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Last Night In The NBA: Is Anybody Going To Stop James Harden?

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets

Good morning everybody and welcome back to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we bring you up to speed on everything that went down from the night before in the Association. We had 8 games on the schedule last night but sadly just around three were close. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t drama, we had a nice classic NBA fight, some upsets, even some history. There’s enough loaded in this blog to keep you distracted and avoid working so if you watched MNF or got busy and couldn’t watch the action just keep reading because here’s what happened.

Milwaukee Bucks (20-9) 107 vs Detroit Pistons (14-14) 104

We may as well start off with one of the closer games of the night between two playoff teams. The Bucks, who can smell Raptors blood in the water inched closer to taking over the top spot in the East as they now sit just 1.5 games back of Toronto. They already own the league’s best point differential, and this was a big win for them because it finally got them over .500 the road;. Bucks fans will tell you it’s been a rough go of things since their 7-0 start, but going into DET and gutting it out late was a big win for them. Of course guys like Giannis carried the load, he was virtually unstoppable

which isn’t really news because he’s an MZVP candidate for a reason. But he was an efficient 15-21 from the floor, and over his last 5 games is averaging 26.8/13.8/6.5 on 67% shooting. What even is that?!?! Giannis got some help, with Khris Middleton chipping in 22

in his return to the lineup after he missed the previous game, and even Tony Snell who was making the spot start for Brogdon was serviceable with 12/6 on 5-8 shooting. As a team the bucks finished with 50% shooting and just 10 TOs which makes them tough to beat, and they’ve now won 4 of their last 5 with the Pelicans up next

For FET, they had their chance to tie this up at the very end but Blake was long with his wide open three. He finished with the very rare quadruple double of 19/10/11/10, and seeing as how the Pistons as a team had just 16 TOs, with so many coming from one player that’s not great.

Coming off his strong performance against BOS Reggie Bullock continues to shoot the ball really well coming off his injury, he had another 24 points and made 5 more 3PM. He hasn’t shot the ball this well from deep all year but it looks like it may be a legit weapon for him

The reason the Pistons were even able to climb back into this game was because of the work Stanley Johnson did off the bench with 20 points on 8-14 shooting and 4 3PM of his own

but if the Pistons want to stay in the top 8 they have to figure out how to defend. They only score 109 points a night which is the second fewest of any team in the top 8, and the are one of two teams with a negative point differential. They were able to stay there even with their 6 game slide, but there are a number of teams not too far behind them if they don’t get their shit together.

Phoenix Suns (7-24) 128 vs New York Knicks (9-23) 110

Ahh, two teams that most definitely did not want to win this game, those always make for a fun time. In a battle to see who could out tank who, you have to tip your cap to the Knicks. After going a little nuts and winning a few too many games, they have stormed back into the tanking race by losing 7 of their last 8 and 9 of their last 11. Those two wins only came by 2 points too, so you know they are focused on the big picture now. For whatever reason Emmanuel Mudiay has turned into a legit player, perhaps the perfect guard for a tanking team. He’ll put up numbers and sometimes keep you close, but he’s not nearly good enough to be the point guard of this team once they are on the upswing

The Knicks also got an encouraging showing from their prized rookie Kevin Knox who finished with 17/5

who over his last 5 has actually been pretty good. Who could complain about 19.4/6.8 on 41/41% splits with 3.0 3PM a night? For a 19 year old that’s pretty impressive and even better that it only led to 1 win over that span. Super Mario was solid off the bench with 14 points

and the Knicks are well on their way to catching the rest of the tanking teams in this league, as they have tied the Cavs and Hawks in losses and are just 1 behind the Bulls and Suns.

For PHX, they got Devin Booker back so that’s cool. Remember as long as they have Booker/Ayton playing this team is worth watching as long as you don’t care about wins and losses. Both were great and worth your time

You know who has also had a pretty underrated season that nobody is really talking about? TJ Warren.

He’s avergaing 21/5 over his lat 5 games on 55/45% splits with 2.2 3PM a night. At just 25 years old, he’s having a great season and could probably help a good team that needs wing depth if the Suns decided to move him. We also got something don’t see very often, and that was double digit assists from Jamal Crawford!

what you thought he was just a microwave scorer? Please!

Utah Jazz (14-17) 97 vs Houston Rockets (15-14) 102

Man, the Jazz are fighting it right now. Losers of 4 of their last 5 and the Warriors up next, they are in a tough spot. They have the second worst record in the West, sit 2.5 full games from the 8 spot, and their offense is just so anemic. They finished this one with just 39/28% splits and 23 TOs, and I ask you on what planet is that going to win you a game on the road in a tough place to play? I know the Rockets have struggled, but that’s still not going to get it done no matter who you play. Donovan Mitchell led the way with 22 on 8-22 shooting

and Gobert did his job with 18/13/4 on 6-10

but you score 37 points in a half and I’m not sure what you expect to happen.

For HOU, don’t look now but they have a run going. Their 4th win in a row is currently the longest active streak in the West, and they’ve had this success largely because nobody on the planet can stay in front of James Harden right now.

Watch that dagger three in Rubio’s face one more time. Ruthless

Over his last 5 games he’s nearly dropped 50 twice, is averaging 38.6/6.6/7.6 on 50/37% splits with 4.2 3PM a night. Those are certainly MVP numbers and while I don’t think people will vote for him, he’s actually having an MVP worthy season this year despite their struggles. If he can carry this team back into a legit playoff spot, I think you have to give him some serious consideration.

