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Last Night In The NBA: Embiid Returns, More Zion Dominance, The Grizzlies Are Flat Out Good And More

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. As we all look to move forward, basketball games can certainly help and with 8 total games on Tuesday's schedule it felt weird but also comforting to get back to normal with a full slate (LA/LAC obviously postponed). We got a little bit of everything, surprise upsets, insane offensive performances, not a whole lot of defense was playing last night but sometimes that's OK because we're looking for highlights to distract us and boy do I have them for you. If for whatever reason you missed any of the action last night that's OK, here's what happened.

New York Knicks (13-36) 92 vs Charlotte Hornets (16-31) 97

May as well get this one out of the way early. This was the only matchup of the night that didn't include a team who you could consider in the playoff hunt, so really these two are jockeying for lottery positioning. As of now the Knicks sit tied for 3rd and the Hornets a cool 7th in the tanking standings, but that could all change in a week.  The Knicks are used to this by now and at least they are getting some solid outings from their trade bait, with Julius Randle and Mook doing most of the heavy lifting by combining for 47 of their 92

If they are smart they'll flip them both for assets, but it's the Knicks so they probably won't and then they'll enter next season still thinking they can make the playoffs. Time is a flat circle. They got absolutely nothing from their bench, Kevin Knox only played 11 minutes and went 1-5 so he's pretty much a disaster, and honestly outside of Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett there isn't much to be excited about at the moment.

For CHA, they are a bit different because their talent is too good so they can't really tank, but not good enough to make the playofs in my opinion. NBA purgatory like you read about which as we know is only the worst place to be of all time. A tough shooting night for most, things really came down to Terry Rozier putting this team on his back with an efficient 30/10

They started slow, just 15 points in the first quarter but ultimately buckled down defensively and then Rozier did the rest.

Golden State Warriors (10-38) 104 vs Philadelphia 76ers (31-17) 115

Welcome back Joel Embiid! Still without Josh Richardson for a little while, but getting Embiid back is huge and having him come back against the pathetic Warriors is certainly an ideal way to work him back in. He was his same old dominant Embiid, with 24/10 on 9-13 shooting which isn't too bad considering his conditioning must be shit until he plays his way back into game shape.

Rocking 24, hitting the Kobe fadeaway to ice it and he says he yelled "Kobe!", I certainly hope that's true because that would be a shitty thing to lie about all in all this was a pretty great return for their most important player. The secondary scoring around Embiid showed up

and none was more important than what Raul Neto gave them off the bench with his huge 19 points and 3 3PM

This game was maybe closer than they had hoped until they were eventually able to pull away in the fourth quarter, and at 22-2 this season at home it's pretty clear how important home court will be for PHI. Granted we're almost at the All Star break and they still don't have homecourt in the first round, but that's OK the Sixers fans will just tell you it's not a big enough sample yet.

For GS, you give them credit for actually hanging around and making Philly have to legit try. I suppose that could be a win. DLo and Glenn Robinson III did most of the damage

but let's be honest, this team doesn't have the talent to beat PHI on their home floor. The result isn't surprising, the fact that it was even close is.

New Orleans (19-29) 125 vs Cleveland Cavaliers (13-25) 111

Well Zion finally played 30 minutes and it was the same old efficient dominance. His 14/9 may not seem all that crazy but he did it on 7-13 shooting and is showing no signs of being able to be stopped by anyone. 

the man is such a tank it doesn't even make sense. My brain can't comprehend it but the facts are Zion might shoot 60%+ for the entire season. How do you stop him? You add that to what they already have in both Brandon Ingram and Jrue Holiday

and you can see why the Pelicans don't want to be sellers at the deadline. They still have a ways to go until they get to the 8th seed, as of this morning they are still 4.5 games back, but there is no denying that this offense that was already pretty good has gone up a level with the addition of Zion. How could it not? I don't know if they end up making the playoffs, but what I do know is they are a must watch team at the moment,

For CLE, yeah they stink, what else is new. A rough night for Love, Cedi, TT, basically any veteran. That's OK though because their future is in their young talent and with Garland getting the night off that meant it was time for Sexton and KPJ to come in and pick up the offensive slack which they absolutely did

If we're being honest that's really all you need to know. Their throwbacks are fire though so I'll give them credit for that as well.

Boston Celtics (31-15) 109 vs Miami Heat (32-15) 101

We'll talk about the Celts in their normal blog so for this let's focus on the Heat. A team that has been unbeatable at home, they were 21-2 heading into this night, they came out flat offensively which was expected given this was a B2B for them. They shot just 37/24% and despite living at the FT line it basically came down to the fact that the Celtics white dudes played better than the Heat white dudes. They had decent outings from Bam and Dragic

and they did keep it close, with the Celts never truly blowing this game wide open, and honestly it's not that big a deal in terms of their standings. The Heat are still in the 2 seed conversation however they are down 0-2 to BOS which could be important come H2H tie breakers if those are needed. 

