Good morning everybody happy Tuesday 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. Now the schedule was a little weird with only 2 games on Sunday, 14 last night, and only 1 game tonight. That means this blog that is usually pretty long already is going to be even longer as 28 teams were in action. If you had Monday off and you are back in the cubes today and are looking for anything to prevent you from doing your actual work, well you came to the right blog. We have a lot to get to so we may as well get started, if you missed any of yesterday's action here's what happened.
Detroit Pistons (16-28) 100 vs Washington Wizards (14-28) 106
Now on paper you would probably think this game would stink and you should avoid it like the plague because both of these teams are pretty terrible. But I'll give the Wizards credit that despite their shitty record they always do find themselves in entertaining games. There are a lot of rumors that the Pistons should blow their team up and move their best players ever since Blake Griffin went down with his knee injury, but I'm not so sure. For starters Drummond and Derrick Rose are playing well and they carried the Pistons in this game
but technically, their season is still alive. They woke up today only 3 games behind the Nets who have dropped 3 straight and that's not all that crazy of a gap to make up. Unless you get blown away with offers for either of those guys which most likely will not be the case, why not just hang onto them? Unless you know for certain that neither will be back, I say roll the dice. Rose has been nothing but happy in DET so it's not like you HAVE to move him, and he's had what, like 8 straight games of 20 points or some shit? Sure the Pistons ran out of gas in the fourth, but he was solid.
For WSH, it was pretty much the same old story it always is with the Wizards. Bradley Beal was awesome and was most of the offense with his 29 points, and everyone else was....well the Wizards
It was a bit strange to see a WSH actually play some defense, and the 51% shooting certainly helped overcome the 19 TOs, but you can see why maybe Beal is a little unhappy. He literally has to do everything himself each and every night, and that can get annoying. It wasn't pretty, but my guess is the Wizards will take any win they can get.
Toronto Raptors (29-14) 122 vs Atlanta Hawks (10-34) 117
Well guess who is back to being healthy and back to being a force in the East. That's right the Toronto Raptors. They stayed afloat while their guys were out injured and now they are back and they look like the same old Raptors that we saw dominate last regular season. Yeah this was against the Hawks that have yet to play defense once this season, but still, if you don't think a healthy Raptors team can be a problem over the second half of the year, you haven't been paying attention. With Fred VanVleet and Siakam back for the starting unit to carry the scoring load
Their starting five really doesn't have a weakness. They can shoot threes, they can defend, they have a go to guy, their length is definitely an issue. But for me, what takes them over the top is their bench. Guys like Ibaka that can definitely start on other teams, and then there's Norm Powell who I don't think gets nearly enough love. This dude can shoot, and his injury was a factor earlier in the year. Take last night and his 27 off the bench with 6 3PM, he changed this game in about a minute all by himself
The Raptors blew their nice lead with an egg in the second quarter, but 65 second half points certainly took care of that. TOR now has won 4 in a row, is 7-3 over their last 10 and sit just 1 game behind the 2 seed. Safe to say they are back.
For ATL, if there were any doubts as to whether Trae Young should be an All Star, I feel like those have been addressed. Yeah the team record is disgusting, but I don't know how you could watch this dude play and think he shouldn't be in the All Star game. A quick 42/6/15? Yeah
Unfortunately like many young teams, the combination of zero defense and 23 TOs is what did the Hawks in. Young and John Collins were studs
Everyone else….not so much. Who knows what this season would look like if Hawks fans didn't have Trae Young there to distract them from losing all the time, and at 5-16 at home this wasn't really a surprise.
