On a busy Monday night in the NBA that saw nine games on the schedule, the night owls were the ones that were rewarded.
Let's focus on the exciting stuff first because, well, it was exciting:
Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets
Seriously now, who saw Ty Lawson being this great, this fast? Not this girl. I thought he was a steal when he was drafted, but I figured he'd be a very solid player, not the starting, scoring stud he's been for the Nuggets this season.
He's been phenomenal and last night, he saved his team, sinking the game-winning three-pointer with four seconds remaining in overtime to move Denver to 4-0 since the All-Star break. Arron Afflalo had a career-high 32 points while Lawson had 16 points and 13 assists. Marcus Thornton led the Kings with 27 points.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
In Oklahoma City, the Thunder turned things on in the fourth quarter to steal the 95-91 victory from the Dallas Mavericks. Russell Westbrook was hot when he needed to be and finished with 24 points to Kevin Durant's 22. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 27 points. Oklahoma City is now 16-1 at home. From The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry's game notes:
"When Jason Terry missed a potential game-tying baseline jumper with four seconds left, Dirk Nowitzki ripped into Terry and Jason Kidd as they walked the other way for two Thunder free throws. Dirk could be seen clearly saying “What the F*** are we doing?” Durant was strolling right behind the trio as they tried to figure it out."
Mayberry asked Durant whether he had seen the exchange between Nowitzki and his teammates:
"I asked KD about that scene and whether he took notes on how Dirk got on his teammates. “Yeah,” Durant said. “He’s a leader. He wanted the ball in that situation. I’m glad he didn’t get it. But that’s what leaders do. They listened to him. Him and Jason Terry have a really good relationship, and that’s what we’re building here with our guys. So if I see something, I do the same thing. It’s all about progression and all about growth with me. I think I’m moving in the right direction.”
Always interesting to hear from one superstar on their observations of another.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The good Brandon Jennings showed up last night to lead the Bucks to a 97-93 victory over Philadelphia, scoring 33 points on 11-for-23 shooting from the field. After the game, Jennings talked to Charles Gardner of the Journal-Sentinel about their upcoming home game against the Chicago Bulls where he expects many in the crowd to be rooting for Derrick Rose and the Bulls. He painted quite the picture talking about his experience playing overseas the season before he was drafted:
Bulls fans made up an estimated 70 percent of the crowd when the teams played in Milwaukee on Feb. 4, and Chicago rolled to a 113-90 victory before the only sellout crowd at the Bradley Center this season.
But Bucks guard Brandon Jennings said the team will be ready for it.
"I'm not shocked," Jennings said. "It happened last year, too. We've just got to go in and play our game.
"If they score and the crowd goes crazy, that's what they're going to do. We've just got to come back down and hit them right back in the mouth. We can't get caught up in that."
"I played in Europe, so I played in way crazier, loud atmospheres than that. With fireworks and batteries being thrown, all that type of stuff. So that don't bother me at all."
Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls got an easy 92-72 victory over the Pacers last night in a game where Rose struggled from the floor, needing 16 shots to score 13 points. Luol Deng stepped up for Chicago, scoring 20 points while Joakim Noah pulled down 17 boards. Paul George was the bright spot for the Pacers scoring a game-high 21 points.
Utah Jazz vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyrie Irving topped 20 points in a Cavs loss to the Jazz that saw Al Jefferson post a line of 25 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, while Gordon Hayward scored 23 points off the bench.
Golden State Warriors vs. Washington Wizards
John Wall scored 20 points and dished 14 assists (with just two turnovers), but the embarrassing season for the Wizards continued as they were blown out 120-100 by the Warriors. After the game, Randy Wittman called his team's effort unprofessional:
“We get one win and come into a situation where we have a team at the end of a road trip, in a back-to-back and we come in with that effort to start the game,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “Inexcusable, and that’s on me. … That is unprofessional. I apologize to everybody that had to watch it and had to come here tonight.”
Wall said he felt the team knew they had lost the game before they hit the court:
“Some guys knew, we lost the game before we came on the court,” Wall said. “Too much joking in the locker room. Too much joking through warm-ups.”
You've got to feel for Wall. So talented, so frustrated and it doesn't look like anyone is coming to rescue him any time soon.
Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors
In Toronto, the Raptors put up a good fight against the Orlando Magic, but J.J. Redick drilled a three when his team needed it most and the Magic were able to walk away with the win. Dwight Howard had 36 points and 13 rebounds despite shooting just 4-for-14 from the line.
Eric Koreen of the National Post took us inside the Magic locker room to paint the scene pregame, where it was nice to see Howard and his teammates still joking around:
Just a step inside the Orlando Magic dressing room stood the most expensive video coordinator in the league.
Dwight Howard, the NBA’s best center by occupation, had his finger on the rewind button. He was cycling through the last meeting between the Magic and the Toronto Raptors, and power forward Ryan Anderson had specific directions for him.
“Don’t look,” Anderson said. “Just rewind it.”
Anderson wanted Howard to rewind the video to Orlando swingman Jason Richardson, two-time slam dunk champion, being rejected by the rim on an attempt. Howard erupted with laughter, rewinding back to the moment again and again.
“And he fell,” Howard, full of enthusiasm, said. “This is like NBA Jam.”
Nine days until the deadline. Will Howard be joking with his Magic teammates after the deadline, or will he have a new locker room to perform for?