Thunder 86 Grizzlies 77
Kevin Durant got back on track with 31 points, eight boards, eight assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on 11-of-21 shooting. He hit just 7-of-10 free throws, but who cares? Serge Ibaka stayed hot with 21 points and 12 boards, but blocked just one shot, while Reggie Jackson was quiet with 12 points and two assists. He’s topped 14 points just once in his past six games, and is prepping owners for life once Russell Westbrook returns from knee surgery. These three were the only relevant players for OKC, yet they still won.
The Grizzlies were led by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, but they scored just 13 points each. Gasol had just three rebounds and one block, and still hasn’t looked like his old self, although he was playing a bit better before tonight’s meltdown. Hot pick up Nick Calathes hit 4-of-11 shots for eight points, three assists and four steals, but was 0-for-4 from downtown, while James Johnson was serviceable with eight points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks off the bench. The minutes were there for Courtney Lee, but he hit just 3-of-10 shots and one 3-pointer for 11 points.
Dallas 124 Cavaliers 107
Dirk Nowitzki played very well and Monta Ellis (22 points) and Jose Calderon (11 points, 10 dimes) fared well against the defenseless Cleveland guards, as expected. The surprises of the night for the Mavs were starting center Samuel Dalembert, who had 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, and Jae Crowder, who was starting for Shawn Marion (shoulder). Crowder’s night was the opposite of Dalembert’s, as he got into early foul trouble and hit just 3-of-9 shots for eight points and three rebounds. Shane Larkin was sick with the flu and Devin Harris got loose for 16 points, four assists and two 3-pointers in just 19 minutes. He’s playing well and if his minutes get up to 25 per game, he might be worth a pick up. Brandan Wright was also surprising with 14 points and seven boards off the bench, but is only worth a look if he overtakes Dalembert for the starting job. As for Dalembert, he hit 7-of-8 shots and probably won’t score this many points again this season.
All five Cavs starters were in double digits scoring, along with Anthony Bennett and C.J. Miles. The three newsworthy items here were Jarrett Jack, who started again, played 40 minutes and had 12 points, eight assists and a 3-pointer, Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters. Varejao returned from a knee injury and had 10 points and five rebounds, but Jack is the guy you should be looking to pick up, as I don’t see him getting booted from the starting five anytime soon. And his 40 minutes meant that a red-hot Waiters was benched, playing just 11 minutes and failing to score after missing all four of his shots (two 3-pointers) and both free throw attempts. Maybe he’s finally being disciplined for being thrown out of practice last week.
Raptors 94 Jazz 79
Kyle Lowry left this game with a knee injury and didn’t return, meaning Greivis Vasquez is relevant. GV had 12 points and four assists, and is worth a speculative add in case Lowry’s going to miss time. However, Lowry said after the game his knee has been bothering him and he just wasn’t able to help the team. My guess is that he’s OK. DeMar DeRozan stayed hot with 23, Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and nine boards, and Amir Johnson had 11 points and 11 rebounds despite the presence of Patrick Patterson. Johnson could be ready to go on a run. Terrence Ross was terrible with five points on 2-of-8 shooting, and his 51-point explosion is quickly becoming a distant memory.
Marvin Williams was solid again with 23 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a 3-pointer, but Derrick Favors missed his third straight game with a hip injury. Pick him up at your own risk. Richard Jefferson looked like an All-Star in his last game, but hit 2-of-6 shots for five points, while Enes Kanter cooled off with 10 points and three rebounds in another start. Gordon Hayward has had a lot of bad-shooting nights this season and last night was another one (3-of-11). On a positive note, Alec Burks broke out of a funk with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Nuggets 116 Clippers 115
Randy Foye hit a crazy 3-pointer at the buzzer to stun the Clippers and finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers. Ty Lawson returned from his injury and hit 10-of-19 shots for 27 points and a solid stat line, while Kenneth Faried went off for 28 points, 11 boards, a steal and two blocks on 11-of-13 shooting. J.J. Hickson also double-doubled with 17 points and 12 boards in the win. With those two playing so well, Timofey Mozgov disappeared with just four points and four rebounds on 1-of-6 shooting in 17 minutes. Ouch.
The Clippers got 36 points and 11 boards out of Blake Griffin, as the Nuggets continue to get abused by opposing PFs. DeAndre Jordan, Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford were all solid, while Darren Collison (9 points, 6 assist, 4 steals, 4-of-12 shooting) and J.J. Redick (4-of-11, 9 points) were both disappointing. I’ve been keeping an eye on Barnes, but he’s been far too inconsistent to use. Maybe that’s about to change.
Kings 99 Bulls 70
DeMarcus Cousins was back in a big way with 25 points and 16 rebounds, but said after the game that he was struggling with conditioning. He also picked up a technical foul, which I’m guessing will be rescinded. Hopefully he’s good to go in the next one. Derrick Williams hit just 1-of-4 shots and did this, and I dropped him in a couple leagues recently. Jason Thompson didn’t enjoy the return of Boogie, as he missed his only shot and finished with one point and four rebounds in 20 minutes. I might be dropping him soon, too. Rudy Gay cooled off with 14 points and six boards, and also committed six TOs. He’s fine, but won’t be as consistently great with Cousins back.
The Bulls shot just 28 percent for the game, meaning they all kind of stunk. Carlos Boozer led the way in that department, hitting just 4-of-15 shots on the same day he complained about his fourth-quarter minutes. This may not end well. Perhaps the highlight of the night was Joakim Noah getting ejected and doing this. Classic, and owners have to hope it doesn’t lead to a one-game suspension. Lastly, Kirk Hinrich started over D.J. Augustin, although I have no idea why. Hinrich hit 1-of-8 shots in 19 minutes, while Augustin hit 2-of-11 shots in 31 minutes. DJA is still the guy to own here, clearly.