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Monday night NBA grades: Big stars (Dwight Howard, ‘Melo) have big nights

Jan 14, 2014, 3:49 AM EDT

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while checking out how the Earth will die

source:  Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets. It all started because Jeremy Lin played well, pushing the tempo for the Rockets — Dwight Howard was the beneficiary of that as he got some easy buckets simply because he moved well. Howard peaked and had 12 points in the third quarter when the Rockets put the game away. Late in the game trying to find a way back in Boston went to hack-a-Howard, but the big man hit 10-of-18 from the stripe killing that attempt. This game was how the Rockets pictured things when then went out and got Howard.

source:   Alec Burks/Trey Burke, Utah Jazz. Utah won against Denver because of their backcourt — these two combined for 52 points, 13 assists, 5 Rebounds, and only 3 turnovers. They got a lot of help from the Jazz bigs in this one — Utah’s front line was making plays, which forced Denver’s guards to start sucking down into the paint to help, and that left guys good looks at a lot of shots. Credit Burks and Burke for hitting them.

source:   Denver Nuggets. This is the least consistent, hardest to pin down team in the NBA. The Nuggets lost eight in a row and seemed to be coming apart. Then they won five in a row and looked like a playoff team again in a crowded West. Then they go on the road to Utah and get their head handed to them by the lowly Jazz (who maybe aren’t that lowly, after their slow start they’re basically a .500 team). Denver played like they could win just by showing up, they are not that good.

source:   Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks. That is five wins in a row for the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony was at the heart of it with 29 points, 16 rebounds and four assists (he led the Knicks in every one of those categories). He wasn’t terribly efficient (9-of-24 shooting) but he was moving the ball — his assist to Raymond Felton for a three with :53 seconds left was huge. ESPN stats noted the Knicks are 11-2 when Anthony has four or more assists. Not a coincidence.

  1. rickyspanish - Jan 14, 2014 at 5:12 AM

    It’s nice to see teams that were highly projected finally start to play better. No one wants to see Miami and Indiana sleepwalk to the conference finals. I want some good old fashioned playoff hoops. I want to see teams tested in the first and second round. Here’s to hoping that the eastern conference finishes the season strong so we can watch some intense hoops through out the playoffs.

  2. slystone111 - Jan 14, 2014 at 5:51 AM

    Houston made a huge mistake with Dwight Howard. For every one game like this, there are five with a disappointing performance.

    • kchristainsen - Jan 14, 2014 at 7:57 AM

      easy to put up numbers when you play this years Celtics

      • jcmeyer10 - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:09 AM

        Went to the game, we just didn’t have an answer. Plus Vitor was too busy checking out the Celtics dancers during timeouts so he looked lost on the backside alley oops.

        Also funny moment. A heckler called Howard soft and he just winked at him. Had to give Dwight a thumbs up for that.

    • azarkhan - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      In 34 minutes per game Howard averages 18.3 ppg, 12.7 rebounds, a couple blocks, a couple assists. And he’s great on defense, having won Defensive Player of the Year award. With Howard, Houston has a legitimate shot to win the West. Without him, they don’t.

      • au1978 - Jan 14, 2014 at 6:54 PM

        They certainly do. Just not sure if it’ll be this year with all of the injuries and the still unresolved Asik situation ($7 million just sitting on the bench. SMH).

    • fatcamper - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      I’ll admit I haven’t watched the Rockets much, but he is averaging 18pts, 12 rebs, and nearly a couple blocks a game. I suspect his numbers will increase as the season progresses based on his comfort level in Houston.

      Although being the least funny guy in the NBA, he has played above average on the season.

    • antistratfordian - Jan 14, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      You have to consider that Dwight is playing almost a career low 34.2 minutes per game. Most of his current Per 36 Minutes averages are at or above his career levels.

      CAREER: 18.2 PTS, 12.9 REB, 2.2 BLK, 57.7%, 22.1 PER, 20.8 TRB%
      2013-14: 19.2 PTS, 13.4 REB, 1.8 BLK, 57.8%, 21.7 PER, 20.5 TRB%

      These are close to pre-injury numbers for Dwight – a few things that are still askew is his block percentage (down) and foul rate (up). So Houston is getting what they should’ve been reasonably expecting to get from him – at least for this season. I’m sure they also expect him to improve a little more as he gets more comfortable in Houston and is further removed from his surgery.

      TRB% = Total Rebound Percentage; an estimate of the percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor

    • parlett316 - Jan 14, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      Laker fans still reading that Dear John letter.

    • au1978 - Jan 14, 2014 at 6:47 PM

      You obviously don’t watch the games. Houston has been injury-prone this season but Dwight has made this team so muchbetter. It’s your Lakers who are disappointing without him.

  3. jcmeyer10 - Jan 14, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Nice to see when one Buff goes down (Dinwiddie) a former Buff steps up. Nice to see Burks go off.

  4. timberwolvesbrisin - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    What about the Raptors? Oh yah they played the Buuuucks.

  5. fraudguy - Jan 14, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    Kurt,

    You’re welcome.

    Fraud Guy

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