Mercurial Suns forward Michael Beasley stole the show with a season-high 27 points on 12/20 shooting, six rebounds and five steals as Phoenix used a 29-13 counterpunch in the fourth quarter to pull out a home when against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Wednesday night. Beasley scored 17 of his 27 points in the second half, including 10 in the fourth quarter and the de facto game-winning shot that came on a frantic driving layup with 43.8 seconds remaining in the game that gave the Suns and 88-86 lead.
Kobe Bryant kept up his interesting trend by dishing out nine dimes on the night, he also turned the ball over six times and only scored 17 points on 7/17 shooting. Bryant was given the ball with an opportunity to respond after Beasley's clutch layup late in the fourth quarter, but his three point attempt was left wanting and the Lakers were forced to play out the string in a desperate chase-and-foul scheme that came up short.
Dwight Howard re-aggravated his shoulder injury, Steve Nash failed to record an assist in 16 first half minutes, Earl Clark scored just five points in 30 minutes of action and Antawn Jamison put up the most efficient line (13 points on 5/6 shooting, four rebounds) for the Lakers, so it was a rough night for L.A.
D'Antoni on Dwight's shoulder: "My understanding is, it hurts, it'll go away in a couple of days and he can play."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) January 31, 2013
LeBron James scored a game-high 24 points, grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and dished out a game-high seven assists as the Heat used a definitive 36-14 surge in the third quarter to put the Nets away and get the starters some early rest at the Barclays Center. Andray Blatche did his best to make sure Brooklyn didn't suffer their third loss in the last four games, but his picture-perfect second quarter (10 points on 5/5 shooting) wasn't enough to make up for sluggish games from Deron Williams (nine points, five assists, six turnovers) and Joe Johnson (16 points on 4/15 shooting, four turnovers).
Newly-minted All-Star replacement Brook Lopez played well (21 points on 8/13 shooting, seven rebounds), but he front-loaded his performance and only contributed eight points and two rebounds in the second half when the game clearly got away from the Nets. Perhaps the most shocking stat line from the final two periods was Brooklyn's six total points scored in the paint during that span (on 3/13 shooting).
The Raptors once again followed the unfortunate blueprint they've set up for the season. After building a 10-point lead in the first half, Toronto lost control of the contest in the third quarter. They allowed Atlanta to go on a 30-14 run that put the Hawks up six heading into the final quarter, and Al Horford helped to close the deal with eight fourth-quarter points and two huge blocks down the stretch (on a controversial sequence of plays) to secure the win for Atlanta. The Raptors must be hoping that Rudy Gay will change the culture of the team.
Clippers 96, Timberwolves 90
Matt Barnes got ejected from the contest after shoving Greg Stiemsma in the second quarter and Ricky Rubio tossed a beautiful highlight pass, but Blake Griffin was the center of attention for most of the night. Griffin scored 12 of his 26 points in the first quarter and then added a twisting layup in the fourth quarter to help the Clippers close out a win in Minnesota. Eric Bledsoe added a 10-point, 10-assist double-double for L.A., while Nikola Pekovic paced the Timberwolves with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Nine out of the 10 starters in the game scored in double figures (sorry, Kosta Koufos) and Danilo Gallinari set a career-high in blocks (4) as the Nuggets pulled away from Houston with a 35-24 run in the fourth quarter to close out the game. Gallinari led all scorers with 27 points and Kenneth Faried chipped in 19 more on just eight shots, while Omer Asik pulled down 18 rebounds and scored 10 in the losing effort for the Rockets. Jeremy Lin scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to give the Rockets hope, but Ty Lawson and Gallo each put up 12 in the final frame to keep Houston playing from behind.
Paul Millsap (25 points, 10 rebounds), Al Jefferson (22 points on 10/18 shooting) and Derrick Favors (15 points on 6/9 shooting) dominated the paint and the Jazz held off the Hornets and never trailed during the final period. Alec Burks helped Utah by scoring eight points on just one shot (and 5/6 free throws) in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers jumped out to a 54-36 lead by halftime thanks to a sluggish start from the Pistons, and they never trailed at any point in the contest. Indiana pushed its lead to 23 points in the fourth quarter, and that led to some early rest for Paul George and the starters. Every starter for the Pacers scored in double figures, and George was the only player in that quintet to shoot under 50 percent from the field.
Only Sixer starter with less field goal attempts than points was Swaggy P, with 18 points on 17 shots. And they won. Woof.— Liberty Ballers (@Philly76ersBlog) January 31, 2013
Nate Robinson owned the night in Milwaukee. Not only did he dunk for the first time this season, he also led all scorers with 24 points on a crisp 9/11 shooting as Bucks big man Larry Sanders (flu) sat out and the painted area opened up for the Bulls. Chicago scored 66 points in the paint, even without Carlos Boozer (hamstring) who sat out for the night. Jimmy Butler continued his strong stretch of play with 18 points on 8/12 shooting and six rebounds, while Joakim Noah and Luol Deng both chipped in double-doubles.
Brandon Jennings came up with a third-quarter surge to boost his overall stat line (15 points, 6/18 fgs, eight assists) but he couldn't get the Bucks over the hump and was eventually ejected in the fourth quarter after eight Robinson drew a late charging call that iced the game for the Bulls.
The Kings shot just 39.2 percent from the field on the night, and they lost control of the game during the second quarter when they hit 5/18 shots and turned the ball over six times while they also allowed the Celtics to convert on 80 percent of their attempts. That 37-14 run by Boston changed the complexion of the game, and the Celtics never trailed in the second half. Six players scored in double figures for Boston, while Tyreke Evans (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Thomas Robinson (11 points on 4/5 shooting) were the only notable performers for the Kings.
Magic big man Glen Davis suffered a broken left foot in the first quarter and the Magic couldn't quite keep pace with the Knicks in the second half despite 50 combined points (on a crisp 17/31 shooting) from Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick. Tyson Chandler led the Knicks with 21 points on 10/11 from the field, while Carmelo Anthony added 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the win as New York outscored the Magic 62-46 in the second half.
Ramon Sessions and Kemba Walker teamed up to score 36 points and dish out nine assists, the Spurs overpowered Bobcats with particularly strong play in even-numbered quarters (total of +20 in those periods) as Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard combined to score 40 points on just 20 shots.