Boy oh boy did we have some great matchups under the Friday Night Lights this week ladies and gentlemen. Battles amongst some of the best players in the league with a few interesting storylines.
We had the battle of the top 2020 NBA Draft picks as No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards going toe-to-toe with No.3 overall pick LaMelo Ball. Then there was the matchup between two up and coming Western Conference teams as Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans faced off against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. And of course, to close the night, we got a dogfight between the King, LeBron James, and the Phenom, Ja Morant, as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies went blow for blow till the very end.
Definitely some interesting games with some amazing performances by some of the top talents in the game. So, with that, here are the standout performers from Friday Night’s slate of games!
Talk about making a serious All-Star push. Just when NBA Twitter began clamoring about how Julius Randle would be one of the most talented sleeper All-Stars this season (8th in voting as a frontcourt player in the East as of Feb.12), he went on and did this. Dang near put up 20 and 20, shot relatively well from the floor, and got a few dimes in there for good measure. Nobody for the Wizards could seem to handle him down low and that was really one of the biggest factors in the game as the Knicks took out the lowly Washington Wizards 109-91.
Man is it great to see D. Rose back in MSG or what? One of the biggest concerns people had with the trade for Rose from the Pistons was that he could potentially take minutes away from rookie guard Immanuel Quickley, who has been a real bright spot for New York so far this season. Not only did he not take minutes away from Quickley, but they both played 20 or more minutes off the bench and combined for 30 points on the night. This could be a really nice one-two punch for the Knickerbockers off the bench as they inch closer to being .500 this season (12-15 record). Looks like they have the opportunity to do so before the All-Star break.
With Bradley Beal out, it was the Russell Westbrook show in another sloppy shooting night from behind the arc for the Wizards (9-of-34 from three). This team is not very good with or without Beal in the lineup, but at least when he is in the game, they are fun to watch. Washington was outrebounded 65 to 46 and just never seemed to stand a chance. But hey, at least Russ almost got his signature triple-double. Close but no cigar.
The only other player on the court who seemed to have a pulse for the Wizards. Hit four of the team’s nine threes on the night which also happened to be the only shots he could make or even attempt for that matter. Did show some upside with two blocks in this game, which for a guard was pretty impressive as he was tied for the second-most blocks in the game with his teammate Alex Len (Nerlens Noel had three).
It is so good to see Karl-Anthony Towns back on the court after everything he has endured in the last year. In only his second game back, he still looks like himself and was doing a little bit of everything for Minnesota. If it were not for the battle between Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball, Towns would have probably headlined this game despite the loss. Great output as he rained bombs from three and even showed out a little on the defensive end just as a warning to the league that he is back and better than ever.
In the Battle of the Top Picks from the 2020 NBA Draft, it, unfortunately, is 1 for LaMelo Ball and 0 for Anthony Edwards. Nonetheless, there was a point in this game where these two were trading baskets for a couple of possessions in a row and it was entertaining, competitive basketball to watch. The two definitely felt that they had something to prove against one another and they both showed out. Unfortunately for Edwards, the Charlotte Hornets were just the better team.
Quietest 30 piece ever. Between watching Ball vs. Edwards, Towns balling out in his second game back, and Terry Rozier shooting out his mind, there was no time to zero in on Malik Beasley. Big-time performance that flew under the radar amid all the other more compelling storylines in this “Better Than Advertised” game.
Double-double for the Ball brother as he had yet another standout performance in the starting lineup. Watching him go back and forth with Anthony Edwards was special and it gives us something to be excited for any time we see that the Hornets and Timberwolves are going head up. If this man is not the permanent starter after the performances he has put up as of late, I don’t know what will solidify his spot! LaMelo for ROY!
Scary Terry in the building! Six threes, nine free throws, and a block! Sounds like one of those games Rozier gives us every now and then when he just reaches deep inside his bag and shows off the full arsenal. The dude hit nearly as many threes as shots missed. Talk about being a sharpshooter. Do not mess with Scary Terry. He is an animal.
