HOU@ BRK: Who needs Thomas Robinson? Temporarily without a true PF after their recent trades, the Rockets rode six triples by Carlos Delfino (22 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST) to an impressive road win. James Harden (22 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST) also knocked down four 3-pointers as Houston shot 16-30 from downtown Flatbush. Brook Lopez (27 PTS, 6 REB) led the Nets, who started C.J. Watson (17 PTS, 5 AST, 4 REB) at SG with Joe Johnson (foot) unavailable. Deron Williams (15 PTS, 13 AST) played 40 minutes after getting cortisone injections in both ankles the day before.
SAC @ ATL: There’s nothing like a visit from the Kings to pad your numbers. Al Horford (24 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 2 BLK) hit 11 of 14 and Josh Smith (18 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST) was 8-for-12, with Jeff Teague (20 PTS, 12 AST, 4 REB, 3 STL, 3 BLK) notching a double-double. DeMarcus Cousins (26 PTS, 13 REB, 3 STL) was inspired and Isaiah Thomas (30 PTS, 9 AST, 6 REB) had Sacramento ahead at halftime, but the Hawks took command in the third and closed it out. Jason Thompson (9 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK) could lose playing time when Patrick Patterson arrives.
MIN @ OKC: It was the Russell Westbrook show — 37 PTS, 9 AST, 7 REB — as the Thunder rolled to an easy win. Kendrick Perkins (10 PTS, 7 REB, 1 BLK) returned from a knee injury and shut down Nikola Pekovic (5 PTS, 2 REB) so the Wolves turned to seldom-used Greg Stiemsma (13 PTS, 6 REB, 4 BLK) but never threatened. Kevin Durant (27 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST) had a great night for anyone else, about average for him, and Kevin Martin (19) was sharp off the OKC bench. For Minnesota, Ricky Rubio (13 PTS, 9 AST, 5 REB, 5 STL) and Alexey Shved (17 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST) made solid contributions.
DAL @ NOH: Needing a win to keep their playoff chances alive, the Mavs turned to Dirk Nowitzki (25 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST) and Vince Carter (22 PTS, 9 REB) and they delivered. Unheralded C Bernard James had only four points and six boards, but blocked seven shots in just 15 minutes. Eric Gordon (23 PTS) led the future Pelicans, with Ryan Anderson (20 PTS, 12 REB) and Jason Smith (22 PTS, 5 REB, 2 BLK) excellent off the bench.Anthony Davis (10 PTS, 11 REB) tweaked a knee early in the third and did not return, though it doesn’t sound too serious.
ORL @ MEM: It often happens, with only seven bodies dressed, that a team rises to the occasion. The Magic tried very hard, and if Nikola Vucevic (4 PTS, 11 REB) hadn’t fouled out, it might have been even closer. Marc Gasol (19 PTS, 13 REB, 4 AST) decisively won the battle up front, with help from Zach Randolph (16 PTS, 14 REB, 4 AST) as the Grizzlies were never seriously threatened. E’Twaun Moore (12 PTS, 7 AST, 4 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK) started at PG for Jameer Nelson (knee) and Arron Afflalo (20 PTS, 7 AST, 6 REB, 2 BLK) was sharp; rookie Maurice Harkless (19 PTS, 9 REB) played 46 minutes. When Andrew Nicholson (14 PTS) fouled out, Orlando had literally no bench for the final 4:34 and coach Jacque Vaughn was telling his assistants to stretch.
BOS @ PHO: Doc Rivers told us that Kevin Garnett would be rested soon, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. Jeff Green (31 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 5 BLK) certainly made the most of his first start in 22 months, and Jordan Crawford (10 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST) played 17 minutes off the bench in his Celtics debut. Paul Pierce (8 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST in just 25:35) left the game with a minor injury but did return. Goran Dragic (19 PTS, 10 AST, 5 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK) continues to shine for the Suns, but he was the only one, as they shot 42% while allowing Boston to connect on 56% of their attempts. Possibly of note in deep leagues, Terrence Williams (9 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST) played 25 (mostly garbage-time) minutes.
POR @ LAL: In case you forgot, Kobe Bryant (40 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL) can take over a game. Dwight Howard (19 PTS, 16 REB, 2 AST, 2 BLK) is also pretty good, especially for someone with back and shoulder problems. It was an emotional win for the Lakers on the day of their late owner’s funeral. Wesley Matthews (15 PTS, 8 AST) returned from his sore ankle and all five Portland starters scored 15 or more in a heartbreaking defeat. Nicolas Batum (22 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL) looked like his wrist is feeling better and J.J. Hickson (22 PTS, 11 REB) battled Howard all night.
SAS @ GSW: In a back-to-back and the eighth of nine consecutive road games, the tenacious Spurs forced overtime before coming up short. Tim Duncan (19 PTS, 13 REB, 4 BLK) missed ten shots and three free throws, or it might have been a different result. The Warriors were without Andrew Bogut (back spasms) but they got a huge double-double from David Lee (25 PTS, 22 REB) and Jarrett Jack (30 PTS, 10 AST) is in a class by himself among sixth men this season. The last non-starter to go for 30 & 10 was a guy named Magic Johnson, 17 years ago. Stephen Curry (19 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB) helped his team end a five year, 16-game losing streak against San Antonio.