7 Biggest Takeaways from Monday Night's Sloppy NBA Action
The result? Well, the result was a decisive Spurs victory, of course. San Antonio is 66-16 over their last 82 games, in part because Pop knows how and when to loosen the reins.
Josh Smith and His Trade Value Are Rolling
The much-maligned, highly rumored-about Josh Smith is on a hot streak. In his last 10 games, Smith is making over half his shots and, bizarrely, 44 percent of his threes.
Over the 10-game stretch, he's averaging 19.3 points, 5.3 assists and 9.7 rebounds. It looks as though Smoove's rough start is reversing itself.
In the course of Atlanta's 105-100 victory over Dallas, we were reminded of his maddening talent. Smith managed 26 points on 15 shots, but he mixed in some grotesque turnovers.
The game itself was sloppy and ugly, culminating in an O.J. Mayo steal (which was one of Smith's bad TOs) that led to Mayo getting stolen from. The affair was awful and awfully thrilling.
Brooklyn Wins Another Close One
Brook Lopez continues to impress with his moves around the rim and silky mid-range jumper. And while 25 points on 19 shots is usually not anything to write home about, doing it against the stingy Indiana Pacers defense might be worthy of a letter.
It looked like Indiana had this game, as it smothered Brooklyn's half-court offense in the fourth quarter. The Nets fought through it, came back and were blessed by a Joe Johnson bank shot that sent the game into overtime, eventually coming out on top, 89-84.
The Nets have won a few of these close games, which helps explains why their 30-22 record doesn't quite match their near-even point differential. The Brooklyn way has been ugly, tense and mostly successful.
Suddenly, Rajon Rondo Is Needed
Kevin Garnett was cursing up a storm and hitting big shots. At various points, it looked like the savvy vets would pull one away from the inexperienced, under-talented Bobcats.
But Byron Mullens, of all people, was just too much. The most questionable of stretch-4s poured in 25 points and grabbed 18 boards in Charlotte's 94-91 victory at home. It was a reminder that Rondo had nothing to do with Boston's nagging rebounding problems.
Suddenly, the Timberwolves Can Shoot
Long the worst three-point shooting team in the league this season, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally showed some long-range flourish, going 8-of-14 from beyond the arc to help down the Cavs, 100-92.
It might be connected to Ricky Rubio's improved play and it might just be statistical variance, but I'm happy to finally see threes fall for this offense.
If and when Kevin Love comes back this year, we might actually get to see what this squad was supposed to look like. Sadly, it will likely be "too little, too late" for a playoff spot.
The Wizards Might Be the Best Bad Team
The Washington Wizards have been a League Pass joy, even without JaVale McGee's antics. When they lost the goofy big man, they may have gained a competent defense.
The offense ranks as the league's worst, but you can see signs of improvement now that they're fully healthy. The underrated Nene had 21 points on 13 shots and looked to be his old Denver self.
Chris Paul Looks Healthy
I spread worry over what Chris Paul's injury absence meant, and when he was returning. Well, I'm settling down with the fears.
CP3 was a monster on Monday, skewering the Philadelphia 76ers on 9-of-11 shooting for 21 points, 11 assists and a measly one turnover in 25 minutes. The Clips smacked Philadelphia in Philadelphia, 107-90.
If healthy, this is a championship contender. With Blake and CP3 back, they certainly seem quite healthy.
Oh, and Spencer Hawes might not want to jump next time.
Regardless of Rebounding, Chicago Falls
Rebounding margin is a favorite stat of people who don't really love stats. Why? It's simple.
You look at the box score, see who rebounded more and make a declaration on which team was tougher. The rebounding margin is also supposed to tell the tale of which team was better.
In the case of San Antonio vs. Chicago on Monday night, it didn't quite work out that way. The Bulls secured 23 more rebounds than an undermanned Spurs team. Despite that, San Antonio easily dispatched Chicago with threes and impeccable offense.
While it's great to get more boards than your opponent, the game cannot be reduced to that. Three-point shooting can do as much, if not more, to swing a victory.