By Jason Wojciechowski on November 7, 2009 at 8:50 AM
Hey, look, I'm doing this in the morning. Partially, it's a weekend, and partially, I'm leaving in an hour for Austin. Fun Fun Fun Fest!.
Washington 86, Pacers 102: Tyler Hansbrough got to the free-throw line ten times in fourteen minutes off the bench, so it appears that NBA referees are going to be just as generous to him as NCAA referees always were. Brendan Haywood did lots of good big-man stuff for Washington, with nineteen rebounds, eight offensive, and four blocked shots. Call me unimpressed, though, because freaking T.J. Ford managed ten rebounds himself, and he's like 5'10". Also Fab Oberto fouled five times in eleven minutes. I guess he wanted to get Andray Blatche some playing time, which Blatche totally took advantage of, to the tune of 0-5 shooting and four fouls in sixteen minutes. Way to jump on those opportunities, American guy whose name looks most like a random Eastern European of anyone in the league.
Detroit 103, Orlando 110: Orlando kept rolling, moving to 5-1, behind 22/12 from Da-wight before fouling out. Charlie Villanueva did have 28 for the losers, but you get the feeling he's going to do that a lot. 35 wins for the Pistons?
Nets 94, Sixers 97: The Nets are still terrible (0-6) despite Brook Lopez's 22/11 with three blocks. The Sixers should probably be frustrated that, at home, they only won by three, and entered the fourth quarter actually down by two points. And this against a team missing Devin Harris, Yi, and CDR to a variety of maladies. I mean, the Nets had Trenton Hassell go for 17/12 with six offensive boards. Trenton Hassell! The Sixer bench bailed the team out, though, scoring 45 points, led by Jason Kapono's 4/6 three-point shooting.
Atlanta 83, Charlotte 103: Atlanta, if you want to be one of the top teams in the East (not an elite team, but one of those on the next step below), then you need to not lose to Charlotte by 20, even if you are on the road. Charlotte was up 15 going into the fourth quarter, and it looks like both teams went on cruise control from there, resulting in a 19-14 quarter score. Raja Bell shot lights-out for the 'Cats, 5-6 from downtown, and Gerald Wallace was a beast (18 boards) despite a bad shooting night (3-14). Josh Smith is apparently coming off the bench for the Hawks now, and he still managed three blocks, but he shot 5-13. Joe Smith only played six minutes, though, as the starting PF, and I'm not sure why. I've been calling attention to Jamal Crawford doing Crawfordian things earlier in the week, but tonight's game was the downside you'll get out of Crawford if you want his upside: 34 minutes, 5-14 shooting, no made threes, no assists, no steals.
Phoenix 110, Boston 103: Maybe Phoenix is back! Boston hadn't lost yet this year and they were on their home court, but Phoenix took it right to the best defense in the league behind Jason Richardson's 34 (10-16 shooting, 6-7 from three) and ten rebounds. Phoenix did shoot an absurd 13-24 from downtown on the night, so this looks more to me like one of those "they got really hot and no one can beat them when they shoot like that" nights than a real sign of weakness from Boston. You can't take anything away from the Suns, though, because their offense is specifically designed to have nights like that.
Denver 88, Miami 96: The other unbeaten also fell, but at least they lost on the road. Carmelo scored 30, but K-Mart and Anthony Carter each had goose eggs, and the Nuggets hit just two three-pointers. Jermaine O'Neal continued his quest for a contract: 18/7 with three blocks. It's not Shaq-in-his-prime, but he's looking like a legitimate starting center on a good team again.
Toronto 107, New Orleans 90: The continued irrelevance of the Hornets is almost sad. Chris Paul must have had a generous official scorer, because he racked up 18 assists on a night when his teammates made 28 shots. That's outlandish. But good for fantasy owners! The key was the third quarter, when Toronto outscored the Hornets 34-14 after New Orleans had gone into the half with a two-point lead. Chris Bosh shot a perfect 9-9, which is always fun to see, giving him 27 points on the night for a crazy 3:1 points:shots ratio. And not to ride David West too hard, but four rebounds in 34 minutes ain't cutting it.