Philadelphia 76ers (29-16) 117 vs Brooklyn Nets (18-24) 111
The Sixers have been able to survive with Joel Embiid out of the lineup in part because their schedule has consisted of BKN/CHI/NYK/BKN these last four games, but also because they defending at a ridiculously high level. This game was a perfect example. The Nets came out firing offensively in the first 24 minutes and looked like a team that might pull off the upset. What the Sixers unleashed over the final 24 minutes on the defensive end was incredible, holding them to 43 points, 20 in the fourth quarter and a total of 12 steals. They were everywhere, and nobody did it better than Ben Simmons and Thybulle
So active, so physical, they bullied the Nets into this loss. Simmons had the best game of his career with 34/12/12/5 on 12-14 shooting and became the first person ever to have a line like that since they first started tracking steals. Thybulle couldn't buy a bucket but had 4 steals himself. Then, once things got close in the fourth it came down to a huge Korkmaz three to seal it. That's pretty much been the blueprint for this Sixers team lately. Keep it close, and get a big time shot late from someone. The other night it was Tobias Harris against the Knicks, last night it was Korkmaz, and the Sixers have found a way to win 4 straight and stay very much alive despite missing their best player. The Sixers are working their way back to .500 on the road, now 9-14, and stealing wins like this are important.
For BKN, it was predictable that after calling out all his teammates a few games ago after the Nets lost to the Sixers that Kyrie Irving would sit things out the next time around. Boy am I glad he is not my problem anymore. Some would argue the Nets are better without him, but it was clear down the stretch of this game that they needed his offensive talent. Spencer Dinwiddie did all he could
but the Nets offense down the stretch of games is just so bad. The 22 TOs didn't help, and a lot of that had to do with the Sixers defense, but I'd argue they threw away both of these games against the Sixers due to poor late game execution. When you get a prayer 15 points from Nicolas Claxton off the bench, you have to find a way to pull that one out
The Nets are sliding, now losers of 4 straight and are 2-8 over their last 10. A good week could still have them catch ORL, but things are certainly not great in BKN right now. All that hype and all that promise of the summer has resulted in a below .500 record and fighting for their playoff lives. You hate to see it.
Sacramento Kings (15-28) 114 vs Miami Heat (30-13) 118 F/OT
One of the more entertaining games of the day, it was good to see the Kings back healthy because it was a nice reminder what kind of offensive firepower they do really have. Almost everyone played well from the starting group with 3 of the 5 nothing at least 15 points
It's certainly tough to win in MIA, the Heat are 19-1 in that building, and honestly credit to the Kings for basically playing the Heat even this whole game. They ran out of gas in OT, but it was still an impressive fight. This has become a lost season for the Kings due to all the losing and the injuries, but their young talent is still legit.
For MIA, impressive to snag this win with butler out of the lineup, which meant someone else was going to have to step up and carry the offensive load. That of course was Kendrick Nunn who is having himself one hell of a rookie season, he led everyone with 25
Him and Bam held things down for the starting unit including this massive bucket from Bam in the final seconds to send it to OT
Then you factor in the huge night from James Johnson off the bench now that he's finally not fat as fuck and can actually play in a real game
and the Heat showed us why they are for real. They have depth, they play defense, they protect home court. Nobody should be questioning them by now, but this was just the latest case of one of the best surprises in the East.
Oklahoma City Thunder (25-19) 112 vs Houston Rockets (26-16) 107
Given the massive trade that happened between these two teams, every time they play each other it's going to mean more. There is going to be an added level of spice to this matchup. It certainly looked like the Rockets were well on their way to a home win, with Westbrook becoming just the second player ever to have a triple double against every team in the NBA
and despite going just 1-17 from three Harden still had 29/9/6
It's not often that these two combine for 60 points and the Rockets still lose, and yet they blew a 17 point lead and lost this game. Yikes. Just 9-45 from three as a team, no other Rocket really stepped up as a consistent secondary scorer, and when that happens the next thing you know you give up 41 points in the fourth quarter and find a way to lose a game you had no business dropping.
The Rockets have now slid 4 in a row and dropped all the way to then 6 spot in the West. This is what can happen when you have a bad week in that conference. One minute you're a 2 seed and looking good, the next you are stinking like a rock.
