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. Tuesday was a busy night with a total of 9 games on the schedule, and it was one of those nights where pretty much every game delivered. Of the 9, a total of 5 of them were decided by 6 points or less, we had late game drama caused be epic comebacks, surprise upsets that could impact playoff seeding and a whole lot more. Now I get that last night was also The Bachelor so there's a chance many of you missed the action from last night. That's OK, just keep reading because here's what happened.
New York Knicks (20-45) 115 vs Washington Wizards (24-40) 122
After what we saw the other night between ATL/CHA, you should never thumb your nose up at any matchup at this point of the season, even if it's Knicks/Wizards. Another 20 win team vs a 24 win team you knew one thing about this matchup. It was going to be ugly, and there were going to be a lot of points. The Knicks are Sixers level bad on the road at 9-23 but for a minute there it actually looked like maybe they were going to pull it out. That's what happens when you shoot 51% and win the second quarter 39-18. They got surprising performances from their second unit, a group that combined for a total of 66 points!
but then the Knicks did what the Knicks do, came out in the second half and gave their big lead right back by only scoring 17 poitns in the third quarter, and the whole playing defense thing was an issue as they allowed 68 second half points, a huge 17-4 run allowed WSH to regain control and that was that. Hey, as a Knicks fan this is A OK for you, a semi entertaining game while still making sure you take care of your high lottery pick. That's about as ideal as it gets.
For WSH, it gets funnier and funnier every time you remember that Bradley Beal didn't make the All Star team. This dude is going to make an All NBA roster and not the All Star Game. You figure that shit out because I certainly can't. Now obviously a lot of his production is because he's a volume shooter on this team with all the injuries they've had, but he's still having a ridiculous season and last night was no different
You expect the 39 points from Beal on a nightly basis now, but what you don't expect is Shabazz Napier to throw up an efficient 21/6/3
It's a real shame the Wizards could never really figure out how the play defense at any point this season because they now sit 5.5 games back of the 8 seed, but then again it's probably better for them to get a high pick than swept by MIL.
Boston Celtics (43-21) 114 vs Indiana Pacers (39-26) 111
We'll talk about the Celts and their inability to not collapse in their normal blog, so for this let's focus on the Pacers. This is a pesky team man, especially with Oladipo back and starting to look like Oladipo again. Their front court is legit with Sabonis/Turner, they have a scoring wing in TJ Warren, and guys like Malcolm Brogdon didn't even play. This team can attack you from a variety of ways with the talent they have, and that's scary in a potential playoff series
They came back from a massive deficit to actually take a fourth quarter lead, and a large part of that was the play of Oladipo. Let me just say this. A fully healthy Oladipo who has his touch back is an absolutely terrifying player. He can make threes, he can get to the rim, it just feels like he ALWAYS comes through in big moments. Remember, he beat this team last year on a buzzer beating three once Kyrie missed an easy layup. It's awesome to see him back and playing at his All Star level, and he ultimately will decide how deep this team could potentially go in the postseason. So as you can imagine it was a tough place for me, as someone who loves watching him play but hated every second of the fact that he was dominating my favorite team.
A 28/9/8 from Sabonis, 16/8 with 4 blocks for Turner, 27 for Oladipo, this team has weapons and could very well challenge for a top 4 seed. They trail MIA by just 2.5 games for that spot.
Cleveland Cavaliers (19-46) 103 vs Chicago Bulls (22-43) 108
Listen we're getting all the shitty games out of the way early. Don't be mad at me, I don't make the schedule. At leasts this was another case where the two teams playing might be dogshit, but at least they played a pretty entertaining game. I know the majority of people are most certainly not watching Cavs games, but you need to be aware of what Collin Sexton is doing offensively. He's blossoming into a LEGIT scoring guard and last night was no different
He led everyone with 26/5 on 12-16 shooting and honestly has been tearing up defenses ever since the Cavs traded Jordan Clarkson. The dude plays hard as hell on every possession and is starting to figure out how to be efficient even as a #1 option. All things considered, that pick probably looks a whole lot better today than at the start of the season. Now he had some help with new Cav Andre Drummond who did his thing
but also turned it over 6 times, which meant that 11 of their 18 TOs came from those two guys. That's not great. This was a tied game heading into the final 12 minutes and had the Cavs gotten a few stops here or there they probably pull this game out, but it's the Cavs so you knew that wasn't going to happen.
