7 Takeaways for Saturday Night's NBA Action
The evening of Saturday, Feb. 8, was full of surprises in the NBA.
In Salt Lake City, the 16-33 Utah Jazz beat the world champion Miami Heat. In Atlanta, the Memphis Grizzlies shot an NBA record-low one free throw for the entire game...and still managed to come out on top.
In Phoenix, the Suns continued their surprising march toward the playoffs with a win over the Golden State Warriors, though with the way Phoenix has been playing this season, another win is no longer surprising at all.
The Memphis Grizzlies Don't Need No Stinkin' Free Throws
The Memphis Grizzlies made an odd bit of history in Saturday's 79-76 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Per ESPN Stats, the Grizzlies set an NBA record by taking only one free throw for the entire game.
That's right: one. From Courtney Lee. The hometown Hawks would have done well to take advantage of their 15 shots from the charity stripe. They shot 8-of-15 from the free-throw line and lost by three.
Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 20 points. Obviously, none of those 20 came from the free-throw line.
More importantly for the Grizzlies, the win snapped a two-game losing streak. They'll take a win over some free throws any day of the week.
The San Antonio Spurs Own the Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats are an up-and-coming young team. The San Antonio Spurs are a team missing several of its best players.
But San Antonio still managed to fend off the Bobcats, 104-100. The Spurs simply cannot lose to the these guys.
Per ESPN Stats, the Spurs are now 16-2 all time versus the Bobcats; the .889 winning percentage is the best against any single opponent.
Reserve guard Patty Mills led the Spurs in scoring with game-high 32 points off the bench.
One day, the Bobcats will be able to beat the Spurs...maybe even beat them consistently. But that day isn't here yet.
The Denver Nuggets Are Plummeting
It's one thing to lose two straight on the road; it's another thing entirely to get thrashed by a pair of mediocre teams.
That's exactly what happened to the Denver Nuggets over the last two days. They looked terrible in losing, 117-90, to the New York Knicks on Friday and looked even worse in losing to the Detroit Pistons, 126-109 on Saturday.
The two losses dropped Denver to 24-25 on the season. That isn't great, but it's certainly better than the Pistons (21-29) and the Knicks (20-30). The Nuggets are the better team, but they didn't belong on the same court as either Eastern Conference club this weekend.
The Timberwolves Must Settle for Moral Victories
Throughout the 2013-14 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been a talented team plagued by shaky play in the clutch.
Saturday's Timberwolves team didn't have nearly as much talent, with Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin all sidelined with injuries. But they lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in true Wolves fashion, letting the game get away from them in the fourth quarter.
Portland scored 34 points in the final frame to walk away with a 117-110 victory.
This time, however, the Wolves shouldn't feel bad about themselves. They played a good team right down to the wire, despite missing their three best players.
We knew they would make this an energy game. We knew they were short-handed with Kevin Love and Kevin Martin out, we had to make sure that we stayed focused and made sure we don't tell ourselves 'Well, Kevin Love and Kevin Martin aren't playing, so this is going to be easy.' It is an NBA team and they got guys out there that are capable of putting some things together and that is what they did tonight.
Hopefully Minnesota can put together some actual wins, once they get healthy.
The Houston Rockets Are Rolling
The Houston Rockets tied a season high with their fifth win in a row, taking out the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night, 101-95.
The woeful Bucks managed to make this one surprising close, but Houston held off a few Milwaukee runs and put the game away for good.
Rockets center Dwight Howard filled up the stat sheet with 27 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, one steal and two blocks.
The winning streak has put Houston in a position to wrestle away the all-important fourth seed (and home-court advantage) from the Los Angeles Clippers. Houston sits in a virtual tie with Los Angeles.
The Clippers are still missing Chris Paul, and Houston is taking advantage.
The Phoenix Suns Won't Go Away
The Golden State Warriors probably came into the 2013-14 season hoping to beat out the Clippers for the Pacific Division title. If they failed in that endeavor, then surely they could count on second place. After all, who else was there to challenge them?
The Phoenix Suns, that's who.
Phoenix continued its Cinderella season on Saturday, pushing the Warriors back into third place in the Pacific with a 122-109 win.
Point guard Goran Dragic led all scorers with 34 points on 10-of-13 shooting (including 6-of-7 from three-point range), while teammate Gerald Green chipped in 25.
The Suns are a young team...maybe too young to realize they aren't supposed to keep playing this well. If the Warriors don't get their act together, they may be staring up at the Suns for the rest of the season.
The Miami Heat Have a Weakness for Jazz
Is there a formula for defeating the two-time defending champion Miami Heat? If there is, opponents might want to start looking for it in Salt Lake City.
The Utah Jazz beat the Heat on Saturday, 94-89, in a shocking upset that, in retrospect, doesn't seem that shocking at all. Per NBA.com's Matt Payne, this win marks the fifth straight year the Jazz have beaten the Heat at least once. And remember, the Jazz get to play Miami only twice a year.
Forward Marvin Williams was red hot for the Jazz, scoring 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting. The great LeBron James was held to a season-low 13 points in the loss.
The Jazz are not a good team, but for whatever reason, they seem to be Miami's kryptonite.