The Starting Lineup: Luke Babbitt Crashes Ben Gordon Sighting

There was a Ben Gordon sighting in Charlotte! Ben Gordon sightings are actually quite common these days (he’s averaging 20 PPG over his last five), but this game was more of an explosion than a sighting. BG dropped a season-high 29 points as he came off the bench to shoot 8-12 from downtown. Three of those triples came consecutively in the fourth quarter, helping the Bobcats extend their lead over the Blazers to 18 points. However, it would be Portland’s three-point shooting — particularly that of Luke Babbitt — that made the difference in the game. Down 18 with under 7 minutes to go, Sasha Pavlovic made the first of five Blazer threes. Babbitt was responsible for two of them, including the one that forced overtime. In OT, ANOTHER Babbitt triple made it a two-possession game with 1:45 to play. Portland was able to put it away at the stripe. Babbitt’s nine points represent a season high.

The Toronto Raptors had some trouble keeping up with Corey Brewer (19 points), JaVale McGee (17 points), and the Denver Nuggets in transition, but the Nuggets had their share of issues trying to seal the deal against those pesky dinosaurs.  The lead was 17 with just six minutes to go, but an 11-0 run sliced the Nuggets’ advantage to 6 in a mere 2 minutes and 11 seconds.  A pair of Gallinari free throws broke up the run, but the Raptors ran off another 7 straight before Ty Lawson finally drilled a three — Denver’s first field goal in over 4 minutes — at the 2-minute mark.  Still, the Nuggets couldn’t put it out of reach.  Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson nailed consecutive threes in the final 13 seconds, making it a one-possession game (112-110).  Unfortunately, they’d run out of timeouts.  With five ticks to go, Kenneth Faried was sent to the line, where he split a pair.  With the Raptors having no way to advance the ball, DeMaR DeRoZaN was forced to dribble across half court and take a hurried look from the top of the arc.  His potential game-tying shot was off the mark.

The Cavaliers shot just 33.7% in their 89-79 loss to the Pistons. Thirteen Cavalier attempts never even made it to the rim.  Five of them were swatted away by Jason Maxiell, who denied two shots the last time Detroit had as many stuffs in a single game (April 15th, 2007).  The blocked shots helped to spark the Pistons’ offense in transition (17 fast-break points) as they were able keep the majority of them in bounds and recover the loose ball on six occasions.  Jason Maxiell’s defense of the rim was truly spectacular, especially when taking his height into consideration (the man is only listed at 6’7”).

Remember those Anderson Varejao streaks that I was talking about yesterday?  Yeah?  Well he extended both of them.  With 17 points and 18 boards, Andy V has now gone five straight games with 15/15 and nine straight with 15 rebounds.

The Los Angeles Clippers played some cerebral basketball down the stretch as they secured a come-from-behind victory in Utah.  Though Blake Griffin had been an absolute beast in the early going (15 points, 7-9 first half), the Clipps fell behind as the Jazz knocked down shots from the perimeter.  Griffin hadn’t missed from inside the paint until Utah started sending double-teams in the second half.  He looked unusually-smooth on his face-ups and post-ups, scoring with ease over, around, and through Paul Millsap (a good positional defender).  Despite the doubles, Griffin continued to produce.  He finished with 30, but only 2 of his team’s last 12.  In order to eliminate Paul Millsap (a very mobile big with extremely nimble feet on the perimeter) from the pick-and-roll, the Clippers elected to leave Blake Griffin in the corner and have DeAndre Jordan set the screens instead.  This dragged Al Jefferson out to the perimeter, where Chris Paul exploited him to the tune of two easy layups in the final two minutes.  It was this decision to go away from the Paul/Griffin pick-and-roll (despite Griffin’s dominance) that won the game for Los Angeles.  Al Jefferson looked downright pathetic trying to contain Paul off of those screens.

And his shot at overtime/redemption got tossed by DJ.  Rough night for Big Al, who looked like he was on his way to being a hero as he throw down consecutive dunks with about four minutes to play.

Let’s skip the warning and give Chauncey Billups a fine for this one.  As a matter of fact, suspend him.  He’s not going to miss $5,000.  Disgusting flop.

There was a Jeremy Evans sighting in Utah. Evans played 11 minutes and 30 seconds, dunked twice, stuffed Blake Griffin, and sunk a baseline jumper.  So nice of Tyrone Corbin to dust him off for us!

I don’t understand the Bucks. They beat decent teams like Boston, then get blown out by terrible ones like New Orleans (who, to their credit, do compete).  What I do understand is Larry Sanders, who blocked another SEVEN shots yesterday.  Sanders now has 22 swats in his last 94 minutes of playing time.  On offense, he did this:

The only game I haven’t touched on is Golden State/Orlando. It’s funny, the Orlando half of the box score is alarmingly similar to the one from Sunday, when they beat the Lakers.  Check this out…

  • Redick & Afflalo: 44 points in LA, 46 points in Golden State.
  • Nick Vucevic: 17/12 in LA, 14/15 in Golden State.
  • Glen Davis: 23/12 in LA, 24/6 in Golden State.
  • Threes: 8 in LA, 8 in Golden State.
  • Assists/TOs: 34/12 in LA, 29/8 in Golden State.
  • Rebounds: 44-46 in LA, 43-43 in Golden State.

Looks like the Magic have found a formula for success: All-Star play from Davis, Vucevic, Redick, and Afflalo along with a 3.15 assist-to-turnover ratio.  Seems sustainable.

Highlight Recap, Mo Williams Edition:

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