ATL @ ORL: The Hawks have developed a new team chemistry this year, led by Al Horford (13 PTS, 13 REB, 4 AST) and Josh Smith (16 PTS, 11 REB, 5 BLK), who is playing unselfish team ball. Kyle Korver (9 PTS) returned from a 5-game absence and should be the starting SF soon, as Anthony Morrow (2-for-11) had a poor night in a start for DeShawn Stevenson (knee) For the Magic, rookie Andrew Nicholson (8 PTS, 7 REB in 26 minutes) is a good pickup in deep leagues but fellow freshman Maurice Harkless is struggling. Arron Afflalo (16) was their top scorer, though he missed 10 of 16 shots.
CLE @ IND: Guess what? Kyrie Irving is only human. After looking like a superhero the night before in an upset of the Lakers, the sophomore had just 9 points and 4 assists — hardly a shock, after missing 11 previous games. The surprise was Anderson Varejao going 0-for-9 with ‘only’ 12 boards. The lone bright spot on a dark night for Cleveland (23 points as a team in the second half) was a second consecutive 28-point game for C.J. Miles. When Dion Waiters (ankle) is back, Miles’ run may be over, but congratulations if you streamed him this week. Paul George (27) and David West (18) led the Pacers, while George Hill (17) did a nice job on Kyrie. Indiana lost SG Lance Stephenson to an ankle sprain early in the third; Gerald Green did very little in his place, but could get a couple of starts this weekend.
CHI @ PHI: What a nice rebound for the Bulls after the loss at home 24 hours earlier. Joakim Noah (21 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST) was tremendous and Luol Deng (19 PTS, 12 REB) very good, while Nate Robinson, starting in place of Kirk Hinrich (knee) filled in capably. Jrue Holiday (26 PTS, 9 AST, 5 REB) led the Sixers, but he needed more help. Thaddeus Young (13 PTS, 9 REB, 4 BLK) and Evan Turner (16 PTS, 8 REB) were not the problem; Lavoy Allen (6 PTS, 6 REB) was no match for Noah and Jason Richardson (2-for-9) had a rough night.
LAC @ CHA: Credit the Bobcats, losers of nine in a row, for a strong effort. Kemba Walker (17 PTS, 6 AST) held his own against Chris Paul (19 PTS, 10 AST) while Byron Mullens (19 PTS, 8 REB) and Bismack Biyombo (10 PTS, 9 REB) played better than I expected. As predicted, the L.A. bench came up big; Eric Bledsoe (13 PTS, 8 AST, 2 BLK) has made the most of his minutes all year and Matt Barnes (19 PTS, 4 REB, 2 BLK) provided energy when it was needed. Blake Griffin also had 19 for the Clippers, who are now sailing along on an 8-game win streak.
DEN @ MIN: After Kevin Love blasted Wolves management in an interview, he got manhandled by the Manimal. Love (8 PTS on 3-for-17 shooting) did grab 14 boards, but Kenneth Faried (26 PTS, 14 REB, 3 STL) kept the Nuggets in the game. Ty Lawson (17 PTS, 11 AST) and Danilo Gallinari (24) also played well, though Andre Iguodala hit rock bottom: two points in 34:41, 1-for-9 from the floor, with five turnovers. Minnesota prevailed thanks to Nikola Pekovic (22 PTS, 11 REB, 2 BLK) and Andrei Kirilenko (18 PTS, 4 AST, 4 STL) and their bench. J.J. Barea (17 PTS, 8 AST, 2 STL) staked his claim to a rotation spot even after Ricky Rubio (knee) returns, which should happen soon.
SAC @ MIL: Flirting with a triple-double, Monta Ellis (17 PTS, 11 AST, 8 REB) was outstanding, Brandon Jennings added 19 and surprise starter Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (17 PTS, 6 REB) did well filling in for Larry Sanders, who was ill. The Bucks rolled to an easy win, as DeMarcus Cousins (one-game suspension) was impossible for the woeful Kings to replace. Tyreke Evans, who missed five of the previous six games with a sore knee, scored 17 in 23 minutes off the bench and appears ready to start again.
NOH @ OKC: Perhaps the whole Thunder team was a bit overconfident. Russell Westbrook (14 PTS, 9 AST) was relatively quiet and they had to finish strong to win by only four. Kevin Durant (35 PTS, 9 REB) was typically great, and Kevin Martin (17 PTS, 6 REB) was solid off the bench. Once again, the Hornets started Ryan Anderson (14 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST) ahead of Anthony Davis (11 PTS, 4 REB) but you have to wonder if one of them shouldn’t play SF, as Al-Farouq Aminu (8 PTS, 6 REB) is definitely not helping.