Jrue Holiday Has the Game of His Life, Sixers Blow Out Reeling Knicks

Jrue Holiday Has the Game of His Life, Sixers Blow Out Reeling Knicks

So apparently a lot can change over the course of an NBA season. Not
that the Sixers are a lot better then when they first faced the Knicks
in a humiliating home-and-home, losing both games by dramatic margins,
or that the Knicks are necessarily all that much worse, but suffice to
say, the third time was the charm for the 76ers, as they rode excellent
scoring nights from their top three perimeter scorers to a blowout just
as bad as those the Knicks inflicted on the Sixers not all that long
ago, winning 97-80 in a game that wasn't even as close as the final
score indicates.

Jrue Holiday proved that he is not one to coast
on his banked accomplishments, following his All-Star nomination on
Thursday with arguably his best game of the season and possibly ever,
scoring a career-high 35 (and he could've had more had the game not
devolved into garbage time in the 4th) on 16-25 shooting, with six
assists, five rebounds and (perhaps most impressively) just one
turnover. The real crazy thing about Holiday's performance in this one
is that it didn't even seem all that extraordinary—he got to the basket
easily a couple times to start off the game, and from there it was just
Jrue doing Damaj. This guy is special, for real.

Evan Turner was
a worthy second option tonight, scoring 20 on 8-14 shooting, with six
boards and three assists, keeping the team running (if not exactly
humming) during Jrue's brief absences on the floor. The Extraterrestrial
has now scored well in three straight, hopefully all the way out of the
scoring doldrums he was mired in for the better part of a month. And
Nick Young, getting a rare start, also showed he could be a good
sidekick to Jrue, nailing a couple threes that Holiday set him up for,
and getting to the line a team-high eight times on his way to 20 points.
The frontcourt didn't produce a ton, but they were solid defensively,
Spencer Hawes even ending with an uncharacteristic four blocks.

Ironically,
the one guy on the Knicks who really gave the Sixers trouble was the
one guy who wasn't there for the first two blowouts—Amar'e Stoudemire,
who the Ballers have always had trouble with and who they certainly had
no answer for in the post tonight, Amar'e ending with 20 points on 8-13
shooting. Luckily, Amar'e only played about 26 minutes, and the rest of
the Knicks were a scoring disaster, with the Knicks' other four most
prolific shooters—Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and the
recently returned Raymond Felton—combining to go an unthinkably
miserable 11-51, essentially shooting New York out of the game. Good
Sixer defense, perhaps, but likely also just an off night from a team
that appears to have lost its groove a little, losing seven of its last
12.

An interesting thing worth monitoring with these Sixers is
the steadily vanishing role of Dorell Wright. DWRIGHTWAY1 appeared to
have established hiimself as an important cog in the Sixers rotation in
late December and early January, and he won the Sixers that game in
Memphis nearly single-handedly, but after playing less than five minutes
against the Raptors and Bucks, Dorell picked up his first DNP-CD of the
season last night. Wright's minutes appear to have mostly been funneled
to Damien Wilkins, which is pretty odd considering that it would seem
Wilkins' best-case upside is as a poor man's Dorell Wright, and just
about every available metric rates Wright's contributions this year far
over Damien's. (This would appear to be a Doug Collins' Dawg House
alert—get out soon, Dorell.)

Big win for the Sixers, and one
which leaves them—believe it or not—just two games out of the playoffs
in the super-sad Eastern Conference, a margin likely to shrink even
smaller after the C's get a visit from the Miami Heat tomorrow
afternoon. Whether they can build on it or not will become clearer on
Monday, when the team hosts the Memphis Grizzlies, starting to roll
again with wins in four of their last five. I predict that if Jrue
Holiday makes 16 field goals again, their chances will be decent.

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).