Tag:Game Changer
Posted on: December 23, 2010 12:11 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2010 12:14 pm

The Game Changer: Spurs get Denver again

Posted by Royce Young

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 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.


Richard 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.


The 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.


In 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:


The 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.


The 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.


Send a little prayer or thought Carmelo Anthony's way who is mourning the loss of his 36-year-old sister who passed away this week from a medical condition. Tough week in the NBA with Willie Green losing his sister and cousin in a car accident and now Carmelo losing a loved one too.
Posted on: December 21, 2010 11:14 am
Edited on: December 21, 2010 11:15 am

Game Changer: New Magic struggle to open

The new Magic struggle to get it together, the Rockets put the after-burners on in the last five minutes, and Jason Terry is a fourth-quarter man, all in today's Game Changer.
Posted by Matt Moore

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.


Not a super start for the Orlando Magic's new trio of weapons. Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jason Richardson combined to shoot 6-23, score 27 points (mostly from the line), grab 9 rebounds, and dish 9 assists. Oh, and the Magic got trounced by an underwhelming Hawks team 91-81
There were some good signs, though. Turkoglu and Arenas both worked their way to the line three times, and looked in the flow of the offense. Turkoglu in particular looked like he was fitting back in with the Magic. In the second quarter, Turkoglu dished a perfect inside-lob to Dwight Howard over the Hawks defense setting up a massive dunk. 

Defensively, the damage wasn't as bad as it could have been. So that's good news, but they also didn't control the glass as well as they needed to outside of Howard. That's got to get shored up and fast. 

It should be noted that the Magic didn't have time for a practice with the new guys before last night's game. In reality, not even a walk-through. They simply walked out on the floor and tried to play together. When you consider that, it's a wonder they were even in this game, much less lost by only ten. 

When it comes down to it, the three are just going to have to shoot better. Jason Richardson we can expect that from. The other two we can't really depend on for that. 


After the Mavs defeated the Heat last night, coach Rick Carlisle called Jason Terry one of the best fourth-quarter scorers in the league. Turns out Carlisle's on to something. Terry averages 3.0 points in the first quarter, 4.0 points in the second, 3.1 points in the third, and 5.9 points in the fourth quarter. Not bad for an old guy.


After Mike Dunleavey (MIKE DUNLEAVEY!) tipped in the game-winner to drop the Hornets yet again Monday night, you have to wonder if the Hornets are running out of ways to lose. 

Your blog line of the night? Take it away, At The Hive:

"Today marks only the second time in the last 2,000 years that a total lunar eclipse has occurred on the same day as the Winter Solstice. The next time it will happen will be in 2094, when Trevor Ariza< will be clanging jumpers in a nursing home."


Monta Ellis: 44 points, 7 assists
LaMarcus Aldridge: 29 points, 19 rebounds, 2 assists
Dwight Howard: 19 points, 20 rebounds
Tim Duncan: 20 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists


The Rockets scored 25 points in the final five minutes of last night's win over the Warriors
Posted on: December 20, 2010 10:45 am

The Game Changer: Suns go short-handed

Posted by Royce Young

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.


With about half the team on a plane to Orlando, the Suns were supposed to mail in their Sunday night game against the Thunder. They were playing a group on a five-game winning streak on their home floor. They were playing with only nine active players. They were playing with a Steve Nash that was still aching a bit from an earlier injury in the week.

Didn't matter though. The Suns took the floor and immediately played with some serious heart, beating the streaking Thunder 113-110 behind 30 points and 11 rebounds from Grant Hill.

Yes, you read that right. The 38-year-old Hill put together his best game since 2000, playing like it was 1997. He had everything working from the mid-range jumper to the dribble-drive. Watching Hill play one of his most complete games in a decade was something else to watch, especially considering his Suns had to have it.

Phoenix beat Oklahoma City with its old formula. Great offense all 48, sporadically good defense, quality rebounding and a stellar performance from Nash who went 7-8 from the field and dished out 10 assists.

Who needs Vince Carter and the rest of the Magic scraps? 

The Suns had fallen below .500 so Sunday's win was important for them on a number of levels. One, it likely made Steve Nash feel better. Two, it made the whole team feel better. Three, it showed that there's still some fight in them and four, that maybe they can get things turned around with the existing core and added talent.

