While everyone else was watching Darren Sproles make himself about a bazillion dollars en route to a San Diego win, the NBA had itself one heck of a night.
Then the universe decided to implode as the Bobcats, yes, the Bobcats, polished off the surprisingly good Bucks by 10. The Bobcats cruised in this one, which was both a model for the 'Cats' success and completely bizarre. And not just because the 'Cats won. It was a perfect setup for this roster because they were led by Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor, and Boris Diaw, who continues to be brilliant since his trade to Charlotte. They got 12 points and five assists from D.J. Augustin, and they attacked the Bucks in the paint. It was bizarre because the Bobcats were outshot (50% to 47%), out-rebounded (35-32), and had only two fewer turnovers. Still, if the 'Cats are going to get anything going this season, this has to be the model. Did I mention Wallace and Okafor only had 9 rebounds between them? Bizarro World.
The real fireworks kicked off with the Rockets visiting the streaking Hawks, though. Without Ron Artest, Shane Battier and the eternally-banged-up Tracy McGrady, the Rockets put up one hell of a fight against a terrific Hawks squad. It begs the question if this team, considering the long winning streak last season without Yao Ming, is at its best with only one superstar on the floor? Von Wafer was continually hitting huge shots, despite hobbling on a bad hamstring. Luis Scola went right at Josh Smith, and went to work on him several plays late in the game. Aaron Brooks even continued showing off why he's a good option for the Rockets at point guard.
Every time the Hawks would get a lead, the Rockets would fight back. But eventually the Hawks just had too much firepower (yes, it's still weird to write that), and when Josh Smith brought the thunder on back to back huge dunks, it looked like the Hawks would put it away. But the Rockets responded again with Von Wafer tying the game at 100. Unfortunately, the Rockets' defense elected not to use their foul to give, allowing the Hawks' ball movement to find Mike Bibby for the game winner. The big story for the Hawks in this game was the explosion by Josh Smith, signalling that he's finally healthy. While Smith didn't stuff the box score like he usually does, he hit 13 of 16 from the field on the way to 29 points. The Hawks have answers this season.
The game of the night, though, was in Miami, where the Heat rallied from 16 down to defeat the New Jersey Nets in overtime. The Nets were without Devin Harris and the Heat without Shawn Marion, but that didn't take away from this one. The star, predictably, was Dwyane Wade. Wade was only 8 of 23 from the field. But he went absolutely Nova late in the game, especially on defense. He finished with four blocks and three steals, with two of the blocks coming against rookie center Brook Lopez. That was slightly embarassing for the youngster. Vince Carter also got a piece, as Wade swatted his potential game winner in regulation into the third row. Wade's final line? 29 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals, four blocks. Three little letters keep coming to mind when you watch Wade this season, even on a "bad" night.
When you get beatdown in the first quarter, 40-19, it's pretty natural to want to mail it in for the night, especially on the road. But the Philadelphia 76ers decided to go ahead and put up a fight, and climbed all the way back to tie it late in the fourth quarter in San Antonio versus the Spurs. With a potentially game winning possession in the final thirty seconds, however, the Sixers remembered that they're cursed this season, and summarily tossed away the ball on a turnover right into the hands of Manu Ginobili. It was a poorly designed play, with Andre Miller in the block, a poorly designed pass, essentially daring the Spurs to close on the spacing with a defender on each side, and a poorly executed pass. On the ensuing possession, without taking a timeout, Tony Parker drove off a Tim Duncan screen, but the Sixers wisely closed underneath and prevented the drive. Parker kicked to the wide open Ginobili in the corner. But he missed! He finally missed a game winner! Oh, sweet salvation, not everything goes the Spurs way! There's still hope!
You know how this ends, right?
The ball of course rebounded right into the waiting arms of Tony Parker, who was just standing there. Parker, gathered it, posted, and nailed a turnaround, arching, fadeaway jumper with no time remaining.
And that's Philadelphia's season.
In Chicago, the Timberwolves showed some life and got 18 points and 12 rebounds from rookie Kevin Love, along with Al Jefferson's dependable 18 points and 14 rebounds and a surprising 21 point lift from Randy Foye, in a ten point cruise over Chicago. The Bulls got double digit scoring from every starter but Thabo Sefolosha, including 22 points from the Wunderkind, Derrick Rose, but got pounded in the paint and at the line.
Finally, the Hornets stormed back from a deficit (kind of the theme of the night, a la the Chargers), before falling short against the Nuggets. The Hornets' bench got outscored 32-11. Chris Paul was, um, Chris Paul, with 30 points and 11 assists, but also turned in a very un-Chris-Paul-like 7 turnovers. J.R. Smith scored 11 fourth quarter points to help the Nuggets regain the lead after they botched a 26 point advantage.
All in all, while you were glued to the Darren Sproles' show, the NBA had itself a pretty magical night.
NBA Has Amazing Night of Action... While No One Is Watching originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on Sun, 04 Jan 2009 00:57:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.