Hornets 91, Spurs 88 - As my friends on Facebook and Twitter know, I had to go back and change a bunch of X’s to circles on 30 brackets Sunday night when Texas A&M made an incredible comeback, overcoming a 12-point deficit with just 44 seconds left against Northern Iowa in the NCAA Tourney. Had I been running a bracket pool for the NBA on Monday night, I would have had to do the same for the Spurs-Hornets game.
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San Antonio got off to a blistering start and held a 30-7 lead in the first quarter, and had won six straight games. And along came Jeremy Lin. Lin scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and the Hornets rallied for an unlikely 91-88 win, denying the Spurs their 60th win in the process. It was also the biggest lead the Spurs have ever given up to lose a game, at least as long as Elias has been keeping track. Oh, and the Hornets managed just seven points in the first quarter on national TV and I literally stopped watching. And no, Gregg Popovich didn’t sit his studs, but instead started all of ‘em.
For the Hornets, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller and Kemba Walker shot a combined 7-of-24 and scored six points each. The other starters, Nicolas Batum (15 points) and Courtney Lee (17), played well but it was Lin’s 29-point explosion off the bench that won the game for Charlotte. Unfortunately, he just can’t be relied upon right now. And outside of Lin, Batum and Lee, the next highest scorer was each of the 6-6-6 brothers. What a weird game.
The Spurs got double-doubles from LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard scored 15, and Tony Parker had a nice game with 19 points, seven assists and a full stat line. The disaster known as Danny Green was 0-for-7 for two points and the Spurs’ bench did nothing in the loss. Cutting Danny Green was one of the smartest things I did this season. Drafting him was one of the dumbest.
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Cavaliers 124, Nuggets 91 – LeBron James had his 41st career triple-double with 33 points, 11 boards and 11 assists as the Cavs notched their 50th win. They were thumped by the Heat in their previous game and came out with some fire on Monday. Channing Frye started for Kevin Love, who was rested for an undisclosed illness. And the Cavs are now 4-0 without him this season. Frye had 14 points and three 3-pointers in the start and J.R. Smith got hot for 15 points, three 3-pointers and four steals. Kyrie Irving struggled for eight points on 4-of-12 shooting and the Cavs’ bench was very quiet. But LeBron’s heroics were enough for the win.
The Nuggets rested Kenneth Faried (back) for the third straight game, but Darrell Arthur was quiet with just four points and five boards on 1-of-4 shooting, killing his DFS owners in the process. Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris each scored 11 to lead the starters, but only Will Barton came through with a productive stat line, bouncing back with 28 points, four 3-pointers and two steals on 9-of-12 shooting off the bench. This was Barton’s best game (highest-scoring) since he scored 31 on Dec. 30, and he was the only Nugget to come through last night. Maybe he’s about to get hot.
Pacers 91, Sixers 75 – All five Pacers scored in double figures in an easy win, but none of them did so in impressive fashion. Ian Mahinmi double-doubled with 12 points, 10 boards and a block, while Paul George hit just 4-of-16 shots for 15 points and an otherwise decent line. The bench was basically nonexistent and it’s a good thing they were playing the Sixers, given their ugly box score.
The Sixers got 15 points from Isaiah Canaan and Hollis Thompson (15 points, 6 boards) and Jerami Grant (14 points, 4 boards) played well. Nerlens Noel managed just eight points and eight rebounds, and Ish Smith disappeared with four points on 2-of-15 shooting, but did have nine rebounds, four dimes and three steals. The bench did nothing, while the Sixers are hoping to get Robert Covington back from his concussion on Wednesday. And that should signal the end of the Hollis Thompson value run.
Celtics 107, Magic 96 – Isaiah Thomas led the way with 28 points, five boards, seven assists and a steal, and Avery Bradley had 22 points and nine boards on 9-of-15 in another start. Evan Turner came through with 16 points, five boards, four assists, a block and two 3-pointers, and should continue to start as long as Jae Crowder sits with his ankle injury. Amir Johnson had a 11-11 double-double, but is completely unreliable, and Jared Sullinger was quiet in 21 minutes. Kelly Olynyk got hot with 22 points, five boards, two steals and four 3-pointers, but had really struggled since returning from a shoulder injury last week. Now might be the time to pick him up. And Marcus Smart hit just 1-of-11 shots as his struggles continue.