It wasn't a must win by any means for the Suns, but it probably felt really, really good.


Grant Hill turned back the clock to 1997 with a 30-point, 11-rebound performance against Oklahoma City.
That's Hill's first 30-point, 10-rebound game since April 2000 with Detroit.

Paul Pierce registered a triple-double against Indiana, scoring 18 points, with 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Will Bynum
checked in off the Pistons' bench and scored 21 points on 8-10 shooting and dished out nine assists.


Boston pushed its streak to 13 games with a dominant win over the Pacers Sunday. They play the 76ers next and really, if they can get by the Magic, there's a chance this thing could really stretch out. They play at Orlando (assuming the revamped Magic are still good), then have two road games against beatable teams (Indiana, Detroit). Then they play the Hornets at home, go to Toronto and then the Timberwolves at home before playing against the Spurs.

If the Celtics can win their Christmas day showdown with the Magic, the streak could potentially go to 20. Now of course this is the NBA and sometimes good teams lose to bad ones, but it at least sets up for them.


Jeff Green just missed a half court heave as time expired against the Suns that would've sent the game to overtime. It clanked off the front of the iron and the Suns survived. But a Thunder fan made a long distance toss earlier in the game, winning $20,000.

And this is the second fan in a little over a week to do such a thing. Robert Yanders made one first, and now Todd Lafferty joins him.


What's going on with the Hawks? They dropped another bad game, this time losing to the Nets. That's four losses in their last six with some bad ones mixed in. Joe Johnson surprisingly returned, but still, something is amiss in Atlanta. They aren't scoring the ball well and don't appear to be themselves at all. It's hard to tell if this is just a little funk they're in or if there are larger issues at hand. Still, another bad loss is something to at least have an eye on.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 12:06 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:37 pm

The Game Changer: Dirk downs Portland

The Mavericks put away the Blazers, the Celtics escape the Knicks, Nate Robinson stumbles, the Suns are elated, the Denver television reporter that blew the Carmelo Anthony story 'fesses up, and plenty more. Posted by Ben Golliver

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. 


On Wednesday, after the Celtics were done breaking the Knicks' heart, the Dallas Mavericks stepped onto the ESPN stage and staked their claim to the title, "legit title contender."  The Mavericks are among the league leaders in stability, we've been watching this game core group for at least 46 years now, and, in related news, they are near the top of the leaderboard in, "Well, that was bound to happen," moments for their opposition. Wednesday night was just another one to tack onto that track record. Championship-quality teams pull out wins on their off nights, and that's exactly what happened in Texas, as the Mavericks staved off a Portland rally in the fourth quarter. A struggling Dirk Nowitzki proved for the 12,000th time that he is essentially unguardable down the stretch, scoring eight of his 21 points on an array of post moves in the final 2:24, overcoming a season-best performance from Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds. The Mavs caught some breaks,  a crucial no-call on Jason Terry during an Andre Miller drive swung momentum late and some poor clock management and slow fouling from the Blazers made the endgame easier for Dallas.  Another key against the Blazers, and a major x-factor in assessing the Mavericks' legitimacy as a title contender, was the play of Caron Butler. He was very effective, especially going to the basket, and his solid all-around night -- 23 points, seven rebonds and four assists -- helped provide the winning margin. His production on the year is still below his career numbers, but the total output is less important than the fit. If Dallas has things clicking and Butler is able to provide an auxiliary offensive threat alongside Nowitzki, this team will be an extremely tough out come playoff time.  The Mavericks are 20-5 on the season, and NBA.com notes that is the second best 25-game stretch in franchise history. The Western Conference -- with Dallas, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers all off to solid starts -- is shaping up to be a familiar three horse race.


Paul Pierce: 32 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a game-winner in 41 minutes in a Boston Celtics road win over the New York Knicks. Amar'e Stoudemire: 39 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks in 42 minutes in a New York Knicks home loss to the Boston Celtics. Carlos Boozer: 34 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block in 26 minutes in a Chicago Bulls road win over the Toronto Raptors. Blake Griffin: 20 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block in 39 minutes in a Los Angeles Clippers road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Steve Nash: 11 points, 19 assists, two rebounds in 31 minutes in a Phoenix Suns home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.



