Oh, it has been far too long since the last BfB. Holidays and all, you know. I can promise these will be more frequent now, though. Anyway, seven games on the schedule last night and three of them turned out to be fairly big upsets. Fun!
The All-OTN Team
Will Bynum: His team didn’t play last night, and I’m kinda worried about his playing time and his role after watching Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, and Tayshaun Prince return to the Pistons’ lineup on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre. HOWEVA, I have something for you: an awesome look at his high school days from a documentary, discovered by Piston Powered.
Shannon Brown: 10 Pts (4-5 FG, 1-2 3PT, 1-2 FT), 2 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 1 PF in 15 mins.
No highlights for you today, unfortunately, but that’s a nice line in limited action. What pisses me off, though, is that Sasha Vujacic played 19 minutes in this game. Plus, when we reached garbage time with 6 minutes to go in this surprising 118-103 loss to Phoenix, Brown played and Vujacic didn’t. So, the minutes discrepancy is even greater if you’re talking about meaningful minutes. That’s not okay.
Jared Dudley: 19 Pts (6-10 FG, 3-4 3PT, 4-6 FT), 7 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF in 28 mins.
Dudley was the player of the game for Phoenix, as he led the bench unit that took apart the Lakers. That scoring total ties his career high and that efficiency brings a big smile to my face. The Suns’ announcers called his performance “amazing”, “off the charts”, and said “he is so fun to watch”. Agreed. He hit several big threes, grabbed key rebounds, made great passes, drew fouls around the basket, and played smart defense, much of it coming against a guy named Kobe Bryant. I loved every second of it. Here’s his post-game tweet and his first ever appearance on NBA TV’s arena link:
Serge Ibaka: 6 Pts (2-3 FG, 2-3 FT), 9 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 0 TO, 2 PF in 17 mins.
Going up against the Nets, this wasn’t Serge’s most spectacular game. The rebounds stand out, though. The talent-deficient Nets can’t afford to let teams get offensive boards if they want to win and Ibaka got 4 of ‘em. The Thunder rolled to their 3rd straight win, 105-89. This rookie’s best highlight came immediately after checking into the game, where he came flying out of nowhere to get a put-back lay-in. His lowlight was when Keyon Dooling dunked on him. Sadly, Tony Battie dunked on him too. Meh, there’s still plenty to like here and his team won the game they were supposed to win.
Brandon Jennings: 24 Pts (9-18 FG, 2-5 3PT, 4-6 FT), 2 Reb, 7 Ast, 5 TO, 3 PF in 41 mins.
His play was the only thing to be happy about when it comes to last night’s game if you’re a Bucks fan. And I’m kind of a Bucks fan. I witnessed him score 7 points in about a minute in the first quarter and he scored 9 straight points in the third quarter as well. The third quarter run wasn’t enough to get his team out of the hole they had dug themselves earlier, though. What hole, you ask? Well, the Bobcats outscored Milwaukee 33-14 in the second Q. Blah. I still love the Bucks, but Jennings can’t do EVERYTHING for them if they expect to win. His teammates shot 35% from the field in this one.
Jeff Pendergraph: 11 Pts (4-5 FG, 3-4 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 1 Blk, 0 TO, 2 PF in 19 mins.
He wasn’t supposed to play these minutes, but you know the deal in Portland. Good for him, I say – last night’s effort shows that Pendergraph intends to make the most of his opportunity. Portland fans have to be a bit depressed about losing 103-94 to the Sixers, but they should take some solace in the fact that their unheralded rookie managed to score 11 points on 5 shots in just his fourth game back from injury. I need to see more of him to get a better feel for his game, but I can tell already that he’s got the right attitude. Much like the next two guys on this list, he provides energy and toughness. The skill stuff? Not sure yet, but I’m optimistic.
Omri Casspi: 11 Pts (4-9 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-4 FT), 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF in 36 mins.
You just have to love this guy. Unfazed by his 1-6 start from the floor, he contributed in other areas and hit his last three attempts with his brother watching from the stands for the second straight game. This included a thrilling dunk a couple of minutes into the third quarter and a HUGE three-pointer with 2 minutes left in the 4th. As is usually the case, his man and help defense was a positive for Sacramento in this 106-101 victory over Denver.
Jon Brockman: 6 Pts (1-3 FG, 4-4 FT), 10 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Blk, 1 TO, 5 PF in 17 mins.
