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 from the night before in the Association. There were 8 games on the schedule last night and once again we were blessed with late game drama and upsets, something that feels like it's an everyday occurrence in this league. We're at the point where you should be watching every night because this season has done nothing but deliver, but if you were busy and missed the action here's what happened
Oklahoma City Thunder (4-7) 85 vs Indiana Pacers (7-4) 111
There have been two main reasons why the Pacers have been able to tread water while Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo are both out. The first being Sabonis came back from his injury and has been nothing short of spectacular. A double double machine he's been an anchor for that front line
the way he can score around the rim is legit, his rebounding in this expanded role is Andre Drummond-esq, and he's a guy that has earned every bit of his extension. He's been huge for them but is only half the story. The other half has to be the continued steady play of the two new Pacers TJ Warren and Malcolm Brogdon
Between the three of those dudes the combined for 61 of the Pacers 111, and even more surprising was it was the Pacers defense that really turned this into a blowout. They didn't get much from their bench offensively, but huge defensive quarters in the 2nd and 3rd are what opened this game up and seeing as how IND is 5-1 this is quickly becoming a pretty tough building to play in. Don't look now but the Pacers now have the 2nd longest winning streak in the East with 4, and they are right in the mix for the 2-6 seed. Eventually their guys will be back and this sort of reminds you of last year doesn't it?
For OKC, rough night all around really. One of the best defenses in the league gave up 111 on the road, and then offensively they finished with just 35/24% splits and 16 TOs which last time I checked wasn't great. Unfortunately for OKC they can't win on the road, now 0-4, and given the conference they play in that's sort of a big deal. I mean I'd love to help spinzone this for OKC fans but everyone pretty much played terrible, so I guess here are some Gallo highlights to distract you? He only had 14 but it was about the best they got
Cleveland Cavaliers (4-6) 97 vs Philadelphia 76ers (7-3) 98
Look, I'm not going to clown the Sixers for needing a final shot in order to beat the Cavs at home. Why? Because my Celtics needed a last second shot to beat the Knicks at home and that is way more embarrassing. Sometimes these bottom of the league teams get hot and play you tough and CLE is playing almost everyone tough so I sort of view PHI's win here as a positive. Had they lost to the Cavs it would have been time to panic a little bit but they didn't so it's whatever.
Simmons finally returned from his injured shoulder and looked OK, nothing crazy but still good enough
and listen even without Jimmy Butler we're seeing the Sixers come through with big time clutch baskets which was a question for them. How Brett Brown got the ball to Embiid on that game winning dunk was a great play, and that's basically their strategy which nobody seems to be able to stop. At least Sixers fans can know that question is answered.
What isn't answered is what this team is going to do about it's shooting. 8-38 last night, Tobias Harris going 0-11 from three, that shit isn't going to cut it against teams that aren't the Hornets or Cavs. Maybe it's a slump but it's probably not, so unless they make some moves at the deadline or something to bring in shooting that might end up being the achilles heel of this team. A 16 point fourth also didn't help, and this is coming just a few days after they only scored 13 points in the fourth in DEN. Not as dominant as we all may have thought, but with no Horford you get a win you take it.
For CLE, I don't know what you were doing to end this game but I suggest you never do it again. Tristan Thompson trying to be a guard and heaving it from halfcourt, terrible shot selection, just a total collapse from everyone involved in what would have been a great win.
Kevin Loves game winner wasn't even fucking close, but you have to like what you saw from Collin Sexton as he continues to develop as their franchise point guard, and you do have to give them credit for fighting back after being down like 9 in the third quarter, but like we see with bad young teams they had a problem finishing. It's not like they were all that great in the fourth either with 19 points, but remember the rule with rebuilding teams. In the end all you want is to see young players show flashes and remain competitive. In a way, that happened so Cavs fans probably aren't all that mad at this ending.
