The NBA: The Best Players and Teams of December 2012

As we start the first month of the new year, let’s look at which teams and players performed well enough to merit top honors. This is the second in a series of “Best of the Month” citations based on the Efficiency Recap ratings on Team citations will be based on Efficiency Recap Difference (Team Efficiency – Opponents’ Efficiency), while Player citations will be based on Player Efficiency and his team’s Efficiency ranking. You can check out the Stats Glossary here.

Team Citations:

Best Backcourt: Los Angeles Clippers – 45.1ppg, 9.0rpg, 16.8apg, 5.8spg, +21.0 DEFF
With Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe, and Willie Green all playing as well as they have, the Clippers continued to have the best backcourt in the NBA. Paul’s numbers have been consistently high, while Crawford’s are still plenty impressive despite the dip in his FG%.

Best Frontcourt: Oklahoma City Thunder – 59.3ppg, 31.5rpg, 6.8apg, 3.8spg, 6.2bpg, 51.4 FG%, +15.6 DEFF
With Kevin Durant becoming a borderline triple-double threat, Serge Ibaka norming a near-double-double, and guys like Nick Collison and Kendrick Perkins producing solid support, the Thunder possessed the best frontline this past December.

Best Bench: Los Angeles Clippers – 45.2ppg, 19.8rpg, 11.0apg, 5.1spg, 4.2bpg, +21.3 DEFF
The LA Clippers have Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and Lamar Odom coming off the bench. And they still have Chauncey Billups waiting in the wings, too. Coach Vinny Del Negro has incredible depth, and he has used it to the hilt.

Best Starters: Miami Heat - 75.5ppg, 25.5rpg, 16.6apg, 5.6spg, 2.9bpg, 52.4 FG%, +24.4 DEFF
There’s really no big surprise here, since LBJ and Wade upped their stats compared to December, softening the dip in the production of Chris Bosh and the continued inconsistency of Mario Chalmers.

Best East Team: Miami Heat – 101.4ppg, 38.3rpg, 21.8apg, 8.5spg, 4.7bpg, +11.5 DEFF
Miami wrested the top spot in the East from the New York teams by, well, being their usual dominant selves. I mean, hardly anyone from the East can beat Miami with LBJ norming a near-triple-double, right?

Best West Team: Los Angeles Clippers – 104.9ppg, 43.3rpg, 25.4apg, 11.0spg, 6.2bpg, +33.9 DEFF
Undefeated in 16 December games. San Antonio was second in DEFF with a 27.3 rating, which was a staggering 6 points below the Clips’. In plain language, that just means nobody could touch the Clippers last month. NOBODY.

Blake Griffin and the Clippers flew over the entire league
this past December.
(image by Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Player Citations:

Best Point Guard: Tony Parker (SAS) – 21.1ppg, 3.3rpg, 7.4apg, 55.1 FG%, 45.0 3pt%, 87.1 FT%, 23.5 EFF
Not Chris Paul? Yes – NOT Chris Paul. Parker has been quietly having one of his personal best seasons. I don’t think he has enough public and media boost to warrant any inclusions in the MVP race, but his stats are still mighty eye-popping. 55% from the field? 45% from beyond the arc? 87% from the line? How do you defend this guy?!

Best Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 33.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 4.6apg, 1.4spg, 46.6 FG%, 27.9 EFF
Kobe is clearly pissed his Lakers are underachieving, so he did what he’s best known for – take over games on his own. The Lakers are still not as mighty as they should be, but it’s not exactly for Kobe’s lack of trying.

Best Small Forward: LeBron James (MIA) – 27.5ppg, 8.1rpg, 7.5apg, 2.0spg, 55.5 FG%, 40.0 3pt%, 32.7 EFF
LBJ unseats KD as best SF of the land with, again, near-triple-double averages. He looks like a beast, and he plays like one, too!

Best Power Forward: David Lee (GSW) – 22.6ppg, 11.2rpg, 3.4apg, 57.5 FG%, 85.9 FT%, 28.0 EFF
Lee should be an All-Star. Anything less would be a certified travesty. He’s posting awesome numbers, and the Warriors are shocking the world. Throw the friggin’ votes out the window.

Best Center: Tyson Chandler (NYK) - 13.8ppg, 11.7rpg, 1.3bpg, 67.2 FG%, 22.6 EFF
Another yeoman East center takes the Best Center citation by simply being an efficient and solid slotman. 67.2% from the floor while norming a double-double? Another guy who SHOULD be an All-Star.

