Just put Dwight on the line, right? That was Mark Jackson’s strategy on Thursday against Orlando and it seemed good for a while against the career 59 percent free-throw shooter. The Magic didn’t lead through the first quarter after going wire-to-wire against Portland in its own building the night before. Well, Howard’s not exactly Mark Price from the stripe but if you send a guy there an NBA-record 39 times (he made 21), he’s going to get his, anyway, and score with a stopped clock to help a comeback, too. That’s how Orlando held off Golden State, 117-109. Ryan Anderson made big buckets late and there was even a Jason Richardson sighting and Big Baby Davis took a huge charge in the final minutes, but the Big Disgruntled turned in a monster night, with 45 points and 23 rebounds. If you’re scoring at home, it’s the first 40/20 game since Shaq went for 48 and 20 on March 21, 2003. Golden State looked like its strategy wore themselves down (they shot 36 fewer free throws than Orlando, after all) and took away the momentum they still had after beating Miami in overtime two nights before. With Dorell Wright out and Nate Robinson (14 points) not as electric, and even with Monta Ellis (30 points, 11 assists) going off, the Oracle crowd looked affected too. If you’re a basketball fan in general, you know how good that building can get. So could Hack-A-Dwight be a new trend? It might be worth it, because only Wilt Chamberlain has missed as many free throws in a game as Howard did (By the way, we feel like there needs to be a different word to describe Dwight Howard’s blocks. He doesn’t only send them back or stuff them. It’s something more.). It’s just the whole concept of Dwight Howard taking 30-plus free throws in a game just seems wrong. It’d be like quarterbacks in the NFL throwing 50 passes a game and halfway decent signal-callers throwing up stat lines like 41 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Wait, that already happened? Oh … Where did all those people go who said they wouldn’t give up Andrew Bynum anymore for Howard? When you can put up 45 and 23 and STILL leave 18 free throws on the table, Bynum ain’t touching that … Isn’t it great when things just work out? If you had asked us earlier this year when Nate Robinson was pissed off in OKC and the Thunder were trying to drop him like loose change, we would’ve said the perfect home was out in the Bay. Now he’s there balling, or at least getting PT … New York got the blues and then some in Memphis. It was like a real-life version of the video for New York, New York with Tony Allen, Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol playing the roles of Daz, Kurupt and Snoop. The Knicks put up just 38 in the first half, and then Carmelo Anthony (14 points) left in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle that knocked him out the rest of the game (After he left with an injured left wrist earlier.). You could almost see the emotion drain out of Mike D’Antoni’s face, but maybe it’s to be expected in New York’s fifth game since Jan. 6. Apparently Iman Shumpert took the bad signs of the Knicks’ first half and decided to try and fix it himself, shooting 3-of-15 in the first 24. We know D’Antoni lets his players shoot in the flow but Shumpert’s first half might have even tested his coach’s limits. Coming into the night, Brandon Knight and Kyrie Irving had taken the most attempts by a rookie at 19 (Shumpert finished 5-for-20) this year. Say what you want in this compressed season, because it comes after a four-game winning streak, but it was too hard for some Knicks observers to stomach — and then it got worse. We aren’t sure we’ve ever seen defense like we saw in the third. It was like the Grizz blindfolded the Knicks and told them they had to call out wherever they were going before they did it. Every other play was a steal, a deflection, Tony Allen backing up what we said about him by ripping somebody or Rudy Gay (26 points) catching Tyson Chandler‘s dunk. The Knicks were 5-for-19 from the floor in the third, and then during an eight-minute stretch of the fourth quarter, they went 3-of-18 … Bill Walker and O.J. Mayo combined for 32 points off the bench. If we had told you five years ago, they’d be coming off the pine in the NBA and it’d be a surprise when they put up numbers like these, you might’ve thought we were high. Even Mayo scoring 18 last night off the bench was a little eye-opening. We wonder what they were saying to each other last night: “Yo man, did you ever believe we’d one day be backing up Tony Allen and Landry Fields?” … A sign it’s been a tough season so far in Detroit: Franchise rock Tayshaun Prince air-balled an open jumper from the baseline that would have pulled the Pistons within one with 45 seconds remaining against Milwaukee. Air ball … Brandon Jennings (27 points) finally learned. After missing late shot after late shot in the last few weeks, he passed off on a shot to Stephen Jackson (25 points). Jack found Jon Leuer (15 points), who punctuated his “What’s my name?” performance with a game-deciding dunk … Does Greg Monroe have a shot at the All-Star Game? He dominated Andrew Bogut last night (32 points, 16 rebounds)… While Dwight Howard was busy setting up camp at the charity stripe, the Bucks and Pistons combined to hit all 41 of their free throws … Keep reading to hear about the battle of the point guards out West …
Smack / Jan 13, 2012 / 3:04 am
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