooting. Rajon Rondo led the team in field goals attempted with 20, which is not what Doc Rivers wants to see. Ever. On the other side, Gilbert sorta went off for 25, and he had some impressive makes, but he still shot just 11-23, and he made just one of his six free-throw attempts. That's pretty rough considering his team lost by two.
Magic 111, Jazz 120: Orlando's performance is the most defensible. Utah's a legitimately difficult place to play, what with all those ... no, let's just start over. Utah's a legitimately difficult place to play, and the Jazz are a quality team with excellent players and one of the best coaches ever. Deron Williams got 32 on 18 shots and dished 15 dimes. Carlos Boozer had 20/14. You don't like to see, as the visiting team, CJ Miles get 22 off the bench, or 46 free-throw attempts by Utah, but sometimes those things happen and you just move on.
This was the game, however, where Rashard Lewis refused to re-enter in the second quarter, telling Stan Van Gundy that he had two fouls and that Ryan Anderson was playing well. (Anderson was lighting it up from outside, it's true.) Both sides are downplaying the incident, saying that it's not insubordination, it was just Rashard talking sense. If you're Stan's pets, however, you're probably being really careful not to get underfoot of him for the next few days. As a guy rooting for the Lakers to repeat and thinking about how the Magic might be a team coming out of the East, I have to admit, this is pretty delicious.