Best East Rookie: Andre Drummond (DET) - 8.0ppg, 8.3rpg, 1.8bpg, 60.9 FG%, 15.0 EFF
With Greg Monroe’s numbers sinking in December, the onus was on Drummond to produce, and he was able to comply, albeit inconsistently. He won’t drop a ton of points, but he has proved to be a solid rebounder and shot-blocker. Theo Ratliff redux?

Andre Drummond stepped up his rebounding and defense in December.
(image by John Bazemore/AP)

Best West Rookie: Anthony Davis (NOH) – 14.0ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.2spg, 1.8bpg, 17.9 EFF
The top pick edges out Damian Lillard once again with his points, rebounds, and blocks combo. A couple more months like this and he SHOULD lock the ROY for good, unless Lillard leads a late Portland charge into the Playoffs.

Best East Player: LeBron James (MIA) – 27.5ppg, 8.1rpg, 7.5apg, 2.0spg, 55.5 FG%, 40.0 3pt%, 32.7 EFF
He’s still the best all-around talent the league has seen in the last decade, and he’s making a good case to be included among the all-time greats, too.

Best West Player: Kevin Durant (OKC) – 31.0ppg, 6.9rpg, 3.7apg, 1.4spg, 1.0bpg, 51.6 FG%, 41.7 3pt%, 30.7 EFF
KD is still not as all-around as LeBron, but he still remained sharp at what he does best – score. For a guy who shoots a lot of Js, those 31.0ppg and 51.6 FG% numbers are pretty amazing.

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
December 30
Final Score: LA Clippers 107, Utah 96
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Caron Butler poured in 29 points on a terrific shooting night, and the Los Angeles Clippers finished off a perfect December with a 107-96 victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. The triumph extended the current Western Conference front-runners’ franchise- record win streak to 17 consecutive games, with the Clippers also joining the 1971-72 Lakers and 1995-96 Spurs as the only teams in NBA history to go 16-0 in a single month. Butler led the way by going 10-of-14 from the field and an outstanding 6-for-6 from three-point range, with Chris Paul doing his part with a 19-point, nine-assist, five-steal effort and Jamal Crawford contributing another 19 points off the bench. Al Jefferson racked up 30 points – including 13 in the third quarter to help Utah make a bid for the upset – on 13-of-22 shooting, but the Jazz ultimately were dealt their third straight loss and seventh setback in nine outings. Gordon Hayward finished with 16 points in defeat.

Final Score: San Antonio 111, Dallas 86
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Tony Parker netted a game-high 21 points to go with nine assists and five rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs posted a wire-to- wire 111-86 victory over the intrastate rival Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at American Airlines Center. Manu Ginobili scored 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting with five assists and five boards, while Tim Duncan donated a double- double with 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who have won five straight games. Tiago Splitter added 13 points and Boris Diaw finished with 10 points in the victory. Darren Collison scored a team-high 18 points and handed out eight assists, while Elton Brand finished with 14 and 10 boards for Dallas, which lost for the sixth consecutive game. Chris Kaman and Vince Carter added 13 points apiece in the setback.

Final Score: Detroit 96, Milwaukee 94
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Tayshaun Prince scored 20 points and hit the go-ahead free throws with 10.9 seconds left as the Detroit Pistons edged the Milwaukee Bucks, 96-94, at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Greg Monroe posted 14 points and 10 rebounds and Jason Maxiell also recorded a double-double for Detroit, which squandered an 11-point advantage with 5 1/2 minutes left before rallying down the stretch for its fourth win in the last five games. Maxiell finished with 10 points and 10 boards. Monta Ellis poured in 30 points while dishing out nine assists in Milwaukee’s setback, which halted a two-game win streak that included a victory over reigning world champion Miami on Saturday. Ersan Ilyasova added 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, with 17 of his total coming in the second half.

Final Score: Sacramento 118, Boston 96
Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) – Isaiah Thomas netted a game-high 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting and handed out five assists as the Sacramento Kings thumped the Boston Celtics, 118-96, on Sunday at Sleep Train Arena. John Salmons contributed 23 points on 9-of-12 from the floor, while Jason Thompson donated 20 points and six rebounds for the Kings, who have won three of their last four. DeMarcus Cousins posted a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Jimmer Fredette and James Johnson finished with 10 points apiece in the victory. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry combined for 40 points, while Kevin Garnett added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Celtics, who have lost three straight by 18 points or more for the first time since the 1977-78 season. Jeff Green finished with 16 points in the loss.

