The Houston Rockets were picked apart by Chris Paul and the Clippers on Monday in Los Angeles, and the team's two cornerstones, Dwight Howard and James Harden, each had awful nights. But that wasn't the case in the team's 116-101 win in Portland on the second night of a back-to-back.
Dwight Howard had 29 points on 13 shots and grabbed 13 rebounds, and James Harden went for 33 on 18 shots as the Rockets controlled the second half on the road.
And they made it look pretty easy, too.
Houston owned Portland on the glass, 47-30, and outshot the Blazers 54 percent to 41 percent.
Heat 104, Raptors 95
The Toronto Raptors have a serious size advantage over the smallish Heat, but Miami has LeBron James. On a night when the defending champions were without Chris Bosh — making them even smaller — the NBA MVP took over in a 104-95 victory in Canada.
James went for 35 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, and even though the Heat ran out a starting lineup that didn't feature a single player over 6'8, Miami overcame an early deficit to take outlast the bigger Raptors.
Toronto led the league in rebounding with 50 per game coming in to this contest, while Miami was dead last in the NBA at 33 boards a night. But the Raptors were only able to outrebound the Heat by two. DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas led Toronto with 21 and 18 points, respectively.
Oh and Valanciunas may or may not have dunked on LeBron.
Also ... "Pew pew pew pew pew!" — LeBron James.
Brooklyn needed a bounce-back performance after a dismal showing against the Orlando Magic, so maybe a visit by winless Utah was all they needed. The Nets easily handled the Jazz in a dominant 104-88 performance to get back in the win column.
Brook Lopez led the way for Brooklyn with 27 points, and he did it in just 25 minutes of action. In fact, not a single Nets starter played more than 25 minutes as this one was over early. Brooklyn shot 51 percent from the floor to just 37 percent for Utah.
And to make things worse, the young Jazz turned the ball over 20 times, giving up 19 points off turnovers in the process.
Indiana entered play on Tuesday as the only unbeaten team remaining in the NBA, and Paul George made sure they stayed that way. The Pacers' All-Star swingman went for 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and four steals in his team's 99-91 win over Detroit.
The Pacers continued their suffocating play on the defensive end. Roy Hibbert had 10 rebounds and seven blocks to control the paint for Indy, and at the end of the night they're allowing just 86.1 points per 100 possessions. Frank Vogel's squad appears to be picking up right where it left off last season.
The Pistons hit less than 38 percent of their shots, including just five of 25 three-point attempts. One of the biggest questions surrounding this Detroit team concerned their outside shooting, and they struggled badly against the stingy Pacers defense on Tuesday.
As if things weren't already testy enough in New York City. A Knicks team in need of a win hosted the lowly Bobcats, but even that wasn't the right medicine as Charlotte beat New York, 102-97, in Madison Square Garden.
Spark-plug point guard Kemba Walker led the way for Charlotte with 25 points, and Carmelo Anthony got 32 on 10-for-28 shooting for New York. Those 28 attempts were one fewer than the rest of the starting lineup combined. Both teams shot just 42 percent from the floor, but the Bobcats badly outplayed the Knicks in the turnovers category, 22-14.
Without J.R. Smith in the lineup, the Knicks are really struggling with three-point shooting. They hit just 28 percent of their shots from deep on Tuesday, and Metta World Peace had to resort to this...
The Pelicans went all in this season, trading away the rights to Nerlens Noel and next year's first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Jrue Holiday and signing Tyreke Evans as the new sixth man. But so far the results haven't been ideal. A 104-98 loss to the supposedly tanking Suns on Tuesday didn't help.
Eric Bledsoe had another big game for Phoenix with 25 points on 12 shots, and the Suns hit 50 percent of their shots, including 48 percent of their threes. Statistically speaking, both teams were very similar across the board, but the difference in the game was the extra two three-pointers Phoenix hit. It's a game of inches.
Mavs 123, Lakers 104
The Dallas Mavericks had hoped to sign Dwight Howard over the summer, but so far it appears Plan B isn't such a bad option. The Mavs clobbered the Lakers, 123-104, in Dallas on Tuesday, and once again leading the way was the much-maligned Monta Ellis.
Ellis, whose shot selection has given coaches headaches along the way in his career, has looked like a different player so far in the young season. The shooting guard put up 30 points on just 14 shots, and he dished out nine assists in the process. Dallas beat up the Lakers on the boards, outrebounding L.A. by 15 and holding them to a reasonable 44-percent shooting percentage.
San Antonio had yet another slow start on the road, but a 30-16 fourth quarter was more than enough for the Spurs to put away the young Nuggets, 102-94, in Denver on Tuesday.
Tony Parker continues to dominate in his twelfth season in the league, and his 24 points on just 13 shots led all scorers in the game, and his counterpart Ty Lawson led Denver with 20 points of his own.
The Spurs came out of the gates slowly for the third consecutive game, but they scored 59 points in the second half and stifled the Nuggets in the fourth to put the game away. San Antonio lost the rebounding battle and was outscored from beyond the arc by 15 points, but still managed to sneak out of Denver with a come-from-behind win.
Hawks 105, Kings 100
Horford had 27 points and 10 boards, Millsap had 25 and 11 and Jeff Teague had 18 points and 10 assists, and the Hawks managed to shoot 48 percent from the floor on the road to earn a tough win against a Western Conference team. DeMarcus Cousins struggled in this one. The newly inked big man went for just 11 points on 12 shots and grabbed six rebounds, all in 29 minutes of action.
Isaiah Thomas did his best to keep the Kings alive, though. The diminutive point guard scored 18 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter as Sacramento outscored Atlanta 35-23 in the frame. But the Hawks were able to ice the game from the line over the final minutes.