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Basketball Column: Weekly NBA Wrap (March 11 – March 17)

March 22, 2013
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In a week dominated by injuries to key players the Miami Heat still managed to grab all headlines with their massive winning streak. Roll with us as we look through another NBA week on the weekly wrap!

March 11th – New York Knicks vs. Golden State Warriors

The Knicks had Carmelo Anthony back after losing Amar’e Stoudemire and hoped to lock down the Warriors Stephen Curry after he went off at MSG in their last match-up. The Warriors looked to get back at the Knicks from their loss to them last time out and also keep a distance from the Houston Rockets in 7th in the west after dropping a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Knicks did manage to keep Curry way under 50 points but hardly got themselves as a team over 50 losing 63-92 to a Warriors team. Warriors’ starters Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee all scored 20+ points outscoring the Knicks’ total, with the Knicks not managing to get a single player above 15. Power-forward David Lee finished with a 21 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists stat line helping the Warriors solidify the sixth spot to 1.5 games ahead of the Rockets in the western conference playoff race. On the Knicks’ first of five road games Anthony had 14 points, shot 4-15 and the Knicks finished 27% from the field for the game.

March 11th

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs came into this one after their worst loss of the season; the Thunder came up against the one team with a better record than they did in the western conference, the result? The old timer’s aren’t number one for nothing. Although it came from a not so likely source, the Spurs beat the Thunder 108-93 thanks to a 23point, 10rebound performance from centre Tiago Splitter. It was another well rounded performance from the league’s number one team with up to six players getting into double figures to snap the Thunder’s winning streak at five games. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had 26 and 25 points respectively and with only Serge Ibaka managing to be the other player in double figures it was clear that the Spurs team was simply deeper as the bench also outscored the Thunder’s 34-16. The Spurs are still without their starting point guard Tony Parker.

March 12th – Los Angeles Lakers vs. Orlando Magic

This one was all about Dwight Howard and his return to a team he once carried for eight years, and sure enough there was no love for him in Orlando. Howard was fouled to the equivalent of 39 free-throw attempts and MADE 25 of those to finish with 39 points as he led the Lakers to a 106-97 walk over against his former team. Jameer Nelson, close friends with Howard, had 21 points for the Magic who had no chance of completing a season sweep of the Lakers who are a brand new looking team since their last encounters against the Magic this season. It was clear that this was the wrong day to count on the, most times, horrible shooting from the charity by Howard who got the Lakers just ahead of the Utah Jazz for 8th place in the western conference.

March 12th

Boston Celtics vs. Charlotte Bobcats

The Bobcats came up against a surging Celtics team that has its sights on working their way up the eastern conference standings. Maybe the Celtics took this one too lately by resting captain Paul Pierce but after all they were up against a team on a 10 game losing streak. Sure enough the Bobcats broke their losing streak with a 100-74 victory behind a career-high 35 points from guard Gerald Henderson. The Celtics simply didn’t come to play in this one, Kevin Garnett shot 2-10 and finished with five points and were dominated on the boards 48-29. Let’s see if the Celtics put in a better performance on Saturday when these two meet again.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Eastern conference stragglers Timberwolves are far from where they would like to be in the standings and coming up against the western conference leading Spurs they may have had something to prove. Ricky Rubio sure has a lot to prove to the NBA community and he did, leading the Timberwolves to a 107-83 win with Rubio getting his first career triple-double finishing the game with 21 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds. After their win over OKC, Spurs coach saw it best to rest starters Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard and with Tony Parker still injured the diluted Spurs team were no match to the determined Timberwolves. And it’s not like the Wolves are the healthiest team in the league, with five key players how have been out for a long stretch.

March 13th – Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Against the struggling Sixers a 20th “W” in a row shouldn’t be too difficult for a Heat team who’ve dominated the basketball game in all means possible in this hot streak. But the Sixers were not prepared to simply roll over and just let the Heat be the fourth team to ever win 20 games straight in a season. At the end of the night the Heat once again found a way to win, edging the Sixers 98-94. LeBron James had 27 points and Dwayne Wade finished with 21 as the duo led the Heat to a rather fortunate victory with the last plays in the game going ever so slightly their way. It was a spirited performance from the team from Philly, with all-star point guard Jrue Holiday having a strong 24 point 15 rebound game.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Lakers looked to be settling okay in eighth place in the west and coming up against a Hawks team that have not been having the best of runs as they deal with injuries to key players, this was another opportunity for the cast from Hollywood to solidify their position. Kobe Bryant had 20 points in the fourth quarter alone but was able to bring the Lakers all the way as he got injured in the last minute of the game and the Lakers lost 92-96 to the Hawks. With Josh Smith and Jeff Teague out, the Hawks needed a big team effort, which they got with six of players ended in double figures as the snapped the Lakers four game winning streak. Kobe Bryant finished with 31 points off 11-33 shooting for a Lakers team that will definitely miss him if he can’t get back.

