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December 30, 2010
PBP Roundup
Dec. 29 (Shot of the year edition)

by Bradford Doolittle

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I watched it at least 30 times. I've been under the weather this week, with the inevitable virus I seem to pick up any time I travel by airplane. As a result, my energies tapered off after I finished the Suns-Sixers game on Wednesday night, so I recorded the late games and fell into a stupor. When I woke early this morning, I made some Earl Grey and pulled up the Kings-Grizzlies game while beginning to process last night's box scores.

What a bonus that game turned out to be, with a final minute that in itselt almost justifies a subscription to League Pass. If you watch highlight shows, you'd no doubt seen it. If not, I'll describe the action, then you can seek out the highlights online.

It was a back and forth game between the underachieving Kings and the Grizzlies, who are right on the tails of the Blazers, Rockets and Suns for the last playoff slot in the West. Led by Zach Randolph, who put up 35 points and 17 rebounds (nine offensive), the Grizzlies parlayed a 56-34 edge on points in the paint into a 93-87 lead with 3:12 to play.

Memphis went through an ill-timed dry spell, letting the Kings back into the game. Francisco Garcia missed a corner three with :57.6 remaining that lipped out, but Randolph shoved DeMarcus Cousins on the rebound. Cousins' two free throws tied the game at 93.

Randolph hit a runner and, after a timeout, Tyreke Evans missed a runner of his own. Mike Conley rebounded for Memphis and was fouled with :31.3 to play, but he missed the second free throw. Paul Westphal called a timeout for the Kings, his last, after which Cousins hit a short fallaway from the block after nearly getting trapped under the basket. Lionel Hollins called timeout with :26.2 to play and his team still up 96-95.

What do you do here if you're Westphal? Do you play for a stop? If Memphis used the whole clock then Sacramento would have 2.2 seconds left at most with no timeouts. No, you have to foul, but first you want to pressure the ball. The pressure worked--Evans poked the ball away from O.J. Mayo, ran it down and broke loose for a dunk. The Kings went up 97-96 with :16.4 remaining and Memphis took its last timeout.

I hate when teams come out of the huddle in these situations and set up a simple clear-out for its perceived best scorer. There are no options in those sets unless you have player that demands a double team, but coaches fall into that trap anyway. Memphis has done it with Rudy Gay a couple of times this season, but Gay has hit some big shots to justify the strategy. This time, Hollins called for a 1-4 set with Gay handling the ball out top. He drove, pulled up, and missed a short jumper, but the Kings knocked the rebound out of bounds. There were still 6.9 seconds on the clock but, again, neither team had a timeout. Mayo took the inbounds, dribbled into trouble, then sank a 22-footer falling away off of one foot. Memphis led 98-97 with 1.5 seconds left.

Mayo's shot was improbable and soul-sapping if you're a member of the Kings. With no timeouts and the length of the court to go, there was no chance for the Kings to set up a play. Cousins took the ball out of bounds. Here's where I felt like someone on Memphis--probably Conley--fell asleep. Cousins was able to hit Evans in stride, moving towards his own basket, albeit a long ways away from it. You've got to keep your head and pick up Evans and at least force him to be moving to the side. Instead, Evans caught the pass, took a dribble, and let fly with a high-arching 60-footer.

As I said, I watched the play at least 30 times. After Mayo's basket, some guy in a suit ran out onto the court, thinking there'd be a timeout, then quickly retreated when there wasn't. Cousins leaned his head while the ball was in the air, trying to judge its trajectory. Beno Udrih stood along the sideline, with his arms at his side and his shoulders sunk with resignation. Donte Green left the Kings' bench and started laughing and dancing about 20 feet out on the floor well before the ball reached the basket. Could he tell it was going in? The remnants of a smallish crowd at Arco Arena was standing, eyes following the ball. Evans was running down the court, following his own heave. And of course (why else would I be writing this?) the ball swished through as the horn sounded.

Evans circled over and jumped onto the scorer's table and nearly tumbled off, before returning to the floor and getting mobbed. It looked as if every person in the arena was jumping up and down, screaming with their arms extended skyward. There was a review, but it really wasn't close--Evans got the ball off in plenty of time. The Kings won 100-98. Kings play-by-play announcer Grant Napear has a catch phrase that he pulls out every so often and it never was more apropos than at that moment: "If you didn't like that, you don't like NBA basketball."

I know the Heat played last night. I know Kevin Garnett was injured for Boston. Despite the great ending, no one is leading their newscast with the Grizzlies and Kings. But, you know, it's not always about cache or celebrity or the elite teams. Sometimes it's just about a great basketball game. Is Evans shot going to have any impact whatsoever on this year's championship? Of course not. It doesn't always have to be about that. Sometimes, it's just about basketball. Sometimes, it's just about a game. In Sacramento today, people are asking each other, "Did you see Evans' shot last night?" In Memphis, they are asking, "Did you see how the Grizzlies lost last night?" So what if the bosses in Bristol don't care. The game was a perfect example of how every NBA game has the potential to be special. Contract that.

