One of the best games all season went down in Milwaukee last night. With both the Bucks and the Jazz literally playing for their playoff lives, they staged a wild back-n-forth overtime matchup that ultimately swayed Milwaukee’s way because of one man: Monta Ellis. In the Bucks’ one-point win, Ellis finished with 34 points, missing just six shots, and with 14.7 seconds left in OT, he banged a pull-up jumper that proved to be the difference. Utah had DeMarre Carroll guarding him throughout the finish, and sometimes it looked like the Jazz forward was simply flailing his arms in the air like he was at a rock concert. He couldn’t do a damn thing with Ellis, who also had two huge buckets in the closing minutes during the fourth quarter. However, his backcourt mate, Brandon Jennings, was having trouble. Alec Burks (19 points) scored twice on him near the end of regulation, and BJ missed two wide open shots on the other end. Still, Jennings threw up 20 points and 17 assists (that’s 36 assists in his last two games), and made a deep pull-up triple to tie it in the last 10 seconds of regulation, doing what he does best: passing up an easier shot and then dribbling into a more difficult one … Utah got 22 points and 14 rebounds from Paul Millsap, but he airballed Utah’s last shot at a tie. They also got zero total points from three starters (Randy Foye, Earl Watson, Marvin Williams) for the second time in five games. At some point, they’re gonna need to give Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors starter minutes consistently. They treat them like gremlins. They did unleash them last night, and Favors threw up a 23 and 15 while Kanter had 18 and 10, and made a number of clutch shots down the stretch. During the pivotal run in the last half of the fourth and then into overtime, Utah did it with four bench players (Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, DeMarre Carroll and Kanter) surrounding Millsap … By the way, “The Big Turkey” as a nickname for Kanter? Terrible. Just terrible … Yesterday, we showed you the 360 layup John Wall pulled out on Spencer Hawes aka The Stone Pillar. It was pretty dope. But Ellis is the all-time king of 360 layups as he’s made the baseline version his own patented shot. The dude finished another one in the fourth quarter last night … Denver dealt the Hawks a 104-88 loss, getting a customary 18 points and eight dimes from Ty Lawson. The Hawks grew weary in the second half, in part because they faced Kobe‘s retro night on Sunday, and partly because the Nuggets were playing a super small lineup featuring a point guard, Kenneth Faried and three wing players. Corey Brewer (22 points) was a monster off the bench, finishing on the fast break and even banging jumpers. You know what’s funny about watching him run wind sprints and suicides all over the floor in Denver? He’s basically a better version of James White, who now starts for the Knicks (even if that starting spot is more of an honorary position than anything else), and when Brewer was with New York after the ‘Melo deal, he couldn’t even get on the court before they waived him … Two big games in women’s college ball last night. No. 2 Notre Dame outlasted No. 3 UConn in three overtimes, 96-87, behind 29 points and 11 boards from Skylar Diggins. But the bigger news was Brittney Griner. She dropped 50 on Kansas State, and had a drop-step dunk that was ferocious … Hit page 2 to read about one of the best comebacks of the season…
A Miami Heat hangover? It felt like the Knicks had one. Down 22 in the first half, it got even worse for New York when Carmelo Anthony got twisted up and left the game with a bothersome knee. The whole first half felt like a funeral for the Knicks. Cleveland’s color guy Austin Carr explained it like this: the Knicks were “mortally wounded” by their embarrassing collapse against Miami on Sunday. While we won’t go that far, Carr was certainly adamant. He must’ve said “wounded” at least a half-dozen times during one two-minute span. Marreese Speights (23 points, eight rebounds) had 14 points before you could blink, hitting his first seven shots and even pulling out a stepback crossover that almost snapped Amar’e Stoudemire‘s knee in half. Before long, Cleveland had made 15 of 16 shots, and even Luke Walton had eight dimes by himself in his first nine minutes on the floor. That sound you heard was Mike Woodson setting himself on fire … But in the second half, Stoudemire countered with one of his best games of the year, scoring 22. J.R. Smith added 18, and the Cavs’ hot shooting fell all the way off. They scored 36 points total in the last 24 minutes to lose, 102-97 … We were ready to call out Iman Shumpert for his play since he came back from his knee surgery. It’s one thing to be complacent – it’s another to be just plain ineffective and passive. He came out and scored eight points during the game’s first six minutes, canning two triples in the process, but never scored again. He’s probably the team’s x-factor as they move towards the playoffs … Dion Waiters sat it out last night, but we caught up with him recently and he discussed his tattoos and what he did during All-Star Weekend … In other scores from last night: the Magic rallied from a 17-point deficit to win on the road against New Orleans, 105-102. Down three in the closing seconds, Greivis Vasquez (17 points, eight assists) had a look, but was aiming for the usher in the second row. His shot wasn’t close, hitting the backboard’s corner; Miami won their 15th straight game, beating Minnesota, 97-81. Dwyane Wade rolled out a 32-point, 10-assist, seven-rebound night; Portland ran away from Charlotte, 122-105, as LaMarcus Aldridge posted 23 points and 14 rebounds; while Golden State barely survived Toronto, winning 125-118 behind 29 points and 11 rebounds from David Lee … And the Houston Zoo got a little quirky recently – they named their new baby giraffe Yao Ming … We’re out like female NFL kickers.
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