By Jason Wojciechowski on November 13, 2008 at 4:23 AM
Way back last Wednesday, some games happened. The Suns went back to the old school, scoring 113 in beating the Pacers. Amare had 49 of those to go with 11 boards, six assists, five steals, and two blocks. He hit all fifteen of his free throws. That's just a dominant all-around performance. The craziest thing? Shaq scored three points. Who thought we'd get to the point where Shaq would be involved in a win where his team scored 113 and he got outscored by 46 by a teammate.
Detroit moved to 4-0 by sending Toronto to their first loss. The Tayshaun Era began as he scored 27 on 10-13 shooting and grabbed nine boards. Rodney Stuckey filled in admirably at the point, leading the team to committing just five turnovers. Andrea Bargnani shot 5-6 from the bench for Toronto, but maybe Simmons is right about Jermaine O'Neal: eight points and three boards in 29 minutes? That's what you've got?
Philly continued to disappoint by getting blown out in Miami. Dwyane Wade had 29 points, seven boards, six assists, five steals, and three blocks. That's a Shawn Marion night, which is crazy -- since when does Wade hit the boards and block shots? Andre Igoudala only shot 1-7 for Philly. Based on the starting lineups, I'm guessing Wade was guarding him, which should be a mismatch in Iggy's favor. It's possible that Marion was guarding him and they put Wade on Thaddeus Young, but that would seem unlikely, given Young's significant size advantage over Wade, who's not the biggest two-guard in the league.
The Knicks won over Charlotte at MSG with a D'Antoni Special Rotation: only seven guys got real minutes. One of those seven was Nate Robinson, who poured in 24 in 31 minutes off the bench, hitting all five of his threes. This is the nice thing about the Knicks as currently constituted: they do have three, maybe four guys who might go off on any given night: Crawford, Z-Bo, Nate Dogg, and maybe Wilson Chandler. Speaking of Z-Bo, he continued to thrive with 25 and 13. Larry Brown decided to match D'Antoni's rotation: while eleven guys played, five of them played five minutes or less. Four of his starters went 40+ minutes. The six guys who played scored between 13 and 18 points apiece, although the number of shots varied: Jason Richardson required 21 shots to get his 17, while Gerald Wallace only needed eight to get 16 points. The final balance, though, is almost Pistonian.
The undefeated Hawks sent the Hornets to their first loss, in New Orleans. Isn't that sentence by itself enough? Come on, Chris Paul! You want the MVP? Beat the Hawks!
Ben Gordon scored 31, but lost to LeBron and the Cavs, as James had 41, with nine boards, six assists, and four steals. In other words: ho hum. Come on, that's an absurd line. Ben Wallace had fourteen boards, including six offensive, as his rebounding revival seems to continue.
Milwaukee sent Washington to 0-3 by winning in overtime behind Richard Jefferson's 32. Ramon Sessions came off the bench for what I think is the first time but scored 22. Luke Ridnour, the starting point guard, had 20. This implies to me that the Wizards have a little bit of trouble defending point guards.
San Antonio required two overtimes to beat Minnesota 129-125. It's always funny to have two-overtime games, because you get ridiculous lines: 55 points, seven boards, and ten assists for Tony Parker; 30 points and 16 boards for Tim Duncan; 26 points off the bench for Roger Mason; 30 points and fourteen boards for Al Jefferson (although he took 27 shots). And hey, look who's back: Bassy Telfair played 30 minutes off the bench and had ten dimes, leading the Wolves. I'm not sure why, but I root for him, so it's nice to see him have a good game. He did foul out, though.
Shocker of the night: Boston beat the Sonics in Oklahoma. Kevin Durant? 6-15, two rebounds, two assists. Russell Westbrook managed to jack up 13 shots in 19 minutes off the bench, but only hit four of them. Rookie deference? Forget that.
Utah moved to 4-0 by beating Portland. Joel Przybilla shot 3-3 and grabbed 16 boards in a losing effort. Carlos Boozer and Memo Okur combined to shoot 17-27 to continue the Jazz's undefeated run in Deron Williams's absence. (By the way: in now way does this decide the question of whether Williams or Paul is a better point guard. It's Paul in a landslide, but not because of the Jazz's good play without Williams. All that shows is that Williams has better teammates.)
Sacramento picked up its first win, beating Memphis by five. Kevin Martin had 33 points on 18 shots, and Bobby Brown beat up on Memphis off the bench, shooting 4-4 with five assists. OJ Mayo had his first big game for the Grizz, scoring 28 and shooting a whopping 6-10 from three. He managed exactly zero assists. The man can jack up a shot, though. Hamed Haddadi has apparently moved to inactive, which is sensible given that he wasn't getting any run anyway.
Golden State beat Denver by 10, with Carmelo contributing to the Warriors' winning effort by missing 17 shots. Nene had a really nice game: 19 points on eight shots and fifteen rebounds, seven of them offensive. It took a while, but maybe he wasn't a wasted draft pick after all. Anyway, on the winning side, Kelenna Azubuike scored 22 off the bench and Brandan Wright had 18 and 13 while blocking three shots and shooting 7-9. Stephen Jackson missed a lot of shots but he got to the line thirteen times.
The Lakers stayed undefeated and the Clippers stayed winless as L.A. (get it?) won by 18. Kobe missed 13 shots, but got to the line 14 times, Lamar Odom had 15 and 9 with three steals and two blocks off the bench, and Pau Gasol, true to his word that he was going to focus on rebounding this year, grabbed 17 boards. Baron Davis continued to struggle, shooting eleven threes but making only three. The foul story was interesting: the Clippers got called for 32, the Lakers just 17. Home-team bias?
