CHI @ NOH: As we expected, Joakim Noah (15 PTS, 17 REB, 5 AST, 3 BLK) looked like an All-Star off the rest, and Luol Deng (20 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST) was also in a zone, as the Bulls earned a methodical road victory.Kirk Hinrich (5 PTS, 10 AST, 3 STL) returned from his elbow infection, but Derrick Rose (knee) could soon destroy his value. Carlos Boozer (17 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST, 4 STL) enjoyed his best all-around game of the month. Greivis Vasquez (11 PTS, 10 AST) and Anthony Davis (15 PTS, 10 REB, 4 STL) double-doubled for the Hornets and Eric Gordon scored 20, but Noah made Robin Lopez disappear and Ryan Anderson couldn’t find the range, missing nine of 11 shots.
MIL @ BRK: The game of the night went to overtime, and Joe Johnson was the hero. Among his 25 points were the game-saving bucket in the fourth and the OT buzzer-beater; JJ also had five rebounds and five assists. Brook Lopez (19 PTS, 9 REB, 3 BLK) was solid and Deron Williams (19 PTS, 9 AST) wasn’t bothered by his sore ankle. Larry Sanders (14 PTS, 8 REB, 6 BLK) looks healthy again and Brandon Jennings (34 PTS, 7 AST, 6 REB) was terrific in defeat. Ersan Ilyasova (21 PTS, 9 REB) and Monta Ellis (18 PTS, 8 AST, 8 REB) also contributed, but the Nets’ bench had 44 points, outscoring the Bucks’ reserves by 29.
GSW @ UTA: When you make dozens of predictions every day, some will be spectacularly wrong. I liked Andrew Bogut ( zero points, 5 REB in 15 minutes) who was dominated by Al Jefferson (24 PTS, 5 REB, 3 BLK) and that was the ball game. The return of Gordon Hayward (17 PTS, 4 AST, 2 BLK in 24:32) really sparked the Jazz bench, which scored 44 points. The Warriors have lost their mojo and six in a row; Stephen Curry (29 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST) was the game-high scorer but others are not doing enough. David Lee (18 PTS, 9 REB) is still good, though his February numbers are way down from the previous three months.
PHO @ POR: Depth, at least the utter lack of it, hurts the Blazers. Wesley Matthews (ankle) sat out; rookie Victor Claver (4 PTS in 21 minutes) was an inadequate replacement. J.J. Hickson (25 PTS, 16 REB) and Damian Lillard (24 PTS, 7 AST) kept Portland in the game, but the Suns managed a rare win away from home. Luis Scola (18 PTS. 3 REB, 3 AST) held his own against LaMarcus Aldridge (23 PTS, 5 REB) and Goran Dragic (16 PTS, a career-high 18 AST, 5 REB, 2 STL) was brilliant. Forgotten man Wesley Johnson had 14 points and 8 boards in a season-high 29 minutes, and Jermaine O’Neal (9 PTS, 13 REB) made the most of his 20 minutes.
SAS @ SAC: The outcome was no surprise, with Tony Parker (30 PTS, 11 AST, 3 STL) leading the way and Tim Duncan (9 PTS, 14 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL, 4 BLK) looking healthy. Manu Ginobili added 12 points and 7 assists in 19 minutes off the bench, and Danny Green (21 PTS, 3 AST, 2 STL) drained five 3-pointers. For the Kings, Isaiah Thomas (22 PTS, 4 AST) and Tyreke Evans (20 PTS, 5 REB, 3 STL) had the best numbers; they are simply no match when it comes to closing out quarters against a good team.
February 20 Game Previews
DET @ CHA: Both these teams played last night, and while it seems crazy to expect Charlotte to win again, they did look sharp in Orlando while the Pistons played one good quarter, then faded. Games like this are decided by desire and effort, which might tip the scales to the Hornets on their home court.
MEM @ TOR: Won’t this be fun — Rudy Gay takes on his former team, with something to prove. Toronto has won five in a row, they have home-court advantage and anything is possible. Fatigue could be a factor for everyone and Memphis plays great team defense, so don’t expect a high score or a fast pace.