DEN @ BRK: If you picked up C.J. Watson on the news that Deron Williams (ankles) is out, congratulations. Watson was brilliant — 25 PTS, 6 AST, 2 STL, 5 3PTM — as the Nets ran up their highest point total of the season. Brook Lopez (23 PTS, 8 REB) and Joe Johnson (26 PTS, 9 AST) also feasted on the tired, wounded Nuggets. Andre Iguodala (neck) and Danilo Gallinari (sinus infection) missed another game, so Wilson Chandler (11 PTS, 7 REB) played 32 minutes on a sore groin. Ty Lawson (26 PTS, 9 AST) did his best to no avail.
TOR @ NYK: The Raptors had played the night before, Kyle Lowry got ejected in the third for a second technical foul and Rudy Gay (11 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST) shot a brutal 4-for-21. How did they win? Well, Carmelo Anthony (12 PTS, 12 REB) missed 19 of his 24 shots after taking an elbow to his right arm, and Toronto swing man Alan Anderson got hot — 26 points, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc. DeMar DeRozan (20 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST) was also sharp for the visitors and only J.R. Smith (26) picked up Melo. Tyson Chandler (10 PTS, 9 REB, 2 BLK) was the game’s best big man despite being slowed by a sore ankle.
PHI @ MIL: We hope that Larry Sanders (back) feels better after the break, but Samuel Dalembert (17 PTS, 14 REB, 3 BLK) is quite capable on his good nights. Monta Ellis (27 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB) and Brandon Jennings (21 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB, 4 STL) both played well, especially in the second half. It was a very tough loss for the Sixers, whose playoff hopes are fading. Jrue Holiday (16 PTS, 12 AST) and Spencer Hawes (19 PTS, 9 REB) got some help from Evan Turner (20 PTS) but two bench players are starting due to injuries and what’s left of the second unit isn’t very good.
UTA @ MIN: Once again, the big guys carried the Jazz. Al Jefferson (20 PTS, 11 REB, 3 STL) and Paul Millsap (21 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK) may not be playing together much longer, as both are popular in trade rumors. For Minnesota, Ricky Rubio just missed a triple-double (18 PTS, 9 REB, 10 AST, 4 STL) and Nikola Pekovic was solid (19 PTS, 13 REB), with Derrick Williams (24 PTS, 16 REB) enjoying one of the best nights of his career, but the reserves were no match for Utah’s bench, which held a 44-12 advantage.
POR @ NOH: You can almost forgive the Blazers for not trying. They were on the road for a long time, Nicolas Batum has been playing hurt, then they lost Wesley Matthews to an ankle sprain in the second minute. In a ridiculously easy win, Anthony Davis (21 PTS, 11 REB, 3 AST, 2 BLK) led the Hornets, scoring more than he had in the previous four games combined. Garbage time inflated the stats of bench players on both teams and meant disappointing fantasy lines for several starters; LaMarcus Aldridge (6 PTS, 3 REB, 4 BLK) was 2-for-11 as Portland shot 32% in a hurry to get home.
SAC @ DAL: One of the few games that went exactly according to the script. Vince Carter (26 PTS, 5 REB, 2 STL) hit six 3-pointers, Dirk Nowitzki (17 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL) played a strong 30 minutes and Darren Collison (18 PTS, 9 AST, 4 REB) did a nice job facilitating. The Kings never threatened, though Tyreke Evans (23 PTS, 3 STL) and DeMarcus Cousins (17 PTS, 13 REB) did enough to satisfy their fantasy owners.
HOU @ LAC: In a back-to-back, without James Harden (ankle) it’s amazing the Rockets lost by only ten. They gave up 46 points in the first quarter! Caron Butler scored 17 of his 19 points in that opening 12 minutes, with Chris Paul (10 PTS, 11 AST, 3 REB, 3 STL) and Blake Griffin (20 PTS, 11 REB, 5 AST, 4 STL) also dominant. Playing in short stints, Chauncey Billups hit four 3-pointers to finish with 19 points in 20 minutes. The Houston bench made the final score somewhat respectable, with Donatas Motiejunas (13) and James Anderson (14) getting extra minutes.
February 14 Game Previews
MIA @ OKC: For a midseason game, this one looms large, especially in the eyes of fans. LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant, in a finals rematch? Sign us up! The thing is, neither team wants to peak on Valentine’s Day, not do they want to use every weapon in their arsenal. While it’s not an exhibition game, it’s also not going to feature playoff-level defensive intensity. Use the stars and enjoy the show.
LAC @ LAL: The second half of the TNT doubleheader is another showcase, for the unofficial championship of Staples Center. The Clippers are a much better team than the injury-riddled Lakers, and though they played last night, it was an easy win, with no travel involved. It’s been 20 years since the Lakers lost the season series. Dwight Howard has been improving and Kobe Bryant should be inspired tonight after one of his worst games ever, but there is no comparison between the depth of these teams.