There's something about Earl Boykins that's impermanent. He is the definition of NBA journeyman -- there's no way any team, at this point, will sign him to a multi-year deal. He's completely inconsistent; these big nights come out of nowhere, disappear just as quickly as they arrived, and return randomly in the future. Boykins scored 20 to lead the Milwaukee Bucks over the Atlanta Hawks 98-90 on Wednesday, with 11 coming in the fourth.
The Bucks had trailed by 11 entering the fourth, but Atlanta shot itself out of the game. The Hawks shot 5-21 in the final quarter; Josh Smith was 1-6 and Joe Johnson was 1-4. Boykins, meanwhile, was 4-5 and teammate Carlos Delfino scored nine in the quarter on 3-5 shooting. For a team starved of offensive production -- despite the regular presence of Corey Maggette, perhaps a charter member of the All-21st Century Offense With No Defense Team. (Maggette did score 21 before fouling out.)
Atlanta hasn't been on a skid, but there have been some eye-opening losses here, between this loss to an injury-riddled Bucks squads and that epic beatdown by the Hornets. The Hawks draw the Knicks on Friday. That should be a nice test of where this team is at.
In other action ...
Magic 111, Pacers 96: Orlando overcame 27 points by Danny Granger to win waltzing away in Indianapolis. Roy Hibbert continued to shuffle around without aim or traction, and Dwight Howard racked up 19 points and 16 rebounds.
Nets 93, Grizzlies 88: New Jersey has won four of five since abandoning the Carmelo Anthony trade, and the Grizzlies can't get out of their own way. Memphis could have gotten to .500 with a win. Anthony Morrow, without question the Nets' best free agent pick-up, sprung for 19 off the bench. Memphis hit 9-17 on three-pointers. Memphis hit 2-12.
76ers 107, Raptors 94: DeMar DeRozan continued his scoring rampage with 29, but Philadelphia's action on the offensive glass and hot shooting from key players sent Toronto to its ninth straight loss. Marreese Speights had 23 points in 17 minutes for Philly, abusing the Raptors' zone in the second quarter.
Nuggets 109, Pistons 100: Carmelo Anthony shot just 5-16 on his way to 18 points, but he added 10 rebounds and seven assists as Denver leaped over the Utah Jazz for the No. 6 spot in the West. The Nuggets have won seven of nine, and face the Cavaliers on Friday. Tracy McGrady had 14 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Pistons.
Rockets 96, Clippers 83: Blake Griffin indeed played, but not terribly well by his standards, putting up 14 points on 5-16 shooting with 11 rebounds. Kyle Lowry was the star, with 20 points on 7-13 shooting, eight assists and six rebounds. The teams combined to shoot 38.8 percent, and I promise it's not because they are good defensive teams.
Bobcats 114, Suns 107: Charlotte has started its Western road trip with two straight wins after defeating the Suns. Steve Nash scored 27 points and handed out 15 assists, but the Bobcats shot way more efficiently than they ever ought to (thanks, Phoenix defense!). Kwame Brown had another double-double. Charles Oakley is coming for your children. (Don't worry. He just wants to make them rebounding beasts.)