The Pacers beat Orlando by 10 despite shooting under 40%. Al Harrington was too much for the Magic, scoring 32. He got good help from young forward Danny Granger, who added 18. These performances were huge because the big names for Indiana, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, combined to shoot 6-25. The bench for Indiana made just four shots, though White Hustle Guy ™ Jeff Foster grabbed eight boards (four offensive - I told you he was a White Hustle Guy ™), blocked three shots, and picked up two steals.
I asked someone the other day where Trevor Ariza was hanging out these days. Turns out he's on the Magic bench. He didn't do much in this game, but I saw his name, so I thought I'd mention it, if for no other reason than to show that even if drafting is Zeke Thomas's strength, he's not necessarily that good at it. Dwight Howard had an odd game for the Magic: he scored 17, grabbed 14 boards, and blocked three shots, all of which are good, and about what you expect from Howard; problem is that he also turned the ball over eight times, which is unacceptable, particularly for a center. How did Howard have the ball often enough to turn it over that many times?
Denver got its first win by taking down the 76ers. Nobody had a "jump out at you" game for the Nuggets, which turned out to be a good thing, as it pretty much looks like everyone did their jobs: Carmelo scored 31, Eduardo Najera grabbed five offensive boards, Marcus Camby had eleven rebounds, three steals, and a block, and Andre Miller had 18 points and nine assists. The bench didn't shoot well, hitting just eight of 25 shots.
Allen Iverson's 6-20 shooting undermined good games from a variety of other guys: Chris Webber (8-16), Sam Dalembert (7-8), and Kyle Korver (9-16 for a team-leading 23 points). One problem for the Sixers is that they seem to be playing only three or four guys who are threats offensively. Andre Igoudala took just two shots in 29 minutes (though he did have seven assists and five turnovers, so the ball was in his hands); Kevin Ollie shot twice in 16 minutes; and Steven Hunter shot once in 19 minutes. I guess when you've got Mean Willie Green gunning 14 shots in 29 minutes, it gets hard for other guys to find shots.
Washington won what looks like it was a wild game over Milwaukee. The final score was 116-111, but the third quarter scores were 34-17 and 40-26, with Milwaukee winning the third and Washington the fourth. Eleven players scored in double digits between the teams, led by (who else?) Gilbert Arenas, with 29. Michael Redd had 28 to lead the Bucks. The teams' shooting percentages were separated by just 0.3%, and though Milwaukee managed 12 additional shots, the differences came on foul shots and three-pointers: Washington shot thirteen more free throws (making twelve more), and Washington made five more threes, though the teams each shot the trey eighteen times.
The individual difference in threes can be explained this way: Mo Williams missed all six of his attempts for Milwaukee, while Antawn Jamison hit 4-6 for the Wiz.
Atlanta won again, going to 4-1 by beating Toronto. Joe Johnson had yet another big game, scoring 34, and was backed up by Josh Smith, who poured in 29. Johnson and Smith also contributed in other ways, combining for ten assists, fifteen boards, and just four turnovers. Swingman #3, Josh Childress, scored 16 off the bench for the Hawks.
Chris Bosh had 19 points, 17 boards, and six assists for Toronto. Is Bosh reminding anyone of Kevin Garnett (very good inside/outside big man playing in a city out of the way of any major media market and without the surrounding parts to make the team a threat to do much at all)?
Seattle sent Bobcats fans home unhappy, riding a 35-19 third quarter to a 14-point win. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis combined for 47 points on 29 shots, and Nick Collison was tremendous off the bench, scoring ten points and grabbing fifteen boards in 27 minutes. All of this overshadowed Adam Morrison's first pro start. Morrison didn't help things by shooting just 3-12, though he did manage three steals. Emeka Okafor had the best game for Charlotte, scoring twenty and grabbing fifteen boards himself.
A forward by the name of Walter Herrmann got into the game for Charlotte. I wanted to note this because I'm pretty sure his name means "Mr. Man" in German. Babelfish confirms this. I am hereby a fan of Walter Mr. Man.
Utah improved to 5-1 and sent Boston to their fourth loss, winning 107-100. The Jazz shot 53% for the game, including 6-14 behind the arc, and there were a number of excellent individual performances: Carlos Boozer had 24 points (9-13) and 14 rebounds; Mehmet Okur had 23 points and hit 4-5 from behind the arc (he's the center!); Deron Williams had 26 points on 10-15 shooting and dished 14 assists; Andrei Kirilenko blocked five shots.
I don't know who Kirilenko was guarding, but Wally Szczerbiak shot just 5-15 from the field. Paul Pierce got his 30, and three different players scored in double digits off the bench, led by Rajon Rondo's 13 in 25 minutes. Bassy Telfair played just seven minutes, despite starting, which smells like an injury. Indeed, the recap notes that he left the game with "shortness of breath" and was later diagnosed with "bronchospasm." WebMD says that a bronchospasm is a narrowing of the airways, and a search for the word turns up a bunch of results about asthma.
