Today's Random NBA Thoughts are based on the games that were played on Monday, December 17, 2012.
Chicago Bulls at Memphis Grizzlies: This game matched the top two defensive teams (in terms of Average Points Allowed Per Game) in the NBA. And judging by the score, it was definitely an offensive stalemate. For the Bulls, this marks the 5th consecutive game that they have failed to score over 100 points. While the Grizzles' center, Marc Gasol was held to only 4 points, we did experience a Wayne Ellington sighting as the former Tar Heel scored 11 points, on 3-4 from 3-point-land, grabbed 2 boards, and 2 assists in 20 minutes of playing time.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Orlando Magic: In what could've been the weirdest game of the night, the T'Wolves took a commanding halftime lead as they scored 32 points in the 2nd Quarter--and then they went on to score only 32 points in the entire 2nd half. Despite having two players grab double-digit rebounds, the T'Wolves edged out the Magic in the rebound department by only 1 (43-42). Even then, the T'Wolves grabbed more offensive rebounds (15-6). The rest of the game was evenly matched for the most part, but the most glaring stat of the night was that the Magic hit 42.9% from beyond the arc, while the Wolves struggled at 28% which might have proved to be the difference in the game.
On a fun note, this game matched up starting centers Nikola Pekovic vs. Nikola Vucevic. I can only imagine how much the broadcasters of this game enjoyed having to announce both players' names on a constant basis tonight. More importantly, both players achieved a double-double.
However, the real treat (well, for any real NBA junkie, that is) came in seeing just how far away Brandon Knight is from even sniffing Paul's elite status. Shooting 5-16 from the field (3-10 from 3-point-land), Knight scored 16 points, but committed 5 turnovers (which cancelled out his 5 assists). Perhaps Knight was missing the play of fellow backcourt mate, Rodney Stuckey, but it's safe to say that Knight was definitely schooled tonight.
Check out more articles on Brandon Knight, here.
Houston Rockets at New York Knicks: The date we have all been waiting for--the #1 team, in terms of average 3-Pointers Made per Game, was hosting the #2 team in the Rockets. And both teams did not disappoint as they combined for 60 attempts from the 3-point line.
And, of course, the biggest sports story of the night, the triumphant return of Jeremy Lin to Madison Square Garden. Lin has had an up-and-down season as he has struggled to find a proper role on a Rockets' team that revolves around superstud James Harden. Lin also had to face a Knicks' team determined to spoil his return, especially Ray Felton who clearly was trying really hard to prove that he's better than Lin despite not getting the same publicity (and getting paid a lot less as well). However, Lin proved to be up for the moment as he scored 22 points (on 9-15 shooting from the field), 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. More surprisingly, Lin was able to maneuver his way down the paint against a tough Knicks' defense which is anchored by Tyson Chandler, who looked to intimidate Lin by committing hard fouls on the guard. But that did not stop Lin from continually driving down the lane time and time again, frustrating Chandler and whoever the Knicks assigned to defend the determined point guard.
San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder: On most nights, this would be the marquee matchup of the night, but you knew that the Spurs would not go 100% against their biggest rival on the road and the Thunder were able to even the season series at one. While not a single Spurs' player logged over 30 minutes in this game, the Thunder were clearly determined to win this game as they had four players (including both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook) logging in over 30 minutes. This will prove to be a more competitive game when these two teams meet up in San Antonio on March 11, 2013.
Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns: If there was ever a microcosm to describe the Kings this season (heck, even in the last 2-3 seasons), it would have to be the 3rd quarter of this game where the Kings only scored 14 points after leading by as many as 19 points before the game reached halftime.
DeMarcus Cousins has already gone through his annual wacky episode(s) where he has gone after Spurs' color analyst, Sean Elliot, admitted that he's been lacking confidence this season, visibly getting into confrontations with coach Keith Smart, and getting suspended for hitting O.J. Mayo below the belt.
Cousins is the biggest problem on a team full of problems and despite all of the lottery picks that they have accumulated in the past few years, there seems to be no direction, goal, or structure on this team (except getting a new fancy stadium from the highest, bidding city). Brand new year, same old story in "Swerve City."
For more on the wacky Sacramento Kings, click here.
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