Originally posted on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 1/22/13
The Kings probably became the Sonics yesterday, but it didn’t help their defense any.  In a 114-105 loss to the Pelicans, the Sonics allowed Ryan Anderson to get free for 14 three-point attempts, 7 of which he converted into 21 of his team-high 27 points.  A similar lack of resistance was present on the interior, where Eric Gordon and company were allowed to drive straight lines down the lane for uncontested jams.  On one especially-lackluster occasion, the Sonics’ own commentators called their “olay” defense “insulting to matadors.”  This is the sixth time this month that they’ve conceded over 110 points, which is why they’re 27th in the league in points allowed. Chris Johnson and Mickael Gelabale, the Timberwolves’ 10-day tag team, put on something of an encore performance in the first half against Atlanta.  As the Wolves pulled out to a 58-44 lead, CJ and Jelly combined to score 11 of 13 consecutive Minnesota points during an 18-11 run in the middle of the second quarter (Johnson highlighted the show with this alley-oop jam).  Unfortunately, the dynamic duo’s dominance was essentially limited to this isolated stretch.  CJ had some defensive struggles, leaving him benched with five fouls after just 10 minutes of play.  Jelly fizzled as well, finishing with only the seven points he’d scored during the aforementioned run.  Meanwhile, the Hawks climbed on the backs of Al Horford (28 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) and their own 10-day signee, Jannero Pargo, and recovered from the 14-point halftime deficit.  Pargo, playing in his first game with the Hawks this season, dropped 14 of his 16 in the fourth quarter (4-4 from three) and Atlanta won by eight.  I guess the basketball gods enjoy irony. The Hawks racked up 50 points in the paint over the course of this game, and I fear to consider how many they’d have had if it weren’t for the commendable defensive effort of Greg Stiemsma.  Stiesma, who has moved into the starting role due to injuries, finished with a routine total of two blocked shots in 28 minutes, but the box score doesn’t tell the whole story.  By my count, Stiemsma valiantly contested FIVE potential poster dunks.  He got mashed on twice, but he also stuffed a pair of furious attempts and prevented another by fouling Josh Smith, earning him a respectful high-five from the Hawks’ high flyer.  And then there was his offense… The Rockets finally snapped their seven-game losing streak, but they had to play the Bobcats to do it.  I don’t think I’m very impressed by that, so I’m going to talk about Bismack Biyombo.  Bismack Biyombo — this dude recorded SEVEN of the NASTIEST blocked shots you’ll ever see in one game.  He was literally winding up and violently smashing shots off the glass like he was swatting flies with a rolled up newspaper.  By the time the fourth quarter came around the Rockets had essentially given up on trying to finish at the rim — nine of their last 14 shot attempts were fired from beyond 23 feet.  Unfortunately for Bismack and the Bobcats, three of those nine were converted, resulting in a 100-94 come-from-ahead loss. Two career scoring highs from this game: Kemba Walker exploded for 35 points as he knocked down six of seven trifectas… …and Patrick Beverley finished with 10 off the Houston bench.  Beverley, who’s only been in the league for 15 days, made a crucial three-point shot to break a 90-90 tie at the three-minute mark.  Jeremy Lin did not see the court in the fourth quarter and committed two of Houston’s four traveling violations.  Lin has now traveled three times in his last two games, and the Rockets nine times as a team. The Clippers have lost 10 times this season. Three of those losses have been to the Warriors.  The Clipps, who got just four points on 1-7 from Chris Paul, kind of shot themselves in the Nikes at the free-throw line on MLK day, going just 12-22 in the 106-99 defeat.  Meanwhile, the Warriors shot the same percentage, 12-22, from beyond the three-point arc.  Well, that’s one way to lose! Another is to allow Stephen Curry to drop 28 points and borrow his head coach’s old shimmy move after making a pretty sick bounce pass to Jarrett Jack. And yet another is to airball three-pointers in front of the Warriors bench so that Kent Bazemore can make fun of you in a youtube video.  This particular method has become a favorite of Blake Griffin and the Clippers this season. Random thing that perplexes me: why are star players’ teams and positions included in the titles of articles by so many media outlets?  For instance, the LA Times reports that “Clippers guard Chris Paul” is being affected by a bruised kneecap.  Clippers guard Chris Paul, they say.  As opposed to Charlotte Bobcats center Chris Paul?  But seriously, guys, I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded that Chris Paul plays guard for the Clippers, or that LeBron James is a forward for the Heat, or that Kobe Bryant is a member of the Lakers.  Stop with the superfluous titles, save some characters. Nets @ Knicks is not one of the many basketball games I saw on Monday… and that’s okay with me, because the ending wasn’t nearly as epic as it almost was.  