Tuesday Night Tip-Dunk: The Stars' Night Off

John LorgeSenior Writer IJanuary 21, 2009

With most of the NBA's premier teams playing on the NBA's version of Thanksgiving Day, Martin Luther King Day, it left us with the most uneventful Tuesday Night of the season.

No Lakers, no Cavs.  No Celtics, no Hornets.  What's an NBA fan to do?

Watch the games!

There are plenty of stellar players in the league not names LeBron, Kobe, or Dwyane so in case you missed out, here they are.

Atlanta Hawks 105, at Chicago Bulls 102

When watching the Hawks you know to keep your eyes peeled for combo-guard Joe Johnson and high-flyer Josh Smith.  With former Florida Gator Al Horford injured for his matchup with fellow Gator Joakim Noah, and Marvin Williams hurt, I expected Johnson and Smith to bear the load.

Wait, who's that old guy with the headband?

Yes, Mike Bibby stole the show Tuesday Night with his 31 points, six assists, and five steals.  Bibby is having his best season in years and is shooting the three-ball at a career-best 42.2 percent. 

He isn't required to score as much as he was in Sacramento, and with Johnson's ball handling ability he doesn't have to crank out as many assists.  Bibby is required to be the savvy veteran, much like Derek Fisher's role on the Lakers. 

Bibby controls the tempo of the game and knocks down big shots, hence the importance of his great shooting percentages and career low 1.5 turnovers per game.  Atlanta is the best-young team in the NBA, and Bibby’s experience has been the difference maker in their success.

Now that Krik Hinrich is back from injury the Bulls have one of the best three-guard rotations in the NBA with Hinrich, Ben Gordon, and Derrick Rose.  All three are dominant ball handlers which creates an interesting dynamic on the court.

If the Bulls could get all three guards to produce on the same night it would be really be something, but is it possible?

Rose and Gordon seemed to develop a feel for each other while Hinrich was away.  Now that Hinrich is back he cuts into both Rose and Gordon's roles.  Hinrich can create opportunities for his teammates like Rose, and knock down perimeter shots like Gordon.

The Bulls would be best-off moving Hinrich before next season, but he would be difficult to depart with because he is one of their better players.  There is also the option of moving Gordon, but either way someone needs to go.

The Bulls have a lot of pieces on the table but they aren't all to the same puzzle, and no matter how hard they press their current pieces won't fit.

Coach Vinny Del Negro needs less player who deserve 25 minutes per game and one more who deserves 35 minutes per game so he can solidify his rotations and develop roles for his players.

Indiana Pacers 81, at San Antonio Spurs 99

No team knows how to put away a lesser opponent better than the Spurs.  Indiana is a team that has been giving the entire NBA fits with their up-tempo style, but they were no-match for the defensive minded Spurs. 

Ah yes, the Spurs.  As we're introducing ourselves to some of the NBA's lesser known players Tuesday Night let's not forget about Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker's dominance over the decade.

San Antonio stumbled into the season losing their first three games, but now they sit on top the Southwest Division at 28-13.  Along with the Orlando Magic, the Spurs are the least talked about, best team in the NBA.

They are riding a streak of winning a championship, then not winning one, then winning one again that dates back to the 2002-03 season.  This season, it’s their turn to win again. 

Against Indiana the Spurs clearly had one focus, shut down Danny Granger.  You have seen Greg Popovich use this tactic against potent offensive weapons in the past, and it worked once again as Granger was held to 17 points on 5-15 shooting.

Most impressively, Granger was held without a three point attempt. Why is that so impressive?  Granger is averaging 6.9 three point attempts per game and is capitalizing at 39.7 percent on the season.

Danny Granger is one of the top young stars in the NBA.  Averaging 26.4 points on the season, he is no doubt deserving of an All-Star bid, but he cannot do it all against a focused team of veterans.

Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli were extremely efficient, scoring 53 points on 18-25 shooting and grabbing 18 rebounds in 48 combine minutes. 

Sacramento Kings 99, at Denver Nuggets 118

Without Carmelo Anthony the Denver Nuggets have found an identity as a team, and Chauncey Billups is their leader.  Billups finished with 22 points, eight assists, and three steals, while knocking down 10-11 free throws.

The leader of the Lithuanian National Team, Linas Kleiza, came off the bench to score 27 points in 31 minutes.  Kleiza gives the Nuggets the inside-out game that they usually count on from Anthony.  He rarely shines when 'Melo is healthy, but has been stupendous as his replacement.

Nene, Chris Anderson, Anthony Carter, and J.R. Smith all filled their roles and the Kings were left in the dust.

The Kings have been in turmoil all season.  They started the season without Brad Miller and Francisco Garcia.  Soon Kevin Martin was injured and Reggie Theus was slain. 

There is no sign that the Kings will find any solid ground throughout the remainder of the season as they shop Brad Miller around and shop for a new coach.

The caliber of players on their team is better than the 10 wins they have amassed, but right now they chickens who just met the chopping block.

Minnesota Timberwolves 107, at Utah Jazz 112

The Timberwolves rallied behind 51.2 percent shooting on the night to grab the lead late in the game.  Similar to Kevin McHale's first meeting with Utah, a great team effort wasn't enough to get the victory.

Even without Carlos Boozer, the Jazz post-men killed Minnesota.  Mehmet Okur poured in a casual 22 points, while Paul Millsap has been making Jazz fans forget Boozer ever graced the lineup.

Millsap has posted 20 double-doubles in 23 starts since Boozer's injury, including 28 points and 15 rebounds Tuesday Night. 

The former Louisiana Tech rebounding champ, has went from over-achiever to an up and coming star in a few months.  That's right, the 6'8" 250 pound forward is from the same Louisiana Tech as Jazz-great Karl Malone, and he is doing him proud.

Of course there is a Stockton to Millsap's Malone, as Deron Williams dished out 11 assists in the victory.


    Spurs Pound T-Wolves, Pass Them in West Standings

    San Antonio Spurs logo
    San Antonio Spurs

    Spurs Pound T-Wolves, Pass Them in West Standings

    The Associated Press
    via Twin Cities

    Bucks Hand Hawks Their 50th Loss

    Atlanta Hawks logo
    Atlanta Hawks

    Bucks Hand Hawks Their 50th Loss

    via ajc

    Alvin Gentry Is FED UP with the Refs

    NBA logo

    Alvin Gentry Is FED UP with the Refs

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Have Cavs Done Enough to Keep LeBron?

    NBA logo

    Have Cavs Done Enough to Keep LeBron?

    Scott Sargent
    via Bleacher Report