Detroit Pistons (4-8) 108 vs Miami Heat (7-3) 117
With Blake sitting due to rest, and Derrick Rose also not playing you knew this was going to be an uphill battle for the Pistons. Which is why it was no surprise when they only scored 17 points in the first quarter, got down by 11 and then next thing you knew it was 21 at the break. They woke up in the second half to the tune of 71 points but the damage was done at that point
I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but I think we're witnessing a Luke Kennard leap year. Maybe you don't watch a lot of Pistons basketball but he's up to 18.9/3.8/4.2 on 45/41% splits which is almost double his scoring average from last year. Certainly a MIP candidate if I've ever seen one.
The Pistons also got some decent play from their second unit which is nice, but for a team that's not 1-5 on the road, they don't have the talent with guys out to be digging themselves these type of holes early.
For MIA, this is clearly a legit contender in the East, they have roster depth and a franchise guy in Jimmy Butler who was fantastic and had a career night distributing the ball
but the bigges thing for this team is how they continue to get legit production from up and down this roster
this team can shoot, it can defend, it has two strong units, and shit Bam keeps dominating in what is a breakout year for him
I find it hard to believe there is anyone out there who wasn't taking the Heat seriously already, but if that's the case then you need to wake up and realize there is something real going on in South Beach.
New York Knicks (2-9) 102 vs Chicago Bulls (4-7) 120
Someone had to win this game and after Bobby Portis got his revenge against CHI in their last meeting it was good to see the Bulls show some balls and return the favor and protect homecourt. On a night they shot 50/42% which helped make up for their 19 TOs, it certainly wasn't easy. This game was tied at 85 heading into the fourth quarter and then the Bulls exploded to save the win, but how about the performances from Zach LaVine and Coby White
How about a rookie record 7 3PM in the fourth for White? I'll tell you what, the hair plays and so does this dude's game. The fact that he comes off the bench is a formality, he's perhaps the best point guard on the roster and is showing all the signs of being a stud. Bulls fans also have to be happy with what they saw from Wendell Carter Jr who people forget is still young as shit
and just like that the Baby Bulls are back to being fun again. Sure the Knicks do that for every team, but give Bulls fans this moment.
For NYK, you shot like shit, you turned it over a bunch, and you played no defense. Basically a normal day at the office for this dumpster fire. That may be depressing for some Knicks fans out there so instead just focus on RJ Barrett because he continues to look reaaaaaaaalllly good
He may be the lone bright spot, but at least he exists.
Atlanta Hawks (4-6) 125 vs Denver Nuggets (7-3) 121
It's very hard to beat the Nuggets no matter where they play. It's even harder to beat them in their own building especially as a young team. You know who doesn't give a fuck? Trae Young. Why? Because this man is approaching ridiculous levels
42/11 with 8 3PM, multiple threes from the logo, some nutmegs, we're at the point now where Trae Young has entered the Steph Curry must watch TV criteria. Every time he steps on the floor he is going to show you something that is going to make you scratch your head, his range is ridiculous and he's a certified beast. That Young/Luka trade might be the most even trade in history considering how awesome both these guys are. Who cares about his size because defenses can't stop him, he's a great passer and is capable of getting NBA Jam Fire hot at a moments notice. What a player.
But I have to say it again, HOW ABOUT JABARI PARKER???
We're at the point where maybe we just have to accept the fact that Jabari might be good now? He's up to 17.8/6.0 on 55% shooting in 27 minutes a night. This is basically the best he's looked since his age 21 season and it feels like he found a real home in ATL and essentially saved his NBA career. Good for him.
In terms of this game, a huge 2nd quarter gave the Hawks control, and even though they almost blew it in the fourth this was a big time road win for a team that desperately needed one.
For DEN, look they got a little lucky against PHI with that huge comeback, so maybe this was the Basketball Gods getting even. They didn't hoot all that well from three, but it's not often you see this team score 120+ and turn it over just 3 times and still lose.
Millsap was great against his old team, and offense was obviously not a problem for this group but if they are going to contend at the top of the West they have to figure their shit out defensively. This was a top 10 defense last season and it's looked like anything but that to start the year. To have it happen at home isn't all that great either.