Plus those jersey's are so fire I'm actually surprised they lost. 

Atlanta Hawks (12-36) 114 vs Toronto Raptors (33-14) 130

When you go up to TOR and you attempt to beat that team, the one thing you cannot do is turn the ball over. It's the kiss of death. You do that, you're going to get blown out, pretty simple. So you can imagine it probably wasn't great that the Hawks turned it over 18 times, with their two best players in Collins/Young accounting for 11 of them. That's not great!

The problem for them was their slow start, getting down by 10 after the first quarter is no way to do it against this loaded TOR team and even though they played the Raptors fairly even for the rest of the night, the damage was already done. 

For TOR, it's time you start putting some respect on their name and their season. Now winners of 8 straight and in sole possession of the 2 seed, this team is healthy and back to being a big time bitch to play. Especially at home.

Rocking the Dino jerseys doesn't seem fair, and while the Hawks aren't exactly defensive monsters, the Raptors never had a quarter under 29 points, only turned it over 12 times, and got great production from their depth which is what makes them so tough. Another team that will most certainly not be sellers at the deadline, a healthy Raptors team should be talked about with the same amount of respect as any of the other non MIL contenders in my opinion. They can play.

Denver Nuggets (32-15) 96 vs Memphis Grizzlies (23-24) 104

OK, maybe it's time to give the Grizzlies credit and realize maybe they are just flat out good. They've won 3 in a row, now have a 2.5 game lead over the Spurs for the 8th seed since they've now lost 3 straight, and if you look at their January they are 11-3 and 18-11 since Dec 1st. This is a playoff team loaded with young talent and one of the more exciting groups to watch play

On a night they didn't have to over rely on Morant, he did a little bit of everything on both ends, and Dillon Brooks is starting to look like a legit 2 guard, this is a team that shot 56% and beat the Nuggets without really making any threes (6). That's impressive.

For DEN, tough to win on the road against a good team when you shoot 37/37% and turn it over 19 times. That's never going to get it done I don't care who you are. Outside of Jokic and Jerami Grant there really wasn't any other reliable scoring

getting down 31-18 to start wasn't great and even with a big fourth quarter they still came up short. The loss has them currentl in the 4 seed but just a game outside of 2, but they have to figure out a way to win away from home.

Washington Wizards (15-31) 131 vs Milwaukee Bucks (41-6) 151

OK what the hell. Seriously what the hell. 151 points on 55/51% shooting and 19 3PM in a game Giannis doesn't even play in? What the fuck is that. Khris Middleton dropping 51/10/6? Christ we're all so screwed

then you add in the 34 from Bledsoe

combined with the 39 bench points and this thing was over before the Wizards even knew what hit em. There's being a wagon and then there's whatever the Bucks are, and I have to say if this team doesn't make the Finals it has to be one of the biggest disasters in recent memory. Even more than last year for them because this team is 10x better in my opinion. We are seeing some historic shit from the Bucks, and for them to do it without the MVP and one of the best players on the planet doesn't seem fair.

For WSH, pretty much the same old story. Defense gives us a billion points, Bradley Beal has to do all the scoring to keep them alive (47 points)

the combined score of their game is 250+, and ultimately they lose. Not the first time we've seen this recipe and it certainly won't be the last. A team that should sell but probably won't so they don't piss off their best player, at least the Wizards are a lock to give you an outrageous offensive game which makes them watchable in my opinion.

Phoenix Suns (20-27) 133 vs Dallas Mavericks (29-18) 104

What an impressive win by the Suns who are trying to get back into the playoff conversation. Always nice when your two young franchise cornerstones combine for 63 points on 25-35 shooting, and it was clear that the Mavs had no answer for either Devin Booker or Deandre Ayton

They shot 59/42% as a team and only turned it over 11 times which is important because when you are playing a team like DAL you basically have to be flawless. I will say they are more vulnerable at home for whatever reason, and this win got PHX back to .500 on the road which is certainly better than I thought they would be. A big lead early set the tone, a massive 48 point third quarter sealed the deal, and maybe this will give them a little momentum as they try and catch MEM for that final spot.

For DAL, in a game where both Doncic and Porzingis play, you have to find a way to win at home. Have to. Now just 13-12 in their own building it doesn't make any goddamn sense. Last year it was the complete opposite, they were solid at home and couldn't buy a road win. If this team wants to do anything in the postseason they are going to have to figure out how to win on their own floor and having Luka be the only starter in double figures isn't going to cut it

Nothing from Porzingis, nothing from THJ or Seth Curry, if not for some decent bench production this looks even worse and it was already a 29 point home loss. Woof. 

And that's it! You are now all caught up with everything that happened last night in the NBA. We're back tonight with 6 more games and as always you know the drill if you can't watch. Hopefully this helped kill some time for you this morning, have a great Wednesday!