What you missed while thinking about the worst things people call food….
Thunder 125, Magic 124: Two teams that will make their bones in the playoffs on defense set it aside for a night, and that led to one really entertaining game. To be fair, there was a lot of hot offensive talent on the floor, too. Especially Russell Westbrook who finished with 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. Dwight Howard had 39 points, 18 boards.
OKC’s big players made big plays. Jeff Green had the dagger with the beat-the-clock, off-balance three. Kevin Durant twisted that knife with a little runner a possession later (points the Thunder ended up needing as Jameer Nelson was stepping up). The Magic usually win when they shoot 14-of-28 from three.
This was fun regular season basketball. It was two teams who were able to exploit what they want. It had hot shooters and fun transition plays. As we head into the dog days of the season I would love more game like this one.
Nuggets 130, Heat 102: No LeBron James (out with a sprained ankle). And the West Coast to Denver back-to-back is the toughest in the league (second game is played at high altitude against a good team that likes to run, it is a huge advantage for the Nuggets). Even if LeBron was healthy this was going to be a tough one.
Denver controlled how this was played, it was an up-tempo, ragged game. TNT’s Kenny Smith had a great line at halftime about J.R. Smith and the Nuggets as a whole — they are comfortable in a messy room. When the game gets ragged and sloppy and lacks structure, they have guys who are at home. They thrive. Get into that game with them and you lose. That’s what the Heat did. And in that setting Smith had a game-high 28. Not a coincidence.
Shed a tear for the 72-10 dream (that was always a pipe dream anyway, but people fiercely cling to those). Don’t go reading into the back-to-back Heat losses. There could be three in a row — Chicago is up next and that will be hard whether or not James is back. These losses are meaningless everywhere but weekly power rankings.
Timberwolves 109, Wizards 97: There was a moment when you started to believe this could be the game the Wizards finally won on the road — they went on a tight little 9-0 run in the fourth and you thought maybe. But really, for 90 percent of this game the Wolves had been the better team, starting with an early 11-0 run. So the 19-1 run late that sealed the Minnesota win shouldn’t have felt like a shock to the system. But it still kind of did.
Kevin Love is grabbing rebounds in traffic, making clever little moves and shots inside, and draining contested threes with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. I’m running out of adjectives.
Wolves did this without Michael Beasley. That’s a good win for them.