NYK @ SAC: It’s hard to believe the Knicks lost by only one point, when three of their five starters scored a total of four. Jason Kidd (16 PTS, 7 AST, 6 REB) and Tyson Chandler (21 PTS, 18 REB) were solid, as Carmelo Anthony (knee) missed another game. J.R Smith poured in a season-high 28 in 43 minutes off the bench, and rookie Chris Copeland added 23, though he does nothing else. Marcus Thornton (18) led the Kings, while the reinstated DeMarcus Cousins (15 PTS, 10 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL) was certainly helpful, but the hero was James Johnson (17 PTS, 7 REB in 28:32 off the bench), whose 3-point buzzer-beater decided the outcome.
POR @ LAL: That was no contest. Dwight Howard (21 PTS, 14 REB, 3 BLK) destroyed J.J. Hickson (2 PTS, 7 REB in just 18:27) as the Lakers romped. Kobe Bryant had ‘only’ 27 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST and 2 STL because he played less than 31 minutes. Pau Gasol, despite a touch of plantar fasciitis, added 15 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST and 3 BLK. LaMarcus Aldridge (26) was the only Blazer who shouldn’t be embarrassed by this lackluster effort.
PHI @ GSW: While Stephen Curry (11 PTS, 6 AST, 5 REB) had his hands full with Jrue Holiday (21 PTS, 10 REB), David Lee (25 PTS, 12 REB) took over. The Warriors’ second unit is mostly two guys; both Jarrett Jack (16 PTS, 6 AST) and Carl Landry (15 PTS, 11 REB) have been great. For the Sixers, Thaddeus Young was outstanding (19 PTS, 10 REB, 4 AST, 5 STL) but Dorell Wright, who started again for Jason Richardson (back), had a quiet homecoming (8 PTS, 5 REB in 23 minutes) and the bench was no help.
December 29 Games
IND @ ATL: Though they both won on Friday, there’s late-night travel involved and you never know which team is more resilient. If Josh Smith can’t suit up, the Pacers could win their first game in Atlanta in six years. Kyle Korver and Zaza Pachulia might get extra minutes, and seldom-used Anthony Tolliver scored 13 last night.
TOR @ ORL: This is another situation where both teams played elsewhere on Friday and might be sleep-deprived. Who will have more in the tank? The possible return of Hedo Turkoglu (hand) could provide a boost for the Magic, and Nikola Vucevic has an advantage over any of Toronto’s centers.