February 23 Game Recaps
LAL @ DAL: A brilliant performance by Kobe Bryant (38 PTS, 12 REB, 7 AST) was the difference, especially in crunch time. Dirk Nowitzki (30 PTS, 13 REB, 3 STL) was almost as good, as the two future Hall-of-Famers — and their teammates — treated this like a playoff game. Steve Nash had a season-high 20 points and Antawn Jamison (13 PTS, 5 REB) chipped in off the bench, as Dwight Howard (9 PTS, 13 REB) was not at his best — 2-of-7 from the floor, 5-of-10 from the line, with 4 turnovers. Dallas got 15 from Vince Carter and Elton Brand (14 PTS, 8 REB) played a strong 29 minutes, but the Mavericks are now two full games behind the Lakers and probably need to win at least 20 of their remaining 27 to make the postseason.
GSW @ MIN: Down by 16 before they were fully warmed up, the Warriors turned to Jarrett Jack (23 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST) and the league’s best sixth man turned the game around. Stephen Curry (18 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST, 5 STL) actually had a rare fantasy 5-by-5 line, but it’s better when the fifth is blocks, not six turnovers. David Lee (22 PTS, 13 REB) also coughed it up five times. For Minnesota, Derrick Williams (23 PTS, 12 REB) and Nikola Pekovic (21 PTS, 8 REB) were terrific. While Ricky Rubio committed 6 TO and missed seven of ten shots, he finished with 16 PTS, 11 AST, 8 REB and 6 STL. It was a shame someone had to lose this see-saw battle.
CLE @ MIA: The Heat were cruising along, up by 22, when Cleveland staged an amazing third-quarter rally to take the lead. Then Dwyane Wade (24 PTS, 6 AST, 5 REB) took over, with 15 in the fourth. LeBron James (28 PTS, 8 REB) was pretty good for a guy with a sore leg, and Miami went a ridiculous 12-19 (63%) from 3-point range, with Mario Chalmers (4-5), Ray Allen (3-3) and Shane Battier (4-7) all on fire. Dion Waiters (26) led the Cavs, while C.J. Miles added 19 off the bench — 11 of them in a one-minute flurry — as Kyrie Irving (17 PTS, 5 AST) was closely watched.