The NBA: Day of the Underdogs

Tracy McGrady was his old reliable self as the
Hawks sent the Heat reeling to their first loss.

*All images are from the Associated Press.

A good day and a bad day. Good because the Heat are no longer undefeated. We have the Hawks to thank for that. And T-Mac! Oh how good was he in the fourth?! And to think they did it in Miami’s crib? Awesome. But it’s a bad day because the Thunder lost, too. Stings less since the Mavs inflicted the damage, but OKC squandered a chance at the best record in the league so far. Five guys finished in twin digits for the Mavs, which might mean the champs are finally figuring things out in Texas. Orlando fell victim to the underdog bug, too, losing to the Pistons as Big D graduated with 6 fouls late in the fourth. Toronto also crashed the upset party, sparing no energy in beating the Knicks in MSG, despite Melo’s huge game. But the Spurs probably got the worst deal of the day, losing to Minnesota to fall to 3-2, but also, and perhaps more importantly, losing Manu Ginobili due to a broken shooting hand. RJ and Kawhi Leonard will look to shoot more, which may not be a good thing. Looks like the Celts and Nuggets were the only ones who lived up to their billing. Boston is on a 3-game winning run, while the Nuggets have back-to-back wins after the heartbreaker to the Lakers.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

PHX over GSW, 102-91 – Suns tie their victims at 2-3 with their first home win.
BOS over WAS, 100-92 – Ray Allen shoots the lights out as Celts repeat over Washington. Boston is 3-0 since Pierce’s return.
ATL over MIA, 100-92 – T-Mac turns back the clock in a big fourth quarter as Hawks hand the Heat their first defeat.
DET over ORL, 89-78 – Ben Gordon waxes hot and the Pistons exploit Howard fouling out to give Orlando its second loss.
IND over NJN, 108-94 – Pacers tie the Bulls atop the Central Division thanks to Paul George’s hot hand.
TOR over NYK, 90-85 – Raptors take advantage of Stoudemire’s absence and tie the Knicks at 2-3.
MIN over SAS, 106-96 – Double black eye for the Spurs as Manu breaks his shooting hand. Out indefinitely. 
DAL over OKC, 100-87 – Mavs still feeling their way thru the young season, but they looked mighty fine in giving the Thunder loss #1.
UTA over NOH, 94-90 – Al Jefferson had another strong game to power the Jazz, who are now 2-0 at home.
DEN over MIL, 91-86 – Nuggets clamp down on defense in the fourth to deny the Bucks of a big upset. Gallo posts his first double-double of the season.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Carmelo Anthony (NYK) – 35
LeBron James (MIA) & Andray Blatche (WAS) – 28
Jarett Jack (NOH), Ray Allen (BOS) & Kevin Durant (OKC) - 27

Melo's monster numbers of 35 points and 11 boards
weren't enough to get past the Raptors.

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Kevin Love (MIN) – 15
Javale McGee (WAS) – 14
Carmelo Anthony (NYK) & Jonas Jerebko (DET) - 11

DaJuan Blair witnesses one of Kevin Love's 15 rebounds.

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 13
Jose Calderon (TOR) – 12
Jarett Jack (NOH) & Monta Ellis (GSW) – 11
Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 10

Rajon Rondo delivered 13 assists against Andray Blatche
and the Wizards.

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Dwight Howard (ORL) & Ben Wallace (DET) – 5
Jeff Teague (ATL) – 4

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Johan Petro (NJN) & Amir Johnson (TOR) – 4
Javale McGee (WAS), Andrew Bogut (MIL) & Shelden Williams (NJN) – 3

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Ray Allen (BOS) – 6
Paul George (IND) – 5

Jan. 2, 2012 First Five
C – Andray Blatche (WAS) – 28pts, 9rebs, 2stls, 2blks & 1ast
F – Kevin Love (MIN) – 24pts, 15rebs, 4 triples, 3stls, 2blks & 1ast
F – Carmelo Anthony (NYK) – 35pts, 11rebs, 4asts, 4 triples & 1stl
G – LeBron James (MIA) – 28pts, 7rebs & 6asts
G – Jarett Jack (NOH) – 27pts, 11asts, 5rebs, 2blks & 1stl

Jarrett Jack has been putting up impressive digits
as Eric Gordon remains in sick bay.

Honorable Mention:
Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 26pts, 6rebs, 3assts & 2stls
Javale McGee (WAS) – 17pts, 14rebs, 3blks & 1stl
Steve Nash (PHX) – 21pts, 9asts & 2stls

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

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