Breakfast Special: Detroit’s New Old-Fashioned Twin Towers

Blake Griffin had 24 points powered mainly by his 11-of-13 night at the free throw line. His frontcourt mate, Andre Drummond, put up 14 points and 15 boards, and Marc Gasol happily obliged the home crowd by shooting just 6-of-21.

Despite Gasol’s 19 points and 14 rebounds, that inefficiency was the tipping point of Detroit’s 104-102 win.

But you came here for highlights, and Blake had his share of moments, including a gaffe where he didn’t have his jersey on under his warmups.

Your man of the match:

The Spurs: Third in a Two-Horse Race

Golden State and Houston are the class of the Western Conference, your likely conference finals combatants, and whichever one of them wins that series for the ages will probably march straight to the title, their Eastern Conference foe a mere roadblock.

So of course the Rockets went into San Antonio and demolished the Spurs 102-91, getting 28 points and 11 assists from James Harden in the process, who followed up a 60-point triple-double with a solid-efficiency game as he shot 10-of-20 from the field including 5-of-12 from long range.

Speaking of efficiency, the Rockets turned the ball over just nine times compared to 16 for the Spurs; Harden, oft-ridiculed in this space for his ball handling, committed just two giveaways.

Meanwhile, LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points on 8-of-15 shooting, all those shots coming from two-point range without LMA attempting a single free throw.

Put another way, when a throwback player meets a modern offense, even when he shoots the ball well, he scores poorly. 16 points on 15 shots just doesn’t cut it against the Rockets, who as a team scored their 102 on 83 shots.

Harden is, of course, the man of the match:

Thunder Can’t Win For Trying In Denver

Paul George had 43 points on 19-of-26 shooting, a 73.1 percent clip. Russell Westbrook had 20 points and 21 assists.

Oklahoma City still lost, as the Nuggets held home court and held the 8 spot out West with a 127-124 win.

How, you ask?

Well, Jamal Murray had 33, Nikola Jokic 29 (as part of a triple-double with 13 boards and 14 assists), and Gary Harris 25 points as the three men combined not only to score an astonishing 87 points but to do it on 34-of-57 (59.6 percent), and the rest of the team was just good enough (16-of-40; 40 percent) to finish the job.

Westbrook was 7-of-18, the Thunder hit just 9-of-28 from three against Denver’s 15-of-38, and the Nuggets grabbed four extra rebounds to offset their four extra turnovers, essentially correlating every miscue with a defensive stop at some other point.

In other words, a classic nail-biter that ultimately came down to one team just hitting its three-balls a little better than the other one, and a single such shot proving the margin.

But hey, how about Murray’s 33…

…and Harris’ fantastic game-winner to beat the buzzer and avoid the overtime:

While, let’s face it, if you missed this on TNT, you missed a lot:

Bucks Fall At Last

It took awhile, but someone finally stopped Milwaukee’s budding winning streak at four since the Jason Kidd firing.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points and 15 rebounds, but the Bucks’ offense was MIA, shooting just 37.6 percent in a 108-89 smackdown in Minnesota.

The Timberwolves, meanwhile, shot 53.8 percent. Jimmy Butler had 28 points; Karl-Anthony Towns had 24. Eight Wolves players had at least seven points despite only the two guys mentioned even reaching double figures.

Sometimes basketball is really as simple as “make your shots and don’t let the other team’s best guys beat you.”

Man of the match? How about men of the match?

Wiz Kids

The Wizards have been on the wrong side of some truly awful losses, so it’s easy to forget that they’re actually 29-22, tied with Miami for fourth in the East, just half a game back of Cleveland for third, and playing surprisingly good basketball despite John Wall‘s inability to stay healthy.

They own the East’s third-best point differential too, and they knocked off the leader in that stat, the Toronto Raptors, 122-119 behind 27 points from Bradley Beal and a super-sized Total Team Effort that saw eight guys in double figures.

Toronto shot the ball very well, going 44-of-83 from the field, but the Wiz just matched them by going 44-of-85.

The difference in the game? Free throws. Washington was 24-of-26; Toronto was 19-of-24. That was enough to overcome a 12-10 advantage in made threes by the Raptors and seal the three-point win.

Beal caught fire in the second half, and it was goodbye to the seven-point halftime deficit once he embarked on scoring 25 of his 27 after the major break:

And Finally…

“Friday on Pace and Space means Shaqtin’ a Fool.” – Captain Obvious (probably)

Sit down, Number 3. Just…sit down.

Happy weekend, thanks for reading, you all rock, and on this Groundhog Day…I got you, babe.