Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: SAN ANTONIO GETS DENVER AGAINThe Nuggets have got to really be hating the Spurs right now. I mean really hating them.
After last week's win in Denver where Manu Ginobili beat them twice, once on both ends, the Spurs took down the Carmelo-less Nuggets this time in a more traditional San Antonio way.
Denver led for virtually the entire night, but San Antonio locked in the last five minutes, allowing just two field goals in the closing minutes. The Spurs outscored Denver 29-14 in the fourth and 10-2 over the last three minutes.
Another very Spurs-ish twist to this game? The fact Gary Neal stepped up and was a big hero. Neal had 22 off the bench on 5-7 3-point shooting and really was the difference in the fourth.
For the Nuggets, it'll be easier to move on from this one. They didn't have Carmelo, were on the road and the Spurs were rested. It's a tough loss to take because they led the entire night, but not something that'll make you lose sleep.
For the Spurs though, that's 10 straight. That makes them 25-3, which is the same record the 1995-96 Bulls had at this point. The last loss for the Spurs? A strange 90-85 loss to the Clippers over three weeks ago.
San Antonio probably doesn't have the gas in the tank to make a run at 72 wins or anything, but their 25-3 start is one of the best in NBA history and not something to just pass over. They win and as Wednesday night proved, they still do it their way.
GO-GO-GADGET LINESRichard Hamilton had a season-high 35 on 13-20 shooting (6-10 from 3) in Detroit's blowout win over the Raptors.
Kevin Love with a ho-hum 25 points and 19 rebounds for the Wolves in a loss.
Blake Griffin put up 24 points and 18 rebounds in a losing effort for the Clippers.
Carlos Boozer had 30 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for Chicago in a win.
The aforementioned Gary Neal, who had 22 points, including 5-7 from 3.
NEW YORK GETS BACK ON TRACKThe Knicks weren't desperate necessarily for a win. But they kind of needed one pretty, sort of bad Wednesday against Oklahoma City.
After dropping three straight following the big run of 13 out of 14 victories, the Knicks came in against the Thunder well rested and well prepared. They ran early and often, scoring in spurts on the Thunder in transition and from the 3-point line.
New York went 10-21 from downtown and got scoring from everywhere. Amar'e Stoudemire had 23. Wilson Chandler 21. Landry Fields 14. Six players scored in double-figures for New York.
The Knicks held an eight-point lead at halftime and did a terrific job of keeping Kevin Durant and the Thunder at arms length. OKC closed in a 16-point lead to eight late in the third, but New York pushed it back to 12 right before the fourth. And then they carried that momentum over, going up by as much as 22 in the final 12 minutes.
It's not a huge win by any means for the Knicks, but if the final was different, it might've been a big loss. Now though, the Knicks are back on the winning side and feeling good again.
BLAKE GRIFFIN DOES SOMETHINGIn college, Griffin hit his face on the backboard going up for a dunk. Against the Rockets, he nearly crushed his skull on the rim. Observe:
OBLIGATORY STREAK MENTIONThe Celtics beat the 76ers, which means the streak is now at 14. It gets tougher with the Magic on Christmas, but with Orlando struggling a bit to find itself with the new pieces, Boston could certainly sneak one out. After that, there's not a serious roadblock for a week. Could Boston go for 20 straight? It's possible.
HOW TO LOSE A GAME IN 12 MINUTESThe Timberwolves are getting really good at losing games. Like so good that it's almost an art.
Against the Jazz Wednesday, the Wolves led by 12 going into the fourth quarter. They got there by playing exactly how Kurt Rambis wants them to. Lots of transition offense, smart jumpshooting and quality work on the glass.
The fourth quarter? Kind of what you'd expect from them. The Jazz outscored Minnesota 41-24 in the final frame, sending the Wolves to their 24th loss.
What keeps happening is that the Wolves clearly have no idea how to close. Michael Beasley and Kevin Love were terrific scoring the ball for most of the game but that well dried up late. The team played serviceable defense for most of the night, but totally collapsed when they needed stops. They missed free throws, gave up offensive rebounds and easy baskets. Really, if you want a lesson in how to lose a game, the Wolves should be the instructor.
It's the growing pains of a young team, but at some point, a corner has to start being turned. For three quarters, it sure looked like this might be one for the Wolves. But they basically put the car in park again with the fourth quarter.