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Last Night In The NBA: Free Throws Are Important

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Happy Tuesday everybody and welcome back to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we catch you up on everything that went down from the night before in the Association. We had a full night of basketball on the schedule on Monday, with 9 total games. Just like they have been all year, nearly all of them were worth your time and lack of sleep. Naturally, I know sometimes you get busy, or maybe some of you were watching MNF so allow me to kill a chunk of your morning and bring you up to speed. If you missed anything, here’s what happened

Orlando Magic (2-2) 93 vs Boston Celtics (2-2) 90

We’ll be talking more about this later from the Celtics side, but let’s just say it feels good to have the frustrating Celtics back in our lives. What a bunch of assholes.

For ORL, what a win. They led essentially wire to wire as the only tie came at 2-2, and what more can you say they came out and punched the Celtics in the mouth right from the start and never let up. It was a night of career highs, whether it was Jonathan Isaac netting a career high 18 points, or Evan Fournier dishing out a career high 10 assists, the Magic did not play like the high lottery team many thought they would be

It’s safe to say right after owning his matchup against Embiid, Vucevic did the exact same shit against Al Horford. It’s not all that surprising since he’s the exact type of big Horford usually struggles with, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating to watch. Every time they Magic needed a big momentum bucket they got it, and this is including when they shot like 28% in the fourth quarter.

Charlotte Hornets (2-2) 106 vs Toronto Raptors (4-0) 127

You know who isn’t frustrating? The Raptors. They have started off the year in fantastic fashion, this time blowing out a team that’s been playing well themselves in the Hornets. Kawhi was back in the lineup and it wasn’t even a ridiculous night for him, just a casual 22/4 on 9-14 shooting. He has really fit into this system perfectly hasn’t he?

You know who else has had a great start to their season? Kyle Lowry. He’s always been good don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think he’s ever been THIS good. He had a nice 16/14 with 1 TO on 5-9 shooting in his team high 32 minutes, and because of his play the Raptors never had a quarter under 30 points. Against a team that had been playing some OK defense as of late, that’s impressive

Per usual TOR is off to a 3-0 start at home, a place they are almost impossible to beat, and they now go MIN/DAL/MIL/PHI/PHX/LAL in their next few, so they may be 10-0 before we know it.

For CHA, hey, at least Contract Year Kemba still went off

but when you’re in TOR, you can’t give up 57% shooting and 15 3PM and then only have three starters in double figures and shoot 42/32% yourself. That’s a recipe for disaster every single time. And I’ll give them credit, they tried to battle back and didn’t just roll over and die, but their slow start getting down 31-22 after the first proved to be too much.

New York Knicks (1-3) 113 vs Milwaukee Bucks (3-0) 124

Look the Knicks are missing all their good players so I won’t hold this against them. You can’t expect that group to go into MIL who is playing well and pull out a win. So the fact that they were at least able to play a competitive game, that’s something to build on. You thought maybe things were going to swing their way when they dropped a 35-17 third quarter, but then they immediately gave up 36 points in the fourth. Oh well, at least THJ and Trey Burke played well

If I were a Knicks fan, this would be an ideal game for me. Keep things entertaining so it’s worth watching but ultimately catch the L so you help your future lottery odds. No complaints there.

For MIL, the story was MVP Giannis and a guy who literally will not miss in Khris Middleton. You expect the 31/15/4 from Giannis, he does that shit all the time

but what’s crazy was the night from Khris Middleton. I’m talking 30/7 on 11-14 shooting and 7-8 from deep. He’s shooting an absurd like 65% from deep this season. Essentially, he’s carried over this playoff series against the Celtics when he shot like 70% from deep into the regular season. Such an underrated player even still, it doesn’t really make all that much sense. This dude can play

As a team they shot 46.9/42.5% and made 17 3PM, and really outside of that third quarter looked like an offensive powerhouse. They sure are loving this new system, and for the time being are matching TOR step for step among the best starts in the East.

Indiana Pacers (2-2) 91 vs Minnesota Timberwolves (2-2) 101

Why is Jimmy Butler so upset? Did he forget this team can actually be pretty good? This was by far one of their best defensive performances of the year, with IND shooting just 39/30% and having 16 TOs. The Timberwolves weren’t even that good offensively themselves outside of KAT and Butler who combined for 37 (both had 12 FGA)

I will say rookie Josh Okogie had a nice night with 12/4 off the bench which was much needed

Things were relatively close until MIN ultimately pulled away with a big fourth quarter, winning those 12 minutes 29-18. They are now 2-0 at home, and I don’t think we’re getting too many boos from their fans anymore.

For IND, tough loss because you’re still winless on the road and outside of Oladipo and Bogdanovic who had 40 combined points. If you listened to Nate McMillian, he didn’t sound too thrilled

Chicago Bulls (0-3) 109 vs Dallas Mavericks (2-1) 115

If you told me heading into the night that this would have been one of the more exciting games of the night, I’m not sure I believe you. In reality, it definitely was. The Bulls came out like they were playing on TNT with an offensive explosion to start this game, dropping 61 points in the first half, mostly because Zach LaVine has looked GREAT to start the year

He was efficient with 11-15 shooting, including 5-7 from deep, and sure he had 5 TOs but for a guy working his way back, this may be the best he’s ever looked offensively. It also didn’t hurt that Jabari Parker embraced his roll off the bench to the tune of 20 points on 8-14 shooting in his bench high 24 minutes

Sure the Bulls are winless, but man they have been fun to watch.

