Biggest Takeaways from Friday Night's Wild NBA Action
It was a good night for NBA League Pass owners.
We saw the Kings blow a 27-point lead, only to come back with a buzzer-beater to beat the Knicks. The Detroit Pistons knocked off the Miami Heat, which may or may not have to do with the suspension of Dwyane Wade. And the Lakers played arguably their most complete game of the season in a blowout over Portland.
Plus, that Tim Duncan dude was pretty good.
San Antonio Spurs Are Still Elite
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Tim Duncan and Tony Parker refuse to regress.
Duncan finished with 30 points in the Spurs' win over the Rockets, while Parker added 31 and 10 assists.
This team never ceases to amaze. If you're a fan of the game, then you have to respect the San Antonio Spurs, who play high-quality basketball year after year.
If Gregg Popovich finds a way to keep these guys fresh without pissing off David Stern, the Spurs will keep their status as legitimate title contenders.
David West Is Back
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Mr. West is in the building.
Maybe it was the lockout that caused David West to average 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 2011-2012. He looks like a completely different player a year later, playing with confidence as an on-court leader.
Without Danny Granger, the Pacers gave West the ball in crunch time against the Suns and he came through. That mid-range jumper that made him an All-Star in the past has been dropping all season long, and it appears it's here to stay.
He only finished with 14 points and seven boards, but his timely shot-making down the stretch propelled the Pacers to their 17th win of the year, playing without a go-to scorer.
Miami Heat Need Their Big Three If They Want to Repeat
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One of the issues with putting all your eggs in three baskets is that if one of the baskets breaks, the team is at a severe disadvantage.
Outside of the big three, Miami's bench and supporting cast isn't exactly overwhelming. Nobody scored in double figures except for James and Bosh, with Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller incapable of creating their own offense.
After watching Miami lose to Detroit, it's fairly evident that it'll need all three of its stars to be in the lineup if it wants a chance at repeating.
With James, Bosh and Wade, Miami is the most dangerous team in the league. Without one of them, it's anybody's championship.
Grevis Vasquez and Anthony Davis Make New Orleans Hornets Watchable
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New Orleans lost in overtime to Toronto, but not to the fault of some of the Hornets' exciting young players.
Anthony Davis was terrific, going for 25 points and nine rebounds and playing off his constant motor and top-shelf instincts. And despite his usual questionable decision making, Greivis Vasquez was equally effective, racking up 14 assists along with 20 points and nine boards.
It was the ninth time this season that Vasquez has had at least 10 assists. His ability to create off the dribble while maintaining a point guard's mindset has been huge for guys like Davis, who doesn't have to rely on creating as many shots for himself.
The Hornets have some good young pieces to work with moving forward, and would really benefit from a healthy and productive Eric Gordon.
Dallas Mavericks Might Have to Consider Rebuilding Soon
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After a tough loss in Oklahoma City, the Mavericks flew home and got waxed off the floor.
Danilo Gallinari had a career game, going for 39 points against Dallas' lackluster frontcourt.
Even with Dirk Nowitzki, who is still trying to find his rhythm, Dallas' roster is old and it's not getting any better.
With Dirk's health up in the air and the under-the-rim pairing of Chris Kaman and Elton Brand, the Mavericks need to add some athleticism up front.
Between Dirk, Kaman, Brand, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, this just isn't a roster that will be taken seriously later in the season. O.J. Mayo has been a nice addition, but otherwise, this team is moving in the wrong direction.
Brooklyn Nets' Talent Shines in First Win Without Avery Johnson
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Just a day after management canned Avery Johnson, the Nets came out playing inspired basketball.
Whether that's a coincidence or just the Charlotte Bobcats' inferiority remains to be seen, but Brooklyn's big three were on point Friday night.
Brook Lopez played a complete game, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots in a 16-point win over the Bobcats.
While the Nets plan on taking their time to make the right coaching decision, P.J. Carlesimo will have an extended opportunity to audition for the job. The talent on this roster may not be championship-worthy, but it's still good enough to win regular-season games.
Ironically, Brooklyn is in a similar position to what the Knicks were in last year, when they fired Mike D'Antoni and promoted an in-house assistant with previous coaching experience.
Sacramento Kings Are a Mess Despite Buzzer-Beating Win
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James Johnson made the biggest shot of his career, stunning the undermanned Knicks with a buzzer-beating jumper.
But that doesn't erase the fact that they blew a 27-point lead against a team that was missing Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert. The Kings found themselves down five late in the game, after completely mismanaging their second-half performance.
Keith Smart just isn't doing the job. You have to be able to protect a lead in this league, and the Kings made it seem like they never had one before. Smart is either preaching the wrong message or the right one just simply isn't getting across.
Even with Tyreke Evans, this team is a mess. The Kings should look to move Evans, who will be a free agent this summer, and improve the balance on the roster.
L.A. Lakers Can Be Dominant
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The ride is a lot smoother when you have someone qualified to drive the vehicle.
The Lakers' 17-point beatdown on Portland reminded us just how dominant they could be. They were clicking on all cylinders tonight, with Dwight Howard controlling the paint, Steve Nash managing the game and Kobe Bryant scoring in volume and efficiency.
Nash has made life easier for everyone on board. He dictated the pace of the game while feeding his stars in their sweet spots.
A week ago, we were debating pushing the panic button, but the turbulence has suddenly subsided. Nash should keep the Lakers rolling and push them back into the big picture.