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LIVE AT BASKETBALL PROSPECTUS

1. Looking Back: The Ghost of Contraction Past (Kevin Pelton) Contraction is a hot-button issue in the NBA right now, which made us curious: Who would have been candidates to be contracted had the league cut teams in the past? (premium)

2. Building a Core: The Clippers' Young Cornerstones (Kevin Pelton) While it may not guarantee future success, the proven way to win in the NBA is to get star players. In Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, the Los Angeles Clippers look like they might have two. (premium)

3. On the Beat: Shakeup Could Be in Store in Memphis (John Perrotto) The Memphis Grizzlies have been one of the league's most enigmatic teams this season, which could lead to moves before the February trade deadline. (premium)

4. Poll Position: Hoyas Shooting the Lights Out (John Gasaway) Led by the uber-efficient Austin Freeman, Georgetown's strong start this season has been powered by outstanding shooting from the field. In his feature for ESPN Insider, John looks at how John Thompson III has been able to thrive without Greg Monroe. (premium)

5. The List: Duke Starts No. 1 (John Perrotto) Basketball Prospectus' rankings, which are subjective but based on statistical analysis, debut with a familiar team at the top--the Duke Blue Devils. (premium)

6. The Clipboard: Rose Not Using New Jumper (Sebastian Pruiti) Derrick Rose worked hard to improve his shooting form over the summer, but while it has helped his accuracy beyond the arc, it's not working from closer distances because Rose prefers to use his less reliable floater. (premium)

7. Trend Watch: Rockets Score, Aldridge Dunks, Cavaliers Stumble (Kevin Pelton) In this week's edition of Trend Watch, the Houston Rockets are winning with offense for the first time in recent memory, LaMarcus Aldridge's finishing powers a strong four-game stretch and the Cleveland Cavaliers have had a December to forget. (premium)

8. Start/Sit Projections: Week of Dec. 27 (Kevin Pelton) The upcoming NBA week, which spans 2010 and 2011, sees Phoenix Suns big men Channing Frye and Robin Lopez get the benefit of a favorable schedule. (premium)

9. Brown Out in Charlotte (Kevin Pelton) (Unfiltered)

10. Can Al Nolen save Minnesota? (Ken Pomeroy) (Unfiltered)

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FANTASY PROJECTIONS

Our downloadable Basketball Fantasy Projection spreadsheets are available for anyone with a premium subscription to Basketball Prospectus. The sheet is updated weekly and can be found on your 'Manage Profile' page. The download includes a forecast for the seven days, Monday through Sunday, for every player, game-by-game projections, health status updates and current team rotations.

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HOOPS CHATS

Basketball Prospectus authors take your questions from time to time in handy chat format. All chats begin at 1 p.m. EST on the day listed, but you can go in and submit a question beforehand if you like, or read the transcript after the fact.

Dec. 29: Bradford Doolittle (TRANSCRIPT)

Dec. 17: Kevin Pelton (TRANSCRIPT)

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HOT FIVES

POWER RATING (POW)     GR (12/29/10)         WP82 -- ALL          WP82 -- ROOKIES
celtics,boston, 64.8   wade,dwyane, 44.4     james,lebron, 34.5   griffin,blake, 13.9
spurs,sanantonio, 63.3 randolph,zach, 44.0   williams,deron, 30.2 fields,landry, 4.6
mavericks,dallas, 62.0 jackson,stephen, 40.3 paul,chris, 23.8     neal,gary, 3.1
heat,miami, 60.7       wright,dorell, 39.7   wade,dwyane, 22.4    bledsoe,eric, 2.2
bulls,chicago, 56.2    pierce,paul, 37.5     ginobili,manu, 21.7  wall,john, 2.1
Note: GR leaders are from previous night only.

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WEDNESDAY'S BOX SCORES & RECAPS

NOTE: Glossary is at bottom of page.

HAWKS 103, WARRIORS 93 (box): In my treatise on the Hawks yesterday, I failed to mention the very thing that spurred me to write about the team in the first place. While Larry Drew's re-arranging of the deck chairs in Atlanta may not yet have made much difference to the bottom line, it has resulted in a new pecking order. Al Horford has emerged as a 20-win player and the best player on the Hawks. For the first time, his usage rate is above the league average and he's posted a career-best .610 True Shooting Percentage. Already one of the game's best-passing big men, Horford has increased his assist rate to nearly four per 40 minutes. His rebounding is as strong as ever and he's still one of the league's best interior defenders. Say what you want about the changes instituted by Drew, but he's figured out a way to get even more from an already-good player in Horford.