For DAL, they too have been extremely fun to watch. Last night it was once again the Luka Show, as the rookie has failed to let us down yet

That is a 19 year old rookie pulling off moves like that! That fake was Larry Bird-esq and I’m not just saying that

On a night when Dennis Smith Jr went 2-11, the Mavs were able to make up for it with strong performances from DeAndre Jordan (18/16) and Wesley Matthews (20/4). The Mavs are now 2-0 at home and they are still scoring a shit ton of points, something I don’t think we quite expected from them when the year started. Could this team sneak into the 8 spot? It kinda looks that way no?

Memphis Grizzlies (2-1) 92 vs Utah Jazz (1-2) 84

Man if this wasn’t the most classic grind it out Grizzlies game I’m not sure what is. This is how they want to play, they want to slow things down and make you play under 100. Offensively things weren’t exactly great as they shot 36.9/32.1%, but Gasol/Conley put up 41 of the 92 so Grizzlies fans I’m sure were happy to see that

I liked how Jaren Jackson Jr looked in his start and 27 minutes played, he had a nice 11/7 on 5-12, although he did miss all his 3PA.

To hold UTA to this type of performance in their own building is impressive, because that’s a really really hard place to win, so credit to MEM.

For UTA, they’re fighting it right now, that’s for sure. Their 1-2 start is probably a little annoying for them, and this was just a night where nothing was falling. They finished with 35/25% splits, just n8 3PM, and never had a quarter over 24 points. Sometimes shit just doesn’t go your way.

Washington Wizards (1-2) 125 vs Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) 124 F/OT

Now this was a game worth staying up for, what a first win of the year by WSH. This was close the entire way, with both teams trading blows and huge clutch shots late, it’s what makes West Coast basketball so much fun. For POR, you had Dame doing Dame things to the tune of 29/8/8 and Nurk a beastly 22/18

You had Nik Stauskas AGAIN coming up huge showing once again that yes, Vivek was right

and yet, they still couldn’t hold on. It didn’t help that CJ McCollum went 5-25, or that POR had 19 TOs, and it’s those two things that left the door open juuuuuust enough for disaster to strike.

For WSH, this was a big win partly because it was their first of the year, and partly because it was on the road. Of course, you expect Wall/Beal to both have big nights in a big game like this, and it’s true, they delivered

But they were not the story of the night. The story in my mind came from the play from their role players. Guys like Markeiff Morris stepping up huge with 28 points and the dagger bucket

and then Kelly Oubre with 22 huge points off the bench on 9-13 shooting

Was Dame fouled on his last drive with the game on the line? Probably, but the Wizards earned that win so I have no problem with him not getting that call.

Phoenix Suns (1-2) 103 vs Golden State Warriors (3-1) 123

I mean come on, we knew this was going to be the likely outcome before the game even started. It’s whatever for PHX, their season is all about getting progress from their young pieces, and I would say that was a success

But as we know, you turn the ball over 21 times against this Warriors team, you’re just asking to get your dick stomped. This was a blowout early, and while PHX was much more competitive in the second half, it didn’t really matter now did it.

For GS, yeah they shot 51% and made 14 3PM while taking 26 FTA. You’re not beating them when that happens, sorry.

San Antonio Spurs (2-1) 143 vs Los Angeles Lakers (0-3) 142 F/OT

And of course, we save the best for last. Hopefully you stayed up to watch this whole thing, because holy shit was it some type of basketball game. The Spurs got off to that huge start with a 40 burger in the first quarter, only to see them immediately give it away in the second quarter. You had an insane night from DeRozan who had a nice 32/14 which was a career high in assists

You had LMA looking like a man among boys, essentially bullying his way to 37/10 5

For a team that struggled on the road last year, this was an incredible performance. There was just one problem. They could not make their FTs down the stretch when they had to. LMA went 11-18 from the line, DeRozan missed one late, and all that kept doing was giving the Lakers more and more hope. I had never seen a team lose a game so many times only to end up winning, but that’s what the Spurs did and it’s why you cannot kill them. They are basketball robots, and fucking Patty Mills coming up with the game winner is too perfect. What a play call by Pop

Now for LAL, before we get to the choking of LeBron, we should give credit where credit is due. Kyle Kuzma played his face off to the tune of 37/8/3 on 15-25 shooting including some HUGE buckets late

He was fantastic. Lonzo also wasn’t bad either, as he too had some huge shots late

Josh Hart looks like a legit guard off their bench with 20 points, and frankly you could argue he is the best option next to LeBron

But, this is obviously about LeBron. The numbers look good sure, he finished with 32/8/14 and hit that huge three to eventually send this game into OT

A couple things here. First, the NBA clearly was helping LeBron, because this is a technical


Why? Because the Lakers did not have any time outs left. That should have been game over right there, and that deep three should have never happened. You think the refs wanted LeBron to have a shot at a big moment or nah? Anyway, the Baskteball Gods would reward us because when given a chance at the line to seal this game, he missed….both. Free throws man, they are important. Even still, he had one last time to redeem himself, and instead he took the cowards way out. Here’s that final play again

Umm, LeBron, you are like 260 pounds and the best player on then planet, how are you not driving to the rim? At the very least you KNOW the refs are going to bail you out….because you’re LeBron. No other explanation here than he just didn’t want the pressure of those FTs. You don’t take that type of shot in that type of situation if you aren’t afraid of the line. So in that regard, LeBron choked. I couldn’t imagine Kobe doing such a thing. Not only would he want the FTs, but he probably makes that fadeaway too because he’s a true Laker.

Now, the Lakers are facing PHX/DEN/SA/MIN/DAL/TOR/MIN over their next few, so this isn’t exactly about to get any easier. Welcome to the West LeBron, where you can’t choke away games and think it won’t be a disaster.

And that’s it! You’re now all caught up on everything that went down from last night in the NBA. We’re back tonight with three games including PHI/DET, LAC/NO, SAC/DEN. I know you’ll probably be watching the World Series, so just check back here tomorrow morning and I’ll fill you in on what you missed.