MEM @ ATL: Quite simply, the Hawks played much better than they did the night before, with Jeff Teague (22 PTS, 13 AST) leading the way and Josh Smith (19 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST, 3 BLK) far more involved. Al Horford (17 PTS, 11 REB, 3 AST) also had a double-double. Memphis will at least be cost-effective for its new owner, but Tayshaun Prince (6 PTS) isn’t making Grizzlies fans forget Gay so far, and other players may not be happy about the front office moves. Zach Randolph (20 PTS, 7 REB) and Marc Gasol (14 PTS, 10 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL) played well enough and sixth man Jerryd Bayless (15 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB) is in a nice groove.
LAC @ ORL: Destroy the tape of this one; it wasn’t the NBA’s finest. Blake Griffin (ankle, hamsting) and Jamal Crawford (shoulder) joined Chris Paul (kneecap) on the sidelines, so Eric Bledsoe (27 PTS, 6 REB, 6 STL, 3 AST, 3 BLK) put the Clippers on his back in the game of his life. The Magic got Jameer Nelson back (18 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST) and Nikola Vucevic double-doubled (15 PTS, 14 REB) but without Arron Afflalo (calf) and J.J. Redick (shoulder) they can’t generate much offense. Rookie Kyle O’Quinn (10 PTS, 9 REB in 19 minutes) had his best game as a pro but is relevant only in very deep leagues.
HOU @ MIA: Nice try, Rockets. James Harden (36 PTS, 12 REB, 7 AST, 3 STL) is a stud and the other four starters all scored in double figures, but they fell just short in a back-to-back against a pretty good team. LeBron James (32 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST, 2 BLK) and Dwyane Wade (31 PTS, 8 AST, 5 REB, 4 STL, 2 BLK) were absolutely brilliant and Udonis Haslem (9 PTS, 13 REB) did a nice job filling in for Chris Bosh (flu). Though it was relatively high-scoring, the Heat made some key defensive stops in the final minute to preserve the W.
BRK @ DET: The tired Nets dug deep; Brook Lopez (17 PTS, 9 REB, 2 BLK) and Reggie Evans (10 PTS, 14 REB) battled for every rebound against Greg Monroe (23 PTS, 10 REB) and Brooklyn made some clutch free throws down the stretch. For Detroit, Jose Calderon (8 PTS, 9 AST) is still getting used to a new system and teammates, and I remain unconvinced that Brandon Knight (12 PTS, 4 AST) is the answer at SG or that Kyle Singler (12 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST) can compete with the better SF in the league. It’s short-term pain for Pistons fans; the long-term gain in cap flexibility will be worth it, and the rookies can only get better. Andre Drummond has a sore back and played less than five minutes.
GSW @ OKC: For the second night in a row, Stephen Curry and David Lee were not quite themselves. Curry (14 PTS, 11 AST, 8 REB) flirted with a triple-double but missed 15 shots and turned it over six times. Lee (12 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST) had to deal with an inspired Serge Ibaka (15 PTS, 9 REB, 4 AST, 6 BLK) and Andrew Bogut doesn’t appear in the second part of back-to-back games. Kevin Durant (25 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK) and Russell Westbrook (22 PTS, 5 AST, 3 REB, 4 STL) weren’t needed at all in the fourth quarter, when Kevin Martin scored 10 of his 21 points.
PHO @ NOH: The result was easy enough to call, but I whiffed on Eric Gordon (9 PTS in 32 minutes) and did not expect much from Al-Farouq Aminu (16 PTS, 11 REB). With Goran Dragic (13 PTS, 6 AST) both tired and under the weather, Greivis Vasquez had a great night — 8-of-9 for 19 points, 12 assists, zero turnovers and four steals. Robin Lopez (11 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK) took care of Marcin Gortat (14 PTS, 7 REB) and Ryan Anderson (14 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST) added three 3-pointers off the bench.
POR @ DAL: If Nicolas Batum (9 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST) wasn’t playing with a sore wrist, this might have been different. The other four Portland starters scored 81 points, led by LaMarcus Aldridge (27 PTS, 10 REB) and Wesley Matthews (21 PTS, 4 AST, 3 STL, 5 3PTM) but they have no bench at all. Vince Carter (17 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST) outscored the Blazers reserves by himself, O.J. Mayo (28 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB) was very sharp and Dirk Nowitzki (16 PTS, 8 REB) looked a bit more confident that he won’t re-injure his groin.