Whoa, two Kings rookies here and neither one is Tyreke Evans! Ha. If you didn’t know, ‘Reke sat this one out with an ankle injury, making this W all the more impressive. Brockman was a big part of the winning effort, as you can see by those rebound and block numbers in limited action. I love watching this guy and think every team needs someone like him. You know the type – dirty work and defense. You can tell that other bigs don’t like facing off with this particular rookie and you can tell that he doesn’t give a shit. It’s unfortunate that his exuberance sometimes leads to more fouls than you’d like, but you kind of have to accept that for now. At least he helps make up for it with his knack for drawing fouls on the opposition when he goes up for rebounds and puts up shots on the inside. Without Brockman, I don’t think the Kings would have made it to overtime against the Lakers the other night. Doubtful that they would have pulled out this win without him, too. And I’m quite sure there’s no one else on this roster capable of blocking a Nene dunk.
Stephen Curry: 0 Pts (0-4 FG, 0-1 3PT, 0-1 FT), 2 Reb, 0 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF in 11 mins.
I take no joy in pointing this out, but he was -16 in that time too. If you’re talking about the toughest night of Steph’s young career, this has got to be right up there with the time Nellie benched him against the Knicks in mid-November. Normally, I’d be pissed off that he didn’t get more time even if he was playing poorly, but it’s hard for me to do that on a night like this one, where the Warriors defeated the Celtics 103-99. I just hope Curry can enjoy the huge win with his teammates, even with the way he played.
James Harden: 3 Pts (0-10 FG, 0-4 3PT, 3-4 FT), 6 Reb (3 Off), 1Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 3 PF in 23 mins.
This was very strange to watch. I’m not sure what was wrong with the bearded rook last night, but he couldn’t get anything to fall. It didn’t matter if the shot was open or contested, whether it came on the perimeter or around the basket – nothing would go down. The shots I’ve seen him make all year were bricks. The rest of his game wasn’t affected too much, despite what the low assist total might imply. He played the same type of ball we’re used to, but just couldn’t buy a bucket. Luckily, all he’s concerned about is the win. I am sure he’ll bounce back.
Fun With Stats
Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd combined for 4 points on 1-10 shooting in 35 minutes. This should give you some insight as to why coach Scott Skiles opted not to play them in the second half.
Zach Randolph filled up the stat sheet with 23 points, 19 rebounds, 2 assists, a block, and a steal in Memphis’s 116-111 overtime win over Washington. Oh, and Z-Bo went 9-9 from the line, including hitting two free throws to tie the game with 0.3 seconds left in regulation. What’s crazy is that I expect this production now. Check out the numbers he’s been putting up lately! In the same game, Gilbert Arenas filled the stat sheet with 30 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 5 threes.
The Grizzlies only have a winning record overall against 4 NBA teams: the Wizards, Raptors, Clippers, and Bobcats. The last time the Wiz won a game in Memphis? November 3, 2004.
Vladimir Radmanovic pulled down 10 rebounds in 18 minutes. Yes, that Vladimir Radmanovic. I don’t understand it either.
The Celtics had 25 turnovers in a game they lost by 4 points. The Nuggets shot 20-35 from the free throw line in a game they lost by 5 points.
Philly shot 58% against Portland. 104 points might not look like a crazy offensive night, but this was an 87-possession game. That’s 119.5 pts per 100 possessions. The Suns lead the league in that category with an average of 111.8. This was a combination of very solid offense from the Sixers and poor interior D from the Blazers, as Philly managed to go 23-31 at the rim and 7-11 from inside of 10 feet. (Hoopdata’s box scores are awesome.)
Brandon Roy has managed at least 23 points in 13 straight games now. No player has a longer 20+ scoring streak going.
With 8 wins on the road this season, the Thunder have matched last year’s total. Also, the team is now 11-2 when KRS-TIC scores 10 points or more.
For the 19th consecutive game, the Nets were outrebounded.
The Lakers really seem to be missing Ron Artest. With Luke Walton sidelined as well, their lack of depth was exposed last night – the Suns’ bench outscored L.A. 52 to 31.
The Suns have now defeated the Lakers, Celtics, and Magic this season. These are the top three teams in the league, record-wise.
Gerald Wallace: 21 Pts (7-13 FG, 0-1 3PT, 7-9 FT), 14 Reb (2 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Bl, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 3 PF in 43 mins.
21, 14. Ho-hum. This is what it’s come to with G. Wallace, which is crazy. He is just piling up stats and he’s as fun to watch as he’s ever been. Unless you’re rooting for the other team, that is. I appreciate the hell out of the way he hounds you on defense, outjumps and outworks you for rebounds, and gets out on the break. Last night, I just wished it had a less demoralizing effect on Milwaukee.
