The first benchmark in the NBA season has been cleared with a round of Christmas Day games passing and it's back to business for the association. Thursday night featured a game-winner in double-overtime, a Texas standoff between Dallas and San Antonio, a Western Conference duel in Portland and the Houston Rockets surviving Dwight Howard's worst game since signing with the franchise.
Here's our Thursday night hoops roundup, brought to you by Jeff Teague and Kyrie Irving:
Atlanta Hawks 127, Cleveland Cavaliers 125
Do you love overtime? Do you love double-overtime? Do you love buzzer-beating game-winners in double overtime? This was the game of the night for you, then, as Jeff Teague delivered a win for the Hawks with a shot that decided to sail through the net after few bounces around the rim:
Game, Hawks. Sadness, Cavaliers. Those were just two of Teague's career-high 34 points. It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops for Atlanta, though. DeMarre Carroll suffered a sprained thumb in the fourth quarter and Al Horford injured his right shoulder and left the game early during the first overtime.
Kyrie Irving scored 40 points, but had zero game-winners and took a loss on the night. In all fairness, however, he did break two ankles:
Lots of falling for Teague in this one. but his ankles are okay in case you were worried:
So my ankles are ok just to let you guys know #crossedme— Jeff Teague (@Teague0) December 27, 2013
Houston Rockets 100, Memphis Grizzlies 92
Jeremy Lin scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and Houston managed to pull off a late-game comeback to stun the Grizzlies. On a night where Dwight Howard played a total of 18 minutes, picked up five fouls and scored a total of two points in his worst game since joining the Rockets this summer the team managed to hold up with their superstar center struggling through the game.
Why wasn't Dwight Howard in the post? Kevin McHale said his back stiffened up, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
McHale said Dwight Howard's back stiffened. Would have gone back to him.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 27, 2013
I guess backs stiffen up while your team goes on a 34-20 run in the fourth quarter without you. It's also worth noting that James Harden was only two-for-nine from the field but scored 27 points. How, you ask? He went 22-25 from the free-throw line.
San Antonio Spurs 116, Dallas Mavericks 107
Danny Green pitched a perfect game, going seven-for-seven while scoring 22 points in a Spurs victory. Both teams shot over 45 percent in a game where they combined for 62 points in both the second quarter and fourth quarter, but the Spurs prevailed. It probably has something to do with magical plays like this from Tony Parker:
Was that missed layup? Did he purposefully bounce that assists off the bottom of the backboard? Does it matter? Keep the magic to yourself, Tony, because I'm a believer.
Parker finished with 23 points. Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting, Monta Ellis added in 23 points (13 fourth-quarter points).
The Trail Blazers and Clippers put on a reminder that the Western Conference has an incredible amount of talent. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for 69 points, but it was the Blazers offense and Robin Lopez's rebounding that put Portland over the top in this one in the second overtime contest of the night.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win, and Lopez grabbed 15 boards. Nicolas Batum hit a game-tying three-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining in regulation, and finished with 19 points.