Maybe the Clippers are really this good? Or maybe the Spurs just aren’t THAT good? San Antonio has now lost two of their last three home games, and twice already this year to the Clippers. But we’re leaning to the Clippers being pretty good, because, well, they’re one of the few teams that can go one-on-one for the entire fourth quarter of a close game in San Antonio and still pull out a W. Despite leaving the Red Rocket open for multiple triples late in the game (Bonner had ten points in the final frame), L.A. walked off winners, 92-87. We know all about Chris Paul‘s unlimited fourth quarter swag (19 points, eight dimes, and a spinning shot over Tony Parker in the clutch where a lesser player would’ve been called for charging two different times). But in this one, Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes made the difference. Bledsoe had the game’s two biggest hoops – a couple of tip-ins – and Barnes added 14 points and nine glass-cleaners off the pine … The Clippers defense was suffocating all night, specifically during the middle quarters, but mere mortals don’t affect Tim Duncan, who still dropped 20 and 14, and still knows how to get out of the way of potential Blake Griffin facials … Can someone give John Wall a “get out of jail free” card? Please? The Wizards are now 0-9 after losing to the offensively-challenged Pacers, 96-89. Since they won’t let us call them the Bullets, can we go with the Generals instead? Here are Indiana’s four biggest offensive possessions of the night, coming during the closing minutes: a David West (30 points) jumper, another West spot-up, a Roy Hibbert (20 points, 12 boards) rolling hook, and a West step-back J. All of them went in, proving once again that if you’re having any types of issues as a team, waiting until Washington comes up on the schedule to settle them is a perfect plan … Golden State survived Klay Thompson (2-for-14 shooting), as well as flames coming off O.J. Mayo‘s hands in the second hand (27 total points, last 11 for Dallas) to beat the Mavs in OT, 105-101. Stephen Curry was unreal with 31 points, six boards, nine dimes and zero twisted ankles … And with James Harden leaving early with what’s being reported as upper respiratory distress, Houston got clobbered by the Jazz, 102-91. Al Jefferson had 14 points and 16 rebounds … In injury news, as if the Cavaliers weren’t doing bad enough already, now their best player, and the totality of their fourth quarter offense, is going to miss a month with a broken finger. Kyrie Irving, who’s boosted his average all the way up to nearly 23 points a night, is expected to be out four weeks with a hairline/non-displaced fracture of his left index finger. As ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh pointed out, without Irving on the floor this year, Cleveland is a minus-24.7 per 48 minutes. Ouch. The bigger question now might be whether Kyrie can be considered injury prone, as we heard a few fans saying on Twitter. We can’t go there… there’s a big difference between broken fingers and hands, and chronic knee problems and back issues … And Stephen Jackson is also expected to miss four to six weeks after suffering a non-displaced fracture to his right pinkie finger last night against the Clips … Keep reading to hear how the Nuggets survived a close call in Memphis …
It’s hard to take Memphis seriously as a contender out West (and believe us, we’ve been down with Grit N’ Grind since the start) when you watch them play in tight games and they’re STILL making the same crunch time mistakes that did them in last season. Seriously, last night’s 97-92 home loss to Denver was super frustrating to watch and we aren’t even Memphis fans (real Grizz fans must’ve been tearing their own eyes out). On one hand, they have at least two go-to scorers in Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay (22 points), and yet still had crucial turnovers down the stretch while allowing Denver to score the game’s last nine points even as Andre Miller threw a hail mary into the tenth row in the stands on one play, and while Denver continuously missed free throws. Then you had Tony Allen in full-on “trick or treat” mode, scoring six straight clutch points before following those up with a technical because he decided he needed to flick Kenneth Faried‘s mane … Meanwhile, the closest the Nuggets have to a go-to player is Danilo Gallinari (26 points). He drew six free throws in the game’s final minutes (something he does incredible well), and also hit the back-breaking triple … An 11-0 run in the middle of the third quarter blew it open for the Hawks in their ugly 81-72 win over Orlando. During that span, we saw more off-the-dribble Arron Afflalo jumpers than we’ve seen in the last three years. In fact, Orlando’s offense all night was like watching a toddler taking off the training wheels for the first time. When the main components of your pick-n-roll are often Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, then you know you have serious issues … It was hard to be mad at Monta Ellis last night for scoring 31 points. But because he did it in typical Monta Ellis fashion by taking 28 shots, turning it over six times, having a miserable final two minutes, and then nearly breaking the rim with an awful triple attempt with Milwaukee down two in the final seconds, it sort of made sense. Charlotte finished with a 21-6 run, and had four guys (Byron Mullens, Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Ramon Sessions) score at least 15 points, which was just enough (final score: 102-98) to overcome Monta Ellis’ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde night … Maybe one of these days, the Lakers (5-5) will get on the Bobcats’ (5-4) level … While Cody Zeller (six points, four boards) spent the entire night conjuring up ways to destroy his own case as a potential No. 1 pick, Indiana took about 30 minutes to warm up and get the juices flowing. Finally, once the shots started going down, they peeled off the outer layer of Georgia’s defense, and ran away with it, 66-53 … In other college hoops action, Shabazz Muhammad got his first PT of the season, scoring 15 points even as the No. 11 UCLA Bruins were upset pretty convincingly by Georgetown … UNC annihilated Mississippi State, 95-49, in a game that was over before the team’s even stepped off the buses … And did you catch the buzzer-beating heave that Butler’s Rotnei Clarke hit to beat Marquette yesterday in the EA Sports Maui Invitational? Sick … We’re out like Cleveland’s season.
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