December 31
Final Score: Charlotte 91, Chicago 81
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - The streak is finally over. Kemba Walker scored 18 points and the Charlotte Bobcats dominated the fourth quarter to end an 18-game losing skid with a 91-81 decision over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The Bobcats outscored the Bulls by a 26-16 margin in the final period to notch their first victory since a double-overtime road verdict over Washington on Nov. 24. The victory was also Charlotte's eighth of the season, surpassing their entire win total during a historically bad 7-59 campaign in 2011-12. Former Bull Ben Gordon netted six of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bobcats prevail, with Gerald Henderson contributing 16 points to the outcome. Carlos Boozer recorded 19 points and 14 rebounds for Chicago, but made just 7-of-18 field goal attempts. Luol Deng amassed 20 points and 12 boards in the loss, the Bulls' third in four games.

Final Score: Indiana 88, Memphis 83
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Paul George and D.J. Augustin each made four 3-pointers, helping the Indiana Pacers hold off the Memphis Grizzlies, 88-83. George ended with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Pacers, who improved to 10-3 at home this season. Augustin had 17 points and six assists. Zach Randolph tallied 21 points and 15 rebounds to pace the Grizzlies, who have lost three of four since a four-game winning streak. Marc Gasol donated 13 points and Tony Allen and Rudy Gay each added 11 points.

Final Score: Miami 112, Orlando 110 (OT)
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - LeBron James scored the go-ahead basket with 1:07 left in overtime, and Dwyane Wade came through with a game-sealing steal and dunk in the final seconds as the Miami Heat outlasted the Orlando Magic, 112-110, at Amway Center. James finished with 36 points, none bigger than his driving layup that snapped a 106-106 deadlock, and 11 assists. Chris Bosh added 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting to help the Heat bounce back from consecutive losses to Detroit and Milwaukee on its current road trip. Wade finished with 21 points despite a 3-for-10 performance from the foul line, but intercepted a telegraphed inbounds pass from the Magic's J.J. Redick with 9.8 seconds remaining in overtime and dunked home the dagger that sent Orlando to its sixth consecutive defeat. The Magic lost despite holding an 11-point lead late in the third quarter and a monster outing from Nikola Vucevic, who racked up 20 points and a franchise-record 29 rebounds. Arron Afflalo posted 28 points in the setback, while Redick made 9-of-13 shots -- including five from 3-point range -- in a 23-point effort.

Final Score: Houston 123, Atlanta 104
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - James Harden had 28 points and five assists as the Houston Rockets posted a 123-104 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. Carlos Delfino had a season-high 22 points along with eight assists while Jeremy Lin gave 16 points and eight helpers for the Rockets, who snapped a two-game slide. Louis Williams scored 21 points while Al Horford gave 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Hawks, who had a four-game winning streak stopped.

Final Score: San Antonio 104, Brooklyn 73
San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Tony Parker had 20 points and six assists to head a balanced San Antonio scoring attack as the Spurs recorded their sixth straight victory with a 104-73 rout of the Brooklyn Nets at the AT&T Center. Parker made good on 9-of-13 field goal attempts, while five other players finished in double figures to help the Spurs achieve a season- high for consecutive triumphs. Tim Duncan scored 15 points, Nando de Colo added 11 and Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner all had 10 for a San Antonio squad that shot a robust 58.9 percent as a team. The Nets had come into the contest off home victories over Charlotte and Cleveland in their first two outings since the team replaced Avery Johnson with P.J. Carlesimo as head coach, but were buried by a dismal third quarter in which Brooklyn made a mere 2-of-20 shots from the floor and were outscored by a whopping 30-5 margin. MarShon Brooks finished with 16 points and Joe Johnson had 12 for the Nets, who also committed 18 turnovers that were converted into 28 Spurs' points.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 114, Phoenix 96
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant scored a game-high 30 points on 11-of-24 from the field and the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled away from the Phoenix Suns in the fourth quarter to secure a 114-96 victory Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Russell Westbrook netted 24 points to go with nine assists and seven rebounds, Serge Ibaka put in 16 points and grabbed seven boards and Thabo Sefolosha added a season-high 14 points for the Thunder, who have won three straight since a two-game slide. Nick Collison donated 10 points and nine rebounds in the win. Luis Scola scored a team-high 24 points and pulled down six rebounds, while Goran Dragic contributed 16 points and eight assists for the Suns, who have lost six straight. Jermaine O'Neal and Marcin Gortat added 12 points apiece in a losing cause.

