Line of the Night: 2.26.14

Kyrie Irving scored an evening-high 31 points to lead the Cavs past the Thunder.

Kyrie Irving scored an evening-high 31 points to lead the Cavs past the Thunder.

The Cleveland Cavaliers exceeded expectations last night as they visited the team with the best record in the league: The Oklahoma City Thunder.  When the buzzer went off, the Thunder were no longer in possession of the best record (that now belongs exclusively to the Indiana Pacers) and the Cavs got themselves a little bit close to a playoff spots.  Kyrie Irving led all players with 31 point last night, and though Durant failed to break the 30-point mark, he did come within one assist of a triple-double.  The Atlanta Hawks continue to struggle without All-Star center Al Horford as they fell to the Boston Celtics.  Veteran journeyman DeMarre Carroll posted a career-high 24 points for the Hawks, while Jerryd Bayless posted a game-high 29 points to go along with a 20/10 game from Rajon Rondo to help lead the Celtics to the win.  The stifling defence of the Chicago Bulls managed to keep every member of Gold State’s high-scoring starting in single digits last night as they successfully defended their home court against the Warriors.  The Dallas Mavericks likewise protected their home court, handing the Pelicans another loss, further quelling their playoff aspirations.  Monta Ellis scored a game-high 23 points in the win. 

Blake Griffin baptizes another player with an epic dunk.

Blake Griffin baptizes another player with an epic dunk.

In a preview of a potentially interesting playoff match-up, the Los Angeles Clippers hosted the Houston Rockets and denied them a victory, despite a 20/10 game from Dwight Howard.  Dwight Howard also posted 2 assists in the game, which may be a new career-high, but I’ll have to look that up to verify.  Blake Griffin equaled Howard’s game-high 23 points, but hauled in 5 more boards the Howard.  The Lakers helped improve their odds of landing the number one pick by losing to the Memphis Grizzlies as brothers Pau and Marc Gasol went head-to-head.  Three starters for the Orlando Magic posted double-doubles as they beat the 76ers.  Rookie sensations Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams squared off in the game, and though Carter-Williams is putting up higher averages this season, Oladipo had a superior game in this head-to-head match-up.  Nikola Vucevic posted a 20/10 game for the Magic in the win.  Though Jason Collins may be blazing a trail for many other athletes, he failed to make an impact against the Trailblazers who blew out the Brooklyn Nets: 124-80. 

Dwight Howard battle with Blake Griffin in the post.

Dwight Howard battle with Blake Griffin in the post.

Portland brought their bench out early to clean this one up, and former D-leaguer Will Barton looked like an All-Star against the Nets, scoring a career-high 20 points and hauling in 11 rebounds.  Andre Drummond pulled down an evening-high 17 rebounds, but the San Antonio Spurs were simply too good for the Pistons as they beat Detroit 120-110.  An even team effort coupled with stellar defence was the antidote to Josh Smith’s game-high 24 points, and Drummond’s rebounds.  And finally, the Phoenix Suns lost their third straight game as the Utah Jazz successfully defended their home court.  Gordon Hayward was a single assist shy of a triple-double in the win. 

Kevin Durant earned Line of the Night honours with a near triple-double.

Kevin Durant earned Line of the Night honours with a near triple-double.

Tough pick for Line of the Night this evening.  I love Drummond’s line.  On the boards and defensively, there likely wasn’t a better player on the court last night.  I can give him a pass on low assists since he is a center, but his point total was awfully low compared to the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.  Though, with that said, Drummond’s FG% was impressive and he certainly makes the most of every shot he gets.  Almost as impressive as Irving’s 31 points, was his 4 steals: both evening-highs.  Durant’s assist numbers equalled Irving’s, but Durant has the distinct advantage on the boards.  Durant also had a higher FG%, which gives him a slight edge.  This one is tough to call, but I’m going to go with Durant’s near triple-double and high efficiency.  Honourable mention to Gordan Hayward, who had an excellent game with a near triple-double.   

To see how the readers at ProSportsDaily voted, go here, and cast your own vote.  And be sure to follow me on Twitter @JasonJHorn.

Top Performances:

Gordan Hayward posted a near triple-double as the Jazz beat the Suns.

Gordan Hayward posted a near triple-double as the Jazz beat the Suns.

Rajon Rondo: 22 points (8/14), 11 assists, 3 steals

Gordan Hayward: 17 points (7/13), 10 rebounds, 9 assists

Monta Ellis: 23 points (8/18), 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals

Kyrie Irving: 31 points (10/19), 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 steals

Will Barton: 20 points (8/13), 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block

Kevin Durant: 28 points (10/16), 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal

Dwight Howard: 23 points (9/12), 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block

DeMarre Carroll: 24 points (8/11), 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block

Blake Griffin: 23 points (11/25), 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block

Victor Oladipo: 17 points (7/16), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block

Nikola Vucevic: 21 points (9/19), 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 assists, 1 steal

Andre Drummond: 16 points (7/12), 17 rebounds, 3 steals 2 blocks 2 assists

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