For CHI, we all now it's been a disaster of a season, and in a game where you don't have Zach LaVine I wouldn't know what to think as a Bulls fan, even playing the Cavs. But on a night when Coby White finally made his first career start, he was basically all the entertainment you needed
In fact, it was pretty much a good night for all the Baby Bulls, with Lauri and Wendell Carter Jr also playing fairly well
and while their coach might be a gigantic asshole who has no idea what he's doing and their front office being some of the worst collections of baffoons in the league, at least their young talent is showing promise. That's important and should be enough to keep Bulls fans somewhat hopeful, Those three can play.
Minnesota Timberwolves (19-45) 111 vs Houston Rockets (40-24) 117
Boy oh boy did the Rockets need this win. Not exactly the best time of the season to drop 4 straight, especially against bad teams which had the Rockets slide all the way down to the 6 spot. That's the tough part about that brutal conference, you go on any sort of slump at this point in the year you are in big time trouble. They good news is they are only 1.0 games from being back in the 4 spot, so we are far from being figured out. The one thing we do know though is that for this new style of be effective, the Rockets need their two best players to play like MVPs and that's basically what happened in this game.
Harden and Westbrook combined for 64 of the 117, as a team they shot 51% and made 15 3PM, and when that happens the Timberwolves are surely not going to be able to pull it out. Now it wasn't always so great, the Wolves got out to a 35-26 lead after the first quarter, but then the Rockets actually locked in and played some defense, caused some turnovers and had just enough secondary scoring around Harden/Westbrook to pull it out. This is the ultimate feast or famine team and we have no idea what's going to happen in the playoffs, but perhaps this was the win that can help HOU get back on track. They were so good like a week ago that we still need to see which team they truly are. Are they the one that beat the Lakers and Celtics twice, or the team that couldn't even beat the fucking Knicks.
For MIN, all you really need to know was DLo, he was pretty nails
I suppose Juancho had his moments as well
but a team that's 11-21 on the road pretty much did what you expected. They turned it over 18 times, had a rough night from their other two guards who combined to shoot 4-16, and defensively they fell apart late. Pretty much par for the course for MIN so no surprise there.
Orlando Magic (30-35) 120 vs Memphis Grizzlies (32-33) 115
You want to talk surprises, well how about the Magic going on the road and beating the Grizzlies. Memphis had turned things around recently after their little skid and had a double digit lead at halftime. Most would assume they would pull that game out, but the Magic have shown all season they can randomly get hot and beat pretty much everyone. Most of the starter were pretty bad outside Vucevic and Fultz
but the real difference came with the second unit. Both Terrance Ross and MCW had at least 20, and the Grizzlies defense really had no answer. Once Terrance Ross starts to heat up he can score in bunches, especially from deep, and that's exactly what happened
Now winners of 3 in a row, this win was big for ORL because it kept them close to BKN for that 7 spot. They are separated by only 0.5 games in the race to see who will be fortunate enough to avoid MIL. You're still getting TOR/BOS if that happens, but that's better than having to deal with a motivated MIL team in my opinion.
For MEM, they need to be a little careful here. Dropping games at home at this time of year is tough, and their lead over POR/NO/SAC is now just 3.5 games. Still a decent lead, but those teams are starting to play well and another slide for MEM could be costly. A great night for the starting group
their issue was simply that they couldn't take care of the basketball. I mean you shoot 50% and take 38 FTA at home you usually win right? Well not when you turn it over 20 times and fall apart defensively in the second half. You play that careless and allow 70 second half points, well that's how you get upset on your own floor. When 18 of the 20 TOs come from your best players (JV w/ 5, Morant 5, Books 4, JJJ 4) that's tough to swallow.
Dallas Mavericks (39-27) 109 vs San Antonio Spurs (27-36) 119
You want to talk upsets, how about this shit. Remember, this isn't the Mavs of last season that couldn't win on the road. They are 21-12 on the road this year and hadn't lost to the Spurs yet this season. So naturally that means they would fall apart in the fourth quarter and blow this very winnable game at a time they really can't afford to be doing that. It's tough when Porzingis goes just 4-15, but Luka was money and THJ provided enough secondary scoring where you would think the Mavs would be able to pull it out
I mean the Mavs even made 17 3PM! But here's the problem, they allowed a massive 17-4 run starting in the early third quarter and that momentum was too much for DAL to overcome. They are now 4-6 over their last 10 and that's important because as it looks right now they are most likely going to finish in that 7th spot. That means a first round date with the Clippers which I'm sure they wouldn't want. As a fan I'm rooting for it because the Mavs have the #1 offense in the NBA, and I think that would be one hell of a series. The Mavs on the other hand probably prefer to play someone like DEN.
