The Rockets Cut Down The Nets Again; The Thunder Bust Their Losing Streak In A Big Way

Only two dozen or so games remain in the NBA regular season and we still don’t fully understand the identity of either the Rockets or the Nets. Brooklyn’s right in the middle of the East’s divide between the upper and lower half of its playoff spots. They’re perpetually like when you see someone leaving a parking space (the Knicks) and you go to move in but get it swiped from you. No matter how many times they put themselves in the right position to move up they get knocked back to square one. Meanwhile the Rockets are the league’s second-most telegenic team behind OKC but they can be as up and down as an EKG rating — no doubt causing coach Kevin McHale some heartburn because of it. Friday in the NBA had all of that in Brooklyn, with the Rockets giving back a 15-point lead and then doubling down on helpings of Harden (22 points) to win it back over the Nets, 106-96 (the 13th straight win by Houston over the Nets). No Joe Johnson (plantar fasciitis) meant no late heroics and Deron Williams — fresh off a third round of painkillers in his ankle — had 15 points and 13 dimes but wasn’t able to find a running mate outside of Brook Lopez (27 points). … Lopez, feet of iron that he is, pulled off two very nice baseline moves on Omer Asik because of a much-improved first step. Twice he went baseline with a wraparound layup, the last cutting it to two in the fourth. But then Carlos Delfino (22 points) hit a shot-clock beating jumper from a sick jab step, and Harden busted a triple, and it was certifiable this may be the most fun team to watch since Baron Davis and the ’07 Warriors were torching Dallas. … Speaking of those Warriors …The Spurs played the opposite of the way Golden State looked, busting a 16-game losing streak to the Spurs in overtime, 107-101, while wearing those sleeved jerseys. If this is what it takes to get the first win over San Antonio in five years, then sure, but something still rubs us the wrong way about the mismatched colors and patterns between the jersey’s top and bottom. While the Spurs were literally laughing at the Warriors in pre-game, the Dubs got the final comment in coming back from 13 points down – though the Spurs’ out-of-bounds give-and-backcut by Manu Ginobili on Harrison Barnes to tie it at 93 entering OT was pure basketball beauty. Jarrett Jack had 30 points and 10 assists in his best “Tony Parker” impress–what’s that? Jack’s statline off the bench was the first of its kind since Magic Johnson did it? Wow. … To understand how one-sided Boston’s rout in Phoenix was in the 113-88 win, just watch this video. Michael Beasley, never change. We couldn’t breathe the first time we saw that we laughed so hard. … Hit the jump to see Paul George pull off the play of the night …

Be honest, how long does it take to notice when the Bobcats or Wizards go on a losing streak. Ten, 11 games? Now, how many games before the nation freaked out about the Thunder’s run of bad luck? Three. The league’s superlative team needed to get its groove back, and a 37-point night from Russell Westbrook and 27 points from Kevin Durant will do the trick in a 127-111 win against a Minnesota team counting down the days until the season is over and/or Kevin Love‘s hand heals. Russ was untouchable in transition with 15 points there. One of the night’s unsung heroes was Nick Collison, whose array of dimes on backdoor cuts or hand-offs from the elbow looked like the second coming of Marc Gasol. … We have a very hard time watching Hornets games because the arena looks as dark on TV as a scene from your standard horror movie. Can someone set up a halogen light in the corner or did a fuse break in this New Orleans stadium, too? Vince Carter (22 points) turned off the lights in the end here, a 104-100 Mavs win, by going vintage and hitting a triple to go up 102-100 with about seven seconds left. The last time he hit a shot to take the lead in the last 15 seconds was 10 months ago. It’s very odd to see VC still contributing and yet see rook Austin Rivers, who currently has 100 percent VC’s athleticism, endure a season you wouldn’t wish on your most annoying XBOX live rival. He went 1-of-5 in 18 minutes and his only other statistic, period, were two assists. He’s like a ghost out there. … Pistons coach Lawrence Frank should burn the game tape of his 114-82 loss to Indiana immediately. The Pacers had a 40-point lead by the end of the third quarter. David West had 18 points, and the Pistons have shell shock. Rodney Stuckey still has no idea where Paul George came from to two-hand block this like a volleyball player. Easily the play of the night. … Kobe dropped 40 points and the Lakers had each and every call go their way to beat Portland, 111-107. In a positive move for the second straight game, Dwight Howard looked engaged and had 19 points and 16 boards. On a negative note, he looked to hurt his shoulder when Victor Claver got a piece of it defending a layup. … In other games, Memphis beat Orlando 88-82; Atlanta smoked Sacramento 122-108 on the road and Josh Smith had 18 points and six boards; the Bulls had eight points get between 10 and 17 points in a 105-75 win that reportedly forced Michael Jordan to leave his courtside seat with disgust with three minutes to go in the first half; Washington held control of Denver after a 10-0 run to start the third quarter and Bradley Beal somehow walked away from this fall in a 119-113 win; and Toronto beat the Knicks, 100-98, when Carmelo’s (32 points) three to win was off. … We’re out like the Thunder’s losing streak.

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