Had JR Smith been able to make this one shot that you’d almost expect him (but not anyone else) to make, Deron Williams would’ve missed a free throw that not only ended his streak of 52 in a row but gave the Knicks the opportunity to force overtime.  By comparison, Joe Johnson game-winners just aren’t that exciting. Where efficiency happens: The Knicks very nearly pulled a Michael Beasley, scoring just 85 points on 84 attempts.  JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony did pull a Michael Beasley; they needed 48 shots to score 45 points. A variety of Wizards went ham in the Pacific Northwest: Nene made his first six shots in a row and scored 17 of his 24 in the first quarter.  Former Blazer Martell Webster also had 24 on 4-6 from downtown.  Emeka Okafor put together a 13/13 double-double, which constitutes “going ham” for him, I think.  And last but not least, Jordan Crawford: he only scored 13, but three of them were kind of important. And with that, Portland lost their sixth straight.  It was yet another barn burner — their 10th game in a row that’s been decided by six points or less.  Personally, I thought it was more fun when they were actually winning… but Blazers games remain must-see TV until they snap this streak of six-point margins. Yes, Nicolas Batum would like a triple-double with his 5×5. Batum, who recently became the first player in a half decade to record a 5×5, posted a 12/10/11 triple-double (the first of his career), but refused to acknowledge it because his Blazers were indeed swept by the Wizards this year.  On a positive note, Nic, at least your Blazers have already eliminated the possibility of being swept by the Lakers. John Wall, who struggled mightily down the stretch against the Clippers, made a huge defensive play in the final minute against the Blazers.  Just wanted to point that out. Had Jordan Crawford not delivered on his game-winning three we’d have been headed to overtime on a game-trying triple by Wes Matthews.  Matthews’ three-point shooting has seemingly been a huge catalyst in all of this Blazer madness, so I decided to do a little research.  It turns out Matthews really has been especially clutch from downtown: in the final two minutes/overtime of Portland’s 19 games decided by six points or less, Wesley has made 44% (8-18) of his threes.  He only shoots 39% overall. Something I said yesterday: “If I’m Mike D’Antoni, Earl Clark is starting in Chicago tonight.  At 17-23, I need men on the floor who can be counted on to fight harder than this.” …Well damn!  It certainly appears as though Mike D’Antoni reads NBA247365.COM (whaddup, Mike!), ’cause Earl Clark did indeed replace Pau Gasol in LA’s starting lineup on Monday.  Also, despite Pau’s public desire to start, D’Antoni is calling the move “permanent.”  Don’t cry, Pau; the Lakers are known for being extremely proactive and will probably trade you for three All-Stars tomorrow (in all seriousness, though, I think it’s time). The lineup change did not help Steve Nash guard Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich, a 38% shooter, went 9-11 for a season-high 22 points as the Bulls handed the Lakers their third consecutive loss.  No joke, Hinrich must’ve tricked Nash with the same ******* move five or six times.  All he had to do to get a wide open jump shot was pretend he was about to use a screen then abruptly take one dribble in the other direction and let it fly.  Even for Hinrich, who isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, it was like taking candy from a baby. Nash wasn’t the only Laker guard who struggled defensively.  Kobe Bryant (and, to be fair, others) repeatedly lost track of Marco Belinelli, who used basic cuts like this one to score 15 easy points off the bench.  Nate Robinson didn’t play much, but even he dropped 11 on 4-7.  Conversely, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler did a hell of a job containing Kobe.  Bryant, who scored 81 points exactly seven years ago today, finished with 16 against the Bulls, making just 7 of his 22 shot attempts.  For the record, the struggling Mamba has recorded three consecutive Beasleys. What games haven’t I talked about yet? Ah, Pacers @ Grizzlies.  I know a lot of people didn’t like the way this one ended, but to me… this is on Mike Conley.  First of all, it was a foul.  Maybe not a foul that always gets called down the stretch, but a foul indeed.  Secondly, Conley can’t put himself at risk of being whistled for something ticky-tack by reaching across both the offensive player’s arms.  That’s just not a smart play. Weird lines: Paul George came up just one assist shy of a triple-double (12/10/9) while Wayne Ellington had 17 points. Highlight Recap: Ricky Rubio pass.  Tyson Chandler SMASH.  Blake Griffin lost, but he did some nice things.  Andris Biedrins blo–wait, what? Watch how far the ball bounces.  I guess that’s it.  I feel like there was more, but I can’t think anymore and I want to get this thing published before I pass out on my keyboard.
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