For SA, they most likely will not be making the playoffs so at this point they are just playing spoiler for everyone else.
It's still weird to see SA be so far under .500, and chances are we see some changes over the summer because it's pretty clear this group ain't it. The LMA/DeRozan pairing has not worked out how they hoped, they got boned with the whole Bertans/Mook situation, and we didn't really get the leap from Dejounte Murray that the Spurs were banking on. What a weird year for a team that hasn't had a weird year in like 20 seasons.
Phoenix Suns (26-39) 105 vs Portland Trail Blazers (29-37) 121
The Suns are one of those teams where even though their record is trash, they are definitely worth watching because there is some real talent on there. It sucks Kelly Oubre Jr is out with his knee thing, but with guys like Rubio/Booker/Saric there was more than enough scoring to go around
nobody in the Suns finished in double figures other than those three, and their defense sort of fell apart in he second half after they held POR to just 18 points in the 2nd, but with no Ayton and Baynes finishing 3-14, this result was pretty expected.
For POR, much like all the other teams trying to catch MEM, they needed this win. They were great offensively finishing with 50/48% splits and 17 3PM, and with four starters notching at least 20 points, they brought the noise on the offensive end.
If the Blazers can stay healthy and they figure out a way to actually defend, they can give MEM a serious run. They have the offensive talent, Dame and CJ are beasts, Ariza has his moments as does Melo and they are about to get Nurkic back in a few days. Remember they are just 3.5 back so it's not entirely impossible for them to go on a run, but they have to be consistent on the defensive end. That sounds easy, but they basically haven't done it all year and it's why they are in this position (and injuries).
Los Angeles Clippers (44-20) 131 vs Golden State Warriors (15-50)
Curry didn't play, so we can make this quick. This thing was over early with LAC shooting 50/45% and making 20 3PM while only turning it over 10 times. They aren't losing to the fucking Warriors when that happens, hell they probably aren't losing to anyone
This was a 20+ point lead at the break, all the main clippers played low minutes and then the second unit came in and had 4 players in double figures. Depth like you goddamn read about. It's what makes the Clippers so dangerous, this isn't something that happened just because they were playing GS either. This is every night. Loads of talent on that second unit it could probably make the playoffs in the East if we're being honest.
For GS, guys like Wiggins had their moments
as did Dragan Bender who had a career night
but we all knew how this game was going to go and that's exactly what happened. No shame in getting blown out at home by the Clippers, especially with no Steph. That shit happens.
Brooklyn Nets (30-34) 104 vs Los Angeles Lakers (49-14) 102
Always tough when you've spent the last few days sucking your own dick for the weekend the Lakers had only to follow it up by blowing a lead against the Nets and then your best players choking twice in the final seconds. That's unfortunate. While this weekend it looked like maybe the Lakers were going to be able to rely on guys other than LeBron/AD it was back to the same old story last night.
They did most of the damage and took most of the shots, and I still don't know how LeBron missed that layup in the final seconds. Dude was right there. Then to make matters worse he made the right basketball play to kick it to AD as time expired for a wide open three, a guy who had JUST hit a massive three a few possessions earlier, and he clanked it. You could argue LeBron should have just taken it in, but it was the right basketball play. That's a shot your other All NBA player needs to make in that situation.
It also didn't help that Avery Bradley came back down to earth shooting from three (2-8), and the Lakers did get kind of boned in terms of FTA, but at the end of the day their two best players had multiple chances to either tie or win this game and they choked.
For BKN, it was very clear that nobody was going to be able to guard their starting backcourt. Both Dinwiddie and LeVert got whatever they wanted, especially Dinwiddie late. He was massive for them down the stretch in the closing moments and a huge reason why they won
The Nets didn't shoot all that well, just 41/31%, shit they only scored 17 points in the fourth quarter! But their defense was legit, held LAL to just 44 points over the final 24 minutes and that was enough to squeak out the upset. The win kept them ahead of ORL in the standings and they've now won 3 in a row which isn't too shabby considering they just fired their coach. It's a weird situation in BKN at the moment which makes their ability to go into LA and pull out a win all the more impressive.
And that's it! Man that was a lot but you are now caught up with everything that went down last night in the NBA. We're back with 6 more games tonight with a ton of huge matchups so my guess is it'll be another great night of hoops. Have a great Wednesday!