Friday night saw eleven games being played across the NBA, including a couple of marquee matchups on ESPN and a few other solid showdowns elsewhere around the league. If you are an NBA nerd like yours truly, last night was enough reason to stay in and watch basketball all night. If you’re normal, well, here’s what you missed.
Bulls avoid late comeback to keep Knicks reeling with 108-101 victory
New York came out ice-cold, shooting just 29.8% in the first half, and gave Chicago an early 21-point cushion that they never relented en route to a seven-point victory, the third by the Bulls over the Knicks this season. Chicago was led by Luol Deng with 33 points and a nice all-around game from Joakim Noah with nine points (on just two field goals), eight rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and two steals in 29 minutes. The Bulls are now 20-14 and tied for fifth place in the East with Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, the Knicks have now lost three in a row, six of their last ten, and eight of their last thirteen. After early season success that saw them buckle down on defense and play smart and efficiently on offense, last night’s game was an example of a Knicks team reminiscent of year’s past that seems to be raring its ugly head more and more lately: impatient offense with too much dribbling and isolation play and a lack of cohesiveness on defense leading to poor rotations and surrendering easy baskets. No better example of this was the play of JR Smith last night. Smith chucked his way to 4-17 shooting, often finding shots for himself rather than in the flow of the offense, and playing increasingly out of control as frustration set in.
Luckily for New York, Carmelo Anthony caught fire in the second half last night and led a 41-point fourth quarter surge that brought the Knicks close in the final minute, but a turnover in the backcourt by Tyson Chandler ended the comeback. Anthony led the Knicks with 39 points and eight rebounds while Chandler added nine points and 18 rebounds.
Durant’s 42 point explosion leads OKC to win over floundering Lakers
At some point, we’ll stop waiting for the Lakers to get it together and just accept that it’s never happening, right? Well, until then, they lost another game at home last night, this time to the West-leading Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder cruised in this one, leading by as many as 27 in the second half thanks to big games from Kevin Durant, who went off for 42 points on just 25 shots, and Russell Westbrook with 27 points and 10 assists. Their Big 3 of Durant, Westbrook, and Kevin Martin accounted for 84 of their 116 points on the night. The win pulled Oklahoma City to 28-8 to tie the Los Angeles Clippers for first place in the Western Conference.
The Lakers, still without Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard due to injury, got a combined 13-41 shooting from Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace, and did nothing positive worth reporting, although it is sort of a good sign that Antawn Jamison managed to get 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. The Lakers’ biggest problem, other than their porous defense, is the fact that their bench is horrible. With Earl Clark providing a lift in extended playing lately and Jamison potentially returning to form, the Lakers could put together a run to get back into the playoff hunt. As it stands now, though, they are 15-21 and five games out of the eighth and final seed.
Around the league: Memphis defeats San Antonio in OT, Celtics down Rockets
I told you it was a busy night in the NBA. Let’s touch on a couple other big games from around the league.
Memphis survived a game-tying three by San Antonio’s Tony Parker at the end of regulation to down the Spurs 101-98 in overtime. Parker also hit another three to start the overtime frame, but it proved to be San Antonio’s only points in the extra frame. Parker had 30 points on the night to lead the Spurs, while Memphis was led by a balanced attack that saw six players score in double figures.
Elsewhere, Boston used big bench performances by Jared Sullinger (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Courtney Lee (14 points) to beat Houston 103-91. Houston was led by James Harden with 24 points in the loss.
All statistics via ESPN