Posted by Ben Golliver.
Here's the CBSSports.com Eye On Basketball nightly report card summarizing Wednesday's NBA action.
A+: Nuggets complete no-look, over-the-head alley-oopThis is as spectacular and joyous as NBA basketball gets. Up big in the fourth quarter, the Denver Nuggets mercilessly pushed the ball down the Sacramento Kings' throat on their way to a dominant 110-83 victory. There was no bigger exclamation point than this alley-oop from guard Rudy Fernandez to trailing forward Kenneth Faried.
Fernandez secured the ball as he approached the baseline, touch-passing it with two hands into the air over his own head without taking a second look or turning around. Faried, a high-jumping rookie, converted the oop for his first points as a pro. There's no possible better way to begin your career than this. Take a look.
A: DeRozan powers Raptors from deep
For a good long while there, it was looking like Canadian writer Holly MacKenzie was the only person besides DeMar DeRozan and his immediate family who believed that significant improvement on the perimeter was a realistic possibility for the athletic Raptors wing. I certainly counted out his potential as an all-around, defense-stretching presence after he managed to hit just nine 3-pointers in his first two seasons, connecting on less than 20 percent from downtown. It was a fatal flaw, and he apparently spent all lockout correcting it. Often seen at National Basketball Players Association meetings rocking the famous "Basketball Never Stops" t-shirts, DeRozan unveiled the fruit of his offseason labors against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night, knocking in five 3-pointers -- as many or more than he made in each of his first two seasons -- to finish with 25 points.
That, plus 31 points from Andrea Bargnani and some stepped-up defensive intensity under new coach Dwane Casey has Toronto out to a 3-3 start. Nothing to write home about quite yet, but still quite a bit better than the dismal preseason prognostications.
B+: Spurs role players provide fourth quarter pushAny time reserved San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is so fired up late in a game that he's beelining onto the court in celebration, something is going unusually right. In this case, it was a purposeful 31-20 fourth-quarter that saw the Spurs put away the Golden State Warriors at home despite 38 points and 7 assists from Monta Ellis. Tony Parker had the prettiest highlight with a tear drop in the lane but a scoring burst from the unlikeliest of sources, T.J. Ford, and contributions from Richard Jefferson and Danny Green provided some reassurance after the loss of Manu Ginobili to injury earlier this week.
C: Timberwolves hang tough but foldEveryone's favorite "little engine that could" continues to fall just short in the most painful ways. On Wednesday, they dropped a close one to the Memphis Grizzlies, who were reeling from the news that forward Zach Randolph would be out up to two months with a knee injury, 90-86. The loss saw a 27-point, 14-rebound, 2-block effort from Kevin Love and another double-double from rookie point guard Ricky Rubio go to waste. The culprit? Poor late-game foul-shooting. The Timberwolves knocked down 13-for-24 from the charity stripe for the game and made just 4-for-10 in the final frame. Instead of pulling even to .500, the Timberwolves left another win on the table.
Boris Diaw with a remarkable 27 points on just 15 shots. The Bobcats, who entered the game with just one win, aren't that good, the Knicks simply made them look like world-beaters with dumb fouls, dumb shots, and 17 turnovers worth of undisciplined play. Defensive centerpiece Tyson Chandler managed just six rebounds in 40 minutes and Toney Douglas shot a putrid 6-for-17, a performance that was so bad that the Madison Square Garden faithful was chanting in unison -- very loudly -- for Iman Shumpert to replace him during the second half.