Pistons vs. Spurs (8pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
The Detroit Pistons are riding high, having won their last four, including victories over the top two teams in the East: Cleveland and Toronto. The Piston’s victory Sunday over the Raptors was a team effort as all five starters scored at least 14 with Andre Drummond posting 15-18. The recent winning streak has lifted Detroit to 31-29, and nudged them from ninth place to a tie for seventh in the East.
Since opening the second half of the season with a loss to the Clippers, the Spurs have regained their footing by winning five in a row. Saturday’s victim was the Houston Rockets, who lost 104-94. In a game that saw the Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge go 26-16, Kawhi Leonard drop 27 to go along with eight assists, and Tim Duncan move into sixth place all time in rebounds as well as become just the fifth player ever to record 3,000 blocks. Frankly, it wasn’t close as the Spurs jumped out to a 26-11 lead in the first and coasted home with Houston only inching closer in a largely perfunctory fourth quarter. The Spurs are now 50-9 – it’s their 17th consecutive 50-win season, a streak broken only by the ‘98-’99 strike. Manu Ginobili remains sidelined following emergency groin surgery.
Thunder vs. Clippers (10:30pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
There was little hope Monday for the Sacramento Kings, who ran into the Thunder on a night when Russell Westbrook dropped his ninth triple-double of the season (20-13-15), Kevin Durant posted a ho-hum-for-him 27-10-6, and subs Enes Kantner and Dion Waters combined to make 19 of 22 for 45 points. The win was badly needed, making the Thunder 2-4 since the All-Star break as the team had the misfortune of meeting Golden State and Cleveland within a span of seven days. The Thunder are now 42-18 and maintain their hold on third place in the West.
The Clippers worked harder than should’ve been necessary on Monday in dispensing with the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn actually led the game late in the third quarter before remembering they were a lottery team and getting outscored by 17 during an eight-minute stretch on the way to a 105-95 defeat. The Clippers’ star guard Chris Paul scored 23 points to go along with 13 assists, but it was Jamal Crawford who was the hero of the night, scoring 26 on 10-of-17 shooting coming off the bench. The biggest ovation of the night was probably for Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, who promised everyone in attendance a free pair of Chucks if he managed to make a trampoline-aided dunk.
Crawford’s contributions were particularly huge on a night when forward Luc Mbah a Moute, starting in place of Blake Griffin, had to leave early with a cut near his left eye. Mbah is questionable for tonight’s game.