Los Angeles Lakers (8-2) 123 vs Phoenix Suns (6-4) 115
This may not have seemed like a good win when the schedule first came out, but the Suns are legit as fuck so I give the Lakers some credit here for pulling it out. Of course you're going to get the usual AD/LeBron dominance
and while LeBron hit some late dagger threes, in my opinion neither of these guys are why the Lakers pulled this out. That had more to do with what they got from Kyle Kuzma off the bench who's back and is starting to look like the Kuzma Lakers fans remember
His multiple dagger threes in the final minutes were the true back breakers, and he had 23 off the bench which is a great sign for a team that desperately needs secondary scoring. Now 4-1 away from Staples, the Lakers stay at the top of their conference.
For PHX, a tough loss for sure because you were right there against the best team in the conference. A ton of guys played well, you shot the ball great and didn't turn it over. There's no shame in losing this game, but it would have been one hell of a win even if the rest of the NBA should 1000000% be taking the Suns serious regardless of the outcome
This team plays hard, they've played the best of the best in the NBA tough as hell, and it sure looks like this is going to be the best Suns season in probably a decade. It's crazy to see what a couple of veterans who know what they are doing can do to turn around a franchise isn't it.
Brooklyn Nets (4-6) 114 vs Utah Jazz (8-3) 119
What if I told you the Nets, who thrived last season off ball movement and everyone getting involved and were loaded with young talent are suddenly underachieving because they brought in a point guard who does nothing but shoot and isn't making his teammates better? Joe Harris took 10 shots, which was the highest any starter not named Kyrie Irving took. How many did Kyrie take? Well, he went 10-30, 2-12 from deep and missed his last 8 shots. In the biggest moment of the game he had DeAndre Jordan wide open on a roll and instead opted to take the hero three to win it because of course he did and it was short. Nets lose.
Not only that, but the Nets defense continues to be nonexistent and that's a real problem. They give up a billion points a night, and Nets fans are starting to see what Celtics fans learned last season. When Kyrie is on he is the most electric guard in the league. But with that comes nights like this, and to start the year there have been a whole lot more of these. The Nets have had one of the easiest schedules in the league to start and they can't even be .500. That's rough.
For UTA, a perfect 6-0 at home, this team has started to figure things out and is holding their ground in the tough ass West.
you really don't get a sense of what a monster Rudy Gobert is unless you watch this team, but make no mistake he carried the Jazz over the finish line on both ends in this game. He was his usual beast defensively at the rim late, and then on the offensive end somehow they kept finding a way to get him the ball at point blank range which is of course an automatic two. Also some surprise life from Mudiay came out of nowhere, but on a night where UTA shot only 6-26 from three his 15 points off the bench were desperately needed.
You have to give UTA credit, BKN was in control for most of this game but they turned it on in the second half with 67 points, buckled down defensively late, and are definitely in the mix with the best teams in the West like many predicted this summer.
Portland Trail Blazers (4-7) 99 vs Sacramento Kings (4-6) 107
Now it's still early, but Blazers fans I imagine are starting to get a little on edge. They've been on the wrong side of some brutal losses as of late, so to then go out to SAC and not even crack 100, woof. They are wasting what has been an awesome Damian Lillard season
and he's going to burn out if they don't get him some help as someone who already leads the NBA in minutes. CJ and Whiteside did their best
but the problem was clearly the second unit. They put up jack shit, combined for only 17 points which is brutal, and had they gotten any sort of life from anyone, they probably win this game and avoid the disaster. This is a team not even in the top 8 anymore which is not something most saw coming, and while injuries have sort of boned them, at the same time it's only Zach Collins. What's everyone else's excuse?
For SAC, they did not have this same problem. Their starters were solid with Hield snagging 20 and then both Holmes and Bjelica getting double doubles, but the real difference in this game was what they got from Bogdanovic off their bench
25/10 on 8-19 shooting in his 32 minutes, this is the type of firepower he can bring to a game and why he'll probably get a fat offer this summer in RFA. A huge third quarter is what gave this team the separation they needed to pull out the win, and suddenly the Kings have won 4 of 5 after their 0-4 start. Not a bad turnaround with wins over the Jazz and Blazers. Had they not blown it against the Raptors we'd be looking at 5 straight.
And that's it! You're now all caught up with everything that went down last night in the NBA. We're back tonight with 7 more games and as always if you can't watch you know the drill. Have a great Wednesday!