It’s been a very long time since we were able to say that the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets are relevant. Yet suddenly this is the case, with a new stadium and a big name player to stand alongside Deron Williams in free agent signing Joe Johnson. The Nets might finally be able to compete in the East once more. Avery Johnson, head coach of the Nets, is cautious but optimistic of the Net’s hopes:
“We’re not there yet. We’re not a championship team. We got a lot of work to do. But at the same time, we have a much better talent pool than we’ve had the last two years.
We’re much more versatile than we’ve ever been. Right now, we look good on paper. Now we got to take it from looking good on paper and apply the work to go (forward).’’
-Avery Johnson, Head coach of the Brooklyn Nets
The Nets should be contenders with their All Star back court alone. Williams and Johnson are still in their prime and strong leaders. Both will be keen to win after years of playing on under achieving teams. The only possible issue is that they are both ball heavy guards, they both love to have the ball in their hands. But as the Miami Heat have shown, players can adapt and both Johnson and Williams will likely enjoy having another high calibre player to rely on
However, it’s not just their backcourt that gives them strength. Their front court of Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez are also dangerous, with Brook Lopez verging on being a top five centre in the East. Gerald Wallace has lost some of his explosive offensive power, but is still a phenomenal defender that is feared throughout the league. Keep an eye on the Nets, that’s for sure.
The Hawks may of gotten back Josh Smith and Al Horford back into the lineup but it made little difference as the Celtics cruised to a dominant 22 points win in the last game before Atlanta. With the win, the Celtics take a 3-1 series lead into Atlanta next game. Paul Pierce led all scorers with 24 points in only 16 minutes of play. Rajon Rondo set the pace early with 10 assists in the first half and finished with 20 points and 16 assists in another clinical display.
The Hawks struggled all night and the individual scores reflect this. Usual high scorer Joe Johnson only had 9 points while Josh Smith led all scorers for the Hawks with 15 points on his return from injury but struggled with touch, shooting just 5-13 from the field. The Hawks as a team shot quite well, hitting 40 percent of their shots, but they were simply overwhelmed by an always loud TD Garden crowd and the Celtics 50 percent shooting display. Simply a great win for the Cs to take onto the road.
While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined for 70 points, no other Clippers players reached the double figure mark as they lost to the Atlanta Hawks. Joe Johnson had 28 points including 6-8 from behind the three point line as the Hawks edged closer to home court advantage against the Boston Celtics. However, with the loss, the Clippers lost the Pacific division title to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Boston Celtics 2nd team beat the Miami Heat reserves as the stars for both teams sat out. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all were absent while Paul Pierce only played minimal game time as the bench players for both teams were forced to step up. Aleksander Pavlovic was the standout of both teams, with 16 of his 18 points coming in the final quarter.
All five starters scored in double figures for the Kings but Kevin Durant’s 32 points led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the win. DeMarcus Cousin’s also had 32 points to match Durant, but it wasn’t enough as Durant’s big game kept him in the running for the scoring title.
The chaotic race to the end of the season continued as the Utah Jazz officially claimed the final playoff spot up for grabs with a win over the Phoenix Suns. The Jazz eliminated the Suns with a 12 point win at home. Paul Millsap had 26 to lead all comers and was absolutely dominant throughout the game.
Marco Belinelli hit the go ahead layup with 0.7 seconds remaining as the New Orleans Hornets won against the Golden State Warriors. Belinelli had 23 to lead both teams as Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 16 points.
They couldn’t let them have it could they. Two days the ‘game of the year’ title rested in the hands of Minnesota and Oklahoma. Two short days. And then the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz decided to go one better. They decided to have four overtimes. Virtually a 6 quarter game. The 3rd longest game in NBA history. Sorry Wolves and Thunder fans, but this year’s title is virtually guaranteed to the Hawks and Jazz. Granted it didn’t have Kevin Durant’s buzzer beater, followed due by Kevin Loves huge shot to tie it. This was a true marathon.Three players were fouled out. 14 players spread over each team scored in double figures. Millsap, Pachulia, Jefferson, Harris and Smith all had double doubles. From a pure stat line point of view, this game was phenomenal. Milsapp, Jefferson and Smith all fouled out by the end of the game. There were buzzer beaters everywhere, clutch threes from a multitude of players. Big shots were made by players from both teams.
Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson led the way for their teams, with 37 and 28 points respectively. Johnson was phenomenal for the Hawks, knocking down big shot after big shot, always there to hit the big shot for his team.
Both of these games were phenomenal. We were lucky to have two of these games within a year, let alone in the same week! Let me know which one you thought was the better game and why.
Markieff Morris’s career high night and Marcin Gortat’s big game led the Phoenix Suns to a blow out victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both Morris and Gortat had 22 points apiece, with veteran point guard Steve Nash dishing out 13 assists against younger counterpart Kyrie Irving. Irving himself had 16 points in the 25 point loss.
Kevin Love followed up his career night with another big game, scoring 30 points and 21 rebounds in a 17 point win over the Nuggets. Point guard Luke Ridnour had 25 points and 6 assists to support Love, while the Denver Nuggets had 5 players score in double digits, with new recruit JaVale McGee scoring 13 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.
With Ray Allen and Mikael Pietrus both out for the Celtics, back-up point guard Avery Bradley started at the shooting guard position and had a career night. Scoring 23 points on 9-14 shooting, Bradley led the Celtics over the Nene-less Washington Wizards, backed up by Paul Pierce’s 21 points. Rondo also handed out 11 assists in the victory. Jordan Crawford had 20 points but on poor shooting (8-18)
Two days after the epic in Thunder land, the Hawks and the Utah Jazz decide to one up it with a quadruple overtime thriller. Joe Johnson blasted 37 points as 14 players scored in double digits, and 4 players fouled out. More on this game very soon.
The Spurs were able to account for the Philadelphia 76ers despite Tim Duncan being out, according to the NBA website, for being “old”. All-Star Igoudala was also out for the Sixers. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 21 points and 6 assists whilst DeJuan Blair hustled his way to 19 points. Elton Brand had 14 for the Sixers.
Kevin Durants 22 points were enough to lift the Thunder over the Heat in a big statement win for the Thunder. Dwyane Wade had 22 points for the Heat, and what is perhaps a positive, LeBron struggled all night, meaning at least they didn’t lose at full capacity. But there can be no doubt about the Thunder’s dominance in this one, winning by 16 points.
The very short handed Golden State Warriors fell to the struggling Portland Trailblazers by three. In a battle of point guards, Charles Jenkins, starting in the place of Nate Robinson, scored 27 points, but it was Raymond Felton’s 24 points and 7 assists that won the game. LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 for the Blazers.
The Memphis Grizzlies had 6 players scoring in double digits as they halted an ugly run of losses, beating the Lakers by 6. Rudy Gay top scored for the Grizzlies with 18 points, while Andrew Bynum had a big game in the loss, scoring 30 points, but only had 4 rebounds. Kobe Bryant had 18 points as well.
The ‘Cats horrific season continued as the 76’ers seem hell bent on proving that a team can make it far in this league of stars without one. 6 players scored in double figures for the visitors, with both Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday scoring 20 points to lead them. There was very little resistance from the Bobcats, but winning is far from Michael Jordan’s team’s mind at the moment. Kemba Walker put up some encouraging numbers, scoring 13 points and dishing out 5 assists backing up starter DJ Augustine.
The rookie combination in Cleveland is beginning to come together, with Kyrie Iriving and Tristan Thompson putting up big points between them. Thompson, handed the start, scored 27 points for the Cavs, while Kyrie continued on his charge towards the Rookie of the Year award with 26 points and 7 assists. Deron Williams scored 28 to lead all scorers for the Nets but could not contain the rookie sensation. Gerald Wallace also came up big for his new team, posting 27 points in the loss.
Joe Johnson’s 25 were not enough to overcome the combined efforts of the Boston Celtics Big 4. All of Pierce, Garnett, Allen and Rondo scored in double digits. Sharpshooter Ray Allen led the pack with 19 points, including 4-6 from behind the arc. Garnett also continued his mid-season revival with 16 points and 8 rebounds, and his defence was pivotal keeping Hawks star Josh Smith to 10 points on 5-20 shooting from the field.
