Say what you will about the Heat’s rebounding problems against bigger teams such as Indiana this season, but the Heat’s turnovers are reliably the larger indicator for its wins or losses. That’s why its 102-89 loss to Indiana was a little worrisome even if LeBron (28 points) and Dwyane Wade (17 points) sounded afterward as if they’d just lost a charity game, insisting it’s no big deal at all. Miami had only 11 turnovers, one fewer than Indiana, but still got pounded despite playing an overall good game and shooting 47 percent from the field. David West was a Heat killer by getting 30 points and starting out 11-of-12 shooting, all while maintaining an edge on defense that kept the game on the edge of getting out of control. Paul George (15 points) continues to impress by taking LeBron off the dribble for step-back jumpers and drives alike, and Lance Stephenson (15 points) was a thorn in Miami’s side that made us think Juwan Howard was going to come out of the stands and take a swing at him again. Indiana won the season series with still a game between the two to go. Whether that translates into anything meaningful series come playoff time is the million-dollar question. … How about that for a first impression in Toronto for Rudy Gay? The new addition from Memphis had 20 points, 10 of them in his first seven minutes, and made the Raps into an overnight alley-ooping, stealing team that was, dare we say, really fun to watch. Now the reality check: In the 98-73 win over the Clippers, L.A. didn’t have Chris Paul still and looked as mentally into the game as a daydreaming kid in math class, shooting the worst percentage (35 percent) all season. After the first quarter they looked ready to raise the white flag. The Raptors’ wings, between Gay, DeMar DeRozan (19 points) and Terrence Ross (only four points but two off a huge oop) all have redundant create-and-score skills but it sure looked fun when it was clicking. … The Celtics are having a very bad week with the news Jared Sullinger is out for the season because of back surgery. Still, a game against Orlando is a pretty good remedy for what ailed Boston in the C’s 97-84 win that showed at least that Jeff Green‘s (17 points) vertical is mighty healthy. Our concern with Green is that he’s getting a little cocky running through the lane for these dunks with a devil-may-care attitude and some low-grade preening afterward, and someone’s going to take issue with that. You can’t argue he hasn’t been a spark in Boston’s three-game win streak. … It took a month but the Lakers won a road game this year, 111-100 in Minnesota. With Dwight Howard in L.A. getting platelet infusions into his hurt labrum, Pau Gasol (22 points, 12 boards) earned the start and was part of L.A.’s blitz of the T-Wolves, scoring 61 points in the game’s first 18 minutes. Minny dropped into a zone and let the Lakers shoot their way out of a sure blowout, but Kobe smelled blood in the water with 17 points, 11 boards, eight assists. He was going to kill someone before they let this slip away. … Hit the jump to read about the Nets’ bounceback win over Chicago …
Check out Gerald Wallace (13 boards) during or after a game to figure out how the Brooklyn Nets did that night. He’s the team barometer, willing to dish out cutting criticism (as he did in the loss to the Heat on Wednesday) and another scoop of reality Friday night after barely beating Chicago. The Bulls didn’t have Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich or Carlos Boozer and yet barely lost to the Nets, 93-89. Wallace still essentially said the team sucked afterward, but it’s hard to find fault with Deron Williams, who came back after an injury to his ankle and showed some toughness, Brook Lopez‘s 20 points or the bench contributions of Andray Blatche (11 points, all in the fourth) and MarShon Brooks (13 points, nine in the fourth). Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo did get snubbed, however, by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors. Then again, winning that award was bad luck for one Nets coach already this season. … Mike Conley Jr. is picking up the slack Gay left behind in Memphis, already showing a much more determined “shoot-first point” attitude you see in Kyrie, Tony Parker, Lillard, etc. He had 18 points in an 85-76 win over the Wizards, who got a huge scare when John Wall went to the floor clutching his shoulder (he’d return for nine points and six boards). Tayshaun Prince had 14 points in his debut and looked completely odd not in Pistons blue-and-red. … Carmelo had 25 points to lead New York to its third straight win, beating Milwaukee 96-86. The Bucks’ ’90s throwback uniforms are easily the ones our eyes could have done without seeing. … Damian Lillard killed another homecoming game with 26 points in his return to Utah, where he balled in college, but he also lost, 86-77. The Jazz battered Portland with Paul Millsap (15 points) and Al Jefferson (21 points) and Derrick Favors (12 boards). Portland rook Meyers Leonard got three fouls early and allowed himself to be taken out of the game too easily. … In other games, Brandon Knight played like he was sending a message to new teammate Jose Calderon about who would run the point guard role, getting 20 points and 10 dimes in a 117-99 rout of Cleveland; Andre Iguodala scored 24 points to get Denver its sixth win in a row, beating New Orleans 113-98; and O.J. Mayo had 20 in Dallas’ 109-99 win over Phoenix. What happened to Beast Beas after Thursday night’s 27-point explosion? He couldn’t get his jump shot right, finishing with four points on 2-of-13 shooting. … We’re out like Sullinger.
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