NBA 11/14 by Jason Wojciechowski Thursday, November 23, 2006, 01:30 AM
Milwaukee edged Atlanta by two, getting contributions from all five starters: Charlie Villanueva brought up the rear with twelve points, and he didn't see a shot not fall all night: 3-3 shooting (1-1 from three) and 5-5 from the free-throw line. That's neat. Michael Redd scored his regular 30, leading all scorers. Joe Johnson was second-best, leading the Hawks with 29, tied with Tyronn Lue, who did his work off the bench, but played starter's minutes (39 of them). Josh Childress added 21 from the bench. If Josh Smith didn't have an awful game (1-12 shooting, fouled out), the Hawks might've won.
Shelden Williams, who I alternate between calling "Spike," "Angelus," and "Turok-Han," grabbed fifteen boards. If he's lucky, he can grow up to be Emeka Okafor.
Miami lost another one at home, this time to Denver, by a 112-105 count. Carmelo scored 33 points and Andre Miller had a really nice game, with 29 points, 10 assists, and three steals.
Dwyane Wade is making a living just shooting free throws at this point: he scored 37 despite shooting 9-21, as he got to the line seventeen times and made sixteen of them. Perhaps a lower shooting percentage is inherent in getting to the line a lot for a player like Wade: he gets to the line by driving the ball inside and taking whatever shot he can possibly get, hoping for the foul. When he gets the foul, great, he'll get the two points. When he doesn't, the shot misses.
This is, of course, rank speculation, because I just don't see Wade play that often.
This, by the way, was the first game that Shaq missed because of injury. Alonzo didn't exactly light it up as a fill-in, scoring nine points in 29 minutes.
Charlotte lost its sixth game out of seven as the Hornets took them down, 94-85. Peja Stojakovic did all the scoring, pouring in 42 points on 15-22 shooting. The other offensive suspects were absent: Chris Paul missed all eight of his shots (ten assists, though); Tyson Chandler was 1-5 (but 15 boards); David West is apparently hurt.
Adam Morrison, starting again, scored 21 on 9-18 shooting, but Emeka Okafor was again the star for the Bobcats with 25 points (11-14 shooting - that's positive Yao-like), 16 boards, and seven blocks. Did I say Elton Brand? Forget Elton Brand. Emeka's his own man, and quite a man he's turning out to be.
Minnesota beat Portland 101-89. The Zach Randolph - Kevin Garnett matchup didn't really live up to what it should have been, as Garnett didn't shoot very well, just 6-15, resulting in 20 points. Garnett also fouled out, though he did have thirteen boards, seven assists, three steals, and five blocks. Bill Simmons' recent piece on Garnett is great: he's essentially leading the "Free Kevin Garnett" brigade, and with more fervor than any "Free Erubiel Durazo" movement ever had. Please, can we see what Garnett might do on a team that can actually use his skills for good? The Lakers have been mentioned as a possible destination, but at this point, this goes beyond a rooting interest for my team and just purely agreeing with Simmons: let's put him somewhere relevant before it's too late! (Even though it might already be too late - he is thirty, after all, and has twelve years played in the NBA, which is a lifetime.)
The score in the Dallas-Chicago game was 111-99. Just saying that score, you can probably tell who won (Dallas). This isn't to say that the Mavs have one of these Phoenix-style offenses (anymore), but Chicago's an extreme grind-it-out kind of team, so when the final score is over 200, you have to figure the game didn't go the way they wanted it to go.
Dirk Nowitzki seems to be alive again, as he scored 31 and grabbed ten boards in the game. He only took two threes in the game (and missed both). I'm actually a little disappointed in the kind of player that Avery Johnson has turned Dirk into. It probably helps the team if he's willing to go bang inside (ten boards) and drive the lane instead of just pulling up with jump shots (eleven free throws). That said, his jump shot is so beautiful to watch when he's on that it's unfortunate that he's much less likely, under the current style, to have a crazy game where he's really hot and hits 7-10 from three en route to 45-55 points.
Ben Gordon, who might be the most overrated guard in the game, shot 6-18 on the way to 17 points for the Bulls, leaving Luol Deng to be the star for Chicago: 10-13, 24 points, ten boards, four assists.
San Antonio improved to 6-1 by beating Houston 92-84. The Rockets were up 13 at the half, lost nine points off the lead in the third, then got beat 21-9 in the final quarter to lose the game. That's the second single-digit fourth-quarter I've noticed this year, which is pretty atrocious. Consider that it's not uncommon for a good scorer to have a 10-15 point quarter by himself.
The Spurs' stars, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, weren't great, combining for 11-29 shooting (27 points), but the rest of the guys made up the slack: 25-45 shooting, including 7-12 from three. That's without the help of Brent Barry, by the way, who shot 0-2 in six minutes.
Houston, conversely, shot 38% as a team: Yao and Tracy shot 17-46 (though McGrady was 4-7 from three), and the rest of the team shot 15-38. Basically, no offensive good came out of this game for the Rockets, and it wasn't much better on the glass, either, as San Antonio out-rebounded Houston by fifteen.
Utah blew out the Clippers by 22 despite Kirilenko being hurt again. Ronnie Brewer started in his place and had an efficient offensive game, scoring twelve on seven shots, while Paul Milsap filled the defensive half of AK-47's game, grabbing six boards and blocking four shots off the bench. Matt Harpring scored 22 points as a reserve, trailing only Mehmet Okur's 27 (including 1-2 from three). Carlos Boozer had his usual nice game, with 16 points, 15 boards, and even seven assists.
All of this was too much for L.A., who had no 20-point scorers and no double-digit rebounders. Even Elton Brand had just six boards and sixteen points. Chris Kaman earned his salary by fouling out in 19 minutes, and Shaun Livingston continued to live up to the hype by shooting 0-4 and dishing three assists in 22 minutes.
Finally, Golden State sent Toronto to another loss, beating them by 11, overcoming a 41-28 second quarter by winning the fourth by a 34-19 count. Mike Dunleavy had the best scoring game for the Warriors, putting in 22, tied with Baron Davis for the team lead. Dunleavy needed seven fewer shots than Davis to get his points, though. Chris Bosh had 23 points and a remarkable 22 rebounds for the Raptors. His lines are reminding me again and again of Kevin Garnett. Let's hope that with the management up there, as well as Andrea Bargnani waiting in the wings and what's likely to be another high pick coming this summer, he'll have a better shot at NBA relevance than Garnett's gotten.