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Last Night In The NBA: Close Finishes Were The Name Of The Game

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers

Happy Monday everybody and welcome to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we catch you up on everything that happened the night before in the Association. There’s a good chance you spent the day drinking and watching football and as a result didn’t catch much basketball. That’s too bad because we had 5 games last night and essentially all of them came down to the wire. Three of the five were decided by 4 points or less all with exciting finishes. Feel bad you missed it? I would, but I’m also here to tell you what happened

Heat (22-17) 103 vs Jazz (16-24) 102

Winners of four straight and five of their last six, the Miami Heat find themselves in the 5 seed, and just 0.5 games behind WSH for a 4 seed in the East. Not bad! In fact, someone should tell the fine people of MIA to start googling the names on this roster so they can make sure nobody questions their fandom, because this team is going to make the playoffs and very well could have home court in the first round.

After being down by 8 points in the fourth it was a layup by Josh Richardson with 5 seconds left that sealed the deal, and he finished with 14 points on 6-11 in his team high 37 minutes

Richardson’s cut in the paint off the ball is what gave him the space against Mitchell to build that momentum towards the rim, so credit Spo for the play and him for the execution. For the most part the Heat were pretty balanced, with 6 players in  double figures and nobody scoring more than 16 points. As a team they shot 48% from the field and turned it over just 8 times, and it should come as a surprise that they’ve seemed to turn around their season now that they are relatively healthy outside of Winslow.

For UTA, they certainly had their shot to win it at the end but Mitchell missed his jumper. Too bad too because he was once again brilliant with 27 points on 12-25 shooting

He didn’t get the same type of help, as Ingles/Favors/Rubio combined to go just 7-24. The reigning Western Conference Rookie of the Month showed us why he was a deserving recipient, and honestly aside from Rodney Hood and his 17 off the bench, UTA didn’t have a lot of options. I will say, I didn’t love Hood’s iso three with about 18 seconds left, but he was feeling it so I understand why he took it.

As the losses pile up, is it just a matter of time before UTA decides to make someone like Favors available?

Knicks (19-21) 100 vs Mavericks (13-28) 96

One upon a time a Porzingis/Dirk battle would have been must watch TV. Well in 2018, even though Dirk didn’t quite live up to his end of the bargain, watching Porzingis is still must see stuff, He led all  scorers with 29/8 on 9-25 shooting in a game high 38 minutes

Not only was Porzingis dominant, but Kanter was solid with 13/18 and O’Quinn with 15/11. Basically if you were a big in this game for NY, you ate. Personally, I’m also happy for Jarrett Jack, who on the same day his contract was guaranteed for the rest of the year, hit maybe the biggest shot of the night with a floater with 30ish seconds left. Love to see a Worcester guy (even if it was post grad) get it done in the NBA.

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We also got to see a nice little rookie battle between Fank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith JR, which wasn’t too shabby either

At the end of the day, the Knicks really needed this win as they fight IND/PHI for that final playoff spot. As of now they are 1.5 games out, going 3-7 over your last 10 will do that to you, but they are very much still alive in the race.

For DAL, this is sort of how their season has gone. Play teams tough, but ultimately lose at the end. Not a bad strategy for a team clearly rebuilding, but definitely frustrating. Harrison Barnes led the way with 25 on 10-22, and Dirk had just 5 points on 1-7 shooting, but instead of focusing on that, let’s relive a fun Dirk moment instead

Much better.

Suns (16-26) 114 vs Thunder (22-18) 100

Just when you want to believe in  the Thunder, they go and do shit like this. It begs the  question, does PHX have a Big 4? Maybe not, but you couldn’t tell last night. The Thunder had no answer for TJ Warren who had 20, Booker who had 26, or Bender(!!!) who had a career high 20. Throw in some Josh Jackson 17/10, and this may have been one of the best Suns performances of the season

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This was a game not only where the Suns made shots, they were 44% from the field and made 17 threes, but they also took care of the ball against this super tough Thunder defense, turning it over just 7 times. That’s usually a combination that ends up in a W. One thing to note, was Len only getting 8 minutes and Monroe a DNP-CD. You want to think of some buyout candidates come February, there ya go.

For OKC, not exactly the best game to drop. Not when you are chasing MIN in your division and you’re holding on to your 5 seed by the skin of your teeth.

With just four players in double figures, at least they got a triple double from Westbrook

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but PG13 and Melo combining for 11-28 sure doesn’t help things. Maybe they should have gone to Steven Adams a little more, he seemed to be in a groove with 18 points on 9-11 shooting, but it’s hard to come by shots for him in this offense for sure

It also didn’t help that OKC kind of ran out of gas in that fourth quarter scoring just 18 points, and as it stands today are 8-12 on the road. What is it with these talented West teams stinking on the road? SA, OKC, and DEN are all under .500 on the road. In fact, just GS, HOU, and POR are the only playoff teams in the West that are more than 2 games over .500 on the road. Very strange.

Trail Blazers (21-18) 111 vs Spurs (27-14) 110

Color me shocked, the Blazers had a down to the wire close game at home! This time they pulled it out thanks to a CJ McCollum game winner

His production was huge considering the Blazers were again without Dame Lillard who was out with a calf strain, which is coming right after he missed four games with a hammy issue. Anytime you beat the Spurs you have to do a couple things, most notably shoot well and take care of the ball. Well, despite them just having 4 players in double figures, they shot 52% from the field and turned it over just 9 times.

Big performances from Nurkic (17/13),  Napier (15/7) and Harkless off the bench (19/5) helped CJ fill the void

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and as a team that is also in that 5-7 race in the West, this was a much needed win.

For SA, someone is going to have to explain to me how Manu is 40 years old. Doesn’t look a day over 25 imo

Ginobli now becomes to only player in NBA history to have multiple 20pt efforts off the bench at the age of 40, adn I can’t say I’m all that surprised. This was also a chance for LMA to return to his old stomping grounds, and he didn’t disappoint one bit, finishing with 30/14

This is all well and good, but the BIG news in regards to SA is rather upsetting.

God dammit.

Lakers (12-27) 132 vs Hawks (10-29) 113

What’s my rule? Any time your team is going through any sort of controversy or losing streak, just play ATL!! The Lakers are a mess, with LaVar Ball running his mouth and also the fact that they’d lost 9 in a row, playing the Hawks could not have come at a better time.

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A pretty balanced effort with 8 players in double figures, they Lakers shot 55.8% and made 16 threes. When you do that, it doesn’t even matter that you turned it over 18 times. It was interesting to see Walton move Kuzma back to the bench, but he responded, and Lonzo nearly had a triple double himself. Basically on a night where the Lakers really needed a win, their young guys showed up

For ATL, stop me if you’ve heard this before. Dennis Schroder led the team in scoring, nobody else did a damn thing, and they lost

And that’s it! You’re now all caught up on everything that happened the night before in the NBA. We have 8 more games on tonight including MIL/IND, HOU/CHI, CLE/MIN, DET/NO,  and GS/DEN so it should be a fun night of basketball. As always if you prefer to watch the College Football Championship that’s fine, just come back tomorrow and see what you missed.