Victor Oladipo stayed hot with 25 points, eight rebounds, five steals, a block and a 3-pointer, Aaron Gordon bounced back with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Evan Fournier had a quiet night with 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Brandon Jennings started again, but scored just two points in 17 minutes, while Elfrid Payton had eight points and six dimes in 31 minutes off the bench. Payton should be back in the starting lineup sooner than later, ruining Jennings in the process. Andrew Nicholson had 13 points, six boards and a block in 15 minutes, while Jason Smith hit just 2-of-8 shots in 27 minutes off the bench. Both are shaky plays, but worth a look with Nikola Vucevic hurting. Vucevic missed his ninth straight game with a groin injury and we don’t know when he’ll be back.
Pistons 92, Bucks 91 – Andre Drummond (14 & 16) won this one with a tip-in with two seconds left after looking sluggish earlier in the game. He was benched in the third, but looked better after a pep talk from Stan Van Gundy. Marcus Morris got hot for 21 points, four 3-pointers and a full stat line on 8-of-9 shooting. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 15 points (2-of-11 from downtown), Tobias Harris had 13 points and six boards on 4-of-12 shooting, and Reggie Jackson was quiet with nine points, five boards and five assists on 3-of-8 shooting. Like most other teams on Monday, Detroit’s bench was quiet.
Khris Middleton (27 points), Giannis Antetokounmpo (21 & 12) and Greg Monroe (18 & 10, 2 steals, 2 blocks) all played well for the Bucks in a tough loss. Jabari Parker cooled off with five points on 2-of-7 shooting and Jerryd Bayless continued his disappointing ways with five points and six assists. He also missed two free throws late that cost his team the game. Keeping the invisible-bench theme going, the Bucks got nothing from theirs last night.
Wizards 117, Hawks 102 – The Wizards won their fifth-straight game in hopes of creeping into the playoffs and John Wall went off for 27 points, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers. Bradley Beal came through with 25 points and five 3-pointers, Otto Porter double-doubled with 16 & 10, Marcin Gortat scored 15 and Markieff Morris had 14 points, seven rebounds, three steals, a block and two 3-pointers. Morris has six steals over his last two games and is coming on at the right time for the Wizards, who are currently just 1.5 games out of the playoffs. And no, there was nothing to see off the bench.
The Hawks didn’t have a double-double, but Jeff Teague and Al Horford played well, while Paul Millsap scored 13 with an empty stat line. Kent Bazemore and Kyle Korver were both disasters, and if one of them doesn’t show up on any given night, the Hawks tend to lose. They came in hot, winning eight of their previous nine games, and continue to fight for the No. 3 seed in the East. They fell behind the Heat and into a tie with the Celtics last night, as all three teams are battling with the Hornets for the 3-4-5-6 seeds in the East. Dennis Schroder left late with a sprained ankle, and although it’s not thought to be serious, he could miss a game or two. Tim Hardaway hit 6-of-8 shots and four 3-pointers for 16 points, and has played very well in three straight games. Think about picking him up if you can.
Bulls 108, Kings 102 – Pau Gasol returned from his knee injury for a 14 & 14 double-double, Taj Gibson had 18 points, four steals and a block, and Derrick Rose scored 18 points on 9-of-15 shooting in the win. Jimmy Butler came through with 11 points, eight assists and five steals, but hit just 3-of-10 shots and hasn’t looked the same since returning from his knee injury. But he’s getting there. Mike Dunleavy started and scored nine points with three 3-pointers, but didn’t do much else. Doug McDermott stayed hot with 16 points and four 3-pointers off the bench (pick him up), while Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic both struggled with six points a piece off the bench. With Gasol and Gibson back (and playing well), both Portis and Mirotic are going to he hit-or-miss on most nights. E’Twaun Moore was out and will miss at least the next three games with a hamstring injury.