Mr. Midrange will not be denied. Or is it Point God Derozan? At this point, it’s hard to keep track. Either way, the man continues to live within 15 feet of the basket, drawing contact, and dare I say DROPPIN DIMES! Yet another big performance for the Spurs vet as San Antonio blew the doors off Atlanta 77-48 in the first half and never looked back as they went on to win 125-114.
The young guns Keldon Johnson and Dejounte Murray combined to shoot 15-of-24 from the field and 4-of-6 from three on their way to 36 total points between the two. This team just seems to be more fun to watch and more dynamic as a whole when LaMarcus Aldridge is out of the lineup. I do not know if it is because of spacing issues or just because it takes away from possessions from their building block guys, but I want even less of Aldridge and way more of this team running and gunning like this.
After getting a good little blow to the pockets with a league administered fine after the Dallas Mavericks game, one could say that Trae Young was not the happiest camper. Nonetheless, he was really the only one keeping the Hawks in this game as Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, and John Collins combined for 20 points on the night. Definitely struggled from three and was not the facilitator we have come to know and love. Figures though, considering the team could not seem to hit shots and let the game slip away before the third quarter.
You read that correctly. Not Billy Mays from the old Shamwow commercials. Not Willie Mays, the old baseball centerfielder for the San Francisco Giants. Skylar Mays aka the dude who came into this game averaging 3.1 points per game in 4.6 minutes per game with only seven games played this season. And just so happened to give the Hawks a 20-piece in 17 minutes off the bench. Truly the definition of taking advantage of an opportunity!
Mr. Buckets himself doing what he does best. Cool little 30-piece but it was not enough as the Luka Doncic and the Mavericks were just too much to handle.
So, there was a lot of good to take away from this game if you are Zion Williamson even in a losing effort. He hit a new career-high with 36 points and at one point was 10-of-10 in this game. The man could not miss and put on an absolute clinic offensively. Like come on, he put up 36 points on 15 shots and only took ONE three-point attempt all game! That is unbelievable.
Career-highs all around! Just as Zion Williamson was enjoying his 36 points, Luka Doncic hit a new career-high of his own with 46 in what may have been his best overall game of the season. Near triple-double and shot respectable from three which is a great sight to see. Now he took double the amount of shots Williamson did, but aye when a guy is hot you have got to feed the hot hand. Doncic just also happened to have the hottest hand out of any player on the floor for either team.
Anything you can do, I can do better! So, Luka Doncic steals Williamson’s thunder by topping his career-high with a career-high of his own. And then Kristaps Porzingis matches his 36 points and raises Williamson with seven rebounds (five more than Zion). Like god dang, the Mavericks could not cut Zion some slack at all. Too much firepower from Dallas as they hit 25-of-45 threes and now sit only one game away from being .500 (13-14 record).
The Klaw caught the Bulls! Without his right-hand man in Paul George, Kawhi Leonard carried the LA Clippers to an overwhelming 125-106 victory. Not the greatest game from three but when you have one of the most complete in-between games in the NBA, who needs threes (just ask DeMar DeRozan!)
Marcus Morris and Lou Williams were just the sparks the Clippers needed off the bench as they combined for 37 points on the night. Not saying that the Clips don’t need Paul George, but boy do they have a nice one-two punch off the bench to make up for his absence.
Zach LaVine is averaging career-highs across the board and just continues to build upon his All-Star resume this season. Despite he and Coby White combining for 43 points on 7-of-15 shooting from three, the bench production for the Clippers was just too much to handle as at one point this game was 109-90 and the Bulls could never seem to climb back in it
Big performances for two very unlikely guys for the Pistons in Saddiq Bey and Delon Wright. Jerami Grant and Blake Griffin combined for 27 points on 9-of-27 shooting and just could not seem to hit a thing. So instead, Wright and Bey off the bench combined for 52 points on 8-of-8 shooting from three to hold off the Boston Celtics, who at one point came back from being down by 13 but could not complete the comeback.
