Kurt Helin

Memphis Grizzlies
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Three Takeaways from NBA Sunday: New starters, same problems in Memphis


It was a quiet Sunday in the NBA, just four games — all with the start times spread out for our friends in Europe. If you decided to spend your day watching the NFL wild car chase — or were just fighting off people attacking you with Snickers bars — here are three things you need to know from a Sunday around the NBA.

1) Grizzlies move Zach Randolph to the bench, still can’t find a win. The Memphis Grizzlies don’t look like a bad team when you see they are 13-12 on the season, but that record overinflates how bad this team has been. Memphis is bottom 10 in both offense and defense, and it has the point differential of an 8-17 team according to Basketball-Reference.com. They recently suffered 20+-point blowouts by the Thunder, Spurs, and Hornets. It’s clear Memphis is not the same team — Marc Gasol has looked a step slow all season, and everyone around him (save for Mario Chalmers after the trade) has seemed to regress. This team needed a change.

Sunday coach Dave Joerger tried to find that jolt by sending Zach Randolph and the struggling Tony Allen to the bench and starting Matt Barnes and Courtney Lee — going small around Marc Gasol. It looked like the lineup might work, Memphis led most of the way and shot 58 percent through three quarters — until an 11-0 run by the Heat to close out the game gave the W to Miami. Despite that result expect to see that starting lineup again — it was +2 for the night and had a net rating of +8.7, and that’s despite the group being out for most of that 11-0 run late. The group shot 40 percent from three, and while the offense wasn’t great it defended well. The lineup deserves more time to see if it can work.

As for Miami, Dwyane Wade helped steal you a win, just take it and run.

2) Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are magnificent, that is all Thunder fans need know. We’ve covered this before, but the OKC dynamic duo were at it again Sunday. In a game where the Thunder had to go to overtime to beat the Jazz 104-98, Oklahoma City was +17 when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shared the floor. The duo combined for 56 points, which is 53.9 percent of all the points OKC scored. Just a reminder that having two guys playing well enough both should get in the MVP discussion can erase a lot of mistakes.

3) Westbrook with the inbounds play of the year. We’ve all seen the rare “off the back of the defender” inbounds pass resulting in a layup before, but never anything quite like this — Westbrook goes off the defender for the quick turnaround jumper and nails it.

Watch Dwyane Wade’s jumper ultimately win game for Heat over Grizzlies

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Memphis thought they had a win coming, until the Heat went on an 11-0 run at the end of the game to pull out a 100-97. It was Dwyane Wade with the jumper — Courtney Lee played off him and gave him the midrange, and he paid the price.

This shot came right after Jeff Green — who led Memphis with 26 points on the night — missed a wide-open three that likely would have been the dagger.

Wade finished with 14 points and had eight of those in the fourth quarter. Chris Bosh led the Heat with 22, and Miami picked up its 13th win of the season (against nine losses).

Durant, Westbrook rally Thunder past Jazz 104-98 in OT

Kevin Durant, Derrick Favors
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 31 points – all but two after halftime – and Oklahoma City rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat Utah 104-98 in overtime Sunday night, the Thunder’s second win over the Jazz in a three-day span.

Russell Westbrook added 25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Thunder, who have won nine straight home games against Utah dating to the 2010-11 season. Oklahoma City extended its longest winning streak of the season to five games.

Rodney Hood had 23 points, Gordon Hayward scored 22 and Alec Burks added 21 for the Jazz, who fell five games behind first-place Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division.

Westbrook scored two baskets in the first 36 seconds of overtime to give the Thunder the lead, and Utah missed its first nine field-goal attempts in the extra period. The Jazz avoided an OT shutout on Hayward’s basket with 8.6 seconds left.

Anthony Davis goes through Pau Gasol for the slam (VIDEO)

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Off the side pick-and-roll, Tyreke Evans gets to the middle of the floor and Derrick Rose has to switch on to Anthony Davis — that’s not going to end well for the Bulls. Pau Gasol recognizes it but is a step or two late in being able to get in a position to do anything about it.

The result is Davis throwing it down and Gasol being the guy who he goes through to do it. It was one of the best highlights from the NBA Saturday night.

The Bulls came back to get the win in this game, 98-94, and Gasol finished with 18 points and 11 boards.

Anthony scores 37, Knicks beat Blazers to end skid at 4

Carmelo Anthony
Associated Press
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Carmelo Anthony tied a season high with 37 points and New York Knicks rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 112-110 on Saturday night.

Anthony, who scored 20 points in the first half, shot 13 of 21 from the field as New York ended a four-game losing streak. Anthony finished the game by hitting six free throws during the final 30 seconds.

Former Blazers Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo, returning to Portland for the first time since leaving the team in free agency last summer, were among six Knicks in double figures. Afflalo scored 15 points, while Lopez had 14 points and seven rebounds.

Damian Lillard led Portland with 29 points but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have won the game after he chased down the rebound of his intentionally missed free throw.

New York started the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run to erase Portland’s lead. Then, trailing 92-91, the Knicks regained the lead on back-to-back baskets by Kyle O'Quinn.

New York built the lead to six points on several occasions, but needed Anthony’s free throws to hold on.

C.J. McCollum scored 22 points and Allen Crabbe 15 for the Blazers.

Portland never trailed in the first half and led 56-55 at halftime.

The Blazers took a 20-9 lead midway through the first quarter when a layup by Mason Plumlee capped a string of eight consecutive points. Crabbe had a pair of baskets during a 7-0 run early in the second quarter that gave the Blazers a 40-30 lead.

The Knicks drew even at 47 on two free throws by Lopez, but Gerald Henderson‘s 3-pointer immediately returned the lead to Portland, which it kept for the remainder of the half.

The Blazers briefly gave up the lead early in the third quarter when New York ran off nine consecutive points, including five by Anthony, to take a 64-59 lead. But the Blazers put together a pair of 8-0 runs later in the quarter to grab an 86-76 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.


Knicks: New York ended a six-game losing streak to Portland. The Knicks’ last win over the Blazers came on March 12, 2012. … Rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis missed six shots and went scoreless in 19 minutes for New York. Porzingis was averaging 14.1 points. … Afflalo has scored in double figures in 11 of his past 14 games. … Lopez scored in double figures for the first time in 10 games.

Blazers: Lillard became the first Blazer since Clyde Drexler in 1991-92 to score 600 points and hand out 150 assists during the team’s first 25 games. … Portland still has yet to win back-to-back home games this season. … McCollum has scored at least 20 points in three consecutive games, a career first.