It was an A-plus night in the NBA. From Stephen Curry's 54-point explosion against the New York Knicks to a buzzer-beater from Monta Ellis to beat the Houston Rockets to some strange heroics from Wes Johnson against the San Antonio Spurs, there was plenty of action to keep basketball fans entertained. Here's a complete rundown of the action from Wednesday night:
Knicks 109, Warriors 105
Stephen Curry went supernova at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night in ESPN's prime time matchup. Curry scored 54 points by stroking an insane 11-13 shots from beyond the arc, but Carmelo Anthony responded with 35 points as the Knicks somehow emerged from the situation with a win.
On a night when David Lee missed the game due a league suspension for the scuffle in Indiana, Stephen Curry stole the show on the NBA's biggest stage. Walk-up threes. Rhythm threes on ball rotation. Pump fakes at the arc on over-pursuit to create open threes. Pump fakes at the arc on over-pursuit leading to silky floaters and layups in the lane. PU3ITs. Curry did it all. The television crew ran out of superlatives when the young sharpshooter rattled off 15 straight points for Golden State... during the first half.
Golden State's lead guard split his 54 points evenly between halves, and he saved 16 from the final frame. Unfortunately, some sloppiness from his teammates down the stretch kept the Warriors from getting the win. Even so, it was a night to remember:
There have been only 24 games at Madison Square Garden where a player has scored 50+ points in a night, and Curry is now on that exclusive list -- as presented by Warriors beat reporter Marcus Thompson II -- with Michael Jordan, Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamerlain et al. Kobe is the only active NBA player to ever score more at MSG, with 61 points on Feb. 2, 2009.
Over at Warriors blog Golden State of Mind, they gave Curry the full Wilt treatment for his special night. Here's a particularly special fan image that puts a stamp on the awe-inspiring performance:
Nine of the 10 starters scored in double figures and only one bench player on either team reached double digits in the late game on ESPN. Ty Lawson led all scorers with 30 points on 12-22 shooting and Andre Iguodala followed closely with 29 points on 11-20 from the field as the Nuggets weathered a third-quarter surge from the Trail Blazers and muscled out a road win in Portland.
Trail Blazers rookie Meyers Leonard scored 10 of his career-high 13 points off-the-bench during the third period as Portland erased an early deficit by shooting 57.9 percent (and 4-5 on threes) and outscored Denver 32-21. However, Lawson and Iguodala combined to score 19 points in the final quarter as the Nuggets quickly reversed the trend by stroking 59.1 percent of their shots down the stretch to seal the victory.
Bucks 110, Rockets 107
In the immortal words of Monta Ellis: "Monta Ellis have it all." He was right on Wednesday night. Ellis continued his recent trend of strong play first by creating shots for teammates (13 assists), then by manufacturing some value on defense (six steals and finally with a buzzer-beater three to break the tie and cap a 27-point night and send Milwaukee home a winner.
Have we used up all the "Monta Ellis have it all" jokes yet? No? Never? Well this night, more than any other in his Milwaukee tenure, Ellis did have it all. He recorded six steals for the second night in a row (the first Buck to do so since Alvin Robertson in 1990), scored seven of the team's 11 points out of the second half gate, and hit that shot you're going to see for the rest of the season, if not the next few years. Ellis continued his encouraging chemistry with JJ Redick (14 pts, 6-11 fg), and dropped a solid collection of highlight-worthy passes, including a strike to a cutting Larry Sanders early in the fourth.
Lost in the shuffle for the Rockets was the fact that Omer Asik ripped down a career-high 20 rebounds do go with 16 points as a complement to nice nights from James Harden (25 points, seven assists) and Chandler Parsons (20 points on 9-17 shooting).
Suns 105, Spurs 101
The Phoenix Suns stunned the San Antonio Spurs with a strange overtime win on the road against the team with the best record in the NBA, because it was just one of those nights. The Spurs handled business up to the final seconds of regulation, and a 100-97 lead with 3.7 seconds remaining and no timeouts for the Suns looked to be enough to seal the victory, but Manu Ginobili missed his second free throw and Wes Johnson (of all people) made a heads-up play by leaking out for a last-second three to send the game overtime.
From there Suns shot 2-9 (22.2 percent) in overtime and still outscored the Spurs 5-1 in the extra period. It was a meltdown from Tony Parker and Tim Duncan perhaps unlike anything we've ever seen. Jermaine O'Neal (22), Luis Scola (15), Goran Dragic (13) and Marcus Morris (11) were the only Suns players to score in double figures.
The Wizards didn't play a particularly good game against the Pistons on Wednesday night, but Trevor Ariza almost willed them to a victory. Ariza nailed a late pair of threes to keep Washington afloat in the final minutes, and then things got really weird. Ariza attempted a last-second triple that would have given the Wizards the win, but he came up short and the shot only brushed the net. The Wizards announcers didn't have the greatest view of the play, so they started to celebrate as if the shot had gone down. It wasn't the "dagger" or the "miraculous comeback" that they described, and the Wizards went home losers.
The Grizzlies outscored the Mavericks 24-5 in the third quarter to erase a 13-point halftime deficit in another bizarre game. Dallas shot 59.0 percent from the field during the first half, the third period turned into a sinkhole for the Mavericks. They shot 2-17 from the field and turned the ball over seven times during that 12-minute span, and the Grizzlies took advantage. Zach Randolph scored 12 of his game-high 22 points in the period and helped Memphis build a lead they would never relinquish during the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers played without Kyrie Irving and wrapped up a stretch of four games in five nights against a Raptors team that should have been hungry to advance their interests in the Eastern Conference playoff race, but it was Cleveland who played from the front for the entire night.
Dion Waiters paced the Cavaliers with 23 points in a well-rounded effort for a young team that could have easily packed it in on the night. DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 34 points on 10-19 shooting, but he couldn't find enough help from his teammates to get the team over the hump.
Al Horford (34) and Josh Smith (24) combined to score 58 points on 23-41 shooting as the Hawks dismantled the Jazz despite a career-high rebounding night for Derrick Favors (15 rebounds to go with 17 points). Atlanta led by as much as 20, while Utah never sniffed a lead during the fourth quarter of the game.
Tobias Harris scored a team-high 23 points on 9-12 shooting for the Magic, but nobody for Orlando could defend the Kings. Sacramento shot 54.8 percent from the field, and John Salmons (21), Marcus Thornton (20) and Tyreke Evans (17) all scored 15+ points in a strong effort from the Kings. Sacramento never trailed at any point during the final 36 minutes of the contest.
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