Originally posted on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 12/3/12
Magic 113, Lakers 103 ***Dwight Howard’s first game against his old team certainly didn’t go according to plan, but what has gone according to plan for the Lakers this season? In LA’s disappointing, come-from-ahead loss, Howard scored just 21 points on 34 combined shot/free throw attempts. He threw up brick after brick from the stripe as Orlando put together a 40-point fourth quarter, and he failed to make his presence felt at the defensive end. Nikola Vucevic (17/12/4 BLK) scored three dunks in the fourth, all of them virtually uncontested off of beautiful ball movement and flawlessly executed plays (the Magic finished with THIRTY-FOUR assists). Jameer Nelson and JJ Redick got hot late and drilled three straight triples to seal the deal. ***Pau Gasol looks awful. The tendinitis in his knee has rendered him virtually immobile. He was outscored 23-11 by Big Baby and missed one point-blank layup in that he would normally dunk but couldn’t because he can’t jump over a sheet of computer paper right now. As he tends to when the Lakers aren’t winning, Kobe Bryant has begun to publicly criticizing Gasol in hopes that it’ll light a fire under the Spaniard’s ass. ***Kobe wasn’t so great himself. He dropped 34, but it took him 27 shots and he played really crappy defense. Arron Afflalo (YEAH AFLAC!) went for 30 on 18 shots and JJ Redick added 14 off the bench. The two of them did a lot of moving off the ball and Kobe didn’t do a very good job keeping up. Heat 102, Nets 89 ***When’s the last time you saw Dwyane Wade dunk like this? That was pretty vintage, and it represents just two of his game-high 34 points.  This was probably Wade’s best performance since the 41-point game in Indiana last spring. ***Andray Blatche and Jarry Stackhouse played very well in a losing effort.  The two combined for 31 points and Stack nearly posterized somebody.  Blatche started in place of Brook Lopez. Blazers 118, Cavaliers 117 (2 OT) ***Let’s take a moment to discuss Anderson Varejao.  This man is averaging 15 points and 15 rebounds on the season.  By posting 19 points and 17 rebounds in this game, Varejao extended a couple of notable streaks: he now has four consecutive 15/15 games and eight consecutive 15-rebound games.  If he can keep this up for two more games he’ll have matched Kevin Love’s longest 15-rebound streak and surpassed Love in consecutive 15/15s.  Without a doubt, Anderson Varejao is an All-Star right now. ***Tyler Zeller was like a mini Varejao off the bench.  He came in and contributed 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds, making it his first NBA double-double.  Although the Cavs lost, Zeller played especially well in the second OT.  His eight points included the jumper that would’ve won the game had this next guy not done what he did… ***The next guy is Nicolas Batum, and this is what he did: ***Wes Matthews or David Wesley?  Both of ‘em could probably take some lessons in finishing from Dion Waiters. Bucks 91, Celtics 83 ***Having considered the triple-double that Larry Sanders posted against the Timberwolves on Friday, Scott Skiles elected to give the third-year player his first start of the season.  Sanders didn’t start, though, because he told his coach he’d rather continue to come off the bench.  A surprising decision from the up-and-coming MIP candidate, but one that coach Skiles elected to respect.  He was proven wise for doing so as Sanders killed the Celtics in his usual reserve role.  To chants of LAR-RY, LAR-RY, Sanders scored his 18th point from the free throw line to put the Bucks ahead by 3 with 11 seconds to go.  Paul Pierce and Jason Terry missed on a pair of attempts to tie the game and the Bucks secured a much-needed victory (they came in having lost five of six).  Sanders finished with 17 points and 5 blocks to go along with his 18 points. ***Brandon Jennings, who torched the Celtics in Boston, had just 13 points.  However, he did connect on the three-point dagger that put Milwaukee in the lead with 24 seconds to play.  He also converted one of those challenging layups that he likes to take… ***In fairness to the Celtics, I thought they got the short end of the stick on a couple of crucial calls.  Kevin Garnett was cited for a complete phantom foul on the offensive possession that preceded the aforementioned dunk by Sanders, then Courtney Lee was whistled for some ticky-tack stuff in the rebounding action, leading to Sanders’ important trip to the free throw line. Spurs 99, Grizzlies 95 (OT) ***The Spurs came back from 15 down to snap the Grizzlies’ four-game win streak.  Seems like a thrill, but the finish was actually rather underwhelming.  The officials completely botched the end of this game to the point where I’d have had to take notes in order to keep track of all the stupid calls.  Of the many f@ck ups, here’s the one that really stands out.  As you can see, Gary Neal was still standing on the floor when the shot clock expired, yet he was allowed to shoot the ball without a violation being called.  That led to the dumbest pass of Jerryd Bayless’s career, but maybe Rudy catches it if Manu isn’t allowed to rip his arm off. ***Tim Duncan’s costly rest paid dividends on the court.  Duncan had his best line of the season — 27 points and 15 rebounds.  Twenty-one of those points came during the first two quarters, making it his first 20-point half since 2004. Mavericks 92, Pistons 77 ***Derek Fisher made his unfortunate return to the floor as a member of the Mavericks and got started right where he left off.  Floppy Fish finished with one basket on eight tries, scoring two points in place of usual starter Darren Collison, who came off the bench.  That’s correct: Darren Collison was benched the day that 38-year-old Derek Fisher showed up.  Collison (5 PTS, 8 AST) did end up playing a couple more minutes than Fisher, and his statistics were marginally better… but Rick Carlisle has no plans of giving him his job back.  Said Jim Carey: “I really like Darren Collison as a player and I like him even better as a person. But putting him in a position to be the starter on this team right now isn’t fair to him. With Derek coming in, it’s a great opportunity for Darren to learn from one of the greatest winners in the history of the game.” Warriors 103, Pacers 92 ***David West concluded a strong week (3 games, 23/10) with a 23-point performance, but Golden State’s bench helped put an end to Indiana’s two-game win streak.  Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry made 13 of 19 shots as they accounted for a combined 34 points… 7 more than the entire Pacer bench scored. ***Who are these Warriors?  David Lee and company have out-rebounded six opponents straight, which is just about the most un-Warrior-like statistic that one could possibly come up with. ***Paul George went scoreless for the first time this season (0-7).  He’s missed 24 of his last 31 shots (16 of his last 18) as well as 12 straight threes. Clippers 116, Kings 81 Knicks 106, Suns 99 ***In case you missed it, ‘Sheed got tossed in 85 seconds.  That led to a Chris Copeland sighting and a rather uninteresting game that appears to have been closer than it really was.  Though they lost by just seven, the Suns trailed for the last 38 minutes and never got to within a single score. Note: I skipped three games — Rockets 124, Jazz 116… Bulls 93, 76ers 88… Thunder 100, Hornets 79.
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