Even a Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls were easily able to account for the Orlando Magic, sending the Floridian team to its second defeat in a row, both to the leaders of the East. The Magic struggled all night against a suffocating Bulls defence, with Orlando unable to score 20 points in any quarter, and hit rock bottom in the 4th with 11 points. Carlos Boozer paced the Bulls with 24 points whilst John Lucas continued with his surprising form scoring 20 points off the bench. Superstar centre Dwight Howard was the only one who offered any resistance with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Trying to avoid an 8 game road skid, the Dallas Mavericks have come out of Denver with a win next to their name. Wilson Chandler played big minutes off the bench for the home team in his return to Denver, yet George Karl left JaVale McGee on the bench for the game, opting to play Kosta Koufos as the back up centre instead. Afflalo led the Nuggets with 24 but it was Dirk Nowitzkis near triple double of 33 points 11 rebounds and 6 assists that proved to be the difference between the two teams.
Steph Curry was absent for yet another game as the Kevin Love led Timberwolves took care of business at home against the Golden State Warriors. Love powered the ‘Wolves all night with 36 points and 17 rebounds. In a battle of the big men, David Lee also had a good game, with 25 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Warriors, but it was not enough to overcome the Love show.
The Heat avalanche rolled on without issue, accounting for the Orlando Magic with seeming ease. Whilst this game was close through the first three periods, the Heat took over in the fourth. Dwyane Wade once again proved he is a clutch performer, filling up the basket with 13 points in the second half. LeBron James made his usual all around contribution, reistering double digits in both rebounds and points. Howard scored 18 points for the home team, yet struggled from the field shooting 7-17. A fairly routine win for a surging Heat, looking to reclaim the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Utah overthrew the Lakers in the upset of the day, defeating the former champions by four,despite the fearsome frontcourt of Gasol and Bynum putting up some phenomenal numbers. Bynum in particular continued his scorching run of good form, posting 33 points in the loss. However, as with most things to do with the Lakers, the talking point will be Kobe Bryant’s 3-20 shooting performance, the future Hall of Famer seemingly unable to buy a basket. For the Jazz, the front court tandem of Favours, Millsap and Kanter reaped rewards, with 53 points between them.
The Blazers rebuidling phase appears well and truly underway, with the one time playoff staple being blown out by Westeren conference leaders Okhlahoma City. With the shipping out of Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby and others for mainly draft picks, the unlucky Blazers have bowed to their horrific run with injuries. Meanwhile, the much more fortitutious Thunder’s one two punch of Westbrook and Durant continued on their way, with Westbrook filling up the points column with 28 and reigning scoring champion and MVP candidate Durant posting 26.
The still Al Horford-less Hawks cruised to an easy win in Cleveland, defeating the Kyrie led Cavs by 16. Joe Johnson put up the points, scoring 28 points, while Alonzo Gee had a career night, slamming home 20 points for the Cavaliers. The Cavs remain 3 and a half games outside of the playoffs, but with the mercurial Knicks in the eighth seed, anything could happen. The Hawks on the other hand continues their win streak and lift themselves above .500 on road games.
A certain Steve Nash continued his seemingly ageless ways, handing out 11 dimes in a Sun’s win over the Rockets. Yet another veteran guard is the story here, with Michael Redd delivering a vintage performance, scoring 25 points on 10-13 shooting and in only 18 minutes of playing time. Newly aquired Derek Fisher didnt play, but journeyman center Marcus Camby did play for the Rockets, backing up starter Samuel Dalembert.
Rudy Gay blasted the Wizards for 27 points as the Grizzlies trumped Washington in the capital. Trade deadline recruite Nene didnt play, despite being ready to make his debut for the Wizards, which seemed odd. The Grizzlies are beginning to become relevant as the Wizards season long slump continues.
Sacramento have beaten the Rubio-less Timberwolves by 16, with rookie senstation Isiah Thomas continuing to usurp the much more vaunted Jimmer Freddete, with the 60th pick in the draft scoring 18, assisted by Marcus Thornton following up his big game against Boston with 24 points against Minnesota. Kevin Love posted yet another double-double but struggled from the field, the Wolves looking like they’ll struggle to fill the gaping void that Rubio has left in thier lineup
The Clippers have continued making noise in tinsle town, with Blake Griffin tipping in the Paul miss to force overtime against the Detroit Pistons. In overtime, CP would take over, scoring 9 in the extra period for the Clips. New addition Nick Young made his debut, not starting but coming off the bench, seeing 28 minutes of action with his new team, scoring 8 points. Rising big man Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 23 points including six in extra time.