Cold Welcome: In his return to Orlando for the first time as a member of the Lakers, Dwight Howard got more than just boos, creative signs and custom made “Coward” jerseys. Dwight, fueled by the need to make sure his former city misses him, went off for a game-high 39 points (7 of 13), 25 of 39 from the free throw line, 16 boards and zero turnovers. His 39 free throw attempts in this game not only breaks the record of this NBA season, Shaq’s Laker record of 32, but also ties his own record for most in a game. The Lakers have now won 9 of their last 11 games since the All-Star break and most of it can be attributed to a healthier looking Dwight, who is slowly returning to form. His former teammate and best friend, Jameer Nelson had 21 on 19 shots and 7 assists in the 9 point Magic loss.
Smoking Gun: Despite going off for a season high 35 points in the first quarter and outscoring their opponents 54 to 36 in the paint, the Milwaukee Bucks would fall to the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs, who have now won 4 straight, is getting closer to shaving their beards, with only 3 wins away from the .500 mark. Dirk Nowitzki went for his third double double of the season, hitting 7 of his 13 shots for 19 points and 11 rebounds. Vince Carter was huge off the bench, exploding for 13 of his total 23 points in the 4th to take the W. Monta Ellis had the most Buck points, going for 32 points on 12 of 24 shooting and 9 dimes.
Bottom Up: The worst three point shooting basketball team in the NBA didn’t shoot like the worst last night against the shorthanded San Antonio Spurs, who were without Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. The Minnesota Timberwolves just as injured, pulled through, holding their opponent down to a season low 10 points in the second quarter to completely shift momentum to their favor, giving them a 15 point lead in the half, which they added to finish with a 24 point win. Ricky Rubio led the way with his first career triple double, going for 21 points (9 of 17), 13 boards and 12 assists. The Spurs got a taste of what it was like to be the Timberwolves on that night, shooting a very Minnesota-y 35 percent from the field and 31 from downtown (still higher than the Wolves’ season average of 30).
The most adorable triple double you will ever witness.
Spring Cleaning: The Memphis Grizzlies took care of the Portland Trail Blazers on the road for their 5th straight win. The unsung hero of the Grizzlies, Mike Conley finished with 14 points on 12 shots, 15 assists and 4 steals to continue his 53 game streak with at least one steal or more. In his first game back from injury, Zach Randolph chipped in for a solid 19 points and 10 boards. His front court mate, Marc Gasol put in an additional 20 points (8 of 13) and 5 dimes in the win. The rookie of the Blazers, Damian Lillard had his 7 straight game with 20 points or more, with 30 points and 7 assists on the night. LaMarcus Aldridge tried to help with his 28 points and 10 rebounds, but their shallow bench just couldn’t offer anything.
A Few Notes: The Charlotte Bobcats clinched their third win in 2013 in the 26 point victory over the Paul Pierce-less Boston Celtics With this win, they double their total victories from last season (which was 7) in 2 fewer games. They were led by Gerald Henderson who erupted for a career-high 35 points on 11 of 19 shooting.
The Miami Heat extends their 19 game winning streak in the 17 point win over the Atlanta Hawks. Which ties the 2008-09 Boston Celtics for the most consecutive wins by a defending champion. Dwyane Wade scored a game-high 23 points (9 of 18), dished out 6 assists and stole 5 basketballs. While LeBron James suffers his second shooting slump in 21 games (19 of which were 50 FG% or more), going 3 of 11 from the field for 15 points, 7 boards and 7 dimes.
Fantasy Shoutout: John Wall went off for 27 points on 7 of 15 shooting, 7 rebounds and 14 dimes in the loss to the Kyrie Irving-less Cleveland Cavaliers.
Brook Lopez had 26 points (10 of 15), 5 rebounds and all the bragging right in the family after yamming one on his twin brother in the Brooklyn win over the New Orleans Hornets. Deron Williams had an impressive line of his own, going for 21 on 19 shots and 13 assists.
Eric Gordon of the future Pelicans scored a team-high 24 points (8 of 17) and got a cool dunk in their 4th straight loss on the road.