On Thursday, Orlando beat Philly by playing the eight-man rotation despite Dwight Howard getting just 29 minutes. The work was spread around well: the starters all scored between 12 and 20 points and the three front-line men each had eight rebounds. Andre Miller had an odd game, shooting 24 times (missing 17) and having just two assists. Iggy and Elton combined for just 20 shots. Iggy, Elton, and Sam Dalembert each reached double-digits in boards, though.
Portland won by two in overtime against Houston. The bench did nice work for the Blazers, with Travis Outlaw going for 14 and 13 and Rudy Fernandez adding 15 points, including three threes. Yao shot poorly, Tracy needed 23 shots to get 30 points, and Rafer Alston only had four assists in 26 minutes (and those minutes are pretty low, too -- Aaron Brooks actually played more minutes than Skip did).
On Friday, the Knicks sent Washington to 0-4 behind Z-Bo's 22 and 13. Wilson Chandler moved into the starting lineup, pushing David Lee to the bench, although Lee played 27 minutes, more than starter Quentin Richardson. I'm still waiting for The Big Cock to get into a game, but I saw word tonight that he's hurt and may miss the rest of the year, pending an MRI on his back. This is of course terrible news for bloggers.
Charlotte sent New Orleans to its second straight loss to a team the Hornets should beat. Chris Paul did what he could with 20 points, ten assists, and six steals, but he also presumably contributed to Ray Felton shooting 7-9. Peja Stojakovic, another of "my guys", shot 6-12 from three. That's the kind of line that I love seeing from Peja, particularly when it comes in a Hornets loss.
Atlanta stayed undefeated, beating Toronto by 18, led by Mike Bibby's 19 points and 12 assists. Bibby seems to be back! I thought he was done after seeing him last year, where the Hawks got into the playoffs and pushed Boston hard not because of him but in spite of him. But based on his box scores, he's been an integral part of the Hawks' hot start.
Boston won again, beating Milwaukee. They scored 101 points despite no player scoring more than 18 (Paul Pierce). Leon Powe went to the line an absurd nine times, although he did miss five free throws. Powe is, of course, one of the anti-"my guys", a guy I root against, even if that is mean-spirited of me. Something about the way he plays makes me frustrated -- I think a big part of it is his massive celebrations after uncontested dunks. He's learned too much from Kevin Garnett, maybe.
Cleveland won again, edging the Pacers by four. LeBron was LeBron, with 27-9-8 and four blocks. Anderson Varejao shot 8-12 off the bench, although he played starter minutes (30) presumably once it became clear that Ben Wallace was taking the night off: zero points, zero rebounds in nineteen minutes. That's an embarrassment. Danny Granger continues to have come out of (for me) nowhere, scoring 33 and shooting 5-10 from threes.
New Jersey beat Detroit in The Answer's debut. Iverson had 24 points on just 12 shots, but Tayshaun shot just 4-15 and the bench shot 6-20. Devin Harris got to the line an absurd 24 times for the Nets, leading to 38 points, overcoming his own bench's struggles: 3-17 shooting and 12 rebounds in 75 minutes. Twenty-four free throws! How does that even happen? Amusingly, the Nets were actually called for seven more fouls than the Pistons.
Miami sent the struggling Spurs to defeat after Tony Parker went down with an ankle injury the game after he scored 55 points. Roger Mason moved into the starting lineup and scored 18 points, but it couldn't overcome Dwyane Wade's LeBron-like 33-10-9 and Michael Beasley's Marion-like 20-8-3-2-2. I'm still waiting for Shaun Livingston to get into a game for the Heatians.
The Bulls beat Phoenix resoundingly. Joakim Noah had 14 boards off the bench and Ben Gordon led the team in scoring, also as a reserve. Robin Lopez started for the Suns in Shaq's absence and had a nice game: 6-9 shooting, seven boards, and three blocks. The problem is only seven rebounds in 30 minutes. It's not atrocious, but you'd like to see nine to eleven in that number of minutes from your starting center. Both Lopez brothers have been a lot better than I thought they'd be.
Utah stayed 5-0 by beating the Sonics. Kevin Durant shot over 50%! The earth has spun off its axis! AK47 had the game-high in rebounds, with 12, in 32 minutes off the bench. Brevin Knight's eleven assists were also the game high despite coming off the bench for the Jazz. No Sonic had more than three assists, while the Jazz had just five unassisted field goals. That's an absurdly low number, but I'm sure it was beautiful basketball.
Sacramento scored 121 points in beating the Wolves. Kevin Love had a really nice game for the Wolves, shooting 6-7 from the floor and 8-10 from the line while grabbing four offensive boards (but just eight overall).
Denver edged Dallas by three in Chauncey's Nugs debut. Billups shot just 5-17, but Carmelo's 28-8-6 bailed him out, not to mention Jerry Stackhouse's 1-8 and Josh Howard's 4-15. Jason Kidd, oddly enough, came within an assist of a triple-double, going for 22-10-9. He shot 6-12 from three, which is better than he's shot since before my cats were born.
Memphis edged Golden State in Oakland. Hakim Warrick had 19-10 off the bench in 38 minutes, presumably getting that much run because Marc Gasol fouled out in an astonishing 17 minutes. Three Warriors shot double-digit free throws, and Andris Biedrins had a miraculous night, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 boards while making nine of ten free throws. Biedrins! Missed only one free throw! The world spins back on to its axis!
Finally, Houston sent the Clippers to 0-6. Carl Landry had 20 points off the bench for the Rockets, overcoming Chris Kaman and Baron Davis's matching 23's.