Morning Shootaround: Breaking point

Gasol struggling in Lakers offense
Thunder 122, Lakers 97

The Lakers are very much in transition as Kobe Bryant tries to will himself into decent basketball shape and and back to being, well, Kobe. Los Angeles is trying to break free from being a .500 team and get back into the Playoff race.

Los Angeles TimesPau Gasol will be needed to do that and entering Friday's game he was struggling. Gasol is averaging 14.4 points per game and shooting 41.7 percent from the floor for the Lakers. His field goal shooting would be a career low and his scoring average this year and last year would be the two lowest of his career.

The common denominator? Mike D'Antoni.

The Los Angeles Times is beginning to connect those dots.

Gasol admitted to Bill Plaschke that the fact he is not getting the ball is affecting his aggression. And that, in turn, affects the rest of the team. Gasol remains the team's second best player. And he will be looked to as Kobe works his way back. The Thunder is not the best team to deal with these issues.

The Thunder scored at least 28 points in each quarter and Kevin Durant scored 31 points on 10-for-19 shooting in the offensive onslaught. Kobe Bryant, playing primarily point guard, had four points and 13 assists. Gasol had 14 points, in a pretty solid game for him.

It just was not solid enough against the Thunder. The Lakers probably have more issues to deal with.

Howard sweet from the line
Rockets 116, Warriors 112

Dwight Howard's candy-bar-like diet came to light this week in a recent post from Ken Berger of CBS Sports. He has been working to reform that like he has been working to reform his free throw shooting. Howard converted down the stretch and throughout, making all seven of his free throws in a 18-point, 11-rebound effort to secure the win at Oracle Arena. There were 73 total points scored in the fourth quarter and James Harden led all scorers with 26 points.

No relief for Knicks
Celtics 90, Knicks 86

For the past few days all the Knicks could do was block out the rumors. After Rudy Gay was traded, attention turned toward the Knicks and what they could do. Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert have been at the center of those rumors. And with each loss, those whispers will become shouts pretty quickly. Boston held New York to just 13 points in the fourth quarter, allowing Boston to make a comeback and score the win. Jared Sullinger had 19 points and Courtney Lee scored 18. Andrea Bargnani led the Knicks with 22 points.

Pistons hold off Nets comeback
Pistons 103, Nets 99

The Nets continue to fight and continue to get hurt. This time it was Brook Lopez siting out. And against the Pistons' big front line, that is a pretty big absence. Andre Drummond scored 22 points and Greg Monroe did the same. Drummond had 13 rebounds and Monroe also had 11 boards. That is a lot of girth to compete with if you are the Nets. Brooklyn needed a strong fourth quarter just to make this a game after giving up a 38-point second quarter and falling behind.

Bobcats nearly trip Pacers
Pacers 99, Bobcats 94

The Pacers improved to a perfect 11-0 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a difficult 99-94 win over the Bobcats. Charlotte continues to impress with the effort they put into these games. They are entrenched in the middle of the East but have hope for the future. Asking them to win on the road at Indiana was a lot. Al Jefferson scored 21 points as the Bobcats shot 47 percent against the Pacers' stout defense. Indiana needed a big game from Lance Stephenson to avoid the upset.

Dunleavy seals Bulls win
Bulls 91, Bucks 90

Mike Dunleavy Jr. hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to deliver the Bulls the win over the Bucks. Chicago outscored Milwaukee 29-21 in the fourth quarter to come from behind and win the game. Dunleavy ended up with 12 points and his lone made 3-pointer was the big one that won the game. Joakim Noah had 21 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Bulls. Gary Neal scored 17 points off the bench.

Love isn't all you need
Spurs 117, Timberwolves 110

The Beatles once sang "Love is all you need." That is not in the case in basketball — and apparently lede writing as that is the lowest hanging fruit I could find. Kevin Love was in a "zone" and put on a performance for the San Antonio fans. He scored 42 points and made eight of nine 3-pointers. That was not enough though as the Spurs were extremely balanced and got 29 points from Tony Parker and 20 from Manu Ginobili to get the win.

New Raptors top Sixers
Raptors 108, 76ers 100 

Whenever trades happen there is usually a revitalized honeymoon period. The Raptors are likely experiencing a little bit of that after a win against Philadelphia. DeMar DeRozan had the ball more and scored 27 points on 9-for-19 shooting. Terrence Ross scored 24 points in the starting lineup for Toronto. As for the newcomers, Greivis Vasquez scored 12 points off the bench. 

Suns win fourth straight
Suns 116, Kings 107 

The Phoenix won its fourth straight game, sending the new-look Kings to a hard-fought loss. But the real story might be that the Suns are reportedly considering making moves to solidify the team and try to make a push for the Playoffs. That migth be a bit far-fetched in the super-competitive West. But the Suns have surprised just about everyone in the league. Eric Bledsoe had 25 points and eight assists and Goran Dragic scored 29 in this high-scoring affair.

Hayward scores big
Jazz 103, Nuggets 93

If it were not for Kevin Love's big night, we would be talking about Gordon Hayward a lot more. Hayward scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Jazz went on the road and defeated their Rocky Mountain rivals. Hayward has had some rough shooting nights so far this year, there is no doubt about that. Sometimes the ball is going to go in for him. He probably should not be a guy taking the majority of a team's shots. Tonight was a night where it all worked and Utah rode the hot hand big time.

Horford's buzzer-beater wins it
Hawks 101, Wizards 99

Al Horford's final two points were the most important for the Hawks. He hit a game-winning jumper at the buzzer to give Atlanta a key win over a division rival and a game above .500. Horford scored 34 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the way for the homestanding Hawks. Trevor Booker scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Washington. This is just one of those hard-luck losses in a close game.

No Waiters
Cavaliers 109, Magic 100

Dion Waiters scored 14 straight points in the fourth quarter for the Cavaliers to keep pace with the Magic. Then he led a 14-0 run to put the Magic away. Cleveland fell behind by 14 points early, but Waiters proved to be a big impetus for the win. Kyrie Irving had 31 points and Waiters finished with 22. Victor Oladipo tied his career high with 26 points but took only two shots in the fourth quarter.

Eric Gordon leads Pels past Grizz
Pelicans 104, Grizzlies 98

The Grizzlies will have a tough time keeping up with a team with true firepower. The Pelicans were that team and Eric Gordon was that guy. Gordon scored 25 points as New Orleans outscored Memphis 27-11 in the third quarter to take control of the game. The Grizzlies are just not a team that can generate a ton of offense. They tried, making a comeback in the fourth quarter but it was nowhere near enough.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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