For OKC, Chris Paul set the tone early with 27 first half points and you could tell he was maybe a little motivated
they used a big 17-1 run to get back into this game and you add in a triple double from SGA, a big 25/13 from Gallo and another 23 off the bench from Dennis Schroder
and it may be time to realize that when healthy, the Thunder are just flat out good. Comfortably in the 7 seed now, they only trail HOU by 2 games for the 6. I feel like this team can keep climbing since we know they can defend. Now the issue will be how fucked up Steven Adams is after that nasty fall with Capela and his sprained ankle, but this team has balance and a point guard who is very much not washed. We all thought maybe they would be sellers at the deadline, but no way that happens now.
Chicago Bulls (16-29) 98 vs Milwaukee Bucks (39-6) 111
We can keep this one short because as you imagine, there isn't a lot to talk about from the Bulls side. There was Zach LaVine asnd his 24/5 and that was pretty much it. Credit to CHI for keeping it close in the first half, mostly because they made 9 threes. But then it was separation time for MIL and there wasn't much the Bulls could do to stop it.
I tried to find LaVine highlights but they don't exist so let's move on.
For MIL, just your casual 57% shooting. Giannis and Middleton did most of the damage combining for 52 of the 111
and the Bucks now move to 21-2 at home. They've won something crazy like 32 of their last 35 or close to that, and I just don't see how they slow down unless someone gets hurt. Very definition of a wagon.
New Orleans Pelicans (17-27) 126 vs Memphis Grizzlies (20-23) 116
This would have been an awesome game for Zion to play in, but even without him it certainly lived up to the hype. The Pelicans are getting healthy and it's safe to say it's making a world of difference. Brandon Ingram is still that #1 option and he was great in this game
but now he has legit help. Now Jrue Holiday is back and all he did was set a franchise record in 3PM
As a team NO made 21 3PM which is outrageous, and even though things got a little dicey in the fourth, big buckets by Ingram down the stretch prevented the collapse. Now once Zion is back, the Pelicans are only 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot and if his impact is similar to what we saw in the preseason, they'll be challenging for that 8th spot. Lonzo's back, the ball is moving, Redick is making threes, if this team can play a lick of defense they are going to be a bitch to play.
For MEM, they were one of the hottest teams in the league heading into this game, and honestly their young talent didn't play all that poorly
There's just not much you can do when a team comes in and drops 21 threes in your face. Only makes it worse when you go 9-33. The Grizzles are still in the playoff hunt so it's not like this was a disaster loss, but it does go to show that even against the "bad" teams in the West you still need to show up on the defensive end. No quarter under 28 points is not going to get it done.
Orlando Magic (21-23) 106 vs Charlotte Hornets (15-30) 83
Hard to lose a game when you never miss a shot and the Magic's 47/50% splits with 14 3PM certainly fit that description. Both Vucevic and Evan Fournier were a problem for the Hornets, killing them both inside and out
They had a huge 20-4 run to take control of this game and only turned the ball over 9 times which was impressive. This is a team that has the shooters in Fournier in Ross where they can have these sort of nights, but the Magic still have a ways to go to climb the seeding in the East. No Jonathan Isaac obviously, playing teams like CHA certainly help.
For CHA, I mean they are 7-14 at home, had only 3 players in double figures and scored under 21 points in 3 of the 4 quarters. What did you expect to happen?
New York Knicks (12-32) 106 vs Cleveland Cavaliers (12-32) 86
Can we just pretend this game didn't even happen? It's depressing to talk about. All you need to know is Randle and Mook carried the Knicks and the young CLE backcourt combined to shoot 10-40. We good? Let's move on.