The Phoenix Suns survived a crazy game with the Minnesota Timberwolves in Arizona on Wednesday night, cashing in 15 three-pointers on their way to a 128-122 victory. Check out this great shot of guard Jared Dudley, who nailed three treys himself, making it rain cheers. jared-dudley


The Denver television station that reported on Tuesday night Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony had been traded to the New Jersey Nets ridiculously "stood by its story" Wednesday, prompting CBSSports.com's Ken Berger to set them straight.  On Wednesday night, the station's sports reporter Lionel Bienvenu admitted on Twitter that the station hadn't gotten it right. "We jumped the gun with a tweet that wasn't worded correctly. we never reported the trade was done. just the tweet," Bienvenu tweeted.  As any media professional should know, a good chunk of NBA breaking news is, in fact, reported on Twitter. That imaginary barrier was crossed years ago. To attempt to distinguish between a report on television and a report on Twitter is ridiculous. At this point, we should expect nothing less.  


Via Twitter superstar Jose3030 and SB Nation, comes this hypnotizing graphic of Boston Celtics guard Nate Robinson celebrating Paul Pierce's game-winner. Robinson leaps in the air not once but twice, and then comes crashing back to Earth in painful fashion. nate-rob


In case you missed it, there was an epic finish in New York between the Knicks and Celtics. Paul Pierce didn't hit the only game-winner Wednesday night, as San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili took a break from seeing UFOs to down the Milwaukee Bucks.  But did he travel? Watch the video from letreeman on YouTube and decide for yourself. Rob Mahoney investigates the "Was it a travel?" question here.


The Miami Heat won again, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-95 on Wednesday, to extend their winning streak to 10 consecutive games. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 65 points, 23 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and a block. Good lord.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 12:22 pm

The Game Changer: Denver runs away late

Posted by Royce Young

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.


There are nights, where the Denver Nuggets look like one of the two or three best teams in the West. Unfortunately for the Magic, this was one of those nights.

The Nuggets can explode on you with offense in bunches, but what won them this game was quality defense down the stretch. Orlando couldn't score and on the flip side, couldn't stop Denver.

With six minutes left, it was a one-point edge for the Nuggets and it looked like we were going to have a tight finish. Instead, Denver closed the game on a 19-3 run and completely bullied the Magic.

Playing without Chauncey Billups, George Karl got creative with his lineups, using a combination Anthony Carter, J.R. Smith, Arron Afflalo, Carmelo Anthony and Nene down the stretch. He mixed a number of small-ball lineups in against the Magic, playing Carmelo at power forward for a lot of the night. Which meant Carmelo had Rashard Lewis on him, which then meant Carmelo abused the Magic's four-man. Melo finished with 35 points and pretty much took over in the second half.

But for the Magic it was really more of the same. Late in the game, each offensive possession was almost hard to watch. The Magic ran three things: 1) Jameer Nelson dribble up and after zero passes, 3-point shot. 2) Dump down to Howard, Nuggets double, Howard forces shot. And 3) 15 passes around the perimeter with no one making any progress at the basket, eventually ending the possession with a contested jumper.

When pushed, Orlando just doesn't know what to do offensively late. The first three quarters was all about the sharp ball movement, quick shots and most importantly, making shots. In the fourth, the Nuggets were the ones doing that.

I imagine Stan Van Gundy is going to yell loudly at his team more about their porous defense down the stretch more than their offense. Both were an issue for them, but it didn't help things playing a loaded offensive team like the Nuggets. Denver got it rolling late and the Magic just didn't have the guns to keep up.


Monta Ellis went all 48 minutes for the Warriors in their 108-99 win over the Timberwolves. Ellis dropped 34 points on 13-24 shooting, dished out six assists and grabbed four rebounds.

Carmelo Anthony dropped 35 on the Magic, hitting 14-21 from the field while also grabbing 11 rebounds. A gold star for him indeed. Plus, he almost got traded!

J.J. Redick was a bright spot for the Magic, scoring 29 points on 9-12 shooting.

Charlie Villanueva had 23 points, 11 rebounds and a +29 for the Pistons.

