Apparently it’s some kind of national holiday, as there are only three NBA games on Sunday and they all start early. Don’t forget to set your fantasy basketball lineups before 1:00 Eastern, about when the Super Bowl pregame shows begin. Enjoy the spectacle, the parties and the football. Consider hoops an appetizer, like chicken wings.
February 2 Game Recaps
CHI @ ATL: My hat is off to the Bulls. With injuries to three starters, in a back-to-back, they shut down the Hawks with energy, passion and Taj Gibson. Filling in brilliantly for Joakim Noah (foot), Gibson (19 PTS, 19 REB, 3 BLK) and Luol Deng (25 PTS, 14 REB, 5 AST, 4 STL) both played more than 45 minutes. Nate Robinson (20 PTS, 8 AST, 3 STL) did a nice job in place of Kirk Hinrich (elbow) and sophomore Jimmy Butler had another good night — 16 PTS, 10 REB, 3 STL. For Atlanta, Al Horford (14 PTS, 12 REB, 3 BLK) and Josh Smith (19 PTS, 13 REB, 5 AST, 2 BLK) needed more help; DeShawn Stevenson missed five of six shots as the starting SF and Devin Harris (ankle) didn’t appear.
OKC @ CLE: That was an ambush. After a horrible outing the night before, the Cavaliers shocked the Thunder with a tremendous fourth quarter. The incredible Kyrie Irving (35 PTS) scored 13 in the final 5:47 and Marreese Speights (21 PTS, 10 REB in 33 minutes) is taking over rapidly from Tyler Zeller, as we predicted the moment he was acquired. Russell Westbrook (28 PTS, 5 AST, 3 STL) couldn’t stop Kyrie in crunch time, and excellent lines by Kevin Durant (32 PTS, 11 REB) and Serge Ibaka (18 PTS, 12 REB, 4 BLK) weren’t enough to earn the W.
SAC @ NYK: Told you it wouldn’t be pretty. Already ahead 56-33 at halftime, the Knicks dropped a 41-point third quarter on the hapless Kings. The Garden crowd enjoyed runs of 19-2, 27-3 and 20-2; garbage time arrived as the national anthem finished. An angry DeMarcus Cousins — as opposed to the pouting version — scored 25 and Jimmer Fredette had 14 off the bench, but the other Sacramento players should be ashamed. J.R. Smith hit seven more 3-pointers (that’s 12 in two nights) and Amare Stoudemire was perfect: 10-10 from the floor, 1-1 from the line. In only 29 minutes, Tyson Chandler grabbed 20 rebounds. To the dismay of his fantasy owners, Carmelo Anthony (9 PTS, 5 AST) simply wasn’t needed.