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Last Night In The NBA: Not Much You Can Do When Stars Decide To Take Over

Cleveland Cavaliers v Denver Nuggets

Happy Thursday everybody and welcome to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we catch you up on everything you may have missed from the night before in the Association. We had 7 games last night, some filled with epic comebacks, some with controversy, and some with all time players going on all time runs. Safe to say a fairly entertaining night of basketball that if you missed, at this point you don’t really have an excuse. But I won’t judge you, that would be wrong, instead I’ll just do my part to bring you up to speed. Here’s what happened

Rockets (51-13) 110 vs Bucks (34-31) 99

Many people are saying winning 17 games in a row is very impressive and I tend to agree. The run the Rockets are on right now is the longest winning streak in the league this season, and even when MIL thought there was a chance they were going to be the team that stopped it, they probably forgot that this team is deep as fuck. I mean HOU gave them a chance, Harden and CP3 were a combined 13-32 for just 42 points

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but what makes HOU so tough if even if this was an “off” night for them, they still finished with 47/35% splits, 14 3PM, and 27 FTA. Those are crazy numbers for most teams in the league. With just 4 of their 14 threes coming from their two stars it was guys like Eric Gordon, who had 18/6 off the bench who went 4-8, and then their role players like PJ Tucker made 3 and Luc Mbah a Moute had a couple as well. LMAM is going to be valuable for them in a playoff series because he has the length you need to guard some of the opposing wing talent the Rockets will face in the playoffs, and he’s been very solid for the Rockets as a low risk signing that happened in mid July.

So how far can this streak go? Well looking at their schedule it gets a little tougher, with TOR/DAL/SA/LAC/NO/MIN/POR on deck, so even if they lose to the Raptors tomorrow night, you in no way shape or form can knock this 17 gamer. Really impressive stuff.

For MIL, we talk all the time, the biggest issue with the Bucks is their inconsistency on the defensive end. Now some would argue that holding HOU to 110 is actually playing good defense, but they took their foot off the gas in the second quarter and could never really recover. They cut the deficit to 5 with about a minute left, and as you can expect Giannis was a freak

but it wasn’t enough as MIL has now lost 2 in a row, is 3-7 over their last 10, and still remain in the 8th spot in the East. They are one of two teams currently in the top 8 that have a negative point differential which isn’t the greatest. Even with some other good nights from guys like Middleton

if you heard them postgame many guys said the same thing. To beat a team like HOU you have to play the full 48 minutes

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Jazz (35-30) 104 vs Pacers (37-28) 84

I’m starting to get sad that the Jazz might not make the playoffs because honestly they are a lot of fun to watch when healthy. I want to see Rudy Gobert in a playoff series where he can do things like this

and you try telling me that Donovan Mitchell isn’t built for the big moment. In a battle between two legit point guards, Mitchell rose to the challenge against Oladipo and had himself a night as well

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IND had been playing well, are pretty good at home, but there came the Jazz shooting 51%, making 10+ threes and turning it over just 12 times while playing great defense. Here’s the good news, they’v won 4 in a row and are now in a virtual 3 way tie with LAC/DEN for that 8th spot, and are just 1.5 games back of OKC for 7th. Again for those at home, this is why H2H tie breakers are important. Given how DEN has sort of slid recently, and the Clippers being the Clippers, I’m still holding out hope because it would make for a fantastic story. Even if they were to get swept by GS/HOU in the first round it wouldn’t matter to me. I think this team has the talent and playing style to give them as much of a chance as any of these lower seeds to actually win 1 or 2 games.

For IND, it’s really hard to beat a good team when you have 38/13% splits. Outside of Myles Turner who had 24 points on 10-14 shooting, no other Pacer decided to show up. Very sad!

It wasn’t a costly loss, as they stay in that 4/5 range at the moment, and something tells me them PHI and WSH are going to be flip flopping for that last homecourt spot for the rest of this regular season.

Raptors (47-17) 121 vs Pistons (29-36) 119 F/OT

You simply cannot kill the Raptors. You can’t do it. This season they have always found a way to win. Now 28-2 against teams under .500, they basically have gone all year without having a bad loss. That’s insane. Insane would be a good way to describe how this game went, with DET going on a huge run in the second quarter (36-18) only for the Raptors to come back and do the same thing in the third (40-25), and then complete the comeback in what appeared to be the final game winning coast to coast dunk by DeRozan. But then Blake made an even better play to send it to OT, where in the final seconds DeRozan AGAIN gets right to the rim but this time kicks to to Fred VanVleet who had been 1-9 before he ultimately hit the game winning shot.

Unreal.

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Mind you, Ibaka had been thrown out for arguing with the refs in the second quarter, and the always consistent TOR bench mob really wasn’t at their best, and it didn’t matter. With DeRozan dominating, and the guys like Lowry (15/7/15) and JV (14/11) having solid nights and Normal Powell coming out to nowhere with 17

the Raptors won their 6th in a row, they’re 9-1 over their last 10 and now have a 2.5 game lead over BOS for the top spot in the East.  They just keep on winning, which makes this HOU/TOR game must watch tomorrow.

