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NBA Awards – 2/28/13

Let’s face it, many nights during the NBA regular season are rather ho-hum, and only die-hards and fantasy hoops guys (like myself & a few others on these emails) really care. But other nights, like last night, are epic. Here’s why:
1) Curry Scores 54, Hits 11-13 from Downtown – One night after hitting 14-20 for 38 pts, Stephen Curry went into Madison Square Garden and hit 18-28 for 54 pts while playing all 48 minutes. His 11 long bombs were 1 shy of the NBA record (Kobe & Donyell Marshall in 2003 & 2005 respectively), but Golden St. still fell just short at the end, losing 109-105 to NY. He is now 3rd on the MSG visitors scoring list behind Kobe (61) and MJ’s famous double-nickle in ’95. His 84.6% on threes lies at 4th all-time for 10 attempts or more, falling behind Ty Lawson (10-11) & a couple late 80’s/90’s long-bombers – Rex Chapman & Thunder Dan Majerle. The 4 other GS starters scored 0, 3, 4, & 6 pts. No one else on the team scored more than 15. Meanwhile, the Knicks got 35/8 asst from Melo (10-26 but hit 13-15 from stripe) and 26/5 rebs from JR Smith (who hit 6-11 from downtown).
      1A) Tyson Grabs 28 Rebs, Asik 22 – Also in the Knick/Warrior game, Tyson Chandler hauled down a career-high 28 rebounds as without David Lee (suspended 1 gm, along w/ Hibbert, for the brawl), Golden St. was very out-manned up front. Andris Biedrins & rookie Draymond Green started at C & PF and grabbed just 9 rebs between them. In Houston, Omer Asik also had a career game on the boards, grabbing 22 while scoring 16 pts.
2) Memphis Goes on 24-0 Run vs. Dallas – At the end of the 1st quarter, Dallas was leading Memphis 38-19. Dallas proceeded to score 17, then 5 points the next two quarters. In this run of scoring futility, Memphis outscored them 24-0 from the :34 second mark of the 2nd Q (55-38 Dal) to the 4:05 mark of the 3rd Q (62-55 Mem). From a 53-29 deficit w/ about 2 1/2 minutes to go in the 2nd, the run was 33-2. The Grizzlies were led by their bigs Gasol (21/12/5) and Zach R (22/10/4, 3 stl) as their starting backcourt went 4 for 20 (Conley 2-13, T Allen 2-7). Only Shawn Marion (16) scored more than 12 for the Mavs, as Dirk (10/4, 4-11) crashed rather hard after his last two large games (30/13, 21/20).
3) Houston Blows Lead vs Mil, Ellis Hits Crazy Game-Winner – Keeping with the theme of blowing big leads, Houston raced out to a 20-4 lead over Milwaukee to start the game, only to see the Bucks score 29 pts in the last 7:20 of the 1st Q to make it just 36-33 Rockets at the end of one. The game remained tight from there on, tied at halftime and Mil up only 1 at the end of the 3rd. It was tied at 107 when the Bucks game-winning play attempt broke down, and they ended up passing it to Ellis who took a running, jumping (off one leg), floating three point prayer that circled the rim and dropped in at the buzzer. Ellis ended up with 27/6/13 asst, and 6 stls in the game, though did make only 9 of 24 attempts (shooting just 40.1% on the year). Ilyasova (20/10) was also big for Milwaukee, while the aforementioned Asik (16/22) and Harden (25/7 asst, 4 stl) led Houston.
4) Portland Battles Denver Down to Wire, but Aldridge Misses Game-Winner – Early in the 2nd Q it looked like the streaking Denver Nuggets (13-4 since Jan 20th) were going to be too much for Portland, as they extended their lead to 41-29. But the Blazers hung tough, and the game went down to the wire, but LaMarcus Aldridge (22/5/3) missed a tricky 9-footer to tie it, and Denver escaped Portland with a 111-109 win. The Nuggets were led again by Ty Lawson (30/6 asst), as well as Iggy’s best game of the year – 29 pts, 7 rebs, 8 asst, 5 stl, and 11-20 shooting. Damian Lillard had 26 for Portland while Hickson (18/14) double-doubled yet again in the loss.
5) San Antonio Goes 0-10 in OT, Scores 1 Point – The Suns played the Spurs hard for 4 quarters Wed night, leaving the game tied at 100 at the end of regulation. But of course, that’s when veteran stars like Duncan, Parker, & Ginobili take over and end Phoenix’s upset dreams. Wrong…instead, that was when San Antonio proceeded to miss all 10 shots in OT (8 of them taken by the Big 3) and lose the game 105-101. The Suns only made 2 of 9 OT shots, but that was enough. The still surprisingly effective Jermaine O’Neal (22/13/2 blks) led Phx. In the month of February, the 17 year vet is averaging 11.4/8.5/1.9 blk while shooting 57.6%. Dragic (13/13 asst) was also nice for Phx while Parker (22/4/8) led S.A.