GSW (12-19).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   ATL (21-13).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
wright,dorell.......100%  24%  1.33  -10 39.7   johnson,joe..........77%  22%  1.21  + 5 28.3
williams,reggie......57%  18%  0.99  - 3 14.3   smith,josh...........88%  24%  1.21    0 24.1
ellis,monta..........90%  16%  0.94  -15 11.8   horford,al...........79%  21%  1.47  +14 14.8
lee,david............81%  20%  0.96  - 8 11.8   bibby,mike...........57%  26%  1.06    0 14.3
curry,stephen........60%  26%  1.03  - 1 10.7   crawford,jamal.......67%  15%  0.94  +14  9.8
amundson,louis.......46%  19%  1.15  - 4  7.2   evans,maurice........31%  11%  1.82  + 8  9.1
radmanovic,vladimir..46%  11%  0.87  - 7  2.8   pachulia,zaza........40%  18%  1.60  +11  7.1
udoh,epke............12%  23%  0.90  + 1  1.5   williams,marvin......56%  13%  0.97  + 2  4.2
wright,brandan....... 8%  11%  1.79  - 3  1.3   teague,jeff.......... 6%  16%  0.00  - 4  0.0
bell,charlie.........(DNP)                      collins,jason........(DNP)  
carney,rodney........(DNP)                      powell,josh..........(DNP)  
law,acie.............(DNP)                      wilkins,damien.......(DNP)  
PACE: 92.1          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 92.1          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Warriors.........  101.0 .494  .227 .195 .072   Hawks............  111.8 .558  .233 .141 .057

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BOBCATS 101, CAVALIERS 92 (box): What's not to like about Paul Silas' first two games as Bobcats coach. Silas has gone up-tempo and the style may be a career-changer for Bobcats point guard D.J. Augustin, who has posted two of this three best GR scores of the season in his first two games post-Brown. Charlotte has put up Offensive Ratings of 111.9 and 114.5 in winning two straight for just the second time his season. And you know what? The Bobcats are just two games back of Milwaukee and Indiana, which are tied for seventh in the East. Hey, it's only two games, but Silas is making Michael Jordan look like a genius so far.

CLE (8-24)..........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   CHA (11-19).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
sessions,ramon.......65%  28%  1.16  - 5 24.7   jackson,stephen......84%  40%  1.13  +10 40.3
parker,anthony.......80%  14%  1.14  -14 18.5   augustin,d.j.........79%  20%  2.03  + 8 29.0
jamison,antawn.......79%  23%  0.85  - 4 18.1   diaw,boris...........81%  11%  1.22  +18 13.3
hickson,j.j..........47%  28%  0.98  - 4 17.8   wallace,gerald.......91%  14%  0.90  + 8 11.5
varejao,anderson.....73%  13%  1.06  - 8  9.6   mohammed,nazr........43%  21%  0.91  +10  9.4
gibson,daniel........48%  30%  0.73  - 9  6.2   mcguire,dominic......15%  20%  1.24  - 4  3.4
harris,manny.........52%  18%  0.95  - 7  5.5   livingston,shaun.....25%  18%  0.62  - 1  2.1
gee,alonzo...........56%   7%  1.63  + 6  3.8   hendersonjr,gerald... 8%  25%  1.01  - 4  2.0
hollins,ryan.........(DNP)                      diop,desagana........46%   8%  0.40  - 1  1.5
moon,jamario.........(DNP)                      carroll,matt.........18%  21%  0.39    0  1.4
powe,leon............(DNP)                      brown,derrick........12%   6%  1.04  + 1  0.6
williams,maurice.....(DNP)                      collins,sherron......(DNP)  
PACE: 88.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 88.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Cavaliers........  104.3 .430  .289 .159 .145   Bobcats..........  114.5 .507  .341 .136 .170

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WIZARDS 104, PACERS 90 (box): John Wall returned to full-time minutes, giving the Wizards their first glance at their new lineup. It look pretty darned good. Part of the reason Wall played so much was because Kirk Hinrich left in the first half with an injury. That allowed Nick Young to play big minutes and shoot the ball with impunity, something which he appears to enjoy very much. Young launched 26 shots and scored 25 points, which at least gave Washington a focal point. Wall had 10 points, seven boards and 12 assists. Wizards coach Flip Saunders missed the game because of a family emergency. Former Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman filled in.

