With the NBA regular season in full swing, teams are looking to establish themselves as top dog in their respective divisions and conferences. Here are the results from last night’s contests as well as a preview of a few of today’s hardcourt battles.
Chicago Bulls 99 – Orlando Magic 93
The Orlando Magic had enjoyed two consecutive wins and a lead for three quarters Tuesday night against the Bulls, but Chicago’s resilience aided them in a fourth quarter comeback as they picked up their third win of the season. The Bulls improved to 3-1 on the young season while the Magic dropped to 2-1.
Chicago got great performances out of Joakim Noah, who scored 20 points and nabbed nine rebounds, and Luol Deng, who added 23 points, 15 of which came in the second half when the Bulls started to charge. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler also made big contributions off the bench to sustain the second half run.
“The guys we had in, Taj and Jimmy, gave us a big lift,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said via ESPN.com. “Nate (Robinson) also was really good out there. I thought in the second half, we played a lot harder.”
The Bulls will get the night off tonight, as the Magic will look to bounce back on the road against the Timberwolves. The Magic have played well without Dwight Howard so far this season and I like them to cover +6.5 points on the road against a Minnesota team without Ricky Rubio or Kevin Love.
Oklahoma City Thunder 108 – Toronto Raptors 88
The Thunder took advantage of the struggling Raptors Tuesday, beating them in a 30-point rout. Improving to 2-2 on the season, Oklahoma City has also failed to find a rhythm, so coach Scott Brooks was thrilled to see his starting five get on the same page, offensively and defensively.
“I thought the start was a big part of our win tonight,” Brooks said. “We’ve talked about this the last few days. We’re just starting to get in a defensive mindset.”
The offense also thrived for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook dropped in 19 points and Serge Ibaka added 17 of his own, while Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin also hit double figures with 15 points a piece.
The Thunder get a day of rest today, while the Raptors are back in action on the road against the Mavericks. Dallas has played well without the services of Dirk Nowitzki, so don’t expect the Raptors to pull the upset today.
Denver Nuggets 109 – Detroit Pistons 97
The Nuggets and the Pistons both came into Tuesday’s matchup without a win, but Denver ultimately prevailed, backed by strong performances from Andre Iguodala and Ty Lawson, who scored 17 and 15 points respectively.
“He was a presence everywhere, on every part of the court,” Danilo Gallinari said of Iguodala. “He’s great for us when he plays like that.”
Even in a loss, the Pistons got a solid effort from Greg Monroe, who scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Monroe also noted the positives in the loss.
“We showed a lot of fight,” Monroe said. “We have to push through. At that point, three minutes left, seven-point game, that’s definitely a winnable game. We have to find a way to win tight games like that.”
The Pistons will look to build off their last effort tonight on the road against the Kings. If they play like they did last night, I think they can pull it off, but look for the Kings to be slight favorites tonight.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets will try to make it two in a row against Houston. Unfortunately for them, the Rockets are playing extremely inspired ball and should be favored tonight as well. Look for the Rockets and new acquisition James Harden to stay hot.