Kris Humphries in a loss: 1-10 from the field, two points, 13 rebounds in 21 minutes. I can't decide if that's good or bad.


Andrew Bynum is back and his return was... normal. About what you might expect from a guy playing in his first game after knee surgery. Seventeen minutes, seven points (1-5 from the field), four rebounds and two blocks for the Laker big man. Nothing special, but certainly reason to be encouraged. Especially because Pau Gasol only played 31 minutes, something Bynum is really going to help get under control.

Bynum didn't have to factor in that much for the Lakers though as they cruised past the John Wall-less Wizards 103-89. And that was with only scoring 11 points the fourth quarter. One semi-crazy stat from the game though: The Wizards pulled in 19 offensive boards and had 16 more attempts than the Lakers. Obviously they didn't take advantage of those extra possessions, but something to note regardless.


Led by a bench that had plus/minuses of +29, +25, +23 and +20, the Detroit Pistons absolutely walloped the Atlanta Hawks. How in the heck did that happen?

Villanueva led things with 23 points and Tracy McGrady finally did something, throwing up 16 points in 26 minutes. The Piston bench outscored the Hawks second unit 46-14.

After the Hawks outscored Detroit by nine in the third, the game was close heading to the fourth with the Pistons only up three. But the Hawks imploded in the fourth. The Pistons took the quarter 39-19 and punctuated the victory with a buzzer-beating 3 from Villanueva to win by 23.


Three things I love about this dunk: 1) The way DeRozan cocks his arm back just a little farther than usual to add a little extra umph to it; 2) Solomon Alabi's completely weird reaction to it as he stands there making  face while smacking his gum and 3) the gratuitous shot of Michael Jordan after it.


The 76ers beat the Nets 82-77, snapping an eight-game road losing streak. But here's something interesting about the 9-15 Sixers: They have a positive point differential of 0.5. The Rockets are the only other losing team that has a positive point differential.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 11:31 am

The Game Changer: Chicago keeps clamping down

Posted by Royce Young

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.


Let's go over a few stats from the Pacers-Bulls game. Indiana's field goal percentage: 35.7. Indiana's turnovers: 15. Indiana's points by quarter: 18, 23, 17, 15. Indiana's total points: 73.

The lesson here we're learning is, it's not easy to score on the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls have won six straight and during that stretch are only allowing 88.0 points per game, and that's including an overtime win over the Rockets where Chicago gave up 116. In the last five wins, the Bulls are just allowing 82.4 points a game. Consider this: In games that ended in regulation, the Bulls have only allowed 100 points four times in their 23 games. And people didn't think Tom Thibodeau could transform the Bulls.

What makes the Bulls so incredible on the defensive end is their ability to help defend everywhere. Nothing ever goes uncontested. If the other team is taking a shot, you can count on a hand being in their face. The Bulls rotate as well as anyone, stuff the lane and force opponents to try and beat them with jumpshots. It's the classic Boston Celtic defense that Thibodeau became known for. And it's making the Bulls one of the premier teams in the East.

Since Carlos Boozer has joined the team after his injury, the Bulls are 6-1 with the one loss being to the Celtics in Boozers first game. Chicago is placing itself in the elite tier in the East and priming itself as a contender to the Magic, Heat and Celtics.


Zach Randolph gets the gold star as he Grizzly big man went for 25 points and 20 rebounds in a winning effort over the Blazers.

Dwyane Wade
gets a mention with 32 points on only 13 shots. Plus he added five rebounds just for fun.

Carlos Boozer continues to come around as he had 22 points and 18 rebounds for the Bulls in their domination of the Pacers.

Deron Williams and the Jazz cruised past the Warriors as Williams had 30 points on 8-16 shooting and 10 assists.


The Heat made it nine straight with a cruising 96-84 over the Hornets Monday night. And once again, Miami impressed. New Orleans was just overwhelmed by the Heat. Miami went on an 18-2 run late and completely took over the game. It just didn't seem like the Hornets could do anything to fix the Heat's run. Once Miami flipped the switch, it just felt like the game was over.

Here's what's most impressive about the Heat's winning streak. Every single game has come by double-digits. The last team to do that? LeBron's 2008-09 Cavs. In fact, the Heat are now just one off the record shared by five teams.