IND (13-17).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   WAS (8-22)..........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
granger,danny........69%  29%  0.88  -12 17.1   mcgee,javale.........45%  22%  1.60  +11 21.7
collison,darren......67%  21%  0.79  - 5 16.7   young,nick...........89%  28%  1.10  + 9 17.4
dunleavy jr.,mike....67%  19%  1.58  -13 15.4   martin,cartier.......28%  17%  2.30  + 8 17.0
rush,brandon.........61%   9%  1.49  - 3 12.5   blatche,andray.......81%  30%  0.98  +15 15.4
hansbrough,tyler.....45%  22%  0.73    0 10.0   wall,john............73%  16%  1.61  + 9 12.1
mcroberts,josh.......57%  18%  1.32  - 4  9.9   lewis,rashard........69%  12%  1.49  +19 12.0
ford,t.j.............28%  33%  0.86  - 8  7.3   howard,josh..........51%  16%  0.73  + 4  7.7
hibbert,roy..........32%  13%  1.16  - 3  3.1   armstrong,hilton.....23%  14%  1.22  - 7  6.3
price,a.j............ 5%  38%  1.62  - 1  2.8   booker,trevor........16%   8%  1.18  + 1  1.5
jones,solomon........40%  18%  0.47  - 8  2.2   hinrich,kirk.........25%   8%  0.35  + 1  0.9
george,paul.......... 5%  18%  0.06  - 1  0.0   seraphin,kevin.......(DNP)  
posey,james..........26%   9%  0.00  -12  0.0   thornton,al..........(DNP)  
PACE: 92.9          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 92.9          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Pacers...........   96.9 .459  .283 .183 .085   Wizards..........  112.0 .444  .382 .097 .114

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PISTONS 104, CELTICS 92 (box): The game was played under the pall of Kevin Garnett's injury (see news section) which overshadowed a breakout performance from Tracy McGrady. McGrady started at point guard for the Pistons as Rodney Stuckey sat out with a stomach virus. McGrady responded with 21 points (on just 11 shots), four rebounds, eight assists and three steals. His GR of 29.4 was easily a season high and just the second time he's gone over 20. Is McGrady re-inventing himself? He's averaging 12.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per 40 minutes with a .160 usage rate and a .533 True Shooting Percentage.

BOS (24-6)..........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   DET (11-21).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
pierce,paul..........82%  31%  1.46  -10 37.5   mcgrady,tracy........63%  26%  1.53  +11 29.4
allen,ray............74%  21%  0.96  -14 20.8   villanueva,charlie...58%  22%  1.30  + 8 21.3
davis,glen...........77%  22%  0.65  - 7 13.0   hamilton,richard.....54%  23%  1.01  + 3 14.0
robinson,nate........62%  14%  1.03  - 5  7.4   wilcox,chris.........57%  10%  1.95    0 12.1
daniels,marquis......49%  16%  1.16  - 7  7.3   gordon,ben...........70%  15%  1.22  + 7 11.4
o'neal,jermaine......48%  11%  1.63  - 4  7.0   prince,tayshaun......74%  25%  0.98  +10 10.1
o'neal,shaquille.....34%  24%  0.57  - 6  5.9   wallace,ben..........55%   7%  1.54  +14  7.4
wafer,von............32%   7%  1.39  + 2  4.1   daye,austin..........25%  39%  1.25  + 2  7.2
harangody,luke.......11%   8%  1.75    0  1.9   bynum,will...........25%  17%  1.01  + 3  5.4
garnett,kevin........20%  26%  0.32  - 7  1.7   monroe,greg..........19%  19%  1.03  + 2  2.2
bradley,avery........11%   8%  0.00  - 2  0.0   maxiell,jason........(DNP)  
erden,semih..........(DNP)                      summers,dajuan.......(DNP)  
PACE: 86.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 86.2          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Celtics..........  106.7 .561  .172 .244 .097   Pistons..........  120.6 .629  .179 .174 .107

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NUGGETS 119, TIMBERWOLVES 113 (box): I erroneously reported that Denver played its last game without Carmelo Anthony on Monday. He won't play until Saturday, so the Nuggets finished 2-3 with him out of the lineup. Chauncey Billups needed just 14 shots to put up 36 points, thanks to a 6-of-6 performance on threes and 12-of-13 showing from the line. Michael Beasley scored 33 points for the Timberwolves and hit some big shots down the stretch.

