HOU @ BOS: With Kevin Garnett (17 PTS, 8 REB, 4 BLK) back at C and a PF timeshare that features Jared Sullinger (14 PTS, 11 REB) off the bench, the Celtics are rolling. Paul Pierce had 16 of his 23 in the second half and they played good enough D to hold James Harden to ‘only’ 24 points. The normally runnin’ Rockets are being grounded by the schedule as much as anything; that was their fifth game in eight days and they must play again tonight. Trouble is temporary, please stand by.
DET @ MIL: The Bucks are not invincible under Jim Boylan and Ersan Ilyasova (8 PTS, 6 REB) remains inconsistent despite the new coach’s vote of confidence. To my astonishment, Greg Monroe (26 PTS, 11 REB) simply destroyed Larry Sanders (3 PTS, 5 REB, 3 BLK in 18:34) and Brandon Knight (20 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB) did a nice job cooling off previously sizzling Brandon Jennings (15 PTS, one lonely assist) as the Pistons dominated the third quarter and cruised home. My theoretical parlay of Milwaukee and the over is embarrassing to admit.
PHO @ BRK: Now 7-1 for coach P.J. Carlesimo, the Nets won easily, but at a cost. Gerald Williams is called Crash for a reason; he came down very hard after a foul and is lucky to have escaped with only bruised ribs. Deron Williams (15 PTS, 6 AST) suffered a bruised thigh and Joe Johnson (19) played despite not feeling well. Reggie Evans grabbed another 15 rebounds; has anyone pointed out how much he looks like a grizzled Quincy Acy?
SAS @ MEM: The game of the night went to overtime thanks to a long 3-pointer at the buzzer by Tony Parker (30 PTS, 5 AST) before the Grizzlies pulled it out. Six Memphis players scored in double figures led by Rudy Gay (23) and Mike Conley (21), with Darrell Arthur (14 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL) very sharp in 23 minutes off the bench. Tiago Splitter (13 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL) fouled out before OT but is becoming a formidable Twin Tower with Tim Duncan (13 PTS, 15 REB, 3 BLK) and the Brazilian is a trade target for me, especially in keeper leagues.
POR @ GSW: As expected, Stephen Curry (22 PTS, 12 AST, 3 REB, 3 STL) and David Lee (24 PTS, 10 REB, 2 STL) bounced back from a couple of disappointing games. This would have been a blowout if not for Damian Lillard, an Oakland native who put on an incredible show for family, friends and neighbors. A career-high 37 points, 7-of-12 from deep, six rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals may have locked up the Rookie of the Year trophy, but his teammates were tired and LaMarcus Aldridge (7 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST) was slowed by an ankle sprain.
OKC @ LAL: He’s not a self-promoter and apparently isn’t as nice as we think, but Kevin Durant (42 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, 4 3PT) doesn’t mind the spotlight. We thought Steve Nash (7 PTS, 7 AST) would be in trouble against Russell Westbrook (27 PTS, 10 AST, 7 REB, 2 STL) so the lopsided score was no surprise. Kobe Bryant (28) led the Lakers and Earl Clark (10 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK) played well in his first start, but the real surprise was Antawn Jamison coming back to life (19 PTS, 10 REB) in 31 minutes off the bench.
MIN @ NOH: No team has been hit harder by injuries than Minnesota. A playoff contender with a healthy Kevin Love, they simply can’t replace him with any combination of Derrick Williams (9 PTS in 24:31) and Dante Cunningham (12 PTS, 9 REB in 38:42, and they weren’t deep enough to beat the much-improved Hornets. Al-Farouq Aminu (12 PTS, 13 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL) has never looked better and Greivis Vasquez (18 PTS, 13 AST, 4 REB) is wildly underrated by most fans. Eric Gordon (16 PTS, 3 AST) is slowly improving. Owners of Anthony Davis (9 PTS in 23 minutes) are really getting worried about Jason Smith (14 PTS, 5 REB in 20:21) playing so well.