Good morning everybody happy Wednesday, and welcome back to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we bring you up to speed on everything that went down fromt he night before in the Association. It was a relatively light night on the schedule with just 5 games, but with really only one of them being a blowout it was certainly a night filled with drama. Four of the 5 games were decided by 7 or less, with three of those four coming in at 4 points or less. That’s the kind of pre All Star break action I need in my life and if you were busy and maybe didn’t catch it all that’s fine just keep reading. Here’s everything that happened.
Los Angeles Lakers (28-29) 113 vs Atlanta Hawks (19-38) 117
Hey look, sometimes when you’re without LeBron weird things happen on the road like losing to the Hawks. Wait, LeBron played? So did Ingram/Kuzma/Rondo? That can’t be. How can the Lakers have 90% of their talent and not be able to beat the Hawks? You just hate to see that happen despite LeBron’s triple double
and a decent 19/6 from Ingram on 7-14 shooting
So what the hell happened? Well they didn’t play much defense early that’s for sure as the Hawks lit them up from three in the first quarter with 10 3PM. After coming back in the second and actually having a halftime lead, the Lakers gave up another 35 points in the third and that was that. They had their chances late in the fourth but scored just 18 points in the final quarter, and they now fall to 2.5 games back of the final playoff spot. I’m pretty sure I saw this is the latest in a season that LeBron has been under .500 and it’s just so unfortunate that his master plan isn’t working out.
For ATL, at this point I think they’ve accepted the fact that they aren’t going to be in the top 3 of the lottery, they still have a huge lead over MEM for the 5th spot, so why not go out and win some games to help build your confidence. Trae Young and John Collins were awesome, combining for 44 points to lead the Hawks
The Hawks finished with 16 3PM and despite their 20 TOs were still able to hold off a late Lakers push. Their fans did their part in trolling LeBron at the line which was great
nothing like adding insult to injury. You think Kobe would ever lose to this Hawks team? No chance.
Boston Celtics (36-21) 112 vs Philadelphia 76ers (36-21) 109
We’ll talk more about the Celts in their usual blog, so let’s instead focus on the Sixers right now. You may have heard, but this is supposed to be the best team in the East, and one that is 100% better than the Celtics. Here on planet Earth, you realize the Sixers no matter who they add and who they trade for, will always lose to the Celtics. This now makes the Process losers in like 21 of their last 24 meetings, 0-3 this season and now official losers of the head to head matchup. PHI is now sitting in 5th and doesn’t own the tie breaker and is something terrible like 1-7 against the top 4 teams in the East. That’s just sad given how much they hype themselves up and how badly people like ESPN want to crown them already. They stink, it’s pretty simple.
And sure, Joel Embiid had 22/14 on 9-22 shooting
and Jimmy Butler had 22/9
but after getting waxed for the millionth time all Embiid and PHI could do is cry about the refs. You know those same refs that gave them 31 FTA and called them for fewer fouls. Embiid couldn’t even admit that Horford dominates him even though he held him to 6-17 shooting. This was the best chance the Process had to actually beat this team given they were without two very important players and they were at home, but we learned once again they can chance their team as many times as they want, it won’t matter. Sucks they already called the Process complete because it still needs a lot of work.
San Antonio Spurs (33-26) 108 vs Memphis Grizzlies (23-35) 107
Man did the Spurs need this win. They were riding a four game losing streak, had fallen into the 7th spot out West with SAC not too far behind, and for a team that’s 11-19 on the road even playing a tanking team like MEM certainly wasn’t a guaranteed victory. It certainly didn’t look great for them when they got down 13 early, and once they came back and actually took a lead, scoring just 14 points in the fourth certainly made it stressful.
It was a weird shooting night for SA in that they shot just 41% from the field but were 62% from deep, and it’s that three point shooting that despite Popovich hating, that ultimately was the reason they were able to avoid disaster.
The Spurs now find themselves within striking distance of the 6 seed, and if they really put a streak together a seed as high as 4 isn’t totally out of the question. That’s just how crazy the West is right now, things can change in a matter of days.
For MEM, by now you’re used to this as a Grizzlies fan, despite being a little better at home with a 14-15 record. Conley sat this one out so that obviously matters, but with the production they got from their new guys in Avery Bradley and JV, at least they had something to cheer for
Sadly they had their chances to tie this game at the FT line, but Jaren Jackson Jr missed his first one and then tried to miss on purpose with the second but made it. Thats rough.
The Grizzlies have a bit of losing to do if they want to catch ATL for the 5th best lottery odds, but with CHI/LAC/CLE/LAL/CHI up next, it may be hard for them out out tank the tankers.
Orlando Magic (26-32) 118 vs New Orleans Pelicans (25-33) 88
Yikes Pelicans. I mean I know things are a bit tense given the whole Anthony Davis hates his team thing, but losing by 30 at home to the Magic? That’s about as rock bottom as it gets. AD put up a nice egg with just 3 points on 1-9 shooting in his 24 minutes, they shot 38/34% as a team, and were down 22 after the first quarter! You play this poorly it’s hard for me to find anything really to show, but I feel like Pelicans fans need something so here ya go. This is the best I could find
For ORL, for a team trying to catch DET for the final playoff spot, this was a big win. The Magic are certainly intriguing because their starting talent isn’t too bad. It’s raw for sure, but the potential is there. Four of the five starters in this game had at least 20 points, and really that was all they needed
Don’t look now but the Magic have won 7 of their last 8 games and are slowly working their way back into playoff contention. For a team like them, just making the playoff is a successful season, and who knows they have played some of the elite East teams tough, so maybe they would be a fairly tough out for someone given their length and athleticism.
Utah Jazz (32-25) 108 vs Golden State Warriors (41-15) 115
I hope we are fortunate enough to see a playoff matchup between these two teams because when the Jazz are rolling they do seem to play the Warriors tough. Sure they lost the season series 2-1 to GS, but the first game was decided by 1 point, the second game decided by 5 points, and then you had last night’s 7 point finish. Games between these two always seem to be close and any time a team hangs with the Warriors consistently it’s worth noting. After starting out slow with just 14 points in the first quarter, the Jazz came storming back to take control of this game with 70 points in the second and third and took a slim lead into the final frame. Their stars showed out on the biggest stage and that’s encouraging for any Jazz fan
The way Mitchell was able to create and get to the rim with ease helped them survive the patented Warriors 3rd quarter storm, the only problem is they forgot that when it comes to this GS team, they just keep coming. One things got to the fourth the Warriors strapped in defensively, relied on their stars on the other end, and put up another 34 points. The Jazz are still in a decent spot, they are within reach of a seed as high as 4, this is just one that’s going to sting because they went on the road and played great, just couldn’t survive the late Curry magic.
For GS, this is why you can never relax against them. Even if it looks like they may be vulnerable, they’ll just give the ball to Steph and let him work his magic from three to swing the momentum like they did in this game. He was great in that fourth quarter and you add his performance to the rest of the Warriors stars, and that’s how you pull off a comeback win
I’m not sure what a team is supposed to do when the Warriors get this type of balanced production, and UTA even got a little lucky with the fact that they shot just 31% from deep as a team. Now winners of 5 straight the Warriors are starting to separate themselves atop the West with a 3 game lead over DEN, and I wouldn’t say it’s all that crazy to assume this is where they finish the season.
Anf that’s it! You’re now all caught up on everything that happened last night in the NBA. We’re back tonight with a full slate of 11 games so make sure you clear your calendar. As always if you miss the action just check back in the morning and I’ll bring you up to speed on what you missed!