Game 1 Boston Celtics 92 vs Charlotte Bobcats 71
Boston got off to a hot start in this game leading 21-10 after 1. They kept it up throughout the second quarter, trouncing the Bobcats at halftime 44-28, with no one from Charlotte able to step up and produce. Boston kept the pressure on in the 2nd half and ran away with the 21 point victory.
Leading the charge for the Celtics was Matt Janning out of Northeastern with 20 points. Matt is an unassuming player who I thought would have to be automatic from the field to have a chance. The good thing is that he was. Then he took it a step further and threw it down on a fastbreak. Staying after rebounds he probably shouldn’t be able to get, but somehow does, helped Matt to collect an impressive 8 boards.
Luke Harangody impressed again with his sweet shooting stroke, which is rare for a man his size. Luke did most of his damage in the first half (10 points) before going down hard and coming back up with a bloody face. Of course he got up and acted like it was nothing, but he had to leave the game to tend to the wound and played limited minutes in the 2nd half finishing with 12 points on 5-9 shooting.
Jaycee Carroll had another noteworthy game with 13 points, 3 assists and 2 steals. His speed is dangerous and can be both an asset and a liability. When out of control, his decision making suffers. When under control his speed helps him to get loose balls and pester the opposing offense.
Center Semih Erden from Turkey showed some capability down low but then was involved in the saddest alley-oop attempt I’ve ever seen. He caught the ball in the air but was too far out to dunk it. Instead of coming back down and regrouping he tried to drop it in softly, only to draw nothing but air, land and catch his own airball for the travel. Awesome.
For the losing squad there were not too many bright spots. Derrick Brown had another decent game with 12 points and 5 rebounds and Jeremy Pargo, the game-winning hero from Tuesday, added 10 points and 8 assists.
Gerald Henderson came back down from his stellar first two games to put in a disappointing 7 points on 2-9 shooting with 0 rebounds.
Game 2 Oklahoma City Thunder 89 vs Philadelphia 76ers 80
Oklahoma City used a balanced attack, with 5 players in double figures, to control the majority of this game before Philadelphia made a run to make things interesting late in the 4th.
OKC was led by the 2nd year standout from Arizona State, James Harden,who finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. While his shooting was off again (3-10 from the field), Harden got the job done by earning his trips to the line where he was 15-18. One of James greatest talents is his uncanny ability to create something out of nothing.
BJ Mullens came with some nice production, earning 16 points on an efficient 7-8 shooting. Byron also pulled down 6 rebounds.
Mustafa Shakur contributed solid minutes at the guard position by dishing out 6 assists and scoring 11. Six of those points came on huge back-to-back threes to hold off the rallying Sixers.
The Sixers got huge nights out of Marreese Speights, Jrue Holiday, and Jodie Meeks but it wasn’t enough to counter the balance of the Thunder depth. Marreese Speights dominated this game with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Speights showed versatility with his outside range as well as with his sheer power in the paint. Aside from a few mental lapses on defense, Marreese had his best game of the week.
Jrue Holiday had another great game, scoring from all over the court and getting easy baskets for teammates. Jrue’s ability to get to the rack is really opening up all the other facets of his game. Holiday finished with a game high 25 points to go with 5 assists and 3 steals.
Jodie Meeks chipped in 16 and 8 and made up for his poor field goal percentage shooting (4-14), by going 8-8 at the line.
It’s not always going to be easy for the 2010 National Collegiate Player of the Year. Evan Turner had one of his tough days on Wednesday going 1-6 from the field for 4 points. Turner also had a few sloppy passes taken away for easy scores. The lone bright spot of his day were the 8 rebounds collected.
Game 3 Orlando Magic 91 vs New Jersey Nets 94
This game was tightly contested throughout the entire match until New Jersey got some separation early in the 4th quarter. Orlando made a spirited fight back into the game late in the 4th, but ultimately were doomed by too many mistakes and missed free throws at the end to claim the victory.
Player of the game honors go to Damion James, the #24 pick out of Texas, who lit up the scoreboard with 30 points. Jones scored in the paint with a smooth drive and emphatic dunk, took it outside with 60% shooting from behind the arc, and made his free throws (9-11), for a well-balanced offensive showing.
Backing James up was Terrence Williams who chipped in 22 points, but did so on a ridiculous 8-26 shooting. Williams did have a team high 6 assists.
The Magic came up short, but it was not for lack of effort from Joe Crawford. Crawford blistered the nets for 29 points, 10-13 from the field and 4-5 from downtown, but in the end it was not enough.
Paul Davis lumbered his way to 16 points and 9 rebounds; a solid effort, that could have been better if he could finish stronger at the rim. I counted at least 4 dunk attempts that caught rim and didn’t go through. To Davis’s credit, he was being aggressive and earned his keep at the line (10-11).
Patrick Ewing Jr added in 11 points and 7 rebounds in the losing effort.
Game 4 Indiana Pacers 83 vs Utah Jazz 74
This contest was not as close as the final score indicates. Indiana led by 20 for the majority of the game by relying on their superior length and athleticism. Credit the Jazz for not giving up and making the end result look a little more respectable. Utah struggled to put points on the board in the first half, but were able to ignite their offense in the 2nd half through the efforts of their ramped up defensive energy.
Indiana got solid contributions from their front line of Paul George, Magnum Rolle and Josh McRoberts. Josh McRoberts had a stellar game after only taking (and making) 1 three point shot today and getting to work in the paint. Josh was rewarded with 10 trips to the line and made them all. He also impressed the crowd with some high flying dunks as part of his 5-6 shooting from the field. Josh’s passing skills were on display with a beautiful touch pass for an easy bucket followed by a perfectly thrown alley-oop to Paul George.
Paul George is getting more comfortable and the results are improving. A well-earned 15 points on 5-9 shooting were complemented by his 9 rebounds. he also converted a number of high flying ally oops.
Lance Stephenson continues to make a name for himself here in Orlando with his potent display on offense. Lance put 19 on the board and at times looked like he was toying with his defenders as he smoothly blew by anyone in his way.
It was another impressive night for Magnum Rolle who brought in 10 points and 8 rebounds. Rolle has tons of athleticism, which led to easy baskets and 4 blocked shots. Once he gets his fundamentals figured out, he should have a solid career.
For the Jazz, they just needed someone to step and provide a scoring punch. Unfortunately the only one who did so was 3rd year center Kosta Koufos. Not exactly the guy you want to run your offense through. Koufos worked hard in the post and even showed some range with his spot up J. He also had a team high 7 rebounds. But unfortunately Kosta didn’t get much help.
Getting his first crack at his favorite team growing up, along with his hero Larry Bird watching, we thought Gordon Hayward may come out and dominate, but it appears a little case of nerves may have affected him. Bricking shots he would normally make, Hayward finished 1-5 from the field for 7 points. The consensus among scouts is that Utah taking Hayward 9th was a reach, and it appeared that way today.