For DET, be more pathetic, you can’t. On the surface no one is really surprised that the Pistons lost to the Raptors, but it was how they did it that was so embarrassing. Literally one person steps in and stops the ball on that DeRozan drive at the end of regulation they probably win. Just stop his momentum for two seconds. If he beats you with a jump shot fine, but to let him get ALL THE WAY to the rim like that in the last 10 seconds of a game is insulting.

Zero chance Blake doesn’t hate his life right now seeing the Clippers about to maybe make the playoffs and this Pistons team headed for a complete disaster

Four losses in a row, 2-8 over their last 10 and 5 full games out of the playoffs. It’s a wrap for the Motor City.

Bulls (22-42) 119 vs Grizzlies (18-46) 110

Look we can’t have all these exciting games without the league giving us a toilet bowl matchup. It does make total sense that after the Bulls scored like 35 points against the Celtics that they would then come out and drop 119, but that’s MEM in a nutshell. I give CHI credit, they tried their hardest in that fourth quarter to give this away, but the strong performances they got earlier from their young talent was just too much to blow away

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Also, shouts to Justin Holiday for not missing a shot, going 5-5 (4-4) for 14/4. Very impressive!

For MEM, like I’ve said, they’re just waiting for their season to be over, but at least they are getting big time performances lately from Dillon Brooks

I know Gasol hates how they are using this team like a G-League roster, but this is one rookie he should be happy is getting the opportunity considering he’s probably their second best player (with Conley out).

Pelicans (38-26) 114 vs Kings (20-45) 101

Winning streaks are so hot right now, winning streaks. NO has a nice little 10 gamer, which is important because its kept them in line with POR who has an 8 game streak going. This win game with AD being relatively quiet, finishing with just 17/5, and he had another injury scare which seems to happen every night. I don’t know how Pelicans fans do it man, this would stress me out WAY too much. The good news is Mirotic was able to pick up the slack and together they combined for 42

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Nice little 26/10 on 10-2 for Mirotic, not too shabby. Jrue Holiday also continued his strong play with 23/8, and has really been the second most important player on NO during this run since Boogie’s injury

Doesn’t it feel a little crazy that if NO and SA were to meet up in a 4/5 matchup that I sneaky think NO wins that series? My brain understand that, but it’s the truth.

For SAC, more of the same just with some good nights from Buddy Hield who had 20/5 and Frank Mason III who had 16/6 both off the bench

What I like about SAC is that even though they know they stink, they can still have fun on social media

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Lakers (29-35) 108 vs Magic (20-45) 107

This had maybe the weirdest ending of the night. Before we get to that, first the highlights of those who played well

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The fact that Brooke Lopez is 7ft tall and played 35 minutes while securing 0 rebounds is the most Brooke Lopez thing of all time. How is that even possible? How do you not even get one by accident?

But here’s why this ending was weird. Lopez made a couple FTs with 0.6 seconds left. The Magic then inbounded the ball at half court, but the clock started before the ball was touched. Instead of redoing the play, the refs decided that there needed to be a jump ball at center court, basically not allowing the Magic to try and get a prayer. That seems wrong. I don’t even care if this is what the rule says, if the clock operator messes up and starts the clock before the ball is touched, why aren’t you just redoing the possession? Do I think the Magic actually convert with 0.6 seconds left, no, but that’s not really the point. We’ve seen it happen for some teams so to rob them of the chance all together just feels wrong.

For ORL, I mean it’s not like this loss is going to derail their season so it’s mostly whatever. I would advise Magic fan(s) to not focus on that ending, and just focus on the dominant performance you got from Aaron Gordon instead

Cavaliers (38-26) 113 vs Nuggets (35-30) 108

It’s really hard to beat a team twice when you’re playing them for the second time in three games, let alone on a back to back but the Nuggets almost pulled it off. They were well on their way but they forgot one key thing. You need to make sure you actually defend Lebron over the final two minutes of a close game. That’s important

To put it simply, Lebron was amazing down the stretch of this game and we saw something that in my opinion is a preview of what we’re going to get in the playoffs and why I’m still not sold that CLE is completely done. My point being, when CLE runs a high screen for Lebron and he gets his man or a big in space, it’s game over. You don’t force him to make a decision, he decides what he wants to do and beats you with it. Period. Now he made some tough shots down the stretch of this game, but look at the positioning of everyone else. Four corners like you read about. Give Lebron the ball, and give Lebron space, and nobody can stop him.

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Now they also had help from their role players which shouldn’t be ignored

But like most things, this was all about Lebron.

For DEN, they had a great performance from their own best player, as Jokic did the best he could to go punch for punch with Lebron and he help up his end of the bargain

Gary Harris and Jamal Murray were good for them as well, but the bench struggled outside of Plumlee and honestly, the 21 TOs leading to 17 points is probably what did them in the most. The Nuggets got off to a slow start but made it a game, they just couldn’t stop Lebron when it mattered most, and watching that reminded me of Game 6 2012 when the Celtics could not stop Lebron at any point, let alone when it mattered most.

This loss now has DEN outside of the top 8, and that’s what happens when you are in the 6-10 range in the West and lose 2 in a row. Can’t have that at this stage of the season.


And that’s it! You’re now all caught up on everything that happened last night in the NBA. We only have 5 games tonight, but they include some good ones like PHI/MIA, BOS/MIN, and SA/GS. As always if you go to sleep or miss anything, just make sure to check back here tomorrow and I’ll fill you in!