Milwaukee 87, Minnesota 72: Putrid game of the night. Milwaukee went to the half with just 33 points, but Minnesota only scored 34 after the break. Jonny Flynn took 17 shots but had just one assist and Brandon Jennings took sixteen with three assists. These are point guards? Even Luke Ridnour had just one assist compared to nine field goal attempts. For the Bucks, maybe everyone was making the extra pass, because the team did assist on 20 of their 34 made field goals, with every player but Kurt Thomas registering at least one (and he only played five minutes, plus he's Kurt Thomas). For the Wolves, though, it was 11/29. And 20 turnovers. I could go on and on, but for your sake, dear reader(s?), I won't.
Cleveland 100, New York 91: This was ESPN's early game, and LeBron dominated early to the tune of an eventual 33/8/9 (although seven turnovers) night. The Cavs may have lost a little focus, though, as a lead that was at one point 26 dwindled to nine. That combined with being very sloppy with the ball (21 turnovers, including three New York steals on the first three Cleveland possessions) meant that if the Knicks had hit some shots (8-28 from three, 44% overall), they could have won this game. Big Cock did hit four of his eight threes, but Larry Hughes was just 1-5 from downtown and Chris Duhon was 0-4 (and 0-6 overall, although his +/- was a +5 for the game, and he had eight assists). Granted that they're 1-5, I think the Knicks actually played reasonably well against a team that's supposed to be a championship contender. LeBron had some seriously crazy jump shots go in early, and a lack of interior defense (a problem not of effort but of team construction) hurt them all night, but I think they can take some positives from this game. Maybe I'm overly optimistic.
Thunder 94, Rockets 105: The Rockets won the first and third quarters by five and six, tying the second and fourth. Winning those quarters, especially the third, is a classic Phil Jackson point of emphasis, so Rick Adelman should be proud. Russell Westbrook went crazy for 33, and Kevin Durant had 27, but the team only shot 2-8 from three and only took 17 free throws, so the usual balanced Rocket offense (two guys with 21 led the team) was able to take the win. Kyle Lowry of all people had four blocked shots for the Rockets.
Clippers 118, Warriors 90: Ouch. That's a smack-down delivered by one mediocre team to another. Kaman, Baron, and Eric Gordon all went over 20 for L.A. and Marcus Camby added 12 boards, four steals, and two blocks while using just two field-goal attempts (and getting to the line six times). Anthony Randolph actually got minutes, playing 29 and shooting poorly, but grabbing fourteen boards. In the absence of both Ronny Turiaf and Andris Biedrins, one would hope that Randolph could get consistent run, but ... well, that's Nellie.
Memphis 98, Lakers 114: See, even Memphis, on the road, to the Lakers, didn't lose as badly as the Warriors did. Kobe cracked 40 again on 19-30 shooting. Remarkably, he attempted zero three point attempts. But he also shot just four free throws, so it looks like he made his living in the midrange game. Granted, he has the best midrange game in the league, but still, one would like to see a man of his gifts and his three-point shooting use those more efficient forms of scoring sometimes. Kobe also had just one assist. Ron Artest had seven of them, though, to go with six rebounds and 19 points. Andrew Bynum didn't play due to the elbow injury he suffered against the Rockets. He's moving joint-by-joint through his whole body, isn't he? Anyway, DJ Mbenga played credibly in his absence, grabbing thirteen rebounds and blocking four shots in 30 minutes.
Oh, there was another team on the floor, too, right? Yeah. Z-Bo had another double-double with 21/15, including a disheartening (for Laker fans) seven offensive rebounds. You can't let a guy with Z-Bo's reputation for laziness on the glass get that many offensive boards.
San Antonio 84, Portland 96: This was the late ESPN game, but I didn't see as much of it. Things I did see: Greg Popovich calling a timeout and screaming at his team just 44 seconds into the game; Greg Oden picking up a weak second foul early and going to the bench; Richard Jefferson getting yanked for Manu Ginobli because of a lack of defense and rebounding. I'm reluctant to take too much away from this loss, though, because the Spurs lost Tony Parker to an ankle injury, limiting him to eleven minutes and turning the offense over to George Hill. Hill's a very capable player, but on a night when San Antonio was struggling to put the ball in the basket (38% shooting), an explosive scorer like Parker was really missed. Manu's numbers make it look like he tried to do too much to make up for Parker's absence, shooting 4-14 overall and 2-7 from three. Oden, by the way, ended up with five fouls, but also four blocks, eight rebounds, and 6-9 shooting. Before he went out with his second foul, and before I fell asleep, I even saw him hit a little face-up jumper over Duncan, which is a shot I didn't know he had.