Kevin Durant: 40 Pts (15-22 FG, 0-2 3PT, 10-12 FT), 5 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 5 TO, 1 PF in 40 mins.
I feel for you, Trenton Hassell. You’re smart enough to know there’s no one on your team better fit to guard Kevin Durant. You’re smart enough to know how to best defend KD, given your size and athletic ability. You’re also smart enough to know that it probably won’t make a difference. Your best effort won’t be close to enough if Durant is playing as he should be, which he was. 40 points on 22 shots? Incredible. And none of it seemed forced. Hell, none of it seemed particularly difficult. The Nets don’t have anyone that comes close to matching up with him and their team defense is just poor. KD scored in every way imaginable. Beautiful to watch.
Nick Collison: 11 Pts (5-7 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-1 FT), 10 Reb (4 Off), 1 Blk, 3 PF in 29 mins.
Before I leave the stats behind, I should mention that he was +25 on the evening and he would have been 5-6 if not for a full-court heave at the end of the third quarter. Now, remember when I said every team needs a Jon Brockman type? Collison is that guy for the Thunder. He’s less reckless and thus less exciting than Brockman, but he’s ahead in the mental game at this point. If you’re still focused on his stats, then add two charges taken, numerous solid picks, and a few nice passes that didn’t result in assists. I’m telling you, he was big.
Yi Jianlian: 29 Pts (11-20 FG, 0-1 3PT, 7-9 FT), 7 Reb (3 Off), 2 Stl, 3 TO, 4 PF in 42 mins.
I must say I was intrigued to see Yi after Mark Ginnochio of Nets Are Scorching showed me that he looks like a different player these days. Little did I know he was going to tie his career high last night and engage in a scoring duel with Kevin Durant (18 to KD’s 22) in the first half. What I liked most was Yi’s aggressiveness – in the first half, he was persistent in getting to the basket and had some nice finishes. He hit some perimeter jumpers, sure, but I’m more interested in the fact that he converted some dunks and hook shots. I’ve been pretty critical of him in the past, but would like nothing more than to see him shut me up. The way to do that? Keep this up and keep getting stronger.
Robin Lopez: 8 Pts (4-4 FG, 0-2 FT), 5 Reb (3 Off), 1 Blk, 3 PF in 21 mins.
At the end of the first quarter, Lopez led the Suns in scoring. The announcers called his work “sensational” and said it was “the best stretch of his career”. I’m not one to argue, there. His good work continued throughout the game, as he used his size to disrupt the Laker bigs better than anyone else on the Suns’ roster could. Had a nice block on Kobe, too.
Elton Brand: 25 Pts (11-16 FG, 3-5 FT), 9 Reb (4 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 4 PF in 30 mins.
Hell yes! I feel a sense of pride when Elton puts up awesome numbers like these. I’ve said it before: this man has plenty left in the tank. He’s just been used improperly this season. Last night, though, the Sixers made a point of getting him the ball on the inside and Portland did not have an answer for him. Playing with Speights helps because he can be the 5 on offense and playing with Iverson helps because AI can set him up. Expect much more of this if Eddie Jordan allows it to continue. 30 minutes is still not enough if you ask me.
Allen Iverson: 19 Pts (7-11 FG, 5-7 FT), 4 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 TO, 3 PF in 31 mins.
19 points on 11 shots? Efficiency! Iverson! Again, hell yes! This isn’t just about the numbers, though. Qualitatively, there’s a lot to impressed with as well. He started off the game by hitting a few shots, but that didn’t make him try to dominate the game. Instead of forcing up contested shots or going on-on-one, he pushed the ball and shared it with his teammates. He looked quick, confident, and happy. I don’t know if a lot of people were paying attention to this game, but I loved it. Felt a bit bad rooting against the injury-ridden Blazers, but I really wanted AI and Elton to get this one. I remain convinced that this Sixer team is significantly better than its record.
Andres Nocioni: 21 Pts (6-7 FG, 3-4 3PT, 5-6 FT), 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 2 TO, 3 PF in 25 mins.
This was probably best game I’ve ever seen Noc play. He was essentially perfect on offense and he worked hard against Kenyon Martin and, briefly, Carmelo Anthony on defense. With their stud rookie sitting out, the Kings needed someone to step up and provide scoring punch – Andres’s dead-eye shooting was huge. In all honesty, I can still hardly believe what I saw. GREAT night for him.
Donte Greene: 17 Pts (6-9 FG, 1-3 3PT, 4-4 FT), 1 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 1 PF in 23 mins.