January 1:
Dallas 103, Washington 94
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Vince Carter led six Mavericks in double figures with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting as Dallas posted a 103-94 victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday at Verizon Center. O.J. Mayo netted 15 points and handed out five assists, while Darren Collison donated 15 points and eight assists for the Mavs, who shot 50 percent from the floor and snapped a six-game slide. Bradley Beal scored a team-high 22 points and Emeka Okafor donated 14 points and 11 boards for the Wizards, who blew a 14-point second-quarter lead and lost for the 10th time in their last 11 games.

Final Score: Detroit 103, Sacramento 97
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) - Brandon Knight posted 20 points to help Detroit hold off a Sacramento comeback in a 103-97 win. Greg Monroe scored 18 points with 11 rebounds, Will Bynum scored 15 and Austin Daye added 13 for the Pistons, who have now won three straight for the first time this season. DeMarcus Cousins scored 21 points and pulled down 14 rebounds and Jason Thompson had 16 and six, while Jimmer Fredette gave 14 points off the bench for the Kings, who had won three of four coming in.

Final Score: Portland 105, New York 100
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Amar'e Stoudemire made his season debut and Carmelo Anthony returned emphatically from a two-game absence, but the All- Star duo could not contain Nicolas Batum and the Portland Trail Blazers in their 105-100 victory over the New York Knicks on Tuesday. Batum made six 3- pointers for 26 points as Portland started the new year and its four-game road trip on a winning note. Damian Lillard chipped in 21 points, including a key 3-pointer after New York cut a double-digit deficit to three in the final minute. LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 19 points and 14 rebounds, while J.J. Hickson added 18 and nine in the wire-to-wire win, the Blazers' eighth in 10 games. Stoudemire was a non-factor in his first game since undergoing knee surgery just before the season. The six-time All-Star came off the bench and played 16 plus minutes, scoring six points on 3-of-8 shooting with one rebound. Anthony, who had been briefly sidelined with a hyperextended knee, netted a season high-tying 45 points, but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with under 16 seconds remaining.

Final Score: Atlanta 95, New Orleans 86
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Josh Smith stuffed the stat sheet on Tuesday, posting 23 points and 13 rebounds to go with seven assists, four blocks and three steals as the Atlanta Hawks knocked off the New Orleans Hornets, 95-86, at New Orleans Arena. Al Horford posted 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting and Kyle Korver drained four three-pointers en route to 14 points for the Hawks, who have won five of their last six. Zaza Pachulia added 12 points and 10 boards in the victory. Ryan Anderson hit 5-of-10 from beyond the arc and finished with a team-high 23 points, while Greivis Vasquez netted 17 points and handed out 10 assists for New Orleans, which has lost 13 of its last 15 games. Anthony Davis ripped down 13 rebounds to go with nine points and Eric Gordon contributed 11 points in the loss.

Final Score: Denver 92, LA Clippers 78
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Clippers came into the New Year having won all 16 games in December and 17 straight overall. The change of the calendar saw the Denver Nuggets end that run. Danilo Gallinari scored 17 points and added six rebounds to give the Nuggets a 92-78 win over the Clippers on Tuesday. Just the third team ever to finish a whole month 16-0, the Clippers hadn't lost a game since a defeat at home against New Orleans on Nov. 26, but their franchise-record winning streak came to an end as the team never led after the first quarter. Kenneth Faried gave 14 points and 11 rebounds while Andre Miller added 12 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets, who have won three of their last four games. Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe each had 12 points for the Clippers, who shot just 38.5 percent in the contest.

Final Score: Philadelphia 103, LA Lakers 99
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Jrue Holiday scored 26 points, dished out 10 assists and slammed home a rare road win for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Los Angeles Lakers in a 103-99 decision at Staples Center. Evan Turner finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for the Sixers, who never trailed in the second half and improved to 2-3 on their eight-game road trip. Spencer Hawes totaled 13 points off the bench, including a critical jumper down the stretch after a Kobe Bryant 3-pointer cut the Lakers' deficit to two. Bryant paced Los Angeles with 36 points on 14-of-29 shooting, but the starting frontcourt of Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard combined to shoot 3-of-19 from the field for 18 points. Steve Nash added 12 points and 10 helpers for Los Angeles, which had won six of seven coming in and was perhaps looking ahead to a matchup against the Clippers on Friday.

January 2
Sacramento 97, Cleveland 94
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points, 16 rebounds and six assists to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 97-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday. Cousins, who posted a triple- double on Sunday, has been superb for the Kings since returning from a two- game suspension for violating team rules, averaging 16.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per contest. Jason Thompson also recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards and Francisco Garcia added 14 points for the Kings, who won on the road for just the second time this season. Kyrie Irving poured in 22 points and dished out six assists and Dion Waiters added 20 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, who have won just three of their last 17 games.

Final Score: Indiana 89, Washington 81
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - With one George still on the mend, Indiana's other George continued to keep the Pacers rolling, as Paul George recorded 29 points and 14 rebounds in an 89-81 victory over the Washington Wizards. Despite George Hill sitting out a second straight game due to a strained right groin, the Pacers led wire-to-wire Wednesday to win their sixth straight home game and ninth straight over the lowly Wizards. D.J. Augustin, starting in place of Hill, totaled 18 points and six assists, while Roy Hibbert added 13 points in Indiana's sixth victory in seven games. The Wizards, playing the second game of a back-to-back, tried rallying from an early 17-point deficit but never got over the hump in losing for the 11th time in 12 games. Jordan Crawford netted a team-high 20 points in defeat.

Final Score: Chicago 96, Orlando 94
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Carlos Boozer tallied 31 points and 11 rebounds in the Chicago Bulls' 96-94 triumph over the Orlando Magic. Luol Deng netted 23 points, while Taj Gibson added 21 points and 11 boards for the Bulls, who nearly surrendered an 18-point lead. Jameer Nelson nailed six 3-pointers and tied a career-high with 32 points for Orlando, which has dropped seven consecutive contests.

Final Score: Toronto 102, Portland 79
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Terrence Ross came off the bench and knocked down six 3-pointers en route to a career-high 26 points on Wednesday, as the Toronto Raptors routed the Portland Trail Blazers, 102-79, at Air Canada Centre. DeMar DeRozan donated 24 points and Ed Davis followed with 19 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors, who have won three straight and eight of their last nine games. Toronto shot a scorching 53.2 percent (41-for-77) from the field and turned 18 Portland turnovers into 28 points to complete the wire-to-wire victory. Rookie Damian Lillard paced Portland with 18 points and seven assists, while LaMarcus Aldridge registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards for the Blazers, who had won two straight.

Final Score: Memphis 93, Boston 83
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Mike Conley paced Memphis with 23 points and Rudy Gay followed with 19 to help push the Grizzlies past the Boston Celtics, 93-83, at TD Garden on Wednesday. In addition to his game-high scoring effort, Conley dished out nine assists and former Celtic Tony Allen contributed 15 points for Memphis, which bounced back after losing at Indiana on Monday. With the loss, the reeling Celtics fell three games below .500 and have dropped four straight for the first time this season. Paul Pierce netted 17 points and Rajon Rondo tallied a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists.

Final Score: Miami 119, Dallas 109 (OT)
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - LeBron James finished just shy of a triple-double and the Miami Heat extended Dallas' overtime struggles by posting a 119-109 victory over the slumping Mavericks at American Airlines Arena. James tallied 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Heat to a second consecutive triumph in extra time. Miami halted a two-game skid with a 112-110 overtime decision over Orlando on Monday. Dwyane Wade added 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, which began the additional frame with a 7-0 run that eventually resulted in the Mavericks' ninth consecutive overtime loss dating back to last season. Chris Bosh and Ray Allen contributed 17 and 15 points, respectively, to the win. Dallas was dealt its seventh setback in its last eight overall games as well, despite 30 points from O.J. Mayo and a season- best performance from Dirk Nowitzki in his sixth outing back from right knee surgery. Nowitzki amassed 19 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes for Dallas, which also received a 14-point, 10-rebound effort out of Chris Kaman.

Final Score: Houston 104, New Orleans 92
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - James Harden scored 31 points and dished out seven assists, lifting the Houston Rockets over the New Orleans Hornets, 104-92, on Wednesday. Omer Asik added 21 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who have won two in a row. Patrick Patterson tallied 15 points and 10 boards off the bench. Ryan Anderson ended with 18 points and seven rebounds to pace the Hornets, who have lost two straight to fall to 7-25 on the season. Greivis Vasquez donated 15 points and 14 assists.

Final Score: San Antonio 117, Milwaukee 110
Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) - Tim Duncan posted a double-double with 28 points and 13 rebounds to help the San Antonio Spurs take a 117-110 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at Bradley Center. Tony Parker recorded a double-double as well, pouring in 23 points and handing out 11 assists in San Antonio's seventh consecutive victory. Brandon Jennings netted a game-high 31 points, while rookie John Henson added 20 points and nine boards off the bench for the Bucks, who have lost two straight.

