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Last Night In The NBA: DeRozan Buries The Raptors, Kyrie Finally Plays Basketball, The Nuggets Make A Statement And More

Good morning everybody happy Monday and welcome back to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we bring you up to speed one everything that went down from the night before in the Association. It was another busy night in the league with 7 games on the schedule and it had a little bit of everything. There were emotional returns, surprising upsets, huge head to head battles that could impact the postseason and a whole lot more. Maybe you spent the day watching football and missed the action, and if you're now in the cubes a little depressed because your favorite team won't win the Super Bowl, numb that pain with some quality basketball highlights. It sure as shit beats working. 

Utah Jazz (27-12) 127 vs Washington Wizards (13-26) 116

We may as well start with the hottest team in the NBA, and if you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks you may not realize that team is the Utah Jazz. A league best 9 in a row, this team has reached a soft spot in their schedule and they have more than taken advantage. The Jazz are tied with the Nuggets for the 2 seed in the West, they have the same point differential and are showing no signs of slowing down. Sure this is just the Wizards, but they won this game with no Donovan Mitchell and they were extremely balanced with 5 players in double figures including 4 with at least 20 points

Bogdanovic led the way with 31, and I think it's fair to say he's been one of the better free agent signings in the entire league for the Jazz. He has come in and been exactly what they needed. He got some help with Ingles and Gobert combining for 41 

and this was a game where they certainly had to earn this win. Down 15 at one point the Jazz exploded in the second half for 72 points and played just enough defense to turn this game around. Getting 23 points from Jordan Clarkson off the bench was huge, and while he's a streaky player who isn't going to give you this every night, he is capable of getting hot and carrying a second unit and that's what we got

My guess is nights like this is why they traded for him.

For WSH, I mean it's more of the same shit. Some good offense in terms of points, Bradley Beal does most of the damage for the starters

but in the end their defense lets them down and they lose. Not sure what you expect to happen when you give up 127 in regulation at home, but that has been the Wizards calling card all season. There were some positives though, Thomas Bryant finally came back after missing a bunch of time, and the Latvian Laser is still out here draining threes

but in terms of their team, yeah they stink. But you knew that already.

Miami Heat (27-12) 121 vs New York Knicks (11-29) 124

Speaking of stink, what the hell is going on with the Heat? Back to back road losses to BKN and NYK? I guess it's time to panic and tweet about how they aren't contenders and need to trade everyone! Those are the rules! In reality they should be pretty embarrassed considering how they started the year, and I can get losing to BKN there are nights where they can be feisty. But the Knicks? Nope, that can't happen. They didn't even play that poorly offensively, they still dropped 121 with 53/40% splits and 14 3PM. They had good nights from multiple guys

Hell even the corpse of James Johnson played in this game and he had 19 off the bench with some big time threes. But in the end, giving up 40 fourth quarter points is a disaster and when you do that shit you deserve to be embarrassed for the world to see. A team that prides itself on defense couldn't stop a nosebleed and now is 10-11 on the road. The loss bumped them out of the 2 seed and just like every other team in the NBA they are going through their little January rut. No need to panic, but no need to try and spin that this wasn't a terrible loss either.

For NYK, we all know they aren't good, but games like this give you an idea of what it would be like if they WERE good. That crowd was electric, they got massive performances from some young talent, and even though your brain knows this team will never be good, performances like this are what can give a fan hope for the future

Thankfully they didn't blow this game with those missed RJ FTs late. That would have been very Knicks. It was also good to see Kevin Knox actually do something productive on the basketball floor with his 17 points off the bench

and while the realist will tell you that these wins are actually hurting the Knicks in the long run in terms of their lottery pick, I still think there is value in young players beating good teams. It all matters.

Atlanta Hawks (8-32) 86 vs Brooklyn Nets (18-20) 108

Man, the Hawks are depressingly terrible. No Trae Young in this one who sat with a hamstring issue so you knew right off the bat this team was fucked offensively. Seeing as how they went on to score 86 points and shoot 33/25% I'd say that fit the bill. It's hard to find a positive in this team considering they are about a billion times worse than we all expected, but hey at least Cam Reddish finally had a good game in the NBA!

he had 20 points and 5 steals which was nice, but with only three players in double figures and the fact that they were down 21 points after the first quarter, you sort of get the idea of how this went.

For BKN, Kyrie came back! Remember him? Well he picked up right where he left off with a measly 10-11 performance in 20 minutes

No other BKN starter had more than 8 FGA so things pretty much got back to where they were the last time we saw Kyrie. The difference this time around was his teammates were much more efficient in their opportunities.  This team pretty much coasted in the second half offensively, but they need every win they can get at this point. After their losing streak the Nets are just 0.5 games from the 8 seed and are 5.5 games behind IND. Something tells me they are going to settle into that 7/8 seed and everyone on the planet is going to try and avoid MIL for as long as they possibly can. 