Miami beat New Jersey by seven, though I'm sure the 113-106 final score wasn't so much to Pat Riley's liking. The five Miami starters played 77.5% of the team's minutes (compare that to 66.25% for the Nets), essentially playing a six-man rotation, with James Posey the sixth guy, playing 28 minutes. Dwyane Wade scored 34 points with ten assists and turned the ball over just once. In fact, only Alonzo Mourning, with three turnovers in just seven minutes, turned the ball over more than once for Miami, which is pretty remarkable. The surprise performance, though, came from Udonis Haslem, who generally plays the "banger" role (and occasionally the "thrower of mouthpieces" role). Haslem shot 10-14 in this one, though, and went to the line eleven times, resulting in 28 points.
Jason Kidd just missed another triple double, finishing with 12 points, nine boards, and nine assists. Vince Carter led the Nets with 33 points, but also turned the ball over five times. Meanwhile, Marcus "Dude, It's a Dell" Williams missed all five of his three attempts off the bench, and also turned the ball over three times.
Jeff Van Gundy welcomed his old team to Houston by beating them 103-94. Yao was the story, as he has been many times early this year, scoring 35, grabbing seventeen boards, and blocking seven shots. He did turn the ball over eight times (the Knicks only turned it over nine times overall), but you'll come close to forgiving that given the rest of his contributions. Remember, a lot of people worried about Yao's ability to rebound and block shots given his relative lack of mobility and athleticism. He still doesn't move from one side of the basket to the other as well as, say, Ben Wallace, but it looks like (I say this both from his numbers and from watching him a few times this year) he's a little more active, and has also learned how to use his unmatched length while also avoiding fouls for reaching in and going over the backs of his opponents.
The Knicks' box scores this year are broken records: Channing Frye plays poorly in few minutes, despite starting; Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, and Stephon Marbury take most of the shots; and David Lee provides great White Guy Hustle ™ off the bench. The variation comes from how well the guards shoot and how well Eddy Curry and Q Richardson play, and that variation explains why the Knicks lost this game: Crawford and Robinson shot 7-20 and 3-9, respectively (though Marbuy missed just three of his eleven shots), and Curry shot 2-11 and grabbed only five rebounds in 22 minutes (it looks like foul trouble kept him down, as he finished with four). Richardson played pretty well, shooting 5-10 and adding five assists, but the Knicks needed to transfer six to eight shots from Crawford and Curry to Richardson to win this game.
Portland beat the Hornets by one despite being down after the first quarter by 25 points. Zach Randolph did his usual business, scoring 31, mostly by getting to the line sixteen times, and grabbing twelve boards. Brandon Roy started for Portland but played just seven minutes due to a recurrence of a heel injury.
Tyson Chandler was ejected for the Hornets, who got 21 points from Peja Stojakovic, but uncharacteristic shooting from Chris Paul (6-17) and David West (6-16), who grabbed thirteen boards, but ended up fouling out.
Detroit killed the Lakers. I watched the game, and it wasn't pretty. Kobe was the high scorer for L.A. with just 19. Tayshaun Prince destroyed the Lakers. Prince gets to play at home (he grew up in L.A.) twice a year, and he made the most of this trip, scoring 31 points.
Lamar Odom, who was having a decent all-around game (16 points, eight boards, seven dimes) was tossed after his second technical. I'm not entirely sure he deserved the second one, though Bill Walton was adamant about it. After a foul called against him (as I recall), he took off both of his wrist bands and tossed them. That sounds bad, but there are two caveats: first, he tossed them off the court, in the general vicinity of the Laker bench; second, he did this forlornly, not demonstratively, and I'd bet that 17,500 out of the 19,000 fans in attendance didn't even notice.
I'm all for teeing guys up if they want to do what became endemic over the last few years: running around the court, arms outstretched, yelling every time a foul was called. But some of the things I've seen techs issued for this year go far beyond the necessary boundaries of a crackdown, and I think "taking off your armbands" fits into that category. Again, it's not like Lamar tossed them to the crowd or threw them on the court.
It's similar to the tech Rudy Gay got on Wednesday the fifteenth. He got hit going to the basket, got the foul, and slammed the basketball down, not in relation to a call (which was, of course, for him) but because he got hit and it apparently hurt. Had he bounced the ball straight down, so that it bounced up into the air, I'd guess nothing would have come of this. Instead, though, the angle was a little different, and the ball bounced into the crowd underneath the basket. I, personally, don't think that's deserving of a technical foul.