Valiant scoring effort from the team leader. Did a great job attacking the lane, more than the field goal attempts would have you surmise — created open looks for teammates by drawing attention towards him, most notably on two occasions in the fourth quarter to get Joe Johnson an open 3 and then Brook Lopez an easy 17-footer. Looked as much like a max point guard as we’ve seen throughout most of this year.
Quiet game early got louder as the game wore on, though he’s kind of a paradox: best at creating his own shot, but most effective when he’s spotting up off the ball. Hit huge three-pointers down the stretch in the fourth quarter to cut into, create, and extend the lead.
Played perhaps his best half of the season in the first half by returning to his roots: picking up garbage points off tip-ins and offensive rebounds. Shot exclusively from the paint, and probably deserved more minutes in the second half than he got, considering Evans’ struggles.
Another woof-worthy first half that extended into the third quarter; Lopez looked both defenseless and offenseless against Roy Hibbert, but started to find his outside touch in the fourth and even had some nice defensive plays too. Grade gets bumped up for that stellar fourth-quarter performance.
Not Blatche’s best day.
His requisite energy didn’t result in much success; got torched early by a barrage of David West midrange jumpers and despite what I’m sure was a high rebound attempt percentage, got outfoxed for a few boards he usually grabs. Can’t defend Roy Hibbert, though that’s probably expected.
Hit two midrange J’s in the first, made a huge play down the stretch, going coast-to-coast for a fast-break layup through Paul George (who had five fouls), and then hit another jumper to extend the lead to 12 with two minutes left. This is the good C.J. Watson.