IND @ OKC: That was actually a strong effort by the Pacers, especially in the first half, when they shot 60% and trailed by only one. The Thunder, known more for their ability to score, clamped down on D to pull away in the second half. Sixth man Kevin Martin had a big night (24) in support of Kevin Durant (27 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST) and Russell Westbrook (21 PTS, 7 REB, 6 AST) as OKC won its eighth in a row. All five Indiana starters finished in double figures, led by David West 21 PTS, 9 REB) and Paul George (17 PTS, 8 REB). They would have beaten most teams last night.
DEN @ NYK: We were sure Carmelo Anthony (finger) would play against his former team, not as certain he could score 34. After a slow start, Melo was the difference in a very entertaining contest. Tyson Chandler (15 PTS, 12 REB, 2 BLK) and Jason Kidd (17 PTS, 7 AST) were also outstanding. For the visitors, Ty Lawson (23 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB) was solid, former Knick Danilo Gallinari (21 PTS, 9 REB) played well and slumping Andre Iguodala (15 PTS, 7 REB) showed signs of life. Corey Brewer (15) hit double-digits off the bench for the fourth straight game; the Nuggets simply came up short in the final quarter.
ORL @ PHO: That was the first time I pever icked a sub-.500 team from the East to win the final game of a long Western road trip. It was hardly a ringing endorsement of the Magic, more an indictment of the setting Suns, who have now lost seven in a row. Goran Dragic (illness) was unable to play, so Sebastian Telfair (6 PTS, 8 AST) made an underwhelming start at PG. Jared Dudley (15 PTS, 4 AST) is the starting SF again, and SG Shannon Brown (17) was their top scorer. For Orlando, on a 1-for-7 off-night for Jameer Nelson, the bench picked up the slack. J.J. Redick (20 PTS, 9 REB) was terrific, and rookie Andrew Nicholson had by far his best game as a pro — 19 PTS, 9 REB, 3 AST, 4 STL — in a career-high 25 minutes. The young Canadian is worth an add in deeper leagues.
UTA @ LAL: The return of Al Jefferson (14 PTS, 11 REB) helped the Jazz win the battle in the paint, but it was Paul Millsap (24 PTS, 9 REB, 3 STL) who made the biggest difference. Mo Williams (22 PTS, 9 AST) was stellar against Chris Duhon (12 PTS, 11 AST) but Millsap’s dominance of Antawn Jamison (3 PTS in 16 minutes; -17) forced the Lakers to go to their bench. Jordan Hill responded with 17 PTS, 9 REB and 4 BLK, but when Pau Gasol (knees) returns, Hill is unlikely to see 30+ minutes again. Kobe Bryant scored 34 points on 9-24 shooting but offense isn’t the problem; it’s allowing 117 points to a team that is not normally a powerhouse on the road.
December 10 Games
DET @ PHI: It was almost a month ago that the Pistons were winless and apparently hopeless, only to thrash the Sixers in Philly for one of the season’s biggest upsets. Doug Collins and his team won’t let an embarrassment like that happen again, but they have lost three of four and this is no sure thing. The PG battle between Brandon Knight and Jrue Holiday is critical; Knight has scored 51 points in his last two despite complaining of sore legs. Greg Monroe has a big advantage over Lavoy Allen in the middle, and Rodney Stuckey has become a reliable spark as the sixth man. It may not be high-scoring, but Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner are worth considering in daily leagues.