Game Night! Houston @ Miami

The featured match in tonight’s NBA action pitted the Houston Rockets against the high-flying Miami Heat.

Lebron James and Dwayne Wade fired Miami Heat (32-14) to a 114-108 victory at home to the Houston Rockets (27-24) with a combined 63 points. The dynamic duo also featured in the play of the game as Wade (31 points) found his team-mate with a full court alley-oop assist to James, who had 32 points. James Harden led all scorers with a 36 point haul with 17 of those coming in the final quarter as the Rockets fell short. Two important defensive plays from Miami kept their opponents at bay with Udonis Haslem drawing a charge before Wade produced a late block on a Harden three.

Miami‘s Eastern conference rivals, NY Knicks (31-16) fell to a defeat against the Washington Wizards (13-35), who picked up their second straight win. John Wall top scored for the hosts with 21 points including a top play after following up a rejection on Carmelo Anthony with the lay-up at the other end; spinning past Jason Kidd. Oklahoma improved to a 37-12 record in the West after a 119-98 win at home to the Golden State Warriors. Kevin Durant top scored with 25 points while Russell Westbrook added a further 22, a number which matches Thunder‘s victories at home this season.

LA Clippers ended their run of defeats with a 86-76 win on the road against Orlando despite the continued absence of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Eric Bledsoe came up good with a season-high 27 points to improve their mark to 35-16. Kevin Garnett put growing trade rumours behind him with a dominant performance helping the Celtics to a 99-95 win against the Toronto Raptors (17-32). KG had 27 points and 10 rebounds as Boston (25-23) improved to 5-0 in the absence of Rajon Rondo while Toronto fell to a second consecutive defeat despite a double-double (25p,12r) from Rudy Gay.

San Antonio (39-11) stretched their winning streak to ELEVEN games after a 104-94 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves (18-28). Tony Parker had 31 points including 9/9 from the FT line whilst dishing out eight assists. Gregg Popovich opted not to use Manu Ginobilli and Danny Green stepped up to the mark with a career-high 28 points on 8/12 shooting from downtown. Ricky Rubio dished out double-figures in assists (11) for the second game running while Nikola Pekovic top scored for the T’Wolves with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Indiana‘s winning streak stretched to five games with a win in Philadelphia against the 76ers (21-27). Roy Hibbert helped the Pacers (31-19) to an 88-69 success with 18 points as well as 14 rebounds as his side match the Knicks‘ win tally for the season. Dallas (21-28) picked up an important win in their play-off push; beating Portland (25-24) 105-99 with a 28 point haul from O.J Mayo leading the Mavericks to victory despite yet another double-double from LaMarcus Aldridge.

Brooklyn (29-20) bounced back from their defeat against the Lakers with a 93-90 victory at the Detroit Pistons. Brook Lopez again top scored for the Nets with 17 points as they inflicted a third straight defeat on their opponents. New Orleans got the win against Phoenix in a battle of the basement sides in the Western conference. The recently named Pelicans enjoyed a 93-84 success to move to a game behind the Suns and Sacramento Kings, who have a 17-33 W/L record.Other results included Utah‘s 100-86 victory against Milwaukee; Atlanta beating Memphis 103-92 and Cleveland easing past Charlotte 122-95 as Kyrie Iriving had 22 points.

Check out NBA’s video of Ricky Rubio’s dime through the legs of DeJuan Blair:

In the Spotlight: Kyrie Irving

NBA Rookie to NBA All-Star in the space of a season.

At just 20 years of age, Kyrie Irving has been selected as an NBA All-Star in his second season as a pro.

Irving has now been touted as a possible starter following an injury to Rajon Rondo which will rule the Boston Celtics’ guard out for the season. Kobe Bryant was a year younger when he made his NBA All-Star debut in 1998 which shows how impressive Irving’s achievement is.

The Cavs’ guard is building his reputation as ‘Mr. Fourth Quarter’ as he continues to take the responsibility of key shots down the stretch. Most recently Irving scored 13 points of 35 in the last three minutes to inspire Cleveland to a 115-110 victory against Oklahoma.

On 10 occasions so far this season, Irving has posted 30+ points in a game including a career high night in New York when he dropped 41 on the Knicks. These notable statistics help place the young superstar in sixth position for the season’s leading scorers charts with 24ppg. Irving was forced out for three weeks with a finger injury prior to Christmas but has picked up where he left off in recent weeks.

In his first season in the NBA, Irving finished the season with a very respectable points average of 18.5 whilst providing 5.4 assists a game on average. He also earned the MVP honours in the Rising Stars Challenge in which he will compete in again in 2013. Irving‘s rookie season was marred with a broken hand which required during the summer of 2012

The #1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft was named NBA Rookie of the Year for 2012 to follow in the footsteps of reigning MVP Lebron James, who also claimed the award in 2004 when he was playing in Cleveland. Since Lebron’s high profile departure, Cleveland have yet to reach the play-offs and will do very well to stop it from being three years in a row. The Cavs had made it beyond the regular season for five straight seasons during James‘ time with the club under Mike Brown.

LBJ moved to Miami and became an NBA Champion within two years and there will be plenty of teams interested in the services of Irving should the opportunity present itself in the future. Surely it’s a case of when and not if with Irving displaying signs of being a potential MVP within five years.

You can follow Kyrie Irving on Twitter: ( @KyrieIrving )

 

Game Time! Around the NBA

HOME WINS FOR HEAT, KNICKS & THUNDER WHILE CHICAGO & CLIPPERS FALL ON THE ROAD

Miami Heat (31-14) survived a resilient Charlotte Bobcats (11-36) to win 99-94 and remain at the top of the Eastern standings. Lebron James posted a near triple-double with 31 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists while Chris Bosh– 23 points- and Dwayne Wade– 20 points and 12 rebounds- added their usual support. The Bobcats- who now have the worst record in the league following the defeat- had a slender lead in the final quarter and former Laker Ramon Sessions top scored with 18 points.

