Blake Griffin was a human highlight film with 27 points, 14 REB, 5 AST and a trio of emphatic dunks in the fourth to seal the deal as the Clippers have now won three straight by double-digit margins. Chris Paul (15 & 15) played Robin to Griffin’s Batman while the Suns were short of superheroes. Marcin Gortat had 23, but elder statesman Steve Nash missed all four of his shots and the venerable Grant Hill (knee) didn’t play.
MIN @ CHA: Kevin Love just never takes a night off. It wasn’t just a back-to-back, it was the seventh game (and sixth on the road) in ten days for the T-Wolves, who are missing some key players. Love scored 40 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in an MVP-calibre performance. Luke Ridnour, who might not even be playing except that J.J. Barea is hurt worse, added 15 points and 14 assists. The Bobcats were led by Corey Maggette with 22, and Kemba Walker had 20 in an encouraging 24 minutes off the bench.
DEN @ TOR: That was entertaining, unless you’re a Nuggets fan who watched the fourth quarter on TV. Andrea Bargnani (26) had his best game since returning from a calf injury, DeMar DeRozan had 17 in his return from a sore ankle and Linas Kleiza added 15 in a rare start for Joe Johnson (flu) but it was Denver’s 3-20 shooting down the stretch that decided this game. Ty Lawson had 26 PTS and 9 AST in the loss.
DET @ CLE: Rodney Stuckey, who I was expecting to play well, left after seven minutes with a hamstring injury and Ben Gordon (groin) didn’t play, but Tayshaun Prince stepped up with 29 to lead all scorers. Kyrie Irving had 22 PTS, 6 AST, 9 REB in the loss, as the rest of the Cavs combined to shoot 21-68, which is barely over 30%.
ORL @ NYK: If you thought Steve Novak (16) would outscore Dwight Howard (12) and Ryan Anderson (3) combined, you shouldn’t be reading this, you should be writing it. Noticeably limping at times and grimacing often, Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points to lead the Knicks to a ridiculously easy win. Iman Shumpert (25) has been terrific while Jeremy Lin (knee) is out, and Baron Davis was effective, though he almost seems due for an injury.
IND @ NJN: Deron Williams took over this game with 30 points (and 9 AST) as the Nets, who lost Shelden Williams early with an eye injury, finished with just eight healthy bodies, none bigger than Kris Humphries. Why Indiana could not take advantage, I don’t know. Danny Granger had just five points and fouled out in 21 minutes. Roy Hibbert was also very quiet, given the lack of a big man for New Jersey. Paul George (22) is the only Pacer who shouldn’t be embarrassed.
UTA @ BOS: Once again, with the Celtics shorthanded, Kevin Garnett refused to yield. KG had 23 points, 10 boards and four assists and was +23 to key the victory. Paul Pierce added 20 and Brandon Bass 19, while Rajon Rondo dropped 14 dimes. Utah’s starting backcourt of Devin Harris and C.J. Miles hit only three of 16 shots for a combined 8 points.
CHI @ ATL: Let’s be charitable to the Hawks, who simply didn’t have it in their fourth game in five nights. Josh Smith (19) had very little support and the Bulls kept coming. Luol Deng had 22, including five 3-pointers, Carlos Boozer added 20 and Taj Gibson scored 19 off the bench. It seems like every time C.J. Watson (5 PTS, 4 AST) has a quiet night, John Lucas (10 PTS, 5 AST) steps up. Chicago will be hard to beat if Derrick Rose ever gets fully healthy.
SAS @ SAC: It was Manu Ginobili, with 20 off the bench, leading the Spurs to another road win. Kawhi Leonard (19) and Tim Duncan (18 PTS, 8 REB) also made big contributions. The Kings are a fantasy-friendly team even if they lose. Isaiah Thomas had 28 points and 10 assists, DeMarcus Cousins 25 points and 11 boards but it wasn’t quite enough. Jason Thompson, who had missed two games with an ankle, scored 15 in his return.
NOH @ GSW: Despite Chris Kaman missing another game (his third) with what must be a serious flu, and Trevor Ariza (ankle) being unavailable, the Hornets prevailed on the road. Carl Landry got the start at PF and scored 20 points, Marco Belinelli was 4-5 from downtown and Jarrett Jack (20 PTS, 9 AST) played well. It was all David Lee (28 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST) for the Warriors; Nate Robinson was scoreless in his return and Klay Thompson didn’t do much.
WAS @ IND: Just four games this evening, and this is not one of the two everyone will be watching. It will be the sixth game in eight nights for Indiana, which will need a much better effort than they managed last night. The Wizards have lost four in a row, their new acquisition Nene has been inconsistent and it’s hard to recommend anyone but Jordan Crawford.
DAL @ MIA: LeBron James is playing with a dislocated ring finger (among other ailments) and the Heat have lost two straight. It’s a rematch of last year’s Finals but Dallas is not the same team and are missing Brendan Haywood, out six games (so far) with a sore knee. I’m bullish on Dwayne Wade tonight and think Chris Bosh might also come up big.
NOH @ POR: Last night’s starting C Jason Smith left with a sore knee, but did return. He might not be 100% in this back-to-back. The Blazers have the advantage of being at home, with an extra day of rest, so LaMarcus Aldridge may be hard to stop. J. J. Hickson isn’t the greatest defender, but he is getting big minutes off the bench and can score. We don’t know if Raymond Felton (personal) will play; rookie PG Nolan Smith might get another start.
OKC @ LAL: This one should be well worth staying up late. The return of Derek Fisher adds sentimental value, his Lakers replacement Ramon Sessions will be inspired and both teams have been playing very well. The “benching” of Andrew Bynum for taking a 3-point shot is a non-issue. Kobe Bryant didn’t play his best game when these teams met last month in OKC, so he might be fired up in this playoff preview.
The Spin is here every morning before 8:00 Eastern except for Sundays, when we post by noon. Follow me on Twitter for updates.
|Sure Things||Over $14,000|
|Hunches||$9,000 to $14,000|
Week 4 has not gone well so far, as I’m down $48 from the original $100 bankroll. Last night I was right about Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but couldn’t have been more wrong on Ryan Anderson. That’s how it goes — you need all eight players to contribute.
With only four games on tap this evening, I’m going to take it easy. Playing in a $2 Salary Cap league with a $500 prize pool and a $5 GPP that pays out a guaranteed $750.
If you haven’t checked out DraftStreet yet, it’s always free to join and the Friday freeroll for Sheridan Hoops readers is a great way to start, with a $350 prize pool and no entry fee. Click the link to sign up and select your team of any eight players that fit under the $100,000 salary cap.
One caution: the dollar amounts listed in the chart above are for tonight’s games. The Freeroll will have slightly different salaries, and it’s for tomorrow night’s games, when there will be a much larger pool of players to choose from. You can edit your lineup right up until 7:00 on Friday.