Final Score: Brooklyn 110, Oklahoma City 93
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and the Brooklyn Nets got out to a fast start and held off a late Thunder run to snap Oklahoma City's lengthy home winning streak in a 110-93 decision on Wednesday. Johnson made five of Brooklyn's nine 3-pointers and netted a season-high 33 points, while Lopez added 25 in putting an end to the Nets' seven-game skid against the Thunder. Deron Williams totaled 19 points, 13 assists and five steals for the Nets, who improved to 3-1 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Kevin Durant led the way with 27 points, but was ejected for the first time in his career after getting hit with two technical fouls during the Nets' final push. Russell Westbrook chipped in 26 points and 10 assists, but committed six of the club's 20 turnovers.

Final Score: Phoenix 95, Philadelphia 89
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Luis Scola scored 21 points and dished out nine assists, helping the Phoenix Suns hold off the Philadelphia 76ers, 95-89, on Wednesday. Goran Dragic added 20 points and six assists for the Suns, who snapped a six- game losing streak. Marcin Gortat donated a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Jrue Holiday recorded a triple-double with 16 points, 10 boards and 10 assists for the Sixers, who fell to 2-4 on an eight- game road trip. Thaddeus Young and Dorell Wright donated 14 points apiece. Young also pulled down 10 rebounds.

Final Score: Utah 106, Minnesota 84
Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) - Gordon Hayward led six Utah players in double figures with 17 points and Enes Kanter added 15 points as the Jazz stomped the Minnesota Timberwolves, 106-84, on Wednesday. Paul Millsap scored 14 points, Al Jefferson and Jamaal Tinsley each dropped in 12 and Marvin Williams finished with 11 for the Jazz, who snapped a three-game skid. Kevin Love posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, Alexey Shved scored 13 and Andrei Kirilenko had 12 points and seven boards for the Timberwolves, who have dropped five of their last seven overall.

Final Score: Golden State 115, LA Clippers 94
Oakland, CA (Sports Network) - Stephen Curry finished with 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds on Wednesday, as the Golden State Warriors handed the Los Angeles Clippers their second consecutive loss with a 115-94 triumph at Oracle Arena. David Lee stuffed the stat sheet with 24 points, 13 boards and seven assists, while Klay Thompson knocked down five 3-pointers en route to 19 points for the Warriors, who have won four straight. Los Angeles closed out 2012 on a franchise-record 17-game win streak, but the Clippers dropped a 92-78 decision to the Denver Nuggets on New Year's Day before suffering a second straight setback on Wednesday. Jamal Crawford led Los Angeles with 24 points, while Chris Paul added 23 points and six assists in a losing effort.

January 3
New York 100, San Antonio 83
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points and the New York Knicks put together a big second half to record a 100-83 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in a battle of division leaders from Madison Square Garden. J.R. Smith netted 15 of his 20 points after halftime, and the Knicks outscored San Antonio by a 44-31 margin over the final 17 minutes to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. Steve Novak knocked down 5-of-7 shots from three-point range to help New York prevail, while Tyson Chandler contributed 10 points and 14 rebounds to the triumph. The Knicks also held San Antonio to a 36.4 success rate from the floor in putting an end to the Spurs' season-high seven-game win streak. Gary Neal paced San Antonio with 12 points, with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan each finishing with 11.

Final Score: Minnesota 101, Denver 97
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea led a balanced attack with 17 points apiece as the Minnesota Timberwolves outlasted the Denver Nuggets, 101-97, at the Pepsi Center. Andrei Kirilenko and Luke Ridnour followed with 14 points each, while Kevin Love contributed 12 points to go along with 17 rebounds, but left the game in the third quarter after spraining his finger and did not return. Nikola Pekovic added 11 points for Minnesota, which won for the second time in three tries. Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson each dropped in 16 points to pace the Nuggets, who saw their eight-game home win streak come to an end. Andre Iguodala filled the stat sheet with 14 points, seven rebounds and six rebounds in Denver's second loss in three games.

January 4
Cleveland 106, Charlotte 104
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Kyrie Irving scored the deciding basket with one second left as the Cleveland Cavaliers edged the Charlotte Bobcats, 106-104, at Time Warner Cable Arena. Cleveland blew an 18-point third-quarter lead but still managed to halt a three-game losing streak mostly because of Irving, with the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year recording 14 of his game-high 33 points over the final 4 1/2 minutes. Tristan Thompson also helped the Cavs notch only their fourth win in 18 games by compiling a season-best 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and pulling down 13 rebounds. C.J. Miles contributed 18 points to the triumph.

Final Score: Sacramento 105, Toronto 96
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - DeMarcus Cousins poured in a game-high 31 points and tied a career-high with 20 rebounds to lead the Sacramento Kings to a 105-96 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday. John Salmons added 20 points and Jason Thompson chipped in 14 points and six rebounds for the Kings. They have won four of their last five games since Cousins returned to the lineup following a two-game suspension for unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team. Since his suspension, Cousins is averaging 19.2 points and 14.0 rebounds per game. Kyle Lowry scored 24 points and Alan Anderson added 20 for the Raptors, who lost for just the second time in 10 games.

Final Score: Brooklyn 115, Washington 113 (2OT)
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson made a jumper with 0.7 seconds remaining in the second overtime to lift the Brooklyn Nets over the Washington Wizards, 115-113, on Friday. Johnson ended with 18 points for the Nets, who improved to 4-1 under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Brook Lopez had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Deron Williams added 24 points and 10 assists for Brooklyn, which went 25- of-36 from the foul line. Andray Blatche tallied 13 points and 12 boards against his former team. Bradley Beal finished with 24 points and six rebounds for the Wizards, who have lost four in a row and 12 of 13 games. Jordan Crawford and Nene added 23 and 20 points, respectively.

Final Score: Detroit 85, Atlanta 84
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) - Despite a sluggish fourth quarter, the Detroit Pistons rolled to their fourth consecutive win by holding off the Atlanta Hawks, 85-84, at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday. After taking an 83-66 lead four minutes into the fourth, the Pistons scored just two more points the rest of the way on what turned out to be the deciding basket on a layup from Rodney Stuckey, who returned to the lineup after a three-game absence from an ankle injury. With just seconds remaining, Al Horford passed to an open Lou Williams in the corner, but Andre Drummond leaped in to get just enough of the ball to deflect it away from its trajectory, allowing Detroit to hold on for the win.

Final Score: Boston 94, Indiana 75
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics snapped their recent skid with the aid of their struggling defense. Rajon Rondo tallied 18 points and seven assists, while Kevin Garnett added 18 points and seven boards in Boston's 94-75 rout of the Indiana Pacers. Over their four-game slide, the Celtics had been outscored by 19.7 points per game and allowed their opponents to register 104.5 points a contest while only holding them to a 50.5 percent clip from the floor. It was a different story for the defense in this one. Indiana, which had won 9-of-11 coming in, shot just 31.8 percent (27-of-85) from the field. David West and Paul George shot a combined 8-of-36 from the floor. Tyler Hansbrough led the Pacers with 19 points.

Final Score: Portland 86, Memphis 84
Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - J.J. Hickson registered his 19th double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers escaped with an 86-84 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday at FedEx Forum. Wesley Matthews shot 8-of-14 from the floor for a team-high 21 points, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 points and 12 boards for the Blazers, who have won three of their last four. Damian Lillard contributed 11 points and eight assists, and Nicolas Batum gave 11 points, five rebounds and four assists in the victory. Marreese Speights scored a game-high 22 points and ripped down 13 rebounds, while Marc Gasol netted 12 points to go with six rebounds and eight blocks for the Grizzlies, who were coming off a 10-point win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. Rudy Gay dropped 19 points and snatched nine rebounds, but missed the potential game-tying shot at the buzzer.

Final Score: Chicago 96, Miami 89
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Carlos Boozer tallied 27 points and 12 rebounds and the Chicago Bulls limited the Miami Heat to a season-low scoring total at home during a 96-89 triumph over the defending world champions at American Airlines Arena. Joakim Noah, returning from a one-game absence due to illness, amassed 13 points and 12 rebounds to help the Bulls to a third victory in their last four games. Nate Robinson also finished with 13 points for Chicago, while Kirk Hinrich had 10 along with eight assists. LeBron James, who battled through a bruised right knee, led all players with 30 points, but the Heat went just 5-of-20 from 3-point range. They were outrebounded by a 48-28 margin and were held under the 90-point mark for the first time at home and only the fourth overall this season. They are 0-4 in those outings. Miami, which had a five-game home winning streak snapped, also received 22 points from Dwyane Wade and 14 out of Chris Bosh.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 109, Philadelphia 85
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant had 27 and 26 points, respectively, and the Oklahoma City Thunder bounced back with a 109-85 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. Kevin Martin added 16 points for the Thunder, who had a 12-game home winning streak snapped Wednesday with a loss to the Nets. Serge Ibaka donated 15 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Nick Young ended with 21 points for the Sixers, who fell to 2-5 on an eight- game road trip. Jrue Holiday, coming off a triple-double against the Suns on Wednesday, had 15 points and nine assists.