STAT: Lebron James had a career high shooting percentage of 92.1 making 13/14 FG attempts.

New York Knicks (31-15) matched Miami‘s win tally for the season with a comfortable 99-85 home win against the Detroit Pistons (18-31). Carmelo Anthony had a game high 27 points with the damage done in the first half as the Knicks opened up a 21 point gap. Having received clearance just a few hours before tip-off, Jose Calderon top scored for Detroit with 18 points on his debut following his recent trade that ended an 8 year spell with the Raptors.

STAT: Tyson Chandler posted 20 rebounds for the third consecutive game to equal the franchise record for the Knicks.

Oklahoma (36-12) defeated Dallas (20-28) 112-91 after a dominant first half display helped the Thunder assert their authority. Russell Westbrook had 24 points and 7 assists with Kevin Durant contributing a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. LA Clippers (34-16) lost ground on OKC in the Western standings following their third straight defeat as the Washington Wizards (12-35) picked up a 98-90 win. Blake Griffin was ruled out of the game prior to the tip-off to join Chris Paul on the sidelines and a 28 point haul from Jamal Crawford along with a career high 22 rebounds from DeAndre Jordan were unable to end the Clippers losing run.

STAT: Clippers have won just three of their last ten games as they struggle to cope without CP3.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 25 points and 13 boards to inspire the Portland Trail Blazers (25-23) to a close-fought 100-98 win against Minnesota (18-27). The Timberwolves battled back in the fourth to set up a tense finale; outscoring the visitors 40-23 before falling short. Aldridge came up with the block on Ricky Rubio– who had 15p and 14a- in the final seconds. Another all-Western clash went to the wire in Utah as the Jazz prevailed in overtime to beat Sacramento Kings (17-33) 98-91.

STAT: It was the fifth consecutive game that Aldridge posted a double-double.

Indiana Pacers (29-19) improved to the third best record in the East after adding insult to injuries for a depleted Chicago Bulls side. David West followed up his 30 point haul against Miami with another 29 to help Indiana to a 111-101 victory- their third in a row. Marco Belinelli had a season-high 24 points in just 24 minutes off the bench with Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich all sidelined. The final game saw the Philadelphia 76ers (21-26) win their third straight game as they make their push into the play-off positions; beating Orlando 78-61. Magic have now lost ten in a row with Spencer Dawes– 21p,14r- and Jrue Holiday– 13p,14a- enjoying double-doubles in the win.

STAT: A season-best performance from Dawes eclisping a 21p,12r display against Milwaukee (21/01/13).

Erik Spoelstra to go head-to-head with Gregg Popovich

Erik Spoelstra was confirmed as the head-coach of the Eastern All-Stars after his Miami side recorded a 100-85 win in Toronto.

Heat are the conference leaders with a 30-14 record which gave 42 year-old Spoelstra the opportunity to be head-coach at an NBA All-Star game for the first time. Meanwhile, his counterpart in Houston will be the experienced Gregg Popovich who earnt his right to lead the Western All-Stars for a third time courtesy of his San Antonio side topping the Western conference heading into February.

‘Coach Pop’ is the longest serving coach in the NBA having taken over as head coach of the Spurs in 1996 and the 64 year-old will have Tony Parker and Tim Duncan at his disposal on February 17th. Joining the San Antonio veterans are the Los Angeles contingent of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin (both Clippers), Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard (both Lakers) with the league’s top scorer Kevin Durant also voted as a starter. Russell Westbrook joins his Thunder compatriot after being chosen as a reserve along with former team-mate, James Harden who will compete on his home floor.

Spoelstra will become the first Miami coach to lead the All-Stars since Stan van Gundy in 2005 and will be surrounded by familiar faces with the ‘Big Three’ all featuring. Reigning NBA MVP LeBron James will start alongside Dwayne Wade while Chris Bosh was chosen as a reserve. Kevin Garnett will make his 15th All-Star appearance (as does Kobe) and was due to start with team-mate Rajon Rondo but the point guard has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Carmelo Anthony completes the list of starters while the reserves include a total of six debutants with Brook(lyn) Lopez replacing Rondo.

The last three times the two coaches have met, Spoelstra and his Heat side have come out on top although Popovich surprised a few people by resting key players in their last meeting. No chance of that happening on this occasion with both teams packed full of superstars.

Rosters in full:

EAST- Starters: (Rajon RONDO), Dwayne WADE; LEBRON James (both HEAT); Carmelo ANTHONY (KNICKS); Kevin GARNETT (CELTICS); Reserves: Jrue HOLIDAY (76ers), Kyrie IRVING (CAVALIERS); Luol DENG (BULLS); Paul GEORGE (PACERS); Chris BOSH (HEAT); Joakim NOAH (BULLS); Brook LOPEZ (NETS); Tyson CHANDLER (KNICKS)

WEST- Starters: Chris PAUL (CLIPPERS); Kobe BRYANT (LAKERS); Kevin DURANT (THUNDER); Blake GRIFFIN (CLIPPERS); Dwight HOWARD (LAKERS); Reserves: Tony PARKER (SPURS); Russell WESTBROOK (THUNDER); James HARDEN (ROCKETS); David LEE (WARRIORS); Tim DUNCAN (SPURS); LaMarcus ALDRIDGE (TRAIL BLAZERS); Zach RANDOLPH (GRIZZLIES)