For the Winners…
Steve Nash- A beautifully efficient performance in the Suns’ 118-114 win in Atlanta. In 33 minutes, Nash was 7-for-11 from the field, made his only 3-pointer, all four free throw attempts en route to 19 points- four of which came in the final minute and helped to ice the game. He added five rebounds and dished out 15 assists, while committing just two turnovers. Sunday night was Nash’s first game this season with 10+ assists, bringing to a close a rare streak- since rejoining the Suns for the 2002-05 season, only seven other times has he failed to reach 10+ assists in five straight games.
Richard Hamilton- The 2010-11 Pistons are not likely to string together very many winning streaks. On Sunday, in front of their smallest home crowd in years, Hamilton joined forces with his backcourt mate, Rodney Stuckey (21 points, 9 assists) to help the Pistons to their second straight win (102-97 v. Golden State). Hamilton scored 27 points- his highest total of the young season- and did so with great efficiency, hitting 10 of 17 shots (including a pair of threes) and making all five of his free throws. Although he committed five turnovers, Hamilton grabbed five rebounds, got a steal and at +12, was the only member of the Pistons with a double-digit +/-.
Pau Gasol- On a night when Kobe Bryant played just 25 minutes, Pau stepped into the spotlight in a major way, notching his third career triple-double, and his second as a Laker. Gasol completed the triple-double with about three minutes left in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 121-96 win over the Blazers, and ended the night with a ridiculous line: 20 points (9-13 FG, 2-2 FT), 14 rebounds 10 assists, three steals, no turnovers and a team-best +27 in 33 minutes. That’s about as complete and efficient a performance as you’re going to find from a seven-footer.
Too good to be considered “under the radar,” but definitely worthy of a shout out here, is Lamar Odom. In 34 minutes (he and Gasol were the only starters to play 30+) Odom scored 21 points, making 10 of 15 shots (including his only 3-pointer), and grabbed 12 rebounds (three offensive).
In a Losing Cause…
Al Horford- Horford was a monster on Sunday night against the Suns. Not only did he score 30 points (on 13-16 FG!) and grab 10 rebounds, he dishe out five assists and blocked a pair of shots. This was the first 30-10 performance of Horford’s career, and the second time he’s scored 30+ points. In those two games, he’s made over 80% of his shots (25-for-31), so as good he is, playing this well is a bit of an anomaly.
Also deserving a mention here is Horford’s teammate, Joe Johnson, who scored 34 points (15-27), grabbed seven rebounds and handed out six assists (v. just one turnover) in 44 minutes.
Monta Ellis- Ellis put up 24 points and grabbed six rebounds in 44 minutes against the Pistons. That he made 11 of his 23 shots and committed just one turnover despite playing such heavy minutes would suggest that he played an extremely efficient game, but an 0-for-5 performance from behind the 3-points line (bringing his season total to 5-for-22) would refute that claim.
For a guy that’s this capable a finisher in the paint- and quick enough to be almost unguardable- there’s little explanation for a) attempting more 3-pointers (5) than free throws (2) or b) attempting jut two of six fourth quarter shot from inside the paint. Monta may want to shy away from the 3-ball until he proves that he can consistently hit from deep.
Kevin Durant- After falling behind by as many as 21, Durant led an OKC Thunder rally (14 pts in Q3) that cut the Celtics’ lead to six early in the fourth quarter. Durant played 43 minutes, made 11 of 22 shots, including two of three 3-pointers, and 10 of 11 free throws, and finished with 34 points six rebounds and two steals.
KD had just three points on one of six in the fourth quarter (a layup with 5:40 remaining) and failed to score in the game’s final three minutes.
There’s Always Tomorrow…
Stephen Curry- In his second game back from an ankle injury, Curry continues to look less than 100%, thanks in no small part to an ankle brace that’s limiting his mobility. He took the floor for 29 minutes on Sunday night, scoring 10 points, hitting just three of his 12 attempts from the field and missing all three of his 3-point attempts. He also committed four fouls, giving him nine in 62 minutes since returning to the floor. He’s not much of a defender to begin with, so any issues with mobility will surely turn him into a greater liability on D.
Russell Westbrook- On the surface, it’s hard to attack a 16-point, 10-assist line from a young PG, but Westbrook actually played a pretty subpar game again the Celtics on Sunday night. At 6-for-16 from the field, he was not efficient in getting his points, he wasn’t consistent (13 points on 5-9 in Q3; 1-7 the rest of the game) and his 10 assists were essentially offset by eight turnovers. Maybe it’s a tribute to just how good this guy is, but outside of a seven minute stretch of the third quarter, Westbrook was brutal on Sunday.
Brandon Roy- The Blazers’ visit to L.A. on Sunday got out of hand early, as the Lakers took a 13-point lead after the first, extended it to 22 at the half and never looked back. In that situation, the game becomes extremely disjointed for the losing team. This is what happened to Brandon Roy on Sunday night. Well, that and some pretty spirited defense from Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest. In 31 minutes Roy attempted just six shots, making only one. He did made all seven of his free throws to give him eight points. Roy added two rebounds, three assists and no turnovers, but never had an impact on the game.
Under the Radar…
Josh Smith- Don’t expect J-Smoove to fly under the radar too often, but he efficiently packed the stat sheet in a losing effort. In 42 minutes of burn (+/- of +8), Smith hit six of 10 shots and seven of eight free throws. In addition to his 19 points, Smith grabbed nine rebounds (three offensive), handed out four assists, got three steals and blocked a shot.
Ben Gordon- Like Josh Smith, Gordon does not often fly under the radar. However, with Hamilton and Stuckey both playing extremely well against the Warriors, Gordon saw his minutes dip on Sunday night, but didn’t try too hard to force the action. In 25 minutes, Gordon scored seven points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked a shot. The beauty of Gordon’s stat line is that he did not turn the ball over and his seven points came on just six shots (1 FGA/4.2 minutes, compared with his average of 1 FGA/2.7 minutes).
Glen Davis- Judging solely on numbers, Big Baby’s line from Sunday is wholly underwhelming. However, broken down into its component parts, there’s really nothing negative to say about his contribution. In 28 minutes, he took seven shots, making four, and ended with eight points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal. Throw in the fact that three of his four field goals came n the first 4:20 of the fourth quarter and took the steam out of the Thunder rally and it becomes clear that Big Baby’s line deserves some love.