The Lakers getting a win — not a statement, just a win — against Boston is our Game of the Night.
Mavericks 121, Nuggets 120: Arron Afflalo is a great story. Back at UCLA he was the man — they ran him off double screens (like Boston does with Ray Allen) to get him open, he was the guy the offense was built around.. The NBA was cold water splashed across his face, here he was just another guy. He had to carve out a new identity for himself. A lot of guys fail at that. Afflalo is just a good guy with a great work ethic who transformed himself into a quality NBA role player. He’s a plus defender, he sets the screens and he waits for his catch-and-shoot three opportunities.
With 16 seconds left and the Nuggets down one to Dallas — and Carmelo Anthony fouled out after maybe his best game of the season with 42 points — Denver’s plan was to have Chauncey Billups come off the high screen of Nene and create, but Billups slipped a little and Tyson Chandler defended it beautifully and the play blew up. Billups was forced to pass to the only open guy near him, Afflalo. Shawn Marion closed out like he expected another catch-and-shoot but Afflalo took one hard dribble to his left to create space, rose up and drained the jumper from 19 feet.
Ballgame. And the Nuggets ended the Mavs win streak at 10 in what was a wildly entertaining shooting display where neither team could seem to miss and the tempo was up.
Suns 112, Warriors 88: The Suns were motivated — win and they were .500 on the season. Golden State was on the second night of a back-to-back and was flat. The result is a spanking. The Warriors shot 40 percent as a team and the best three-point shooting team in the league hit 30 percent on the night. Steve Nash was vintage.
Stephen Curry caps Warriors’ 50-point quarter with incredible buzzer-beating 3 (video)
Why was Stephen Curry messing around with all that dribbling? Did he realize how little time was left?
Curry and the Warriors knew exactly what they were doing in the third quarter against the Clippers last night.
Curry’s 3-pointer capped a 50-point quarter — just the third 50-point quarter in the last 25 years. The 2010-11 Pacers scored 54 in a quarter against the Nuggets, and the 2013-14 Lakers (!) scored 51 in a quarter against the Knickers (oh).
Golden State trailed by 12 at halftime, but flipped that into a 12-point lead entering the third quarter. The Warriors didn’t look back in a 123-113 win, but we’ll look back and enjoy all that third-quarter shot-making:
Mike Malone on people in Sacramento that wanted him fired: “You were wrong”
I can’t remember all the things that were said when I was fired because there was so much being said. I know one of the things that was being said was style of play. There were people that were not in my corner that used that as a way to get me fired. Now we’re one of the highest-scoring teams in the NBA. I look at you people, you were wrong.
While Sacramento wasn’t good during Malone’s tenure, they were always in the top half of the league in terms of pace. There was and is a lot wrong with how the Kings are run, so certainly it can’t all be Malone’s doing.
In any case, it’s fun to see Malone being candid.
Draymond Green trash talks Paul Pierce for “farewell tour” with Clippers (VIDEO)
Draymond Green is known as a trash talker, and that reputation help up in Golden State on Thursday night. The Warriors forward was active early in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers, going hard at … Paul Pierce?
Yes, that Paul Pierce.
Green, while standing during a free throw, could be heard on isolated audio spitting at Pierce about going on a farewell tour.
1) DeMarcus Cousins puts up 27 and 14 but Rockets expose question in rout of Pelicans. DeMarcus Cousins tried to give the people what they paid to see Thursday night — he got deep position and sealed his man inside for buckets, he showed his shooting range near the top of the key, and on the other end he blocked four shots. Cousins put up 27 points and 14 rebounds in his Pelicans debut.
However, the Houston Rockets ran the Pelicans out of the building in a 30-point win, a game where most of the second half was garbage time. The game made Chris Herring at fivethirtyeight.com look prescient — Cousins’ Pelicans couldn’t handle the pace of the Rockets. That’s maybe not a shock in the sense that the Rockets play at one of the fastest paces in the league and have played faster and faster as the season has worn on (fastest in the NBA in the past 10 games). What’s not as well known is the Pelicans play at a top 10 pace for the season. However, Cousins likes to hold the ball and has been having a career-best season in one of the NBA’s slower offenses. He can get out and run, he can play and play well in an uptempo offense, but it’s not where he’s at his best. How is Alvin Gentry going to find a balance between these competing forces?
Thursday night was not going to answer every question, particularly on a night when Jrue Holiday plays poorly at the point and turns the ball over against a team that thrives on live-ball turnovers. But how fast the Pelicans play with Cousins, and how much coach Alvin Gentry staggers Cousins and Anthony Davis, will be things to watch in the coming weeks.
As for the Rockets, just acquired Lou Williams had a team-high 27 points. He’s going to fit in just fine, thank you very much.
However, who had the best Thursday? Who had the best trade deadline day itself? The Dallas Mavericks.
We’ve all watched them try to find their next center for a while, complete with the DeAndre Jordan drama and Blake Griffin barricading the door (not really). Now the Mavs got their guy — Nerlens Noel. He’s athletic, he rolls to the rim and finishes strong in the paint, and he’s just 22. Sure there are questions — Noel has a worrying injury history and a limited offensive game (but he stays in his lane) — but he was going to be a highly sought after restricted free agent this summer and the Mavericks just got his rights and now can match any offer. Which will likely be expensive ($100 million?), but he could anchor the Mavs inside for a decade.
The real reason this is a win for Dallas is all they gave up was Justin Anderson (a potentially nice “3&D” player), Andrew Bogut (who the Sixers will waive), and what was billed as a first-round pick but is top 18 protected this year so it will revert to two second rounders. That’s almost nothing.
3) Watch Kemba Walker and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put on a show and force OT in eventual Pistons win. If you want the most entertaining game of Thursday night, it was the Hornets and the Pistons going to overtime as Walker and Caldwell-Pope exchanged buckets. Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.
Walker finished the night with 34 points, but Caldwell-Pope had 33 and his Pistons got the 114-108 win at home.