After winning a closely contested and controversial game one night earlier against the Trail Blazers, Durant scored 33 points for the second consecutive night and hit the game-winning bank shot with 14 seconds left against the Golden State Warriors in a wild game. Russell Westbrook also had a big night with 31 points despite turning the ball over nine times.
The Thunder have now won four of their past five games and continue to win on the road with an impressive 11-4 record — the league’s best.
From Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: “By no means was this Oklahoma City’s preferred style of play. The Thunder is supposed to be a defensive-minded bunch, with ample discipline to avoid getting sucked into speed traps like this. But playing on the second night of a back-to-back that saw the first game require overtime, the Thunder simply lacked the proper focus to stick to its principles. Still, the Thunder just keeps finding ways to win, stealing a 119-116 shootout this time to bring its league-best record to 20-5.”
Monta Ellis had a career -high 48 points on a variety of acrobatic shots, 30 of them coming from the first half. David Lee became the first Warriors power forward since Chris Webber to notch a triple-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Stephen Curry also nearly had a triple-double with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists.
Still, they could not come up with the clutch plays necessary down the stretch despite being up for much of the night. The Warriors are now 8-14 on the season with this second straight loss in what has become an all-too-familiar frustrating season for the Warriors and Mark Jackson, who proclaimed the Dubs as a “playoff team”.
From Marcus Thompson of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Tuesday’s 119-116 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder was a microcosm for the Warriors’ season thus far, as they failed to capitalize on a grand opportunity. The Warriors got a career-high 48 points from guard Monta Ellis. Forward David Lee recorded his second-career triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists). And the Warriors put a scare into the arguably the best team in the Western Conference. But when it came down to the end, the Warriors did what it took to lose. Even at home.”
In Boston, Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird to move into second place on the franchise’s list of all-time leading scorers. He buried a 3-pointer from the right wing with 10:23 to go in the third quarter to move past Bird, who scored 21,791 points during his career with the Celtics. Only John Havlicek has scored more in team history, with 26,395.
From Mark Murphy of Boston Herald: “Pierce, after missing his previous five shots, including three straight 3-pointers at the end of the second quarter, finally hit a trey 1:38 into the third that pushed him a point ahead of Bird at 21,792. By game’s end that number stood at 21,797. … The Celtics captain nearly slipped in a triple-double with 15 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. Though his shooting (6-of-18, 2-of-10 beyond the arc) was clearly influenced by an early desire to pass Bird and get on with his career, for once the moment appeared to eclipse the meaning of the win. “I get to make history with my teammate, The Truth,” said Mickael Pietrus, who wrote Pierce’s nickname on a towel and held it up once Pierce hit his historic shot. “He’s gonna take us to the championship, so I have to show him some love.” Pietrus, who has some of the best comic timing on the team, briefly paused before he said, “He took so long to score 10 points, though.” The crowd, which clearly knew what had just happened, stood and roared for the next two minutes as Pierce waved following his shot. A formal announcement, combined with a Pierce retrospective on the video screen, was played during the next timeout. Pierce walked to midcourt and waved to his adoring public once again.”
Paul Pierce becomes a true Celtic legend with this feat. At this point, he is to the Celtics what Kobe Bryant is to the Lakers. Minus a few championships, of course.
After defeating the lowly Bobcats 94-84, the Celtics are well back in contention, winning their past five games, nine of 10 and sitting a half-game back of the 6th seeded Orlando Magic.
Michael Redd made his return to Milwaukee for the first time since ending his 11-year career with the Bucks due to devastating knee injuries. The Bucks fans gave him a well-deserved standing ovation as an emotional Redd saluted the crowd before showing them he still had something left in the tank by scoring 14 points off the bench en route to helping the Suns beat the Bucks 107-105.
From Paul Coro of Arizona Republic: “Redd could not have experienced a much better return. He missed his first shot but made his next six shots. It also took the Suns’ lead from 32-25 to 46-32 over a span of 4:38. Redd scored 12 points in his 10-minute first-half stint to give him three consecutive double-digit scoring games for the first time since January 2009. If he was tired from visiting with old friends and taking calls all day, it did not show in his play. .. Steve Nash’s 38th birthday began Tuesday morning with a man in a pink gorilla suit serenading him while playing a guitar at the Suns’ breakfast meeting. That act was hard to top, but Nash pulled it off, making a game-winning shot that got a gorilla off the Suns’ back: their failure to win three games in a row this season.”
Nash hit the game-winning banker as Bucks players were looking completely lost on whether to guard him or cover his teammates.
Nikola Pekovic channeled his inner Kevin Love, who missed the game due to a suspension, as he pounded DeMarcus Cousins inside for 23 points and 10 rebounds. Cousins could not handle the brute force of Pekovic as he struggled for 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting. Ricky Rubio also provided the goods with 14 assists and 5 steals in an 86-84 nailbiter over Sacramento, though he made a crucial mistake by taking an ill-advised 16 footer with plenty of time left on the clock to give the Kings a lst chance to go for the win.
The Timberwolves, who have now won three straight, held off a feisty Kings team that saw their own three-game winning streak end as Donte Greene missed a wide open 3 from the corner as time expired.
From Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: “Who was that wearing No. 14 for the Timberwolves? That No. 14 fellow had 23 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. He schooled hotshot young center DeMarcus Cousins. And once he even stole the ball at midcourt and drove for a layup. My roster sheet says No. 14 is Nikola Pekovic. Really? I’m surprised. “I surprise myself a little bit how I run,” big Pek said. … Earlier this season I compared Pekovic to a tree. And not in a good way. It wasn’t that at 6-11 Pekovic was tall like a tree. Or that he projected a certain calmness, a certain serenity like a tree. No, I was suggesting that Pek’s mobility was very treelike. So was his nimbleness. I watched a couple of Ricky Rubio passes bounce off his head. I watched him swing to his right like a big ol’ rusty gate, only to leave the basketball behind. He was a mighty oak, and just as fluid. I could have sworn he was much better suited to operating heavy machinery than to playing this graceful game. In fact, I envisioned him effortlessly and happily shoveling my driveway in exchange for some tea and biscuits. Who knew? Seriously, who saw this coming? For the past two weeks, Pekovic has been terrific. He’s rebounding and scoring and, well, playing like a champion. With Darko Milicic fast becoming a physical wreck – and not that good even when he is fit as a fiddle – the Wolves would be lost without Pekovic. To me, he is the most pleasant surprise in a so-far surprising season. We had an idea Rubio would be good. Same for Derrick Williams. But big Pek, in his second season, has been a revelation. And he has taken the No. 1 center job away from Milicic. The way he is playing, Pekovic simply is not coming out of the lineup. Not ever.”
- The Heat beat the Cavaliers 107-91 as they used a dominant 4th quarter to take control of the game for their third straight win. Dwyane Wade scored 26 points and LeBron James scored 24 points. This was a much needed home win before they embark on a tough 12-day road trip. The Cavs managed to miss 17 of 19 shots in the final period to give this one away as rookie Kyrie Irving struggled, shooting just 5-15 for 16 points.
- The Jazz continued to struggle on the road, losing their fourth despite a rally that erased a 21-point deficit in the 4th quarter of a 104-99 loss to the Pacers. Al Jefferson struggled with his shot against Roy Hibbert, going 6-17 from the field, while Darren Collison led the Pacers with 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. The Pacers continue to roll, winning five of their last six games.