You know the deal. This is where we talk about games you might have missed from the previous evening, and maybe other news sometimes too, but mostly games. Let’s get to it.
The Wizards beat the Heat, which actually makes some sense.
Allow me to explain. Remember a few nights ago, when Gregg Popovich sat all his best players against the Heat and incurred the wrath of David Stern? Well, the overlooked aspect of that game is that the Spurs actually kept it close – the Heat narrowly prevailed, 105-100. I was surprised by this, so I asked a Heat fan friend of mine what happened. He didn’t seem the least bit surprised:
Me: how did the heat almost lose to the spurs b-team?
Him: That’s your answer right there
Told my friend we’d probably either lose or just pull out the win
We always do that
We play to the level of our opponent
So we played like a b-team
Then Ray Allen won
So you can see why the Heat’s 105-101 loss to the previously 1-13 Wizards last night brought that conversation to mind. Yeah, weird stuff happens, the Heat are the champs so they’ll get especially spirited games from opponents, and sometimes you have an off night, but come on – the Heat should not be losing to the Wizards, and “play[ing] to the level of [their] opponent” seems as likely an explanation as any. As an added anti-bonus, LeBron missed a couple potential game-tying threes late, and SportsCenter is trying to spin that into a controversy of some sort. Shut up, SportsCenter. LeBron had a triple-double (26/13/11).
No, it’s the rest of the Heat you ought to be worrying about (though LeBron did only get to the line three times all game; you’d have to think the Heat would like to see a higher number than that). The loss drops them to just 4-4 on the road, and they’ve been less than impressive in some of their home wins – the aforementioned Spurs game, a 110-108 win over the Cavs. Granted, they’re still 12-4, so it seems silly to worry too much, but 21st in the league in points allowed and tied for 19th in defensive efficiency – these aren’t championship numbers, even with the offense humming along (third in the NBA in offensive efficiency). A loss like this just highlights the causes for concern.
Speaking of causes for concern, the Lakers lost again.
They lost in agonizing fashion, too, blowing a 13-point fourth quarter lead in a 107-105 loss to the Rockets. Which player do you think keyed the Rockets’ win? You guessed Greg Smith, right? Of course you guessed Greg Smith. He’s the best player in basketball. Or at least that’s how the Lakers made him look: Smith posted 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in just 24 minutes last night, and fellow Rockets reserve Toney Douglas had 22. In all, the Rockets’ bench outscored the Lakers’ subs 59-20.
As for the Lakers, Kobe had a stat line tailor-made for anyone who likes to make fun of Kobe’s ball-dominating: 39 points (on 31 shots), two assists. Then again, especially with Pau Gasol out (and still no Steve Nash to distribute), the Lakers’ non-Kobe-hero-ball offensive options are limited. Despite the injuries, though, this is a dispiriting loss. The Lakers had the lead late. James Harden had a terrible night (3-for-19 shooting). The game was there for the taking, and they just couldn’t take it. The Lakers are now 8-10, 1-5 on the road. It’s still early… but it’s not that early anymore.
Around the Association: more like Zach HAMdolph.
The Grizzlies outlasted the Suns in overtime 108-98, thanks largely to Z-Bo’s 38 points and 22 rebounds. Think about it – 38 and 22. If someone has half that total in both categories, 19 points and 11 rebounds, you’d think, “Oh, that’s a pretty good game. He doubled that. Randolph’s averaging 17.7 points and 13.3 rebounds a game this year – the rebounding number is second in the league only because Anderson Varejao has lost his mind and is grabbing over 15 a night.
Elsewhere: the Thunder beat the Nets in Brooklyn, 117-111. Kevin Durant had 32, 5, and 6. He’s good. The Pacers beat the Bulls, 80-76. Paul George had 34 and nine rebounds (plus three steals and two blocks). He’s good. And the T-Wolves beat the Sixers 105-88. No one scored 30 in that one, so everybody sucked.
College basketball upset watch:
Really? Your desire for upsets wasn’t satiated by Wizards-Heat? You want more? You’re awful tough to please, aren’t you? Well, here’s what you get: nothing. Nine top 25 teams played last night. They all won. Some won small (N.C. State oer UConn), some won big (Louisville over College of Charleston), but they all won. Maybe some other night.
Photos via Getty