6) OKC Destroys N.O. by 45 – The Thunder absolutely annihilated the Hornets as Russell Westbrook scored 18 of his game-high 29 pts in the first quarter and Kevin Durant (18/11/10 in just 27 min) notched his 3rd career tri-double, 2nd in his last 4 games. The 45 point win matched OKC’s largest margin of victory on the year, while it was the worst loss of the season for N.O. Anthony Davis, in danger of developing a ‘brittle’ reputation in his disappointing rookie year, missed the game with a sprained shoulder and is day-to-day. Only Ryan Anderson (Hollow Man Award winner with 14/0/1) reached double figures for the Hornets. Derek Fisher, a very perplexing late-season acquisition by the Thunder, made his 2012-13 Thunder debut and missed all 4 of his shots, all treys, in 21 minutes. Remember he left Dallas in late Dec after saying he needed to be with his family. I guess 2 months with them was all that was necessary. I’d rather have Eric Maynor (traded to Portland for a guy playing in Europe) than the decrepit remains of the Mangy Mutt as a backup PG. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the meaningful backup minutes come playoff time – the exciting, athletic Reggie Jackson, or the Mutt. (NOTE: Longtime Awards readers will remember the roots of Fisher’s Mangy Mutt nickname. One day a few years ago, when he won the Bozo Award, I compared him to an old mangy mutt that is loyal and tries hard, but is barely a shadow of his former self and really needs to be put down – retired in Fisher’s case).
7) Horford (34/15/5 Blks, 14-22), Smith (24/14/7) Go Off for Hawks – The Joshua Tree and Mr. Miss Universe have been playing some great ball lately, now playing together for the 6th straight year. Together they scored 58 of the team’s 102 pts (56.9%) and grabbed 29 of the team’s 38 rebounds (an amazing 76.3%) last night. Almost more amazing, Atlanta’s starting center and PF combined to account for 43.5% of the team’s assists (10 of 23). So long as Teague (19/7/3 stl) stays hot, they can be formidable in the playoffs, though a lack of size and consistent outside shooting will likely be their Achilles heel. They beat Utah last night 102-91, with the Jazz led by Al-Jeff (26/11) and Derrick Favors (17/15/3 blk), starting place of an injured Millsap (ankle).
8) Ariza Scores 8 in Last Minute, but Misses Game-Winner – Trevor Ariza, playing some very nice ball lately (22/6/3 stl, 4 treys; 12.6/4.1/2.5 asst, 1.4 stl last 10 gms), hit two long bombs and two free throws in the last minute of the game (during which time the Pistons failed to score at all), but missed a 23-footer as time expired to give Detroit a tight 96-95 win. It was a 3 man effort from the Pistons as Greg Monroe (26/11/4 stl, 12-17), Brandon Knight (career-high 32 on 11-18 shooting, 5-6 from 3-land), and Jose Calderon (18 dimes, 1 off career best) did all the damage. Ariza got a little help from Bradley Beal (16/6 rebs, 3 stl) but John Wall’s (3-9, 6 pts) woeful shooting continued as he’s now shot 40% or worse in 9 of his last 13 games and is at 40.3% on the year. Also, turnovers remain a major issue as he had 7 last night and has had 6 or more in 5 of his last 9 games.
The Akeem Olajuwon Award —  Stephen Curry  —  54 pts, 6 rebs, 7 asst, 7 FTM, 3 stl, 0 blk, 11 treys, and 18-28 shooting…I must confess, I didn’t like him when he came out in the draft. I saw him as a PG/SG tweener – not big enough to be an effective SG, not athletic enough and not enough of a playmaker to be a very good PG. Ok – I was dead wrong. What a joke that he wasn’t an All-Star this year but a guy like Deng was. Curry is at 21.9/4.1/6.5 and 1.7 stl on the season. Amazingly, he’ll still have a hard time making 3rd team All-NBA with guys like Westy, CP III, Parker, and Irving in the league. There’s actually a plethora of great PG talent in the league right now when you add in guys like Jennings, Ty Lawson, Vasquez, and even the rookie Lillard. Mostly 26 & under, too.
The Mark Randall Award —  Derek Fisher  —  0 pts, 0 rebs, 2 asst, 0 FTM, 1 stl, 0 blk, 0 treys, and 0-4  shooting in 21 minutes…I’m actually glad he’s back. I love ragging on him. Stick around, Mangy Mutt – we’ll just hold our nose at your play.
P.S. Yesterday I said the 2004 Indy/Det Brawl was in Indy…a cc’d reader corrected me. It was actually in Detroit. Duh – ‘Malice at the Palace’.
P.S.S. Wanting to keep up with the NBA in every way possible, the WNBA now has its own notorious delinquent, as former star Chamique Holdsclaw is facing up to 65 years in prison after assulting her girlfriend’s car with a baseball bat and firing bullets into the car – with the likely terrified girlfriend still inside! Nice job Chamique – way to keep it real!!
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