In one of those dreaded Saturday afternoon Atlantic Division games (seriously, who came up with these?), Boston turned a close game against Toronto into a rout during the second half of a 107-89 beatdown. Jason Terry, still starting in the Bean, went off for 20 points, and Rajon Rondo had a dozen assists just a few minutes into the second half. He’d end up with 20 in just 32 minutes, his streak of consecutive regular season games with double-digit assists now at 33. Is anyone in the league dominating a single statistical category like Rondo is assists? He’s now right at 13 a night – next in line is Chris Paul at 10.3. That’s a gap larger than Michael Strahan‘s smile … Heard from Tommy Heinsohn during the fourth quarter: “He’s almost reaching that status of Waltah (Walter McCarty). I’m becoming infatuated with Leandro.” We’re not sure if Barbosa should be excited about this development or nervous … The only time you’ll ever see Kevin Garnett (15 points) smile on a basketball court is when they play the Gino video in Boston. The old disco dancer has become a sort of cult figure in the Celtics tradition, and when they played it during the fourth quarter yesterday, Garnett started laughing and dancing. Even more amazing was seeing Darko right next to him, looking like a lost puppy dog wondering what the Hell was going on … As for the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan finished with possibly his worst game of the season (ten points), but we love what we’re seeing from him. In the middle of the third quarter, he got a breakout opportunity against Paul Pierce (19 points), but instead backed it out to run offense (in the past, he would’ve thrown up some junk). On the same trip he went backdoor for a lob. DeRozan just seems to be much more patient and at ease this year, which is probably why almost all of his numbers across the board are up … The Suns did all they could do against Miami: they played at a frenetic pace, got huge bench contributions from some unlikely sources, and caught LeBron on a possible down night. But it still wasn’t enough after James (21 points) and Chris Bosh (24 points) surgically crippled them down the stretch in a nine-point Heat win … D.C. residents hit the Wizards with some fourth quarter boos last night in their 83-76 loss to Utah, and they deserved them. The Wizards jumped out to a 15-2 lead as Utah looked like they’d just come off a five-day Vegas assault (it was actually more easily explained: the second night of a back-to-back and the last stop of a weeklong road trip). Paul Millsap, Utah’s leading scorer, played like garbage, and the entire team seemed like they just wanted to go home. Yet in the fourth quarter, Washington disintegrated, getting beat up on the glass along the way … As great as Utah’s big lineup is, and they unveiled it last night by starting Al Jefferson (21 points, 13 rebounds), Millsap (10 boards) and Derrick Favors (10 boards) together, it’ll never work longterm for the Jazz. At some point, a move will need to be made. Against the Wizards, Jefferson was phenomenal inside while Favors was pretty silent and Millsap was downright awful… whereas in past games, it’s been the opposite. Utah can’t be waiting on them to put it together all at once, because as long as they are together, there’s just not enough room … And then, there’s this from @WindhorstESPN: “Sixers fear Andrew Bynum has done additional damage to his knees by bowling recently, multiple sources told ESPN.” … Keep reading to hear about which top NCAA recruit is now allowed to play this year …
Next time they get in a close game, Cleveland might want to do something outside of stand around and let Kyrie Irving (26 points) cook. That was their offense in the fourth quarter last night, and it led to a 9-0 Dallas run in the middle of the fourth quarter, as well as a huge block on Irving’s drive in the final 30 seconds, resulting in an O.J. Mayo (19 points) layup on the other end. Even as Irving had one of the best 0-rebound, 0-assist games you’ll EVER see, the Mavericks worked for enough breathing room to hold on, 103-95 … Here’s a reason why it’s never good to put too much stock in a scout’s breakdown of a NBA prospect. Dion Waiters (16 points) was billed as a D-Wade type coming out of ‘Cuse, a guy who could get in the lane and finish at the rim at will. But so far this year, the dude is way below average in finishing at the rim – even if he’s getting there quite often – and from the line. Meanwhile, he’s dropping threes on the regular when those weren’t supposed to be his strength. But last night during a second quarter stretch, we saw how dynamic the Philly product could be if he puts it all together: he hit a pull-up triple, then drew a foul to get to the line on the next possession, and then got out on the break and pulled off the nastiest spin move of the night before finishing … Other story lines from last night: Memphis held on in Charlotte for their eighth-straight win, 94-87, behind 20 from Mike Conley and 18 and 12 from Zach Randolph … The Bucks got identical 22-point, nine-assist lines from Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis in a 117-113 win over the Hornets … George Karl told reporters about the Spurs: “They’re playing how we like to play, and they’re playing it better.” San Antonio went out and backed that up, getting their first big game of the year from Manu Ginobili (20 points) in a 126-100 blowout of the Nuggets … While the Clippers destroyed the Bulls by 21 as Blake Griffin went off for 26 points and ten boards … And in college basketball, the NCAA finally reinstated UCLA’s star recruit Shabazz Muhammad, and the 6-6 freshman guard will be eligible to compete Monday when UCLA plays Georgetown in the Legends Classic in New York. Tuesday night, he could end up playing against Indiana, the No. 1 team in the country. Muhammad will miss three games and must pay back $1,600 of the illegal benefits he received, but for him, that’s like stealing someone’s lunch money knowing they’re about to hit it big. Muhammad probably doesn’t care – he’s going lottery next summer. And the Bruins definitely don’t – they’re probably throwing a party as we speak … We’re out like Cleveland’s fourth quarter offense.
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