The Rockets couldn’t really buy a bucket either, finishing with just 37/32%, but when you have a closer like Harden all you have to do is stay close and he’ll travel carry you over the finish line.

Sacramento Kings (16-14) 105 vs Minnesota Timberwolves (14-16) 132

God damn, what on earth got into the Timberwolves? The Kings are actually playing decent and they straight up treated them like the Kings of old. This thing was a blowout from the jump, with a 38-23 lead after one the TWolves exploded. A total of 9 players in double figures it came from everyone as no player had more than 17 points

Josh Okogie was probably the man of the night with a couple of thunderous dunks, and just like that they are 12-4 at home. If they can ever figure their shit out on the road where they are 2-14, this team could actually make the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time in decades. We had Taj Gibson playing defense with his shoe

Derrick Rose dishing out 11 assists, Wiggins was only slightly terrible offensively, KAT only took 11 FGA, and yet they scored 132 points in regulation. What a weird team.

For SAC, finally they fucking lose a game and I think part of that is because three starters totaled 1 point. Dave Joerger sat a bunch of his starters due to their schedule as of late, and he didn’t play any starter after halftime. Some might argue he was mailing this one in. It did give us a chance to see Harry Giles, who had a great summer and is a player I would love to see play more

The bench did their job pulling off a 21-3 run, but as you can see by the final score it didn’t really matter all that much.

Chicago Bulls (7-24) 96 vs Oklahoma City Thunder (19-10) 121

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned NBA hold me back fight?!?!?!

I give that a solid 7.5. In terms of the actual basketball game, this pretty much went how you would expect.

nobody could really stop Russell Westbrook as he had another triple double, the bench was solid with 47 points and as a team they shot 48%. OKC is now 12-3 at home and remains just 1 game back of the top spot in the West.

For CHI, this is what you wanted, no need to win this game and fuck things up. At least you saw Baby Dirk drop his first 15/15 game

That’s pretty cool. Not much else you can do though when you give up that many points and turn it over 23 times. You lose those games.

Philadelphia 76ers (20-12) 96 vs San Antonio Spurs (16-15) 123

Sixers fans probably are going to tell you they aren’t nervous right? Despite being 6-9 on the road and losing 3 of their lat 4 with really their only win over a good team in weeks being the Pistons. Jimmy Butler ideally was supposed to help this defense but we didn’t really see it, and he struggled offensively as well going just 3-13. Hell everyone on the Sixers was pretty human so maybe it was just an off night, but even Embiid was held in check with just 13 points.

Luckily they have the Knicks up next so things should be turning around for them shortly. It should be noted though of all the teams in the top 8 in the East, the Sixers have the third worst point differential, and if you want to just talk contenders because that’s where Sixers fans feel they are, their +1.5 number is a full 4 points lower than IND, who is 4th on that list. That has to change if this team wants to actually make progress.

For SA, where were they hiding this?

56% shooting, three guys with at least 20 points, man if they weren’t so bad on the road we would be thinking this team could actually make the playoffs. They even got legit production off the bench!

The Spurs are very weird this year. I want to say they stink but then they go and do shit like this. So bizarre.

Memphis Grizzlies (16-14) 93 vs Golden State Warriors (21-10) 110

Heading into the game we wondered if the grit and grind defense, the one that holds every awesome offense to like 85 points would be able to do it in Oracle. Nope, no they would not

Well maybe that’s not fair. They did about as good as you can in that building where GS is 13-3. They held them to 43/38% splits and just 12 3PM. but 61 points in the first half was pretty much the story. That’s bad when you’re only scoring just 38 yourself. We did get to see a little bit of history with Steph Curry as he broke the 15,000 point mark so that was fun.

For MEM, no Conley hurts for sure, and Gasol was decent I guess but the real story for them was the play of Omar Casspi, my fellow Chosen, off the bench who had 20. We even got ourselves a nice little battle between him and Jerebko

This was now the third loss in a row for the Grizzlies who are hanging onto that 8th spot by a thread, and you know teams like SAC/HOU are just waiting to pounce.

Portland Trail Blazers (17-13) 131 vs Los Angeles Clippers (17-13) 127

Hopefully you stayed awake for this one because it may have been the game of the night. The Blazers, who are known to struggle on the road given their 6-9 record came out firing and never let up

Sure they nearly blew it in the fourth quarter where they gave up 39 points, but they held on in what is a very important game between two teams who are not only tied in the standings, but POR really needed it so they could stay within striking distance of both OKC and DEN who are both in their division. They’ve now won 2 in a row and have MEM up next so we’ll see if a team that has scored 128 and 131 in their last two games can keep it going against a good defense.

For LAC, they have definitely cooled off. Losers of four in a row and 6 of their last 7, things are not as peachy as they were just a few weeks ago. From leading the West to the 6th seed, they’ve faced some brutal competition but that’s life in the West.

They got close when Gallo made this bucket

but then it became a game of FTs and that’s exactly what the Blazers want to do. The Clips have a date with the Mavs next who just beat them by 4 points in their last meeting, and the Clippers need to turn this around quickly or they are not going to like where they end up.

And that’s it! You’re now all caught up on everything that went down last night in the NBA. We’re back tonight with jsut 4 games so go live your life and just check back in the morning and I’ll tell you what you missed.