Man, oh man was Ms. Triple-Dub calling Jayson Tatum’s name. Big time buckets and boards game for Jay Tay and he was slinging dimes out there too for good measure. Living at the line with 13 free throw attempts led all players in the game. Love it when Tatum is aggressive and his delving into his offensive bag. Just not enough to take down a Detroit team that blitzed them with strong three-point shooting off the bench.
With no Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum had to play the roles of Batman and Robin with no Alfred. Nonetheless, it hard to sleep on combined 60 points from your wing duo. Unfortunately for them, they did not get much help as not a single other Celtics player scored in double figures which really hurt them down the stretch in a tough loss.
He is an animal! He is a beast! He is the Greek Freak! After winning the MVP two years in a row, the NBA media world will more than likely be striking Giannis from their ballots this season as they search for the next big storyline. But whether he is considered in the MVP race or not, the man continues to put up video game numbers and that will never go unrecognized.
Splash Mountain! Without Jrue Holiday in the lineup, it was up to Lopez and Khris Middleton to act as the Bucks’ second and third offensive options alongside Antetokounmpo. The two combined for 41 points on the night but the firepower from the Utah Jazz was just too much to handle. But what are you supposed to do? The Jazz are the hottest and deepest team in basketball right now! Rough loss in a game filled with fireworks.
The Spida continues to put on a clinic. Struggled all night shooting from the floor, but by the power Greyskull (shout out to all those who caught my He-Man reference) this man just could not be denied from the free-throw line. The new streak continues as this big win over the Bucks moves them to six in a row.
Twinsies! 27 points from Joe Ingles, 27 points from Rudy Gobert. Sounds like a really nice night offensively when you can get a combined 70 points from three players in your starting lineup despite missing one of your best players in Mike Conley. Ingles could not miss from three and he and Mitchell complemented each extremely well, sharing the facilitating role with a combined 13 assists.
Bench Buckets! We saw a lot of great performances from guys coming off the bench, but we all know who the front runner for Sixth Man of the Year is. Jordan Clarkson put up 25 points in 31 minutes as the Jazz poured on the buckets and won this game 129-115.
No George Hill and no Shai Gilgeous-Alexander due to injury, but a very unexpected outburst from Justin Jackson off the bench to make things interesting. Jackson had 20 points in 28 minutes to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder as they fell just three points shy of pulling off the upset against Denver who got solid performances from their star duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
Getting a combined 47 points from the combination of Al Horford, Hamidou Diallo, and Lugentz Dort was huge in this low scoring game as this matchup was the only one where neither team reached 100 points. Unfortunately, the Thunder had no superstar level players on the court and Denver had two. Also, one of those two players just so happens to be Nikola Jokic who has some of the best clutch minutes stats in the entire NBA. Horford may have turned back the clock a little in his last couple of performances, but there is no messing with Jokic.
Clutch Master Jokic! A tough, scrappy low scoring game against the feisty Oklahoma City Thunder, but they were no match for the potential Top-5 MVP candidate. Combining with Jamal Murray for 44 points, they both struggled from three (5-of-18) but it did not matter as the game down to who had the better players in the biggest moments.
It is like Collin Sexton can just roll out of bed and put-up 20+ points a night. My only concern with him is that, as of late, he has neglected to take threes or just is not really taking that many. I am not sure if that is by choice or just due to the old school coaching style of Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff, but it would be nice to see the Young Bull get back to letting it flow from deep at a high rate and go deep into his bag. Hard to argue with 25 points with only two three-point attempts though.
Jarrett Allen continues to show off why Cleveland considers him to be a serious building block for their young team. In a game where Andre Drummond did not have a great night (only eight points and five rebounds in 17 minutes) Allen came off the bench and gave the Cavaliers a 22-piece while showing off that defensive prowess that put him on the map in Brooklyn. You can see that the Cavaliers are slowly trