Happy post-deadline week!
It was a wild week, and it's good to get back to basketball. A lot happened this past weekend, so let's get caught up.
After choosing to remain in Orlando for another season, Dwight Howard and the Magic faced New Jersey on Friday. Deron Williams missed the game with a calf injury, Brook Lopez is still out with an ankle sprain, and the Magic dominated the Nets, collecting an 86-70 victory.
Howard finished with 18 points and just six rebounds in the easy victory.
In a 91-81 loss against the Miami Heat last night, Howard finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but he was no match for the Heat's Big Three. Dwyane Wade had a game-high 31 points, Chris Bosh added 23 points and LeBron James continued to stuff the stat sheet, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
It was a big victory for the Heat after losing to the Magic earlier in the week, but probably not as big of a victory as a lot of people will make it out to be. The Heat and Magic are still hanging onto the second and third spots in the East, while Chicago tries to hang onto the top spot and weather the storm with Derrick Rose out with a groin injury.
Ramon Sessions also made his Lakers debut on Friday, helping Los Angeles to the 97-92 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite being thrown into the fire and learning the plays on the fly, Sessions logged almost 20 minutes of play, finishing with a modest seven points, five assists and four rebounds.
In Golden State, Monta Ellis got a warm welcome, and then went out with the Milwaukee Bucks and rolled all over his former team, grabbing the 120-98 win.
For those of you wondering how an Ellis/Brandon Jennings backcourt will work, on Friday night they combined for 31 points—on 30 shots. Whoops.
Ellis was a plus-33 in the victory, and he looked happy.
After the game, Ethan Sherwood Strauss tweeted Dominic McGuire's reaction to losing Ellis in the swap with the Bucks:
"That's some bullsh-t, I'll be straight up. I'ma keep it 100. Hey, I ain't got no say so, but I was happy with my goons"
Willing to bet there are others in the locker room who shared his sentiments?
In Golden State on Saturday night, the Utah Jazz held on for a 99-92 victory in overtime. Derrick Favors was huge, finishing with 23 points and 17 rebounds. Enes Kanter came off of the bench to grab 13 rebounds in less than 20 minutes in a game where the Jazz out-rebounded Golden State 65-40.
In Denver, the Nuggets took down the Celtics 98-91, and Kenneth Faried gave Nuggets fans something to be very excited about. The rookie put together a monster line of 18 points, 16 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block while shooting 5-of-5 from the floor and playing just 23 minutes. Wowza.
Jackson played 16 minutes off of the bench, finishing with just five points, an assist and a turnover, but was a plus-11, the best of any Spurs player. More important than the stat line from Jackson was the effort given in his time on the floor. It's been a while since he's looked so engaged while in a basketball uniform. It was nice to see.
Monroe finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds while making 11 of 13 free throws. Monroe is shooting 77 percent from the line this year after connecting on just 62 percent of his free throws last season. If only more people tuned in to the Pistons to see how his game is developing.
In the second game at Staples Center last night, the Lakers dropped a 103-99 decision to the Jazz. Andrew Bynum was brilliant in the loss, finishing with 33 points on 12-of-14 shooting to go with 11 rebounds.
If Bynum was brilliant, Kobe Bryant was brutal, shooting just 3-of-20 and turning the ball over seven times.
Ramon Sessions finished with 10 points and six assists off of the bench, but he shot just 1-of-7 from the floor. It wasn't an awesome night for the Lakers backcourt.
Paul Millsap had 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists to lead the Jazz while rookies Enes Kanter and Alec Burks each scored a career-high 17 points off of the bench.