Thunder 114, Lakers 108
There's really not much to take away from this game. A full-strength Lakers team that doesn't have any of the drama associated with this one would have found difficulty winning in Oklahoma City in the middle of a road trip. The game wasn't really as close as the score indicated, but save for a blitz in the second quarter spurred by some absurd Russell Westbrook shots, the Lakers hung in there fairly well.
At this point, though, the Thunder's second-quarter lineups are too dangerous. Scott Brooks has smartly taken Durant out sooner in games so that he can play the entire second quarter and help the second unit tread water. In this game, the Durant/Eric Maynor/Kevin Martin/Nick Collison/Hasheem Thabeet group treaded water, and then the Thunder put the game away when Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins returned. If anything, the addition of Martin has helped open space in the transition game, because teams have to honor his shooting. That leaves more lanes for Durant and Westbrook to do their thing and get to the hoop. The Lakers' leaky transition defense didn't help, of course.
But this isn't a loss where Lakers fans should panic. Oklahoma City is just that good right now, even after trading James Harden. If anything, they might be even better.
That was a really strange ending to a sloppy, but close game. The 76ers essentially ran isolations while milking the clock for the last 10 minutes of the contest and got away with it because the Celtics' offense couldn't score. Evan Turner had one of those games where he appears inefficient, but really had to take a ton of shots because nobody else was doing anything. So, kudos to him and his team. They definitely gritted out a win.
Nevertheless, I have to point out several really bad breakdowns late, in the hopes that Doug Collins sees these and works to correct them for when the 76ers are in this position late. First, look at what happens on their inbounds pass at the end of regulation.
Jrue Holiday threw the ball in to Turner going out of bounds, and the Celtics correctly swarmed Turner and forced a turnover that gave them a chance to win at regulation. Alas, Rajon Rondo missed a jumper and overtime commenced.
We're not letting Turner off the hook, though, because he got bailed out on two mistakes late in OT. First, look at the time left on the clock when he began his move to go for the game-winner.
You never want to let that much time run down when you are down by one point, because if you miss the shot, you have no chance to secure an offensive rebound. Luckily, Turner made the shot, but it still wasn't good process.
But then, Turner nearly blew the game by falling asleep on defense on Boston's final play. Turner was tasked with guarding Rondo, the inbounds passer. In doing so, he forgot the First Law of Hubie Brown; the most dangerous player is the guy throwing the ball in.
Luckily for the 76ers, Rondo slipped and couldn't get a good shot off. But consider those bullets dodged.
A really good game with a really strange ending. After a shot by Ty Lawson got blocked, George Hill tried to push the ball up the court to get an early three-point look. Once things were cut off, though, he chose not to call timeout right here, which most coaches would have preferred.
He didn't, though, instead choosing to pull out and throw the ball to David West. At this point, Ty Lawson makes a huge mistake, running to double West and leaving Hill open for a second when all the Pacers can get is a three.
Hill pump-faked and Lawson went flying in the air, but the referees determined that Hill jumped into Lawson, so they didn't call a foul. Game over.
Were they right? Based on this screenshot, I think so.
The Warriors are for real, folks. David Lee continued his excellent week by dominating the Nets' frontcourt, and Draymond Green has proven to be a steal with a second-round pick. The Warriors, particularly Lee and Stephen Curry, just picked the Nets' defense apart down the stretch. Nobody on the Nets could guard Lee.
As for Brooklyn, their defense is clearly leaking without Brook Lopez on the court. Weird, I know.
This was exactly what the Spurs needed before embarking on another long road trip. Houston players not named James Harden had a total of 63 points on 34 percent shooting.
Chicago was getting killed in the second quarter of this game, but led by Joakim Noah, they rallied and eventually took control in the fourth quarter. Noah had 30 points and 23 rebounds. All-Star?
This is one of those losses where you wonder if the Raptors' spirit has been demoralized by so many near-misses. Statistically, if you play and lose a lot of close games, it means you're close to breaking through. But there are also times where all the heartbreak causes a team to feel sorry for itself and leads to a lack of effort.
Of course, one could also argue that the Jazz are better suited to playing small than their roster suggests. That would mean a trade should be forthcoming.
Save for an eight-minute stretch at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters, the Hawks dominated this game. Big difference: one team has shooters and beautiful spacing, while the other does not.
Ersan Ilyasova is alive! The Bucks' forward, who had been so horrible after signing a big five-year contract extension last summer, had 21 points and 12 rebounds off the bench to lead Milwaukee to an easy win that was not as close as the score indicated.
Yet another game where the Grizzlies let an inferior team hang around until putting them away late. This time, it was the third quarter that proved to be Memphis' bugaboo, but they did make enough plays down the stretch to get them the win.
Isaiah Thomas came off the bench to score 17 points to spark the Kings to victory. I'd like to see him play elsewhere given all the Kings' point guards. Do it quick before he becomes the next Ramon Sessions.