Recap of Monday's Western Conference Action:
Things did not go well for the Bucks in their first game without Brandon Jennings, to say the least. John Salmons was the only Buck to score over 12 points as LaMarcus Aldridge had a field day down low (29 points & a career-high 19 rebounds) and the Brandon Roy-less Blazers cruised to their third consecutive victory. Marcus Camby sat out his second straight game with a "sore right shoulder", but Aldridge more than made up for Camby's absence with his career day on the boards. Meanwhile, the Bucks shot a poor .380 from the field and never really had a chance in this one. With Jennings out for at least the next four weeks with a broken foot, the Bucks will rely on some combination of journeyman/perennial backup Keyon Dooling and the always exciting Earl Boykins to run the show. In other words, just when Bucks fans thought that nothing could be worse than cheering for a sub-.400 team, they realized that cheering for a sub-.400 team without its best player is indeed...slightly worse.
Deron Williams (17 points & 10 assists) and Al Jefferson (16 points & 13 rebounds) both double-doubled as the Jazz defeated the Cavs in the Battle of Carlos Boozer's Exes. The career year continues for C.J. Miles as he led the Jazz with 22 points off the bench. Daniel Gibson had a game-high 29 points for the Cavs, including 7-for-8 from downtown, while Mo Williams had a solid statistical game (16 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds) despite some poor shooting (5-for-15 from the field). The Jazz improve to 6-4 in December, with their four losses coming against tough opponents (vs. Dallas, vs. Miami, @ Dallas, and @ New Orleans).
Mike Dunleavy tipped in Danny Granger's miss at the buzzer to give the Pacers the one point victory. Emeka Okafor double-doubled with 19 points and 15 boards and completely shut down Roy Hibbert (2 points on 1-for-10 shooting), but it was not enough as Granger poured in 27 points and former Hornet Darren Collison exacted revenge against his former team with 18 points. It was an off night for Chris Paul, who scored 16 points but managed only four assists and four rebounds against six turnovers. Overall, the Hornets shot .398 on the night, while the Pacers shot .425. Both teams are now 4-7 in December.
This week's Game of the Week saw the Mavs end the Heat's 12-game winning streak for their 15th win in 16 games. Behind Dallas's own Big 3 - Dirk Nowitzki (26 points), Jason Terry (19 points), and ... Caron Butler? (13 points) - the Mavs beat a Heat team that actually had more players (five to three) score in double figures and got solid nights from the "real" Big 3 (Dwyane Wade had 22 points while LeBron James and Chris Bosh each scored 19). Miami missed some crucial FTs, though, as they were only 17-for-25 (.680) on the night, including 11-for-18 (.611) by the Big 3. Dallas has now won three in a row and takes on the Magic in Orlando on Tuesday.
There's just no stopping the Spurs. As the Suns awaited the arrival of Vince Carter, Jared Dudley went off for a game-high 27 points and Steve Nash double-doubled with 17 points and 10 assists, but all to no avail as the Spurs extended their winning streak to nine games and improved to 24-3 on the season. The Spurs saw the Suns' Dudley and raised them a Gary Neal, who had a team-high 22 points off the bench. Tim Duncan put on a clinic against the Suns' bigs (20 points, 15 boards, 6 assists), as Channing Frye (1-for-10 shooting) went completely dead in the water (though former Stanford man Robin Lopez had a respectable 14/7 night on 5-for-5 shooting). In the end, the Spurs, who had six players score in double figures, including all five starters, adjusted to the Suns' high scoring ways and beat them at their own game.
The Clippers are on a winning streak. It is official - Hell has frozen over. Behind a monster night from Eric Gordon (36 points) and twin double-doubles from Blake Griffin and Ryan Gomes (22 points and 10 rebounds), the Clippers followed up their surprising win against the Bulls in Chicago with a beatdown - yes, I just used "beatdown" to describe something the Clippers did to someone else - of the melting T-Wolves. Michael Beasley led the Timberwolves with 20 points (albeit on 6-for-19 shooting), Kevin Love had a modest double-double with 12 + 10, and Martell Webster scored 18 points off the bench, but it was not enough as Minnesota fell for the sixth straight game and dropped to 2-10 in December. With their first winning streak of the season, let Clippers fans' "Playoffs or Bust" chants begin!