DEN (17-14).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   MIN (8-25)..........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
lawson,ty............69%  24%  1.08  + 2 29.4   beasley,michael......80%  27%  1.32  + 2 36.2
billups,chauncey.....77%  28%  1.57  - 2 27.4   love,kevin...........82%  26%  1.15  - 9 19.8
afflalo,arron........79%  15%  1.49  +11 16.0   ridnour,luke.........76%  17%  1.62  - 3 16.6
andersen,chris.......62%  15%  1.08  + 8 11.5   webster,martell......50%  27%  1.01  - 3 15.8
smith,j.r............64%  25%  0.82  +21 10.3   johnson,wesley.......64%  17%  1.11  - 4 10.5
ely,melvin...........42%   4%  3.05  - 2  9.2   pekovic,nikola.......41%  14%  1.00  + 1  5.8
williams,shelden.....41%  29%  0.69  - 1  7.9   brewer,corey.........40%   4%  1.18  - 5  4.1
balkman,renaldo......39%  12%  1.52    0  5.0   milicic,darko........29%  10%  0.97  + 1  2.6
forbes,gary..........27%  15%  0.46  - 7  3.0   koufos,kosta......... 6%  61%  0.38  - 6  1.1
carter,anthony.......(DNP)                      flynn,jonny..........24%  13%  0.30  - 3  1.0
martin,kenyon........(DNP)                      ellington,wayne...... 6%  12%  0.31  - 1  0.3
hilario,nene.........(DNP)                      telfair,sebastian....(DNP)  
PACE: 99.3          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 99.3          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Nuggets..........  119.8 .506  .310 .131 .190   Timberwolves.....  113.8 .529  .382 .191 .111

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LAKERS 103, HORNETS 88 (box): You could almost sense this coming. The Lakers emerged from a three-game minislump by scoring 1.14 points per possession against the league's seventh-best defense. After an remarkably inefficient performance on Monday, Kobe Bryant scored 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting but also committed seven turnovers. For the first time this season, Phil Jackson changed his starting lineup. Andrew Bynum is back as the starting center, shifting Pau Gasol to the four and Lamar Odom back to a sixth-man role. Odom scored 24 points for L.A., the most he's ever scored off the bench.

LAL (22-10).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   NWO (18-14).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
odom,lamar...........64%  28%  1.28  +20 24.4   jack,jarrett.........29%  28%  1.46  - 8 17.5
gasol,pau............72%  12%  1.70  +13 20.9   paul,chris...........71%  25%  1.30  - 7 17.1
bryant,kobe..........58%  43%  0.75  + 9 16.7   belinelli,marco......68%  27%  0.66  -10 14.3
bynum,andrew.........63%  25%  0.99  - 4 13.4   west,david...........58%  16%  0.93  -15 11.3
fisher,derek.........64%  11%  2.01  +21 11.8   okafor,emeka.........59%  14%  1.18  - 8  9.1
artest,ron...........57%   7%  1.98  +12 10.4   pondexter,quincy.....51%  10%  1.36  - 9  8.3
brown,shannon........42%  16%  0.93  + 6  8.7   thornton,marcus......35%  36%  0.29  - 7  6.4
barnes,matt..........41%  13%  1.40  + 6  5.9   ariza,trevor.........50%  12%  0.87  - 4  6.3
blake,steve..........36%  16%  0.69  - 6  2.3   smith,jason..........43%  18%  0.66  - 1  3.9
caracter,derrick..... 3%  43%  0.00  - 2  0.0   ilungambenga,didier..27%  10%  0.72  - 8  3.4
smith,joe............(DNP)                      andersen,david.......10%   9%  0.00  + 2  0.0
walton,luke..........(DNP)                      green,willie.........(DNP)  
PACE: 90.0          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 90.0          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Lakers...........  114.5 .621  .357 .233 .098   Hornets..........   97.8 .443  .150 .167 .108

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THUNDER 114, NETS 93 (box): Nothing too much to note about this game. The Nets were pretty much noncompetitive. The Thunder had 31 assists on 45 field goals. OKC can be overly isolation-oriented, but that degree of ball movement can be as much about bad defense as it is good offense. Over its last three games, New Jersey has posted Defensive Ratings of 128.4, 114.6 and 118.9 respectively.

NJN (9-23)..........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   OKC (22-11).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
harris,devin.........61%  27%  0.98  -10 20.2   durant,kevin.........63%  35%  1.10  + 7 22.8
lopez,brook..........64%  33%  0.83  - 5 17.5   westbrook,russell....59%  28%  1.12  + 5 19.1
vujacic,sasha........40%  23%  1.32  - 7 16.1   green,jeff...........70%  11%  1.38  +18 15.8
outlaw,travis........64%  20%  0.79  -16 10.5   maynor,eric..........41%  16%  1.38  +16 13.8
humphries,kris.......44%   9%  1.19  -11  7.8   sefolosha,thabo......49%  12%  1.23  +14 10.3
uzoh,ben.............23%  24%  1.59  + 2  7.5   harden,james.........63%  15%  1.24  +18  7.7
favors,derrick.......47%  17%  0.72  - 7  5.6   ibaka,serge..........31%  30%  0.75  +10  7.6
murphy,troy..........29%  22%  0.84  -10  4.6   collison,nick........42%  15%  1.56  +19  6.7
graham,stephen.......55%   7%  0.91  -18  3.5   krstic,nenad.........45%  11%  1.60  + 6  6.6
farmar,jordan........35%  22%  0.26  -14  2.0   ivey,royal...........15%  11%  2.99  - 4  3.8
ross,quinton.........23%  11%  0.67    0  1.5   mullens,byron........11%  23%  0.67  - 2  2.6
petro,johan..........16%   4%  0.00  - 9  0.0   white,d.j............11%  32%  0.89  - 2  2.0
PACE: 95.9          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 95.9          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Nets.............   97.0 .493  .212 .240 .124   Thunder..........  118.9 .585  .222 .156 .124

---

HEAT 125, ROCKETS 119 (box): Neither team could get a stop in a 37-35 fourth quarter for Miami, leaving Houston just short, snapping its five-game winning streak. Entertaining game. The Heat seemingly couldn't miss and the Rockets shot the ball poorly, but Houston hung close thanks to a 28-10 edge in points off turnovers and a 19-8 advantage in second-chance points. Houston committed only one turnover in the first half and just seven overall. But the Rockets had no answer for Dwyane Wade, who scored a season-high 45 points, his second straight game over 40.

MIA (25-9)..........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   HOU (15-16).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
wade,dwyane..........79%  41%  1.10  + 2 44.4   scola,luis...........65%  30%  0.91  - 6 21.1
james,lebron.........82%  22%  1.17  +16 32.1   brooks,aaron.........55%  26%  1.38  -12 20.6
bosh,chris...........81%  25%  0.86  -16 17.4   hayes,chuck..........51%  15%  1.69  - 6 14.0
arroyo,carlos........49%  13%  1.62  + 3  7.8   martin,kevin.........66%  32%  0.84  -11 13.2
chalmers,mario.......50%   9%  1.93  + 3  7.1   budinger,chase.......33%  20%  1.71  +14 13.2
ilgauskas,zydrunas...39%  17%  0.88  + 7  4.4   lowry,kyle...........50%  14%  2.23  + 4 12.0
anthony,joel.........46%   4%  1.84  - 1  4.1   battier,shane........70%   9%  1.26  -11 11.4
howard,juwan.........19%   8%  1.45  +22  3.0   miller,brad..........35%  18%  1.37    0  8.0
miller,mike..........14%  12%  0.95  -11  2.9   hill,jordan..........43%  15%  0.92  - 6  5.2
jones,james..........26%  10%  1.46  + 5  2.8   lee,courtney.........31%   9%  1.13  + 4  2.3
dampier,erick........15%   5%  1.43    0  1.2   patterson,patrick....(DNP)  
house,eddie..........(DNP)                      williams,terrence....(DNP)  
PACE: 98.3          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 98.3          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Heat.............  127.1 .615  .125 .173 .166   Rockets..........  121.0 .468  .308 .071 .179

---

76ERS 123, SUNS 110 (box): An Evan Turner sighting! Turner scored 23 points--his first game over 20--on 9-of-12 shooting. His 20.3 GR was also a season best. He seemed to work well in tandem with Jrue Holiday as the Sixers survived Andre Iguodala's absence. Of course, all this came against the Suns' dead-last defense. Vince Carter made an auspicious debut for Phoenix, using a third of his team's possessions while on the floor, and putting up just .83 points per possession. (Carter's GR was goosed by Jodie Meeks' M.I.A. performance.) Steve Nash had 23 points and 15 assists.

PHI (13-19).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   PHX (13-17).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
brand,elton..........66%  22%  1.01  + 5 26.7   carter,vince.........67%  32%  0.83  - 5 30.2
holiday,jrue.........85%  23%  1.31  + 5 22.6   nash,steve...........80%  27%  1.52  - 2 26.7
nocioni,andres.......85%  16%  1.64  +12 21.5   pietrus,mickael......54%  19%  1.35  -13 14.2
williams,lou.........49%  20%  1.19  +10 21.3   gortat,marcin........72%  10%  1.77  -15 14.0
turner,evan..........62%  22%  1.56  +14 20.3   hill,grant...........72%  19%  1.30  - 1 13.6
young,thaddeus.......63%  26%  0.86  +13 11.2   dudley,jared.........45%   7%  2.99  -11  7.2
hawes,spencer........55%  14%  1.62  +10 10.4   lopez,robin..........28%  20%  1.13  + 2  5.4
meeks,jodie..........36%   8%  0.11  - 4  0.4   warrick,hakim........22%  21%  1.12  - 6  5.2
battie,tony..........(DNP)                      frye,channing........40%  19%  0.42  - 3  3.3
brackins,craig.......(DNP)                      dragic,goran.........20%  13%  0.09  -11  0.3
kapono,jason.........(DNP)                      childress,josh.......(DNP)  
speights,marreese....(DNP)                      siler,garret.........(DNP)  
PACE: 91.6          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 91.6          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
76ers............  134.2 .567  .364 .131 .168   Suns.............  120.1 .546  .227 .098 .082