On top of that, all nine the Heat have held their opponent under 100 points. Against the Hornets, Miami gave up just 30 after the half and only nine points in the fourth quarter. Nine points for the Hornets in the last 12 minutes. That's just... insane.

Not to take anything away from the Heat's dominance, but what the crap is wrong with the Hornets and Chris Paul ? CP3 has completely disappeared down the stretch in games. He's not asserting himself into the offense and is completely drifting. As Paul goes, so does David West , Emeka Okafor and everyone else. Paul is fizzling late and it's killing the Hornets.

For more analysis on the Heat and Hornets, click here.


No, he didn't jump over it. That hasn't happened, yet. But with the shot clock bearing down on him, LeBron got creative as he was forced deep on the baseline. He had a horrible angle on the rim, so naturally, LeBron improvised and shot the ball over the backboard. And of course, it went in.


The Mavericks winning streak is over at 12. Matt Moore with some thoughts:
Milwaukee badly needed the win, their third in a row, and needed to get their offense going. With both Jennings and Andrew Bogut scoring 20-plus and the Bucks dropping in a 114 efficiency mark, it's at least a step forward for the worst offense in the NBA. The loss will also do nothing to dispel the notion that Dallas still lacks the defensive acumen to compete in the playoffs. In truth, Dallas had the fifth best defense in the NBA coming into tonight. Just one of those nights, across the board, and an end to the win streak. During the streak, Dallas outscored its opponents by an average of just under nine points per game.


You've probably heard all about how serious David Lee's elbow injury was. And if you're like me, when you heard, "He could've lost his arm!" you thought, "I'm sure it was bad, but really? Because of a tooth?" But when you see what it actually looks like, it might make you think otherwise. Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group took a picture of it. Yeah, I'd say David Lee had a pretty significant injury.

Lee injured the elbow when Wilson Chandler's face basically assaulted his elbow. Chander ended up breaking off a tooth in the collison and Lee had to have surgery because of an infection that followed. Lee's been wearing a pad to cover the, uh, cut, but obviously it's not a comfortable thing to play through.


The Grizzlies have quietly won three straight to get back to within striking distance of .500. The wins aren't the most impressive (Clippers, Suns, Blazers), but Memphis is at least playing better. The defensive domination over the Blazers Monday night is something for the Grizz to feel good about and with two more winnable games before heading to San Antonio, Memphis could stretch this out a little further.
Posted on: December 13, 2010 9:11 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:33 pm

The Game Changer: Amar'e owns the Big Apple

The Knicks triumph over Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets, Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs reaches a milestone, the Oklahoma City Thunder get highlights from their players and a fan during a blowout win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, and plenty more. Posted by Ben Golliver

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.


After Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets finished their date with the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden, it felt like, maybe, the tables have finally turned for the home team.  The Knicks narrowly prevailed in a shootout, 129-125, but they won the war of the words after the game by a landslide, when it became known that Anthony has his heart set on joining MVP candidate Amar'e Stoudemire in making New York his next basketball home. For the Knicks, it must feel like a quick reversal: so much winning so soon -- they have taken nine of their last 10 games -- and a new role as hot spot rather than also-ran suitor of top talent.  The 16-9 start for New York, which has them just four games behind conference-leading Boston, may have Knicks fans reevaluating their "get stars at any cost" strategy. A bird in hand (especially one that wins and plays exciting basketball) can be worth more than 'Melo and CP3 in a bush next year, with a potential lockout making it difficult for teams like the Knicks to bank on anything in the long-term future.  Now that it is clear that Anthony wants New York, it is negotiation time. How much of their current roster and future assets will the Knicks feel comfortable parting with? Names like Wilson Chandler, Danilo Galinari and Landry Fields are often tossed around, and while each presents reasons for Knicks fans to want to keep them around, this is a great example of how outside eyes are able to more clearly evaluate players' worth. The Knicks should feel no hesitation in trading any of those players for Anthony, and that includes Fields, the steal of the 2010 draft and one of the best values in the NBA. Hot streaks have the tendency of making the players involved look better than they are over the long haul, and 82 games of Stoudemire and Anthony makes New York a more fearsome, dynamic team, not to mention a force in the playoffs, as both players can parade to the free throw line. Falling in love with role players (Landry Fields is untouchable!) and counting eggs before they hatch (we'll just sign Carmelo this summer!) are two of the easiest ways to lose sight of the big picture when it comes to roster building. Do what it takes to secure Anthony now, and then get to work on filling in the smaller holes that a trade for him would create.


