PBT’s Monday night NBA Winners/Losers: That looks more like the Cavaliers we expected

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Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed.

source:  LeBron James, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They needed a slump buster, they got one. Gone is the Cavaliers’ four-game losing streak and the questions can be put on hold for a night. LeBron James came out aggressive from the opening tip and had 16 of his eventual 29 points by early in the second quarter. He also dished out 11 assists as the Cavaliers offense looked a lot closer to what David Blatt drew up — 30 assists on 42 makes. They also held Orlando to 74 points, but before we say they turned the corner defensively know that the Magic shot 29 percent (11-of-38) on uncontested looks in this game (via the Sports VU cameras). Other teams are not going to miss like that. Doesn’t matter, the Magic did and the Cavaliers got the laugher they needed.

source:  James Harden’s transition defense. Let’s be fair up front here: James Harden has played his best defense in years this season. He talked about putting in the effort in the preseason, he’s done that. The Rockets have the best defense in the NBA (which is more about Dwight Howard but still). Then plays like this happen….

Come on now.

source:  Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks. This just sucks. Carmelo Anthony left the Knicks game Monday night two minutes into the second quarter with an injured back and did not return. While hopefully it is nothing all that serious he was in a lot of pain and I’d be surprised if he suits up against Dallas on Wednesday (just because the Knicks will want to be cautious even if it is not serious). Anthony plays the most minutes a night on the team and averages 23.9 points a game, more than double anyone else. He is their focal point. This is a 4-11 team that could be without its best player for a stretch.

source:  Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol. They were back on the court for the Bulls. And let’s hope it stays that way. Gasol had 23 points on 20 shots, 9 rebounds and a couple of blocks in his 37 minutes. Rose played 24 minutes and had 18 points on 10 shots plus dished out five assists as the Bulls beat a scrappy Utah team on the road. The win is nice, but just having them back on the court is good for the league. (But will Rose play Tuesday in Denver in the second night of a back-to-back?)

source:  Los Angeles Clippers. Much like the Cavaliers, the Clippers just needed a win. A chance to play well and feel good about themselves. They got it thanks to struggling Charlotte. Chris Paul had 22 points and 15 assists, while Blake Griffin came within an assist of a triple double — 22 points 16 rebounds and nine assists. Jamal Crawford looked like his Sixth Man of the Year self with 21 points. Of course, the Clippers offense has not been the problem but for a night the anemic Hornets offense made the Clipper D look pretty good for a night. Again, like Cleveland, doing it once isn’t the answer, but it’s a first step.