---

KINGS 100, GRIZZLIES 98 (box)

MEM (14-18).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   SAC (6-23)..........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
randolph,zach........77%  35%  1.25  - 4 44.0   cousins,demarcus.....76%  27%  1.04  + 9 25.9
gasol,marc...........84%  20%  0.62  + 7 13.6   evans,tyreke.........79%  25%  1.05  - 8 25.5
mayo,o.j.............60%  20%  0.79  + 4 12.6   udrih,beno...........82%  19%  1.55  +12 17.5
gay,rudy.............84%  22%  0.76  - 5 11.6   garcia,francisco.....56%   8%  2.28  - 3 11.6
conley,mike..........72%  10%  1.19  - 1  6.7   jeter,pooh...........38%  19%  0.93  + 2  7.8
allen,tony...........50%  16%  1.20  - 5  5.9   casspi,omri..........38%  18%  1.26  +12  7.7
arthur,darrell.......28%  14%  1.23  + 1  4.2   landry,carl..........38%  24%  0.73  -10  4.8
vasquez,greivis......28%   9%  1.13  - 1  2.7   dalembert,samuel.....51%  17%  0.31  + 2  3.0
young,sam............ 8%   9%  1.66    0  0.9   greene,donte......... 7%  12%  0.69  - 6  0.6
thabeet,hasheem...... 9%  11%  0.00  - 6  0.0   thompson,jason.......32%  10%  0.00  + 2  0.0
haddadi,hamed........(DNP)                      jackson,darnell......(DNP)  
henry,xavier.........(DNP)                      taylor,jermaine......(DNP)  
PACE: 95.8          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 95.8          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Grizzlies........  102.3 .443  .311 .157 .129   Kings............  104.4 .513  .278 .219 .129

---

JAZZ 103, CLIPPERS 95 (box): A Gordon Hayward sighting! After playing the entire fourth quarter of Utah's previous two games, Hayward drew his fourth start of the season because of injuries to Andrei Kirilenko and C.J. Miles. He responded with 17 points, all in the second half, six rebounds and three assists. Hayward's previous career high in points was nine and he'd reached double digits in GR just once--10.7 on Oct. 28. His 10 third-quarter points helped lead Utah's 30-13 charge in that quarter was the decisive portion of the game. It's just one game, but Hayward looked more confident and assertive than he'd been all season. You could see this building over his two game-finishing stints, so let's see if this trend continues. It's clear that Jerry Sloan is comfortable with leaving the rookie on the floor in key parts of the game.

UTA (22-10).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR   LAC (10-23).........PLY%  USG   PCP  +/-   GR
hayward,gordon.......91%  13%  1.72  + 7 28.8   griffin,blake........89%  30%  1.16  - 2 32.9
jefferson,al.........80%  29%  1.29  - 1 22.9   gordon,eric..........89%  28%  0.88  - 4 31.6
williams,deron.......78%  23%  1.14  + 2 19.7   davis,baron..........61%  12%  1.99  + 4 16.4
millsap,paul.........66%  23%  0.89  +18 11.1   aminu,alfarouq.......61%  18%  1.44  - 5  9.8
okur,mehmet..........34%  35%  1.11  + 8 10.5   jordan,deandre.......83%  12%  1.53  - 2  9.6
fesenko,kyrylo.......15%  19%  1.84  + 2  8.4   bledsoe,eric.........34%  28%  0.48  - 9  5.9
price,ronnie.........25%  26%  0.74  +10  7.1   gomes,ryan...........39%   3%  2.75  - 3  2.4
watson,earl..........45%   4%  2.54    0  6.0   foye,randy...........16%  18%  0.68  - 7  1.3
bell,raja............52%   7%  0.86  + 4  3.9   diogu,ike............28%  14%  0.42  -12  1.0
evans,jeremy......... 9%  20%  0.78  - 6  1.4   butler,rasual........(DNP)  
elson,francisco...... 4%  23%  0.40  - 4  0.4   collins,jarron.......(DNP)  
miles,c.j............(DNP)                      warren,willie........(DNP)  
PACE: 85.8          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%   PACE: 85.8          ORTG eFG%  oRB%  TO% FTA%
Jazz.............  120.1 .500  .385 .140 .108   Clippers.........  110.8 .542  .270 .163 .133

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEWS & MOVES

Minutiae from around the league

CELTICS: "'It is a muscle injury, not a knee,' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. 'You always worry when a guy goes down without anyone around him, because those always seem to be severe injuries, so that was the first thing that went through my mind. We don't think this one is too bad, but we'll see. He'll probably miss some time, and we'll have to adjust.'" (The Associated Press)
Before we exhale with relief about Garnett's injury, let's wait for him to get back to Boston for a thorough examination. The initial reports are encouraging, but something doesn't add up. He obviously hurt something, or he wouldn't have crumpled to the floor and left the game. Hopefully, it was just a muscle pull or something, because the picture taking shape in this NBA season isn't nearly as lustrious without K.G.

