NOH @ DEN: Sometimes, the old, fuzzy crystal ball becomes high-def clear. I called the Nuggets to score at least 110 and said Eric Gordon (9 PTS, 5 TO) would not fare well vs. Andre Iguodala (24 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL). Ty Lawson (21 PTS, 13 AST, 2 STL) also performed as advertised. For the Hornets, Greivis Vasquez (13 PTS, 9 AST) and Ryan Anderson (21 PTS) played well enough, but the clock has struck midnight (again) for Al-Farouq Aminu (3 PTS in 13 minutes) after that surprise string of double-doubles a couple of weeks ago.
LAL @ MIN: No Dwight Howard (shoulder), no problem. The lakers used just eight players, six of whom scored in double figures. Pau Gasol (22 PTS, 12 REB, 3 BLK) was just fine at C, Earl Clark (13 PTS, 10 REB) played 36 minutes and my prediction of a Kobe Bryant triple-double didn’t miss by much —17 PTS, 12 REB, 8 AST. Steve Nash (17 PTS, 7 AST, 7 REB) was very effective and Antawn Jamison (18 PTS, 7 REB, 2 STL) contributed 28 minutes off the bench. For Minnesota, Alexey Shved (18 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB) was the high scorer and may soon take over at SG for Luke Ridnour (4 PTS in 25 minutes).
POR @ UTA: Round 1 went to the Jazz, and the Blazers lost Wesley Matthews (9 PTS in 27 minutes) to an ankle injury. Nicolas Batum (5 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 3 BLK) is clearly not 100% ,playing through a wrist injury. A huge night for Damian Lillard (26 PTS, 5 AST) was not enough. Big Al Jefferson (21 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK) led the way for Utah, Paul Millsap added 15 despite hurting his elbow and the bench had a 28-10 advantage over Portland’s mediocre reserves.
February 2 Game Previews
CHI @ ATL: If Hinrich, Noah and Boozer can’t play, the other Bulls will be exhausted. Use Gibson if you must, or Marco Belinelli — who had 18 off the bench last night — but this should be an easy win for the Hawks, who are fully rested and at home. Al Horford, Josh Smith and Jeff Teague are must-starts, and Kyle Korver might enjoy bombing away against his former team.
OKC @ CLE: Based on their apathetic loss and indifferent defense in Detroit last night, the Cavaliers would lose by 50 if the Thunder really cared about this game. What seems more likely is that Kyrie will get up for the matchup against the volatile Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant will be on cruise control most of the evening, so while the outcome seems certain, the score will be somewhat respectable.
SAC @ NYK: The Kings put up a surprisingly good fight in Philadelphia; it’s a lot to ask them to do it again 24 hours later. The Knicks were in a home dogfight and will also be tired, so this one may not be pretty. J.R. Smith hit five 3-pointers last night and seems to be coming around; if Felton’s hand is an issue, ancient rookie Pablo Prigioni is standing by.