Los Angeles Lakers (34-9) 107 vs Boston Celtics (28-14) 139
We'll talk about the Celts in their normal blog. For this, let's spend time talking about how pathetic the unbeatable Lakers looked. The Celtics made both LeBron James and Anthony Davis look like trash, holding them to a combined 24 points on 8-19 shooting. When I say this was a beat down, I feel like I am under selling it. This was a massacre, and a lot of the Lakers flaws came out. For starters, their outside shooting, Just 7-26 in this game it was clear that they couldn't buy a bucket. Then you factor in how all of their bigs, something that was supposed to be an advantage, couldn't even outplay Enes Kanter. When your best player on the night is JaVale McGee
That's never a good thing. Lakers fans I'm sure will try and spin this like it didn't matter, they'll talk about their record and all that shit. How sad. You made all those moves, are having the season of a lifetime and you couldn't even beat a Celtics team that couldn't beat the Pistons or Suns? How embarrassing for you. This game was pretty much over in the second quarter, and it ended with the Lakers throwing the white flag with about 8 minutes to go.
For Celtics fans, this win pretty much erases everything we saw the last two weeks. Nothing like blowing out those frauds.
Denver Nuggets (30-13) 107 vs Minnesota Timberwolves (15-28) 100
What makes the Nuggets so tough is even in games where they are missing two key rotation players, they have such incredible depth where you wouldn't even realize it. Of course you're going to get Jokic doing Jokic things
and Will Barton can hold his own as a secondary scorer on that starting unit. But what makes them so tough is the talent they can bring off their bench. Michael Porter Jr, ever heard of him?
MPJ is quickly becoming everything the Nuggets and their fans wanted when he fell to them in the draft. This dude can PLAY and is going to be a big reason why the Nuggets potentially take a leap. Their young core is already this good this early and we haven't even scratched the surface with MPJ. To pull out this win while shorthanded against a MIN team that had KAT/Wiggins, that's impressive.
For MIN, like I said their two best players were active and you'll never believe this but they were really the only ones to do anything
MIN couldn't shoot, just 41/31%, and only three players in double figures is not going to get it done agains this caliber of DEN team. Now 6-15 at home, the season is pretty much over for MIN.
San Antonio Spurs (19-23) 120 vs Phoenix Suns (18-25) 118
I feel like thees two teams will always hate each other for the rest of time. It's not really a rivalry anymore given the Suns have sort of tanked in recent years but even still when PHX and SA meet up there's always extra spice. I don't know where the Spurs found this offensive explosion, but 49/54% with 17 3PM was certainly not something I saw coming. This is a team that HATES threes and yet they couldn't stop making them
Guys having the game of their lives, balanced scoring on both units, shit they even held on to what would have been an epic collapse in the fourth quarter. I know we thought the Spurs were dead, but they are now just 0.5 games from the final playoff spot. This is a franchise that is never going to die, no matter how bad their record is. It's insane and yet totally believable.
For PHX, a tough loss no doubt. Especially for a team that has been playing well recently. Booker and Ayton dominated to the tune of 62 points and that has to be encouraging for Suns fans. At least their future looks bright behind those two
They nearly pulled off the upset with a 35 point fourth quarter, but their second quarter dug too deep a hole. Still despite the loss this Suns team is still tons of fun to watch offensively, and technically still alive for a playoff spot trailing MEM by just 2 games.
Golden State Warriors (10-35) 124 vs Portland Trail Blazers (19-26) 129 F/OT
Actually not a bad game! Not sure who saw that coming, but the Warriors actually came out and put up offensive numbers like it was the old Warriors group. I'm talking 20+ points from at least 3 dudes
and credit to them for actually forcing an OT. To be honest they were sort of in control of this entire game outside the fourth quarter and OT which is certainly better than I expected. To think they shot only 41/25% you would not think that would be the case. There was just one problem. They had to play Dame.
For POR, all you need to know is Dame had 61. That's it. 61 points on 17-37 shooting with 11 3PM and 16 FTM. What a fucking monster
And that's it! Phew that was a lot but you are now all caught up with everything that went down last night in the NBA. Remember we only have 1 game on the schedule tonight, so maybe do some chores or something and build up some equity with your significant other. Anyway, hope this helped kill time for you this morning, have a great Tuesday!