Raymond Felton: 19 points, 17 assists, three rebounds on 7-15 shooting in 45 minutes in a New York Knicks home win over the Denver Nuggets. Carmelo Anthony: 31 points, 13 rebounds, three assists on 11-27 shooting in 37 minutes in a Denver Nuggets road loss to the New York Knicks. Devin Harris: 16 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists in 37 minutes in a New Jersey Nets home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Blake Griffin: 27 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block in 42 minutes in a Los Angeles Clippers home loss to the Orlando Magic.



The San Antonio Spurs rolled off a methodical dismantling of the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, pulling away for an easy 95-78 home win. There wasn't much unusual about the event: the Spurs played tight, aggressive defense and they moved the ball well, supplementing their team-first attack with some points in transition. It was so thorough a victory that the Spurs were able to rest franchise big man Tim Duncan late, a nice cherry on top of San Antonio's league-leading 20th victory of the season. Duncan hit a milestone on Sunday, playing in the 1,000th regular season game. And in quotes from MySanAntonio.com, he sounds a bit wistful in his old age when he was made aware of the feat. “I would rather not be told that," Duncan was quoted as saying. "I’ve played for a long time and I’m getting really old. I wish I’d only played 10 (games) and still have 1,000 more in front of me.” The rest of the league shudders at the thought of Duncan playing another 1,000 games, given that he won 707 of his first 1,000 games, an astonishing total. While his production has declined ever so slightly in recent years owing to fewer minutes -- this could be the first year of his career that Duncan doesn't average a double-double and he's averaging a career-low 28.8 minutes pr game -- the wins continue to pile up. The Spurs are shaping up to be a serious contender, health permitting.  Not bad for a team lead by a really old guy.


New York Knicks superfan Spike Lee is the happiest man in the world: the Knicks are winning, Carmelo Anthony wants in and MSG is rocking like the good old days. spike-lee


Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden catches Cleveland Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson about as flush as it gets. Harden throws down a vicious left-handed dunk right on Harden's head in transition, earning the and-one in the process and causing teammate Russell Westbrook to geek out on the sideline.


Oklahoma City Thunder fan Robert Yanders hit the shot of the weekend, nailing a halfcourt heave between the first and second quarters of OKC's Sunday win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to win $20,000. Turns out Yanders is a bit of a ringer, but still an amazing shot.


Former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen is the only NBA player to win more games in his first 1,000 than Duncan. Pippen won 715, barely besting Duncan's 707. Via MySanAntonio.com.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 11:25 am
Edited on: December 10, 2010 11:52 am

The Game Changer: Orlando missing some magic

Posted by Royce Young

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 Blazers locked down on the Magic, winning a defensive scrum 97-83, with the Magic scoring just 34 second half points. It's probably the best win (and most needed) win for Portland and a loss for Orlando that showcased a few issues.

Two main points that were highlighted really well in this game:

1) The Blazers can defend with the best of them. I think one of the most beautiful things to watch is Portland playing at home with a late lead. It's like watching the Pittsburgh Steelers milk a lead. The Blazers run the ball, take each possession seriously, but aren't afraid to punt. Portland is so ridiculously disciplined and every player understands the importance of never giving ground and never letting their man beat them.

One possession sticks out to me. The Magic had the ball on the left wing, with Jameer Nelson trying to feed Rashard Lewis in the post with the smaller Wesley Matthews guarding. Matthews of course is giving around five inches on Lewis. But not only could Nelson not get a clear entry look at Lewis, Matthews also had Lewis pushed all the way out near the 3-point line. There's just this, "I'm not going to let you score on me" mentality there.

