LeBron James brought the Heat back from a double-digit deficit in the second half, but the Nets rolled in the second overtime to a 104-95 win on Friday night. Brooklyn's fifth straight victory, it was an impressive performance with both Deron Williams and Brook Lopez sidelined.
Joe Johnson (32 points) and Shaun Livingston (19 points, 11 rebounds) really stepped up for the Nets. With that strong performance from the backcourt, James just didn't get enough support with Dwyane Wade also sitting due to injury. James finished with 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the loss, but he also fouled out of a regular season for the first time in over five years:
Norris Cole hit a big shot after that to force the second overtime, but the James-less Heat fell apart over the next five minutes as the Nets pulled away.
New Orleans' defensive woes continued Friday as the Mavericks lit it up for 14 three-pointers and 53 percent shooting overall. Continuing an unfortunate theme for the Pelicans this season, Dallas loaded up on open shots around the perimeter as poor switching and untimely freelancing proved costly.
Rebounding from a tough game against San Antonio, Dirk Nowitzki came through with 24 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. He shot 10-of-19 from the field and 4-of-8 from three-point range, plus he didn't commit a single turnover. Monta Ellis added 23 points and eight assists in the win.
Anthony Davis (21 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks) and Eric Gordon (27 points) actually played well for New Orleans, but the rest of the team struggled badly. Tyreke Evans and Al-Farouq Aminu combined for five turnovers and one field goal.
Before the game, resident Wizards guy Mike Prada offered his #SoWizards prognosis for how this game might go:
Not watching Wiz live tonight. @UKhanNBA is covering. But feeling like it might get ugly.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) January 10, 2014
So, how did things go for Mike and the Wizards against big bad Indy?
The Pacers held the Wizards to 66 points Friday, the fewest points scored by any team in a game this season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 11, 2014
And the overall numbers are just as ugly: 32 percent shooting from the field, but more importantly, 9-of-23 from the free throw line. 9-of-23! David West went 9-of-13 in this game while having actual NBA defenders try to stop him. Bad Wizards.
Taking advantage of Eric Bledsoe's absence, point guard Mike Conley went off for 31 points and seven assists to lead Memphis on Friday. It was a duel against Goran Dragic, who had 21 points and eight assists, but Conley and the Grizz came out on top.
Zach Randolph also had a big game for Memphis, going for 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Take out the first five games of Z-Bo's season, and he's actually averaging 18.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per contest. Not too shabby for the aging big man.
Markieff Morris came off the bench to score 17 points for Phoenix. Channing Frye had an off-night, going 2-of-10 from three and 4-of-15 overall en route to 10 points.
Detroit can't seem to beat anyone lately with its shoddy offense, but that hardly mattered with Philadelphia's smaller lineups completely unable to compete on the boards. The Pistons' offense may still be a huge issue, but the 62-42 rebounding advantage, powered by 25 offensive rebounds, pretty much put that issue to bed for a night.
Josh Smith really filled up the box score in this one, recording 22 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and four steals. He took 23 shots, though, continuing an ugly pattern of inefficiency for the hyper-athletic big man. Meanwhile, Andre Drummond had 11 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks, including this big rejection on Evan Turner:
Atlanta continues to be a surprisingly stiff opponent even without Al Horford. On Friday, the Rockets discovered that first-hand in the kind of low-scoring game they're not accustomed to. The Hawks shot just 37 percent from the floor, but managed to rally nicely after scoring 10 points in the first quarter.
At that point, it seemed hard to envision the Rockets blowing things, but Atlanta's defense held up throughout the game, forcing turnovers while preventing Houston from turning up the pace. It was an impressive effort against one of the league's better scoring squads as the Rockets shot just 41 percent from the field.
For at least one night, the DeMarcus Cousins-Rudy Gay partnership looked pretty darn good as Sacramento pulled out a lopsided win. Cousins (24 points, 14 rebound, six assists) and Gay (22 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) were both fantastic as Orlando struggled for answers on both ends of the floor.
Despite playing one of the league's worst defenses, Orlando shot just 33 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. 29 trips to the charity stripe saved the offense to some degree, but the Kings held a 48-24 advantage on points in the paint -- few teams can survive that kind of beating in the post.
Timberwolves 119, Bobcats 92
Minnesota pulled away in the second quarter and that was pretty much that for the Bobcats. Anthony Tolliver came off the bench to hit 8-of-9 shots for 21 points, but it hardly mattered as the Timberwolves dominated the boards and shot 55 percent from the field as a team.
Nikola Pekovic led all scorers with 26 points on 10-of-14 shooting, continuing a strong run for the center over the past few games. Kevin Love added 19 points and 14 rebounds, offering up his usual combination of efficiency scoring and rebounding.
Gerald Henderson only had 12 points, but this shot is too sweet not to share:
Luol Deng made his debut, but played only 21 minutes as Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 25 points, eight assists, six rebounds and five steals. Facing another young, struggling team in the Jazz, Cleveland found just the right opponent to start off the Deng era right.
Tristan Thompson (18 points, 15 rebounds) and Anderson Varejao (14 points) were dominant down low against Utah's young bigs, helping to power the Cavs' 54-40 advantage on points in the paint. Deng only had 10 points in his abbreviated debut, but it's clear he'll be a sizable upgrade over the likes of Alonzo Gee and Earl Clark.
Four players topped 15 points for Utah, led by Richard Jefferson with 18.
Chicago's season is supposed to be cratering, but this is the team's fourth straight win. Led by Carlos Boozer and Mike Dunleavy, the Bulls got another win against a team that seemingly can't win anything right now.
Returning to action after some injury issues, Boozer had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead Chicago. Dunleavy added 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, playing well against his former team. Taj Gibson finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.
The Bucks allowed Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour to take a combined 35 shots, which says a lot about where the team is these days. O.J. Mayo came off the bench to score 16 points and Ersan Ilyasova had 14 on 6-of-13 shooting, but it's a weird team in Milwaukee.
Stephen Curry. Even when he's struggling, he can be oh so good -- this time, the Warriors star drained a big jumper in the waning moments to land Golden State a stunning win.
On a rare (mostly) off-night for both Curry and Klay Thompson, Golden State got a clutch performance from Andre Iguodala and some solid defense to top Boston. Iguodala finished with 22 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals to lead the Dubs to a close win.
After trailing at halftime, Golden State rallied in the second half to take a last-minute lead. The Celtics had a chance to get the win or force overtime with a last-second shot, and Jeff Green hit a layup to force the Warriors' hand. Curry hit the big shot, though, thrilling the home crowd.
Jared Sullinger came off the bench to record 21 points and 11 rebounds for Boston.
Staples Center is used to having one dominant NBA team and one dormant one, and the Clippers on Friday night solidified their place as the top dog in Los Angeles with a 123-87 blowout win over the Lakers.
Blake Griffin grabbed 12 rebounds and scored 33 points on just 15 shots, thanks in part to easy buckets like this:
The 36-point win was the largest margin of victory over the Lakers ever for the Clippers, who won their third straight contest. Kendall Marshall had 16 points and 10 assists for the Lakers, losers of four straight and 10 of their last 11 games.