Monday night in the NBA saw seven games played. In order from closest to most-blow-outest, then:
Utah improved to 4-0 by beating Detroit in Salt Lake. Andrei Kirilenko, my favorite player who I never get to see on TV, had two blocks, four assists, eight rebounds, and eleven points, and was one of six Jazz in double digits. These were led by Mehmet Okur's 23, and included backcourt benchies Derek Fisher and Gordan Giricek scoring a combined 25, making up for CJ Miles's empty game: 0-3 shooting for no points, three fouls in twelve minutes, and no assists, rebounds, steals, or blocks.
The Pistons, trying to re-establish themselves in the post-Ben Wallace era, fell to 2-2. Five players scored in double digits, but their problem was defense, as they allowed the Jazz to shoot 48.2% and score 103 points. 'Sheed was good, with 25 points, 12 boards, and four blocks. The backcourt was bad, as Chauncey and Rip combined to shoot 7-25 and dish five assists.
Orlando beat Washington by three, powered by Carlos Arroyo (again), who scored 23 off the bench. Hedo Turkoglu came back from a bad game to score 18, Dwight Howard grabbed fourteen rebounds, including six offensive, and Grant Hill fouled out in just 27 minutes.
The Wizard bench scored just 16 points (remember that Arroyo scored 23 off the bench by himself; Keyon Dooling also added 15 as a reserve for Orlando), but it was Gilbert Arenas shooting just 6-20 and turning the ball over six times that sunk Washington. Antawn Jamison had 29 and 10, and Etan Thomas had a nutty game: 14 points (remember that he's probably the fourth or fifth option on the floor at any time), 15 rebounds (nine offensive, which likely explains a lot of the points), and six blocks.
Dallas also lost by three as Golden State sent the Mavs to an 0-3 start. Mike Dunleavy came off the bench for the Warriors (and played just 13 minutes). Mikael Pietrus started instead, and had a mediocre game: 12 points, five boards, five fouls, and four turnovers. Don Nelson went with an eight-man rotation, only six of whom played more than the 13 minutes that Dunleavy did. Baron Davis led the team with 26 points despite shooting 9-22, and also had eight assists and seven boards.
Dirk Nowitzki had a good game against his former coach, with team-highs in points (26), rebounds (11), and assists (6). Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse's bad games, though (5-15, 3-12) helped sink Dallas.
That's it for the close games, as the rest all finished with double-digit margins. San Antonio beat the Knicks by 12. Tony Parker had 24 points and ten assists and Brent Barry dominated off the bench again, scoring nineteen by shooting 5-7 from behind the arc (and 0-1 from inside; he also shot four free throws).
Steve Francis looked on his way to a good game, shooting 3-3 in eleven minutes in the first quarter, before he injured his left ankle and sat the rest of the game. Attempting to fill the gap were Jamal Crawford (3-8) and Nate Robinson (5-15). Channing Frye also had an awful game, shooting 0-5 and grabbing two rebounds in 13 minutes.
The Kings beat the Wolves by 12 as well. The five starters all scored in double digits, as did John Salmons off the bench. Ron Artest paced the team with 22 and also added four steals (Shareef Abdur-Rahim also had four pilferies). The starting backcourt struggled with the shot again, as Kevin Martin and Mike Bibby combined for 9-22, and Bibby turned the ball over six more times.
Mike James had the only performance of note for Minnesota, scoring 23 on 13 shots. Minnesota got to the free throw line just 14 times in the game, which is far too few.
The Clippers beat the Blazers by 13 despite a huge game from Zach Randolph: 35 points on just 17 shots, 13 boards, three blocks, two steals. Unfortunately for Portland, no one else contributed. That's in sharp contrast to the Clippers, who played an eight-man rotation (minute distribution: 33, 33, 32, 32, 31, 29, 28, 22) and spread the ball around, letting everyone pitch it (point distribution: 20, 17, 16, 15, 13, 8, 8, 5). Every Clipper had at least two assists (except Corey Maggette) and one steal (Quinton Ross and Elton Brand had two each). Five different Clippers even blocked a shot, with Brand swatting five by himself. Nobody turned the ball over more than three times. Nobody had more than six nor fewer than two defensive rebounds. Everybody but Tim Thomas grabbed at least one offensive board.
This is kind of remarkable, actually. I can't remember seeing something quite like it. It's one thing to spread around the scoring, but how often do you see rebounding, steals, etc. distributed that way?
Finally, Chicago killed the Bucks by 25. Michael Redd scored 30 for Milwaukee, and Charlie Villanueva shot well again (8-11), but Mo Williams and Charlie Bell shot a combined 6-25, and Ben Gordon was just too much: 37 points and nine assists. Luol Deng, my favorite Bull, scored 17, and Andres Nocioni (the new Bruce Bowen) chipped in 17 more off the bench. Ben Wallace had a Ben Wallace night, with ten rebounds, five blocks, and three steals. Worth the money? This year, at least.