2) The Magic need another scorer badly.
Not to take anything away from the Blazers' defensive discipline and keep in mind most of the Magic roster is still battling a bit of the flu, but all of this was really aided by the fact the Magic can turn into a painfully one-dimensional team. The Blazers made a lot of that happen by taking away the drive and kick and forcing Orlando to work 20 seconds on the offensive end.

Portland was content letting Howard do his work in the post, rarely sending a double to help. Howard played really, really well but it's clear he's not the early decade Shaq. Early Decade Shaq would've had 50 in a game like this. His team could've just fed the post every time and relied on him to score. Howard doesn't have that ability. But then again, we're talking about Shaq, one of the three best centers ever.

Howard scored 26 points in the first half and finished with a season-high 39, but finished the game 2-8 from the field. Again, Portland let Howard do his work early and that led to a big Magic lead, but later in the game when things tightened up, Orlando just didn't have a clear option. The Magic went almost seven minutes in the fourth quarter without a field goal.

And the thing is, Orlando was determined to get the ball into Howard and his new and improved post game. But that meant they bypassed their bread and butter pick and roll. Again, Howard's not a consistent post scorer (yet). So there has to be an option for him to kick out to when things get shut down. Orlando can get away with this stuff against mediocre defenses, but against a group like the Blazers, everything gets exposed.

So again, it comes back to the help Howard needs. Vince Carter, Nelson, J.J. Redick -- someone -- had to step up and be able to score 10 fourth quarter points. 2008 Hedo Turkoglu was that guy for Orlando. Instead, the Magic suffered as their possessions were strung out, most of the time ending up with a long, contested jumper or a forced shot in the post. The next high scorer beside Howard was Lewis with 11. I think that says things well.

Is Gilbert Arenas the answer? Maybe. But at one point the TNT crew had Magic general manager Otis Smith standing, watching his unit toil away with yet another empty possession. And Smith had to be thinking about getting Howard some help. Clearly the team is an upper tier squad. They'll win 50 games in their sleep. But to win a title, they need help. It's going to be a risk, but it might be worth it for the potential reward.


Dwight Howard gets the gold star for the night with a season-high 39 points on 13-20 shooting, but more impressive was his 13-18 effort from the free throw line. Oh, and of course he added 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Runner-up: Rajon Rondo had another Rondo night with 19 points and 14 assists.

J.J. Barea gets a mention with 13 assists in just 27 minutes.


The Celtics and 76ers traded go-ahead buckets with under a minute left in really one of the most fun games of the season so far. And with the Sixers leading 101-100 with 6.6 seconds left, Boston called its last timeout and Doc Rivers went to drawing up a play.

I think everyone assumed it would be an isolation for Paul Pierce where he gets to the elbow for a game-winner. Instead, Pierce was decoyed in a faux pick and pop, while Rondo dished to Kevin Garnett for a game-winning layup.

After watching the play about 15 times, I still can't decide if that was just Rondo audibling out of the original play or if that was the way Rivers drew it up.

But the key is how Garnett shows a screen as Pierce comes for another on the other side. The Sixers likely anticipate the ball going to Pierce so Jrue Holliday switches to Garnett immediately. Rondo sees the mis-match and lobs the ball beautifully to Garnett for the winner. A lot of it was a nice design, some was poor decisions by Thaddeus Young and Holliday, but most of it was a great play by Rondo. 


The Mavericks took their winning streak to 11 games with a 102-89 take-care-of-business style home win over the Nets. Really, it was about as formulaic a game as you'd expect between an 18-4 team and a 6-17 team.

The Mavs led 30-19 after one and really just kind of played like a bully keeping the smaller kid at arms length. The Nets would edge back in the game and then Dirk Nowitzki would hit a jumper. Or Jason Kidd would hit a 3. Or the Nets would go five minutes without a field goal.

What's so impressive about the Mavs right now is that it almost seems easy. Dirk led them with 21, but it was on 8-10 shooting. After that, it was Shawn Marion with 18 off the bench, Jason Terry and Caron Butler with 15 apiece and then everyone else was in single-digits. But all 10 plays that played scored.


On the wrong end of Garnett's game-winner though was a dejected, heartbroken Sixers team that really fought hard in a losing effort. Philly coach Doug Collins after the loss: "It's like a kick in the gut." The Sixers are now 1-11 in games decided by less than 10 points.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com