Final Score: Houston 115, Milwaukee 101
Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) - James Harden reached the 20-point plateau for the 15th straight game, posting 29 points to go with seven assists, as the Houston Rockets used a strong second half to take a 115-101 decision over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Harden shot 11-of-18 for the game and scored 16 in the second half, where the Rockets outscored the Bucks 68-43 to overcome an 11-point halftime deficit. Houston got solid efforts off the bench from Carlos Delfino, Patrick Patterson and Toney Douglas in capturing their eighth win in 10 games. Delfino knocked down 6-of-7 from long range en route to 22 points while Patterson and Douglas each netted 18 in the victory. Brandon Jennings' 16 points led seven Milwaukee players in double-figures. Monta Ellis followed with 12, but shot a horrid 5-for-19 from the field. John Henson tallied 11 points and 15 boards, while Ersan Ilyasova and Beno Udrih scored 11 apiece in the Bucks' third straight setback.

Final Score: Utah 87, Phoenix 80
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Al Jefferson poured in 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds and Paul Millsap added 19 points to go with 10 boards as the Utah Jazz cruised past the Phoenix Suns, 87-80, on Friday. Gordon Hayward scored 14 points, Randy Foye dropped in 13 and Derrick Favors finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz, who have won two straight following a three-game skid. Marcin Gortat posted a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, Goran Dragic scored 18 points and dished out six assists and Luis Scola added 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Suns, who have dropped seven of their last eight.

January 5
Boston 89, Atlanta 81
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 26 points in the third quarter, as Boston rallied to beat the Atlanta Hawks, 89-81, at Philips Arena. After surrendering 53 points to the Hawks on 52.5 percent shooting in the first half, the Celtics allowed just 28 points the rest of the game in overcoming a 15-point halftime deficit. They held a 33-9 scoring advantage in the third quarter. Rajon Rondo produced a triple- double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in helping the Celtics to their second straight win on the heels of a four-game skid. Lou Williams scored a game-high 28 points, but had just seven over the final two periods during the Hawks' collapse. Jeff Teague followed with 17 points and Josh Smith tallied 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the Hawks' second straight defeat.

Final Score: Indiana 95, Milwaukee 80
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Roy Hibbert poured in 20 points to go with 15 rebounds and five blocked shots as the Indiana Pacers cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks, 95-80, on Saturday. George Hill added 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists while Lance Stephenson and David West scored 10 points apiece for the Pacers, who improved to 12-3 at home this season. Monta Ellis scored a game-high 21 points and Brandon Jennings added 12 points and five assists for the Bucks, who have dropped four straight.

Final Score: New York 114, Orlando 106
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Carmelo Anthony scored 40 points and added six rebounds and six assists as the New York Knicks took a 114-106 win over the Orlando Magic. J.R. Smith had 18 points and six rebounds, Jason Kidd gave 15 points, eight boards and seven helpers while Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who have won their past two. Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo each scored 29 points for the Magic, who have dropped their past eight games. Nikola Vucevic gave 11 points and 18 rebounds in the loss.

Final Score: Brooklyn 113, Sacramento 93
Brooklyn, NY (Sports Network) - Brook Lopez led six Brooklyn players in double figures with 18 points on Saturday, as the Nets notched a 113-93 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Barclays Center. Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Andray Blatche and MarShon Brooks poured in 15 points apiece, while rookie Mirza Teletovic added a career-high 14 points for the Nets, who improved to 5-1 since P.J. Carlesimo took over for former head coach Avery Johnson. DeMarcus Cousins paced the Kings with 28 points and 11 rebounds and Jason Thompson followed with 15 points for Sacramento, which had won two straight.

Final Score: Houston 112, Cleveland 104
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - James Harden had 16 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and the Houston Rockets downed the Cleveland Cavaliers, 112-104, on Saturday. Jeremy Lin added 20 points and five assists for Houston, which has won four in a row and nine of its last 11 games. Kyrie Irving tallied 16 of his 30 points in the final frame and added six assists and four steals, but turned the ball over eight times for the Cavs, who have dropped four of their last five contests.

Final Score: Portland 102, Minnesota 97
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews each scored 26 points, helping the Portland Trail Blazers hold off the Kevin Love- less Minnesota Timberwolves, 102-97, on Saturday. Damian Lillard added 20 points and six assists for the Blazers, who went 3-1 on a four-game road trip. LaMarcus Aldridge donated 14 points and nine rebounds. Portland went 16-of-24 from beyond the arc to tie the franchise record for made 3- pointers in a game. Nikola Pekovic ended with 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who learned before the game that Love re-fractured the third metacarpal in his right hand. Derrick Williams had 18 points for Minnesota, which got 15 points apiece from Andrei Kirilenko and Luke Ridnour.

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