HOU @ CHA: We said James Harden must rediscover his mojo, then he went 5-for-20. He did hit 19 of 21 free throws to finish with 29 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST, 2 STL and a much-needed W. It was the Rockets’ bench that turned this game around. Marcus Morris (21 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK) took over from ineffective Patrick Patterson (zero points in just 8:27) and Carlos Delfino (16 PTS) hit three 3-pointers. Patrick Beverly (10 PTS in 24 minutes) has replaced Toney Douglas (DNP-CD) as the backup PG, and with coach McHale down on Jeremy Lin (4 PTS in 24 minutes), Beverley is an ever-growing blip on the fantasy radar. Charlotte wasted a career-high 35-point effort by Kemba Walker; the only other Bobcat to score more than ten was Ramon Sessions (19 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST) but Bismack Biyombo (2 PTS, 9 REB, 7 BLK) deserves some credit for his defense.
LAC @ GSW: Wow. Stephen Curry (28 PTS, 6 AST, 3 REB) nailed four of his six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, as the Warriors came from behind for an impressive win. David Lee (12 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST) played despite a tender ankle, and Jarrett Jack (18 PTS, 10 AST, 6 REB) was terrific again, running the point with Curry at SG and Klay Thompson (18 PTS) at SF for long stretches. Blake Griffin (26 PTS, 13 REB, 8 AST, 3 STL, 2 BLK) had a fantastic afternoon in the losing cause, and Jamal Crawford (24 PTS) drained six 3-pointers. Limping badly down the stretch, Chris Paul (4 PTS, 9 AST) probably shouldn’t have stayed in the game after bumping his already-sore knee.
SAS @ PHI: It’s really no surprise that Tony Parker (20 PTS, 8 AST) was the man to cool off red-hot Jrue Holiday (15 PTS, 8 AST, 4 STL) who had been averaging 30+ for three games. TP is underrated as a defender, and San Antonio executed its game plan. Tim Duncan (24 PTS, 17 REB, 5 AST) was superb after taking one game off to rest, Tiago Splitter (10 PTS, 12 REB) keeps playing well and Kawhi Leonard (16 PTS, 7 REB, 2 STL) is coming around. Evan Turner (18 PTS, 12 REB, 7 AST) and Spencer Hawes (16 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST, 3 BLK) helped the Sixers rally from a 17-point deficit to open a 7-point lead, then the whole team went ice-cold, just as the Spurs made their final push.
LAL @ CHI: Not sure if this was a case of the Bulls being very good, or if the Lakers are just giving up. Kobe Bryant (16 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB, 0-0 on 3-pointers) is visibly tired and vocally upset. Though Dwight Howard (8 PTS, 9 REB, 2 BLK) didn’t play much the day before, he wasn’t a major factor. In a move that makes sense only to Mike D’Antoni, Pau Gasol (15 PTS, 12 REB, 2 BLK) is now coming off the bench as a center, with Earl Clark (12 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK) reinserted as the starting PF. Chicago got a tremendous performance from Kirk Hinrich — 22 PTS, 8 AST, 7 REB — to more than cancel out Steve Nash (18 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB), who led L.A. in scoring. Jimmy Butler (10 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST) not only filled in capably again for Luol Deng (hamstring), he did a great job defensively on Kobe. Joakim Noah (6 PTS, 13 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL) also blocked six shots in an inspired effort.
WAS @ POR: We have been telling you for a while that the Wizards are new and vastly improved. John Wall (6 PTS) and Bradley Beal (2 PTS on 1-for-7 shooting) were invisible — Beal is battling a sore wrist — but others picked up the slack, especially Nene (24 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST, 4 STL) and Emeka Okafor (13 PTS, 13 REB) up front. A season-high for Martell Webster (24 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB) helped negate a triple-double by Nicolas Batum (12 PTS, 11 AST, 10 REB, 3 STL, 2 BLK) and Jordan Crawford (13 PTS in 22 minutes) hit a buzzer-beating three to win it. Damian Lillard (18 PTS, 5 AST) and LaMarcus Aldridge (17 PTS, 12 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL) can’t be faulted; it’s the Blazers’ bench, or complete lack thereof, that is most responsible for their current 6-game losing streak.