I just want to reiterate: the Lakers had to survive the following things to get a home win against a Bobcats team that came into this game with 11-straight losses.
- An 18-point deficit.
- A revenge game for Ramon Sessions.
- This final play, which featured...
- A strong drive by Kemba Walker on the final possession that was erased by Dwight Howard.
- A WIDE OPEN layup for Gerald Henderson that was missed (seriously, look at this screenshot)
- A six-foot shot by Byron Mullens that traveled 10 feet backwards without anyone blocking it.
- One final gasp from Ben Gordon at the top of the key.
It's tough not to appreciate the good ball movement that allowed Gerald Wallace to get that open game-winning three-point attempt, but I also can't help but think that Joe Johnson should have just taken this shot.
As for the rest of this game, Paul Flannery captured the tension between Deron Williams and Avery Johnson well in his piece from Barclays. One quick thing to consider: the Nets have a lot of individual offensive talent, but they also have a lot of players who are used to playing their way. Figuring out how to incorporate all those games into one coherent system is difficult, especially for a coach like Johnson that has more of a defensive background. This is going to take time.
The Celtics have a major problem inside. They are incredibly shallow behind Kevin Garnett, and when you consider that Garnett's minutes are being cut to keep him fresh for later in the season, this is a huge problem. Joakim Noah completely dominated this game in the paint, and while his triple-double (11 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) was Jason Kidd-ish (and not in a good way), he controlled the flow of the game throughout.
The Celtics badly miss Greg Stiemsma, which should tell you all you need to know about the need for them to make a trade.
It's impressive that the Spurs made this a game, because it's almost impossible to win in the second night of a back-to-back in Denver's high altitude. In the end, though, the Nuggets had just built too much of a cushion in the first 36 minutes for the Spurs to rally.
Denver also survived another maddening crunch-time turnover from Ty Lawson to win. When is this going to stop?
The Heat got outrebounded by an obscene 53-24 margin and it didn't matter because they shot so well and forced so many turnovers. Kudos to Greg Anthony for downplaying the rebounding margin on NBATV after the game. It's just one phase of the game, and good teams like the Heat can make up for it by dominating other categories.
The Hawks submitted a classic "2009-2012 Hawks letdown" performance, but got away with it because Lou Williams hit a couple big shots and Jordan Crawford, after playing so well throughout the entire game, decided to stop passing in overtime. The Hawks overcame an inspired performance from Earl Barron, who submitted 14 rebounds, four blocked shots and the game-tying hoop in regulation. Jan Vesely, meanwhile, got another DNP-CD.
Just when it looked like the 76ers were making their push to catch up, O.J. Mayo made two critical layups to put the game away. The first one came on a beautiful drive between multiple defenders and is exactly the kind of play that would have ended with a forced jump shot a season ago. It's been fun to watch Mayo's game blossom in a new setting.
The Pacers had a golden opportunity to extend this game down three with 38 seconds left, but rather than go for a quick hoop and get the two-for-one opportunity, they ran a slow-moving play that ended with Paul George missing a three-pointer. It was a good look, but it was also poor clock management. If George misses the three, as he did in this case, the Pacers really have no chance to win. If they go quickly and miss, at least there's more time to foul and extend the game.
As for the rest of the game, Brandon Jennings was fantastic. He can alternate between unstoppable and maddening, and in this game, he was the former.
While everyone was watching the Lakers, this game ended up being a pretty good one. The Warriors took a big lead early and survived a late run by New Orleans to win. Call this a moral victory for the Hornets.
Ryan Anderson's stats for the game: 28 points, zero rebounds, zero assists. That's probably going to end up as one of the top five lines of the year.
The Raptors have suffered so many soul-crushing defeats this year that we forget they were right there in all of those games. It's only a matter of time before things start turning around in the fourth quarter, and that's exactly what happened in this road game in Cleveland.
Casey said he'd cross Lowry vs. Calderon as starter bridge down the line— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) December 19, 2012