1 rebound for a 6’10 forward, but I’m impressed? Yeah. He really was good in all other areas. From the tip, Greene set the tone for the Kings – in the first two minutes, he scored 7 points, blocked a Carmelo Anthony shot, and drew an offensive foul on the Nuggets’ star small forward. His defense remained solid all night – 34/8 sounds good for Melo until you see that he needed 42 minutes and 35 shots to get there. Greene was a big part of this – he did a great job of making Anthony work and avoiding fouls. I’ll forgive him for the lack of rebounding this time. I’ll forgive him for the dumb heat-check in the first Q. I’ll even forgive him for the thoughtless gamble he made when he tried to intercept a pass he had no chance of getting to. Hm, now it sounds like I’m hating on him. Trust me, I’m not. Very solid game.
Monta Ellis: 37 Pts (15-26 FG, 1-3 3PT, 6-8 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 3 PF in 48 mins.
For the fifth time this season, Monta played the entire game. The Warriors needed it to beat the Celtics, it would seem. Anyway, this was just a fantastic effort. He puts such pressure on your defense, even if your defense is one of the league’s best. To put up these kind of numbers against Rajon Rondo is extreeeeemely impressive. You know Monta is most dangerous with his penetration and finishing ability, but his jump shot was falling this time out – he made 9 out of his 12 attempts from 16-23 feet. (Again, Hoopdata’s boxscores are AWESOME.)
C.J. Watson: 11 Pts (4-8 FG, 1-3 3PT, 2-4 FT), 0 Reb, 7 Ast, 7 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO, 1 PF in 37 mins.
Wow, wow, wow. 7 steals! Forget about the last one; that came on a long pass on the last possession, when the game was out of reach. Those first six, though? All of ‘em came in the second frame. Crazy, right? I was excited when I flipped to the game and he picked off a Rondo pass and went the other way for a layup. I was even more excited when he did the same thing on the next possession. Sitting Steph Curry was definitely the right decision with the way Watson was playing. You have to love the steals, but he did a great job defensively in ways that won’t show up in the stat sheet as well – he worked his ass off chasing Ray Allen around screens and managed to slow the sharpshooter down a bit. With the way his off-season went and the way everything’s gone with the Warriors this season, I couldn’t be happier to see him have a game like this.
Rajon Rondo: 30 Pts (11-18 FG, 1-3 3PT, 7-9 FT), 3 Reb (1 Off), 15 Ast, 3 Stl, 6 TO, 3 PF in 46 mins.
Yet again, Rondo was the best Celtic on the floor. I won’t pretend that I was rooting for his team this time, but I enjoyed every one of his points and assists anyway. I still haven’t quite figured out how exactly he is able to do whatever he wants on the court even with guys playing a few feet away from him when he catches the ball on the perimeter. I love that he shot 7-9 from the line and I love that he uses pump fakes more often and more effectively than almost anyone in the league.
“There’s no such thing as being too intense.” – Stephen Jackson, when asked about his technical foul/being vocal
“Once I got my second wind I was all right. The first couple minutes I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.” – Allen Iverson
“Having Allen back helps. He’s a finisher. He can get to the line and get the ball to guy at the right time. We’ve missed that.” – Elton Brand
“You just expect everything. With them, you don’t know what kind of crazy lineups they’re going to have out there.” – Doc Rivers, on the Warriors
@BothTeamsPlayed: Ummmm…..seriously, who’s the dude in this Yi costume?
@johnschuhmann: Do we really know what AI’s got left in the tank? When’s the last time we saw him play injury-free & without rust?
@HPbasketball: Lakers, Nuggets, Celtics all lose? CHAOS REIGNS. #onenightonly
@freedarko: If Monta’s not an All-Star, I’ll puke myself to death. Can you win Most Improved twice?
@cdouglasroberts: I’m going to be cheering like Roni Turiaf tonight. All I need is the Pastor Troy beard & chin. Yes yess.
@cdouglasroberts: Tonights game put me in a horrible mood!!! I hate watching from the sideline. I already don’t have any patience. Can’t wait until practice!
@cdouglasroberts: We need to change our thinking & approach!! I hate where we are! I MUST practice tomorrow. PERIOD!
@cdouglasroberts: Had to go get some eggnog. I’m going to go to the market tomorrow to buy the REST! Fridge full. I’m on that! Family Guy is on too. Yes yess!
Amar’e posterizing Mbenga:
A wild play that begins with a Devin Harris steal and ends with Courtney Lee slamming home an alley-oop:
Kevin Durant’s sweet baseline dunk:
Awesome NBA singing Part 1, starring three young Sacramento Kings:
Awesome NBA singing Part 2, starring Danilo Gallinari: