NOH @ BOS: Even without Eric Gordon, who was rested for precautionary reasons, the vastly-improved the Hornets won back-to-back on the road. It was a strong defensive effort, with Al-Farouq Aminu (18 PTS, 9 REB, 2 STL) the game’s high scorer. Greivis Vasquez (15 PTS, 11 REB, 4 AST) had a double-double against Rajon Rondo (7 PTS, 11 AST, 3 REB, 3 STL) and Austin Rivers (8 PTS in 22:43) has temporary family bragging rights — his father’s Celtics lost for the first time in seven games.
DEN @ OKC: It took no time at all for Russell Westbrook (32 PTS, 4 AST) to take over this lopsided affair. Kevin Durant cooled off a little; 20 PTS, 4 AST, 5 STL (a nice line for most mortals) was actually disappointing for KD, as the Thunder starters weren’t needed for most of the second half. Serge Ibaka (5 PTS, 6 REB, 5 BLK) returned from a chest bruise and Kevin Martin (20 PTS) was sharp off the bench. The lone bright spot for Denver was Kosta Koufos (16 PTS, 9 REB); Wilson Chandler got the night off because his hip isn’t ready yet to endure back-to-back games.
MEM @ SAS: The Spurs didn’t miss Manu Ginobili (hamstring) one bit. They shot an incredible 58%, led by Tony Parker (17 PTS, 11 AST) and Tim Duncan (19 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 5 BLK) as usual. One surprise was extra minutes off the bench for Boris Diaw (14 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST), whose passing skills are exceptional for a big man. For the slumping Grizzlies, who scored just 28 points in the second half, Rudy Gay (17 PTS, 8 AST) returned from a family funeral but it wasn’t nearly enough to avoid a third straight defeat. Zach Randolph (11 PTS, 5 REB) left early with a sore back but we don’t think it’s too serious.
WAS @ SAC: I was expecting a score like 115-110, so this was actually a tight defensive battle. John Wall (14 PTS, 10 AST) is up to 26 minutes and Bradley Beal (a career-high 26 PTS, 6 AST) hit six 3-pointers, but the Wizards came up one point short. DeMarcus Cousins (21 PTS, 16 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL) and Tyreke Evans (21 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST) were outstanding for the Kings, with John Salmons also scoring 21. The ongoing PG ‘battle’ between Isaiah Thomas and Aaron Brooks might be over; the winner looks like Evans, a SG who dominates the ball.
MIA @ GSW: The youngest player ever to score 20,000 points, LeBron James (25 PTS, 10 AST, 7 REB) made sure Miami wouldn’t lose. Stephen Curry (knee, ankle) sat out and Jarrett Jack (16 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST) got the start for the Warriors, who never threatened; David Lee (12 PTS, 11 REB) was held in check. What I’d anticipated as the game of the night turned into just another coronation for the King.
CLE @ POR: Last season’s Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving (31 PTS, 5 AST, 3 REB, 4 STL) made a statement against this year’s favorite Damian Lillard (13 PTS, 7 AST) and Tristan Thompson (19 PTS, 14 REB) was strong up front for the Cavaliers, who sprung a road upset. The Blazers battled back in the second half; LaMarcus Aldridge (15 PTS, 10 REB, 4 BLK) was effective but Nicolas Batum (23 PTS, 12 REB) almost had the wrong kind of triple-double, committing nine turnovers. If Portland had just one more decent player and didn’t have to ride their starters into exhaustion every night, they would be a better team.