Wednesday, December 26, 2012

12/26: Christmas Day Hoops Wrap

Greetings! I have returned after a short hiatus due to health/holiday, and let's get it going after a jam-packed day of hoops....

  • In the "headliner" of the day, Miami defeated OKC in a Finals rematch by the score of 103-97. Lebron, once again, showed why he's the best player on Earth with a ho-hum 29/9/8, and he was aided by 20 points from Mario Chalmers (including 4 triples) and 21 from Dwyane Wade. It's impressive for Miami to get a win on a night where bench sharp-shooters Ray Allen and Shane Battier shoot a combined 1-10, but that's what Miami did thanks to some stellar defense (holding OKC to 43% shooting) and great free throw shooting (a perfect 19-19). On the OKC side, Durant was superb, scoring 33 points (on 11-21 shooting) and grabbing 7 boards, but he was the lone bright spot, as Russ Westbrook did manage to add 21 points, but he did so on a woeful 5-19 shooting, and the normally potent OKC offense wasn't running on all cylinders. These are the two best teams in the league by most people's estimation, and as potential "finals previews" go, this was a good one. High-level hoops. 
  • In the other ABC game, the Lakers seemed to get healthy before our very eyes. Steve Nash got his most expansive playing time since returning (37 minutes) and responded with a Nash-like 16 points and 11 assists to key the LA offense. Kobe led the way with 34 points, and MWP added 20, but it's clear to everyone that things go smoothly when Nash has the ball, and you can see the way that he and Gasol interact. It was fitting to see Pau take the ball 25 feet from the basket, penetrate left, and dunk on the game's clinching possession, just because the 7-footer seemed to have all sorts of confidence with Nash in the lineup, and I loved it. For the Knicks, Melo had it going again, finishing with 34 points, but other than an inefficient 25 from JR Smith (on 23 shots, yuck), no one else had their offensive game going with Felton (5-19 FG) sputtering. Not a real indictment of the Knicks, as we all know that they won't win without the 3-ball, but it was a real positive for any remaining Lakers believers.
  • Elsewhere on Christmas, Boston beat up on the Nets in Brooklyn by a score of 93-76. It was a balanced offensive game for the Celtics with 7 guys scoring 8+ points, but I thought KG was the best player on the court despite attempting just 8 shots. He led a huge Boston rebounding edge with 10 boards of his own, and the Boston defense suffocated Brooklyn for most of the day. The Nets shot just 40% and couldn't generate any efficient offense all day. Later, Houston blitzed the Bulls by a 120-97 margin. This was the 3rd straight game with 120+ points for a suddenly blazing Rockets offense, and they got 20+ points from 4 of their 5 starters. Harden led the way with 26 points, but Omer Asik was the MVP, scoring 20 points and grabbing 18 rebounds up front. Houston shot a blistering 56% from the field on the night, and dominated the glass overall for a dominating win. Nate Robinson's 27 garbage-time points was the highlight for Chicago... and that's not a great sign. In the nightcap, the Clippers used a 42-point 2nd quarter to outlast Denver 112-100. Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford stole the show off the bench for LAC with 20 and 22 points respectively, and Chris Paul keyed the offense (as always) with 8 assists. LA is terrifying if you're an opponent at the moment, as that offense is clicking in a big way, and they're defending enough to make it stick. Denver was led by a 16/10 (on 8-8 FG) by Kosta Koufos and a 15/5 from Ty Lawson in the loss.
One college note...
  • #3 Arizona remained unbeaten with a nail-biting win over #17 San Diego State last night in Honolulu. This is a game that not a lot of people saw with NBA dominating the day, but 'Zona is pretty impressive, and I love that SDSU team. Stud forward Solomon Hill led the way with 21 and 6 for Arizona, and the Aztecs got 19 from Chase Tapley in the loss.
What to watch for on Wednesday (in chronological order)...
  • 7:30 - NBA - Pistons @ Hawks (SportSouth) - The lowly Pistons are in town, and Atlanta should get a relatively easy win here. Greg Monroe is worth watching for Detroit... but that's about it.
  • 7:30 - NCAAF - Little Caesars Bowl - Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan (ESPN) - A 7-5 Sun Belt team against a 6-6 MAC team in the worst bowl game of the season! Praise him!
  • 9:00 - NBA - Knicks @ Suns (NBATV) - NYK on the second of a road back-to-back, but Phoenix isn't a team that scares you. Maybe we'll see Amare against his old team?

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