Top 5 NBA matches of 2012
5. Chicago Bulls versus New York Knicks at the Madison Square Garden at New York City
Derrick Rose was returning from his injury and Chicago seemed the right formidable force to shut out the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks ran off to a crazy 21 point lead in the first quarter before the resurgent Bulls pulled the lead back to 8 points at half time. While Derrick Rose shot poorly in the first half, nearly missing every one of his shots, the game turned in the second half thanks to the Chicago native and poor man marking from the Knicks. The Bulls shot ahead to a 7 point lead themselves before show time from Carmelo Anthony began.
The Syracuse product enjoyed his personal best of the season, shooting 43 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and making 4 out of his 5 three point attempts. With less than 20 seconds to go in the final quarter, Carmelo leaped over Taj Gibson to tie the game and send it into overtime. Once again the Bulls ran away to an early lead. Fortunately for Melo this time, his team shut Derrick Rose out in the penultimate minutes of overtime. With 1:05 to go, Melo cut the Chicago lead to two with a layup, helped by a screen from Tyson Chandler.
And finally, with 15 seconds left, Melo had the ball in his hands to tie the game at 99-99 each before he leaped over Luol Deng to send the Bulls packing home with a clutch three pointer.
Final score: Bulls 99 – Knicks 100
4. Minnesota Timberwolves versus Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
On March 23, 2012, the Wolves, led by Kevin Love, put up an energetic performance against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. A game which went well into second overtime saw the Thunder come out on top after a nerve wracking regular time showdown. Kevin Love finished with 51 points, drilled career high 7 three pointers and grabbed 14 rebounds.
In what was to be a game between former teammates at UCLA, Love and Westbrook, saw the duo shoot one basket after another in tandem. Westbrook might have shoot fewer points in the night but overall, came out in top as the Thunder with the help of Kevin Durant’s 40 points and season high 17 rebounds edged this hard fought encounter in double overtime.
After the game, Love spoke about the nerve wracking encounter. He said, ”It doesn’t matter. We lost,” He went onto add, ”We needed this game, especially the last game of our road trip against a very good team. This could have definitely been a driving force for us in these last 17, 18 games.”
Nearly 300 points shot, more than 75 rebounds grabbed and after an hour’s worth of play, it was the Thunder who retained their fortress at Oklahoma City.
Final Score: Wolves 140 – Thunder 149
3. New York Knicks versus Charlotte Bobcats at the Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte
Just when Kidd-Gilchrist seemed to have the sealed the game and be smart to send it to overtime, an ill-fated pass from him fell in the hands of J.R. Smith. The next 5 seconds clearly evinced Smith’s career so far – unnecessary dribbling and poor decision making but somehow, sinks a clutch shot like he’s existed in the league after several bad calls.
All this transpired with Melo on the bench after he slit his finger with 2:10 to go in the fourth. The Bobcats probably showcased their best performance of the season yet lost to the Madison franchise after a turnaround in the final quarter by the Knicks. After 36 minutes of play, the franchise owned by Michael Jordan seemed to be comfortable with a five point lead until rejuvenation from the Knicks sunk the Bobcats.
A sign of encouragement for the Knicks having finally won a road game with their record jumping to a 13-4 in the league with all 4 of the team’s losses being on the road.
Final Score: Knicks 100 – Bobcats 98
2. Los Angeles Clippers versus Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum
The game ranks high up there as one of Chris Paul’s best comebacks. Blake Griffin made his playoff debut and the Clippers returned to the bracketed part of the NBA after many years. What was turning out to be a one-team escapade from the Grizzlies, the Clippers resurged one of the best comebacks the playoffs will ever see. At one stage, the Los Angeles team was down 27 points and hope was lost. Mike Conley, who had 17 points in the night, made every one of his three pointers and missed only 3 shots the whole night. Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol seemed virtually untouchable with their power play.
To make matters worse for the Clippers, Caron Butler was removed from the game with a fracture in his shooting hand and power forward, Blake Griffin was being tormented by Zach Randolph’s and Marc Gasol’s gigantic physiques. Just when everything seemed lost, Paul inspired a huge comeback with one layup after another and imposed himself in the Memphis paint. To certify the entire comeback, Nick Young made 3 three pointers and the lead was for Los Angeles to lose. With less than 30 seconds to go, Rudy Gay hit a clutch jumper only for Tony Allen (the league’s best man marker) to foul Chris Paul and the surrender the lead forever.
Nail biting, nerve wracking and an epitome of clutch shooting; this game definitely deserves another watch on highlight reel.
Final Score: Clippers 99 – Grizzlies 98
1. Oklahoma City Thunder versus Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena
The Heat came back from a huge 17-point deficit to defeat the Thunder in Game 4 of The NBA Finals in what quite possibly swung the momentum in Miami’s favour. Russell Westbrook had 43 points from 20 field goals, while a hurt LeBron James hit a big 3-pointer in the dying minutes to secure the victory. Mario Chalmers hit crucial three pointers and Chris Bosh showed the basketball fraternity why he is still one of the most coveted big men in the league.
Remarkably, Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade weren’t on top of the game with the former making only one of his 5 three point attempts while the latter hardly showed up in the game till the final 12 minutes of the game.
Overall, the game further demonstrated how badly LeBron James wanted to win that elusive NBA title. For a huge part of the game, the regular season MVP played with cramps which showed immense dedication and effort from his behalf. 2012 saw numerous buzzer beaters, several close games but none proved more immensely important in deciding the result of a playoff series or just the NBA in general, as much as Game 4 in the NBA Finals.