It’s pretty hard to fault Gregg Popovich, unless you’re David Stern. Pop’s controversial decision to sit four starters in Miami on Thursday seemed to pay off two nights later, as Tony Parker (30 points, 6 assists) and Tim Duncan (27 PTS, 15 REB) were outstanding.
Our colleague Dan Malone writes about an “egregious non-call late in overtime” being the difference, and Chris Sheridan called it the worst blown call of the season. The Grizzlies got a typically strong effort from Mike Conley (18 PTS, 12 AST, 4 STL) and despite shooting only 5-for-21, Zach Randolph (17 PTS, 15 REB) double-doubled. Tony Allen (groin) missed another game and Wayne Ellington (3 PTS in 21:38) was quiet in his place.
San Antonio may have lost another wing player, as Danny Green missed all seven FG attempts, then left early with a sore hamstring. Manu Ginobili (10 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST, 6 STL) may be the last man standing, as Gary Neal (13 PTS) seems more effective off the bench than as a starter. The imminent return of Kawhi Leonard will help.
Other December 1 Games
BRK @ MIA: The result wasn’t so hard to predict, but Chris Bosh (8 PTS, 2 REB) was surprisingly ineffective against the rejuvenated Andray Blatche (20 PTS, 8 REB in 33:39) who was the Nets’ best player on a night they ran out of steam. We did say yesterday that Dwyane Wade was due for a scoring explosion, and 34 points on 14-of-20 shooting seems to qualify. Shane Battier (knee) missed another game and Rashard Lewis did nothing in his place, but the Heat clamped down on D, allowing just 30 points in the entire second half, and came from behind for the impressive win.
POR @ CLE: Double OT is a boon to fantasy owners; 235 points were scored in this one. Damian Lillard (24 PTS, 11 AST, 6 REB) led the Blazers to a narrow victory as all five starters on both teams reached double figures. Cavs’ rookie Tyler Zeller had a double-double off the bench (14 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK) and may soon cut into the minutes of Tristan Thompson (10 PTS in 37:32) if he keeps it up. Anderson Varejao (19 PTS, 17 REB) continued his tremendous season only to lose a heartbreaker on a Nicolas Batum buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The Frenchman had 22 on the night, with LaMarcus Aldridge (21 PTS, 9 REB) also helping to end a four-game losing streak for the Blazers.
OKC @ NOH: Although Ryan Anderson (21 PTS, 10 REB) is trying to hold the fort in the absence of Anthony Davis, the Hornets desperately need their star rookie to recover from his nagging ankle injury. The Thunder just toyed with them; Kevin Durant (20 PTS, 8 REB in 32 minutes) and Russell Westbrook (18 PTS, 10 AST, 5 REB, 3 STL) weren’t needed at all in the fourth quarter.