San Antonio Spurs (17-21) 105 vs Toronto Raptors (25-14) 104

An emotional game with DeMar DeRozan returning to his old stomping grounds, and boy did he look motivated in this one. He finished with a team best 25 points on 7-12 shooting including a fantastic poster of Chris Boucher 

Honestly the Spurs had no business winning this game, it certainly didn't look like that was going to be a possibility early. They were down 13 points heading into the fourth quarter but then somehow dug deep, won the last 12 minutes 36-22 and escaped with a 1 point win. Maybe that's more of a collapse on TOR's part but hey for a team that is 6-12 on the road, the Spurs just won in BOS and TOR, while also beating the Bucks at home not too long ago. Those are some pretty good wins considering TOR had some guys back for this one. As of today the Spurs are tied for the 8th spot in the West, and you get the feeling that somehow someway this team is gong to make the playoffs which is the most Spurs thing ever.

For TOR, it was nice to see Siakam back in the lineup even if he's still getting his feet under him

and with Powell back too this TOR team was almost at full strength minus Gasol and VanVleet. This game came down to mostly the four main guys outside of OG and for the most part they played well

they just ran out of gas in the fourth. The second unit really let them down as nobody was all that efficient, and honestly the bench production difference between the two teams is probably what did it. The Raptors just needed one of those dudes to step up at home, and it never came.

Golden State Warriors (9-32) 102 vs Memphis Grizzlies (18-22) 122

We're not going to waste any time on the Warriors really. We all know the deal with them, they stink, it's been a disaster all year and this is no different. The only positive I guess is D'Angelo Russell who has been on a tear recently and that continued in this game

It's not often you see a team make 17 3PM and still lose by 20, but that's pretty much the Warriors season in a nutshell.

For MEM, it's time to accept the fact that maybe this team is just flat out good. Not like, scrappy young players that play teams tough type of good. Like real, actual playoff caliber talent good. Even on a night where their backcourt disappears this team still found ways to get it done, mostly riding JV and JJJ

I'm starting to think those throwback jerseys and court are a PED. It's impossible to lose when you look that good and the fact that MEM hasn't just made these the full time look is confusing to me. So fire. The Grizzlies as of today are in the playoffs, they've won 5 in a row and don't be surprised if they put some heat on OKC in 7th. They probably get waxed no matter who they play in the postseason, but just getting there would be a huge step in the development of their young franchise players.

Los Angeles Clippers (27-13) 104 vs Denver Nuggets (27-12) 114

This may have been our most important game of the night given where these two are in the standings. It was the first of a 3 game season series, and just to give you an idea of how tight things are when this game started the Clips were in 2nd and the Nuggets in 5th. After this game, the Nuggets are now in 2nd and the Clippers in 5th. That's how it's going to be when all of these elite West teams play each other. For the Nuggets, they are a different animal at home and it was nice to see them have this sort of offensive night against a legit defense.

A huge second quarter is what gave them their initial separation, and from there it was just about maintaining the lead. They weren't world beaters over the final 24 minutes but they were good enough on both ends and when you defend and are efficient (48/44%) combined with taking 37 FTA, that's how you secure a very important home win. Head to head tie breakers could be important so this was a great way to start off if you're a Nuggets fan.

For LAC, I saw some people say that the Clippers aren't taking the regular season seriously, and to me that's a cop out. Yeah Paul George didn't play, but don't sit there and tell me the Clippers didn't try in this game and if they did they would have won. They tried and lost Kawhi played 36 minutes and shot 12-25. Outside of Kawhi/Lou Williams/Harrell, nobody else did jack shit

We all know the postseason is what is most important for this team, but the regular season matters. Seeding is going to matter. This Clippers team has it's issues just like everyone else, and it's bullshit that every time they lose people say it's just because they aren't trying. They got their ass beat by a legit contending West team, and it's concerning that a game like this would be one that the Clippers didn't want to try for if that was the case. 

Charlotte Hornets (15-27) 92 vs Phoenix Suns (16-23) 100

By now you were probably sleeping, and if you weren't then the Hornets definitely put you to sleep. A rough shooting night all around, this team blew an early lead in the second quarter only to then tie it up heading into the fourth. Sadly they forgot to being either their offense or defense with them into the final frame and things got a little away from them. Good nights from Devonte Graham and Dwayne Bacon kept them in it

but the 1-10 performance from Terry Rozier was the killer. In the end, it was more of the same from what we've seen from CHA. They can play anyone tough on any given night, but in the end they more often than not blow it do to poor shooting.

For PHX, while they may have come back down to earth a little bit since their start, they are still very fun to watch. Not a bad win when Devin Booker goes 3-12 and their starting backcourt a combined 7-23. To pull it off they needed a huge performance from Kelly Oubre Jr and he responded with a cool 25/15

Then there was Ayton and his 26 minutes off the bench who chipped in with 18/9 on 9-15

and against a team like CHA that was pretty much enough. The good news is the Suns aren't totally dead, just 1.5 games from the 8 seed, the only problem is both SA and MEM who are ahead of the Suns are both playing really well right now. Makes you wonder what the Suns will do at the deadline because they do have some interesting pieces that could in theory help some contenders, but who knows if they want to be sellers if they still have an outside shot at making the playoffs.

And that's it! You are now all caught up with everything that went down last night in the NBA. We're back tonight with 7 more games so make sure you check back tomorrow since most of you will probably be watching the National Championship. Hope that helped ease you into this new work week, have a fantastic Monday!