The Kings got 19 & 18, a steal and two blocks from DeMarcus Cousins, and Rudy Gay came through with 18 points, five boards and three 3-pointers on 7-of-11 shooting. He’s been sloppy lately, but looked better last night. Rajon Rondo had 14 points, but just five assists and six turnovers, while Darren Collison came off the bench in favor of James Anderson, who played just 16 minutes. Collison still came through with 19 points, four boards, four assists and four 3-pointers, and is still the shooting guard of choice for the Kings. Omri Casspi was disappointing with seven points and eight boards in 22 minutes, while Willie Cauley-Stein (flu) was back after a two-game absence, sort of. He failed to score in five minutes.
Warriors 109, Timberwolves 104 – Stephen Curry struggled again, hitting 6-of-17 shots and 2-of-9 3-pointers for 19 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, three steals and a block. Yeah, I use the word ‘struggled’ loosely. He hit just 4-of-18 shots and 1-of-12 3-pointers in Saturday’s loss to the Spurs and the Wolves mirrored their switching-on-screens defense on Curry last night. Luckily for Curry owners, the Warriors want the best regular-season record of all time and will keep chasing it, so look for Curry to break out of his funk sooner than later. Draymond Green went off for 24 points, nine boards, six assists, three steals and three blocks on 10-of-13 shooting, and could be heating up at the right time for the Dubs and his fantasy owners. Klay Thompson added 17 points and five 3-pointers as GSW avoided a second-straight loss for the first time all season. Andrew Bogut had an MRI on his left foot but the results aren’t in yet. If he’s going to keep missing time, I expect Marreese Speights to start seeing a bigger role. Speights had just eight points in 13 minutes.
Karl-Anthony Towns went off for 24 & 11, Ricky Rubio joined him with 20 & 11, Andrew Wiggins scored 25, and Zach LaVine added 19 points, four assists and a couple 3-pointers. Gorgui Dieng cooled off with eight points and seven boards, but also had two steals and two blocks in the loss. They got nothing from the bench with the starters playing so well, and Rubio is cooking, scoring at least 13 points in five straight games, double-doubling in four of those.
Grizzlies 103, Suns 97 – The Grizzlies got a win, but it wasn’t a blowout. Zach Randolph had 14 points, 13 boards, a steal and a block, and is hot at the right time for his fantasy owners. Matt Barnes returned from suspension and had 12 points, nine boards, three assists, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers, Ray McCallum took advantage or Briante Weber’s departure and had nine points, seven assists and two steals in a start, and Tony Allen added 12 points, four boards, two steals and a block. Jordan Farmar made his Memphis debut and had 12 points and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes (9 in the 4th quarter), and will likely be in a timeshare with McCallum, making both of them tough to use. JaMychal Green came off the bench for six points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, and the return of Randolph isn’t doing him any favors. Lance Stephenson was eerily quiet with 16 points and not much else in 22 minutes, despite hitting 6-of-8 shots. But he came through with 12 points in the fourth quarter and will hopefully have a bigger role in the next one.
Devin Booker had 18 points and two 3-pointers, P.J. Tucker scored 15, and Brandon Knight had 13 points, six boards, seven assists and three 3-pointers, but hit just 4-of-17 shots. Tyson Chandler sat out the second half with back spasms and finished with just two points and one rebound in 12 minutes. This could be the beginning of the end for Chandler this season, which would be good for Alex Len. Len hit 3-of-8 shots for nine points, six boards and three blocks, but could be better if Chandler misses time. Jon Leuer started the second half and had 13 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in 32 minutes, and could be ready to go on a run if Len switches to center with Chandler out, so keep a close eye on that situation. Mirza Teletovic hit just 2-of-8 shots and 6-of-6 free throws for 10 points, five boards, a steal and a block, but we’ll need to see him do it again before getting excited. He’s as streaky as they come.