Minnesota 105 @ Atlanta 111. The T-Wolves fell short in their attempt to put together an actual winning streak thanks to a Hawks team that came out sharp and ended a four-game skid. The Hawks, who in their last game lost by four at home to Utah on the heels of shooting an atrocious 52% on FTs, were a crisp 34-for-39 (.872) on Sunday night, including 10-for-10 by big man Al Horford. Horford led ATL with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Beasley continued his hot scoring with another 25 points, while Kevin Love followed up his 30/30 game with 22/17.
Detroit 100 @ Sacramento 94. The Kings continued their slide and dropped their 5th in a row, including their 4th consecutive home loss. Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 17 points while RekeDaFreak paced the Kings with 20.
San Antonio 117 @ Oklahoma City 104. Matt Bonner proved to be the difference in this one as he went 7-for-7 from 3-point land to score 21 off the bench and spur the Spurs onto victory. (See what I did there?) Tony Parker had 24 for SA while Manu Ginobili had 21. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant again did the majority of the scoring for OKC, with Westbrook scoring 19 (albeit on 5-for-17 shooting) and Durant leading the Thunder with 23 points.
Houston 104 @ New York 96. This was pretty much the Kevin Martin & Luis Scola show for the Rockets, who notched their second road win in a row. Martin led the way with 28 points while Scola had 24. Brad Miller came back to Earth and contributed only 8 points and 3 rebounds, though he did so in limited run (only 13 mins). That’s Amare led the Knickerbockers with 25 points.
Phoenix 121 @ LA Lakers 116. The Lakers have lost two in a row….the West is up for grabs!!! Well, in fact, it took an historic night from the Suns to pull off this upset, as they dropped the second-most 3s ever scored in a game in NBA history - 22. J-Rich had seven of those 3s to help tally his team-high 35 points, while Hedo Turkoglu had five 3s and Channing Frye added another four. The Lakers got solid efforts from Pau (28 pts/17 reb), Kobe (25 pts, 14 ast, 9 reb), and Lamar (22 pts/11 reb), but it wasn’t enough as the defending champs suffered their first home loss of the season.
Previewing Monday’s Western Conference Action:
Detroit (4-6) @ GoldenState (6-4). This is a matchup of two teams who are headed, at least temporarily, in opposite directions. After starting the season 0-5, the Pistons are picking up some steam and have won 4 of their last 5. The Warriors, meanwhile, started the season 6-2 but have lost two straight. GS will try to stay perfect at home, where they are 4-0 on the young season.
Memphis (4-6) @ Orlando (6-3). The Magic have lost two in a row at home, while Memphis is coming off a close loss to the Celtics on Saturday. Rudy Gay (25.2 ppg) is averaging the 3rd highest points per game in the League.
New Orleans (8-0) @ Dallas (6-2). The Hornets try to stay perfect against a Mavs team that has bested them in their last three meetings in Dallas. Mavs big man Tyson Chandler faces his old team, while Caron Butler (back) is still questionable to play. All five Hornets starters are averaging double figures.
Oklahoma City (5-4) @ Utah (7-3). Will Utah have a 6th consecutive come-from-behind victory? Will Durant and Westbrook combine again for 60% of their team’s scoring? Only time will tell. And that time will come at say, after this game is over.
New Jersey (3-6) @ LA Clippers (1-9). Battle of the Ugly? The Clips have lost 5 in a row and are missing Baron Davis and Chris Kaman. Their starting lineup may consist of 3 rookies in Blake Griffin, Eric Bledsoe, and Al-Farouq Aminu. The Nets, meanwhile, aren’t faring much better. Brook Lopez is shooting a disappointing 39.9% from the field, even though he is averaging 17.3 ppg. Troy Murphy is still easing his way back from injury. The bottom line? At least someone will come away with a win, but I don't expect gameplay in this one to be anywhere near pretty.
Minnesota (3-8) @ Charlotte (3-7). The T-Wolves go for their 2nd road victory of the year as they try to knock off the Bobcats, who are winless at home. I have my eyes on Mike Beasley and whether or not this hot streak is for real (42, 35, and 25 points in his last 3), and I want to see how close Kevin Love can come to 20/20. On paper the Bobcats are not a terribly exciting team, though I am curious how much longer coach Larry Brown will hold down Tyrus Thomas. Thomas is averaging 11.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, despite playing only ~20 minutes a night.
Denver (5-4) @ Phoenix (5-4). Fresh off the high of upsetting the Lakers in LA with some ridiculous 3-point shooting, I’m looking for the Suns to cool off and fight a tough one out with the Nuggets, who are also coming off a win over the Lakers. Carmelo leads the Nuggets at 25 points per, while Jason Richardson (22.3) and Steve Nash (20.0) lead the Suns.
At the end of Sunday's games, here's what Mapping the Western Conference looks like: