DET @ MIL: What a point guard show. Jose Calderon (23 PTS, 10 AST, 5 REB, 3 STL) had his best game yet for the Pistons, and Brandon Jennings (26 PTS, 7 AST, 2 REB, 3 STL) tried to match him. Without Larry Sanders (back) it was a huge night for Samuel Dalembert (14 PTS, 12 REB, 5 BLK) against the tough, consistent Greg Monroe (14 PTS, 13 REB, 4 AST, 4 STL) but the Detroit bench won this game. Charlie Villanueva (18 PTS, 13 REB in 25 minutes) was inspired on consecutive nights, and Rodney Stuckey (19 PTS in 26:28) was solid in relief of Brandon Knight, whose shot wouldn’t fall (2-for-13, 4 PTS). For Milwaukee, Ersan Ilyasova (15 PTS, 10 REB, 3 STL) double-doubled and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (11 PTS, 6 REB) returned after missing one game with a sore knee.
UTA @ SAC: We called the Kings to win this, and even predicted a blowout. The final score was respectable only because the Utah bench went wild; the starters were horrible. Isaiah Thomas (25 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL) had a terrific night, sixth man Marcus Thornton added 24 points and DeMarcus Cousins (13 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL) didn’t even get one technical foul. The Jazz second unit was led by Alec Burks (a career-high 24), back at SG because Earl Watson returned from a knee injury. Enes Kanter (15 PTS, 4 REB) and DeMarre Carroll (14 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST) also tried hard, but the fourth-quarter rally was too little, too late, to the delight of a boisterous Sacramento crowd trying to save their team.
February 10 Game Previews
LAC @ NYK: Get used to Sunday matinees on ABC and setting your lineups early. The 1:00 EST game is a dandy, as the Clippers are finally back at full strength, if not 100% in sync just yet. Chris Paul vs. Raymond Felton will be very interesting, and Blake Griffin vs. Carmelo Anthony should be exciting. The heavyweight tilt up front between Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan gets third billing. The return of CP3, who missed nine games with that bruised kneecap, sends Eric Bledsoe back to the second unit, which will help Jamal Crawford get open. Of course, J.R. Smith and Amare Stoudemire make the Knicks’ bench just as dangerous.
LAL @ MIA: Sorry, Lakers fans. LeBron James is so hot right now, it’s ridiculous. In five February games, he’s averaging more than 30 points on 68% shooting. Dwyane Wade will be over the flu, and Chris Bosh should also be feeling better. The Heat won by nine in L.A. last month and they are even better at home. Definitely a must-watch game for the superstar factor, but Kobe Bryant can’t do it alone and while Dwight Howard is playing again, he’s a long way from healthy.
DEN @ BOS: Two of the hottest teams in the league square off. I’ve picked against the Celtics more than once since Rajon Rondo’s season-ending injury, only to be amazed by the skill (and will) of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as they have won six straight. The Nuggets, on a nine-game streak, have climbed all the way to fourth in the West. Crafty coach George Karl is touting them as a championship contender without an All-Star, and even though they played last night, Denver’s depth is truly amazing. It’s a shame someone has to lose this one.