New York Knicks vs. Denver Nuggets

Unlike Dwight Howard’s return to his old team’s arena earlier this week, Carmelo Anthony’s was nothing at all to write home about. Leaving early in the third after re-injuring his knee and scoring a total of 9 points was all Anthony had for his return to Denver as his Knicks got a 117-94 beating by a streaking Nuggets outfit. Wilson Chandler led the Nuggets to their 10th win in a row with 24points as the starters didn’t feature in the fourth, the game being long won already. Adding to the Knicks woes was them losing centre Tyson Chandler, last season’s DPOY got caught up in a collision that left him with a bruised left knee.

March 14th – New York Knicks vs. Portland Trailblazers

Another Knick faced a former team; this time point guard Raymond Felton come up against a Trailblazers team that was not the happiest with him last season. So sure enough this was billed as the battle of the new rookie point guard in Portland versus the old and out of shape one that once played there. In this case the rookie dominated the matchup as Damian Lillard had 26 points and 10assists leading the Trailblazers to a 105-90 win. With three key players in Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire all out with knee related injuries, the Knicks needed to find other ways of getting by. Six man J.R. Smith took full advantage of the extra minutes finishing with 33 points which just wasn’t enough to prevent their third lose straight. Felton finished with 11 points on 4-12 shooting.

March 15th

March 15th – Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers

Being the tough guy he is, Kobe Bryant was not going to let an injury keep him out of a game and he did exactly that for the first quarter in this one, but had to play the rest of the game as coach/cheer-leader. With Bryant not scoring any points Dwight Howard took care of things, leading the Lakers to a 99-93 win against the Pacers. Howard finished with 20 points and 12rebounds for a Laker team that had great court-side minutes from Bryant whose sprained ankle kept him off the court. Shooting a lowly 37.4% from the field didn’t help their efforts. George Hill had a game high 27 points for the Pacers who have one of the best defenses in the league, but just couldn’t stop the Lakers when it mattered most down the stretch.

Chicago Bulls vs. Golden State Warriors

With their loss to the Sacramento Kings fresh in their minds, the Bulls needed a performance to set things right the proud Chicago natives. A 121-79 routing of the Warriors was just what the doctor ordered for the Bulls. Lloul Deng scored 23 to stop a five game road losing streak for the Bulls who shot 52% and were up by 36 points in the fourth. All starters for the Bulls were in double figures as to the Warriors who had a team high 20points from reserve point guard Jarrett Jack. Warriors’ starting point guard Stephen Curry had 8 points only making 2 shots from the field from a total of 13 attempts, of which five were from beyond the arc with none sinking.

March 16th

March 16th – Charlotte Bobcats vs. Boston Celtics

Revenge must have been the only thing on the minds of the Celtics coming up against the Bobcats who put them away last time around when Doc Rivers decided to rest Paul Pierce. Well this time around Pierce played, Kevin Garnett played and result? A 105-88 win for the team from Boston. Boston had six players in double figures including all their starters and no player in green had less than 5 points. Pierce had 14 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks in only 23 minutes of play. The league bottom Bobcats were outplayed in every area of the game, allowing 10-15 3s, losing the rebounds battle 42-35 and were beaten 38-30 in the paint points. This was just the “picker-upper” they needed with them facing the winning streak record chasing Miami Heat on Monday. Three Bobcat players got into double digits with none scoring more than the 18 points Jannero Pargo had.

Indian Pacers vs. Philadelphia 76ers

With all hopes of getting Andrew Bynum back from injury in worry conditions it was now up to the Sixers to pick themselves up and play with what they had and who better than the man who has been playing centre in Bynum’s absence to lead. Spencer Hawes led the Sixers past the slumping Pacers 98-91 with an 18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 blocks performance. There was no way the Hawes and the Sixers were having another top Eastern Conference team do what LeBron James and the Miami Heat did to them last time out as they closed the game in the fourth. The Pacers big man centre Roy Hibbert finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

March 17th

March 17th – Miami Heat vs. Toronto Raptors

Heat came out to Chris Bosh’s former stomping grounds to do a little streaking, as they looked to tie the Houston Rockets for the second longest wins streak in NBA history. Dwayne Wade had a team high 24 points, LeBron James added 22 points and 12 rebounds and the Heat got win number 22, beating the Raptors 108-91. It was another total basketball effort from the Heat with the team doing what they needed to get the W. Ray Allen went 4-6 from 3, finishing with 20 points. Bosh was efficient with his jumpers going 7-10 from the field including 2-3 from three. Wade had his usual circus shots and made some fancy plays ending with 9 dishes. And James did everything else, finishing 2assists shy of a triple-double. Raptors 22 Rudy Gay finished with a game high 27 points and the Canadian team also out rebounded the Heat 52-26, which all meant nothing at the end. Now the Heat look to secure the number two spot of highest wins streaks against a Celtics team who stopped the previous 22 wins team.

 

Compiled And Written By: Lebohang Ramollo (@RA_Mollo)

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