The final NBA night of 2013 yielded plenty of noteworthy action on the floor. The Atlanta Hawks managed to sneak by the Boston Celtics on the road with a stellar fourth quarter performance while the San Antonio Spurs dismantled the dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets.
There's more where that came from. New Year's Eve was ripe with basketball goodness. Here's an overview of every game on Tuesday:
Hawks 92, Celtics 91
Paul Millsap led all scorers in a monstrous effort with 34 points while adding 15 rebounds two assists, two steals and two blocked shots as the Hawks rallied from 18 points behind to defeat the host Celtics at TD Garden. On the other side, C's rookie Kelly Olynyk poured in a career-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting and managed five assists and four rebounds to lead his squad.
Both teams struggled from beyond the arc. Atlanta shot a miserable 17 percent from the three-point line and Boston didn't fare any better by shooting 25 percent. The Celtics scored 28 fast break points against just 10 for the Hawks.
Jordan Crawford struggled for most of the evening, but managed to turn in one of the game's highlight plays when he put his ability to finish through contact on display:
Kris Humphries added 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Boston in the losing effort. No starters scored in double figures as the Celtics took their 18th loss of the season.
Indiana Pacers 91, Cleveland Cavaliers, 76
The Pacers stayed true to their identity and used stifling defense to defeat the Cavs at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Paul George led the way for Indy with 21 points and eight rebounds, but the Pacers showed balance with four players scoring in double figures.
The aforementioned defense forced 15 Cleveland turnovers and forced them to a dismal 36 percent shooting effort from the field and a disastrous 1-for-12 beyond the arc. Anderson Varejao notched a double-double with14 points and 11 rebounds to lead Cleveland. Kyrie Irving struggled to get anything going offensively with just 10 points.
Despite the awful game, Clevleand almost took an even bigger loss when this happened in the third quarter:
Fortunately, Irving returned to the bench a short while later and checked back into the game in the fourth quarter, but there's still cause for concern:
Cavs G Kyrie Irving to have MRI on Wednesday after injuring left knee vs. Pacers. Irving returned to game after suffering injury.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 1, 2014
The game's final result is consistent with the trend of the two teams going in opposite directions. Indiana won its fifth straight while the Cavs have dropped six in a row.
Golden State Warriors 94, Orlando Magic, 81
David Lee led all scorers with 22 points on an efficient 11-of-15 shooting and added nine rebounds as the Warriors made quick work of the Magic in Central Florida.
Arron Afflalo led the scoring for the Magic with 15 points, but took 18 shots to do it. Poor shooting was the downfall for Orlando on the evening as they shot just 38 percent from the field and 26 percent from the three-point line along with an a disappointing 62 percent from the free throw line.
Golden State overcame 17 turnovers with strong team defense, despite only forcing nine giveaways, allowing as few as 15 points in the first quarter.
Sacramento Kings 110, Houston Rockets 106
DeMarcus Cousins had an offensive rebound, a go-ahead putback, a steal and took a charge all in the final minute to seal Sacramento's upset win against the Rockets to shock them for the second time this season. On Dec. 15, the Kings defeated the Rockets in their own building and used a strong fourth quarter to repeat the feat.
In addition to doing nearly everything to will his team to a win in the final 60 seconds, here's something else Cousins did earlier in the fourth quarter:
James Harden finished with 38 points, but his two late turnovers came at the hands of Cousins on the steal and charge call and proved to be the difference in the game. Houston
San Antonio Spurs 113, Brooklyn Nets 92
Mason Plumlee had a team-high 15 points and 13 rebounds to notch a double-double for the Nets in 38 minutes off the bench.
Both teams were sloppy with the ball as they committed 16 turnovers apiece. San Antonio overcame that deficiency by shooting 51 percent from the field.
Toronto Raptors 85, Chicago Bulls 79
The Toronto Raptors won their third straight game for the first time this season as they staved off a late surge to win in the Windy City. Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and nine rebounds to lead the Raptors, who solidified their first place standing in the Atlantic Division.
Luol Deng had a game-high 16 points for the Bulls as they shot just 37 percent from the field.
Kevin Durant was in all-world form with a game-high 37 points, but LaMarcus Aldridge had a strong game of his own, scoring 25 points to lead the Blazers past the Thunder on the road. Damian Lillard added 21 points to go along with 11 assists to help Portland pull to within half a game of OKC.
Neither team shot well from the field, but the Blazers only committed six turnovers, which allowed them to overcome a 15-point deficit to notch the win in hostile territory and continue to show they belong among the elite teams in the Western Conference.
The shorthanded Lakers were never in this game: the Bucks won the first quarter 23-12 and didn't look back. Brandon Knight was spectacular with a career-high 37 points, while the Lakers shot just 36 percent from the floor. Jordan Farmar (0-5 with 7 assists in 20 minutes) reaggravated an injury, leading to big minutes for the only other healthy point guard on the roster Kendall Marshall. Pau Gasol and Nick Young each scored 25 as the Lakers fell to 13-19.