LAKERS: "Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Wednesday that he is 'not happy' about the NBA's ownership of the Hornets and is pessimistic about the club's future in New Orleans. Speaking before tip-off against the Hornets on Wednesday night, Jackson said the league's takeover of the Hornets raises questions about who has the final say if a player such as Chris Paul were to demand a trade. 'Who's going to pull the button on it?' Jackson said. 'When Chris says he has to be traded, how's that going to go? ... Someone's going to have to make a very nonjudgmental decision on that part that's not going to irritate anyone else in the league.' Earlier this month, the NBA bought the Hornets from club founder and former majority owner George Shinn and minority partner Gary Chouest after Chouest backed away from negotiations to buy Shinn's majority shares. When commissioner David Stern announced the league's takeover, he said the club was worth about $300 million and that the hope was to find a local buyer who would keep the team in New Orleans. Meanwhile, Chouest has said since that he is still interested in being the majority stakeholder in a local ownership group. Jackson said the best thing about the move was that the team "is still here," but he added that he has doubts about the franchise's long-term future in the Big Easy. 'I don't know if New Orleans can support a team. It hasn't been successful in supporting a team until now,' Jackson said. 'So all the situations that have gone on with New Orleans, unfortunately things have happened and if the franchise can't make it, someone is going to have to move them.'" (Associated Press)
Perhaps it's because he's not planning on coaching beyond this season but for whatever reason, Phil Jackson has been a quote machine since the 2010-11 season began. He brings up a lot of good points about the Hornets, but I think the league is cognizant of the p.r. disaster it would be if it is perceived that Paul is auctioned off for an unfair return. The franchise would lose a lot of short term value if Paul is dealt, so I suspect he's not going anywhere while the team is up for grabs. As far as New Orleans being viable over the long term ... that issue could become a key sideline over the second half of the season, especially if those attendance benchmarks aren't reached. Not only would New Orleans become even more of a prime candidate to be relocation, but many feel that the league-owned team will become a primary instrument in the CBA negotiations. The ability to shut a franchise down is a blunt instrument in management's tool box.

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ON TAP

Tonight in the NBA

WTC  VIS @ HOM,  GAMETIME     NBAPET LINE    OFFICIALS
+23  sas @ dal,  9:30 PM EST [ dal by  1 ]   D.Stafford, M.Ayotte, C.Kirkland
+13  nyk @ orl,  7:00 PM EST [ orl by  8 ]   J.Capers, P.Fraher, D.Richardson
+ 8  uta @ por, 10:00 PM EST [ por by  1 ]   M.Callahan, J.Tiven, S.Wright
Note: WTC is a junk stat rating the "watchability" of a game, taking into
account the quality of the opponents and the likelihood of a close game.

Through Wednesday, 471 of 1,230 games (38.3 percent) have been played in the 2010-11 NBA regular season.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

GLOSSARY
+/- (Plus-Minus) Raw data is from official box scores from NBA.com.
GR (Game Rating) Reflects a player's Points Created total, or the portion of his team's offense for which he gets credit based on his box score line. This number is then adjusted for estimated defensive performance based on box score counterpart productivity. GR is pace-adjusted so you can compare players from game to game.
PCP (Points Created Per Possession Used) An estimate of each player's points created per possession used, a measure of offensive efficiency. The stat accounts for a player's entire box score line, not just the scoring categories.
PLY% (Play percentage) An estimate of the percentage of a team's possessions on which the player was on the court.
USG An estimate of how many of those plays a player used by shooting, going to the line or committing a turnover, with a portion the team's offensive rebound total subtracted.
TEAM STATS
PACE: Estimated possessions in the game.
ORTG: A team's points per 100 possessions.
eFG%: Team's shooting percentage with an extra half-point added for each made three-point field goal.
oRB%: Percentage of a team's misses that they retrieved off the offensive glass.
TO%: Percentage of a team's possessions resulting in a turnover.
FTA%: Percentage of a team's possessions resulting in a trip to the foul line.

You can follow Bradford on Twitter at twitter.com/@bbdoolittle.

The 2010-11 Pro Basketball Prospectus is now available in paperback form on Amazon.com. For sample chapters and more information, see our book page.

Bradford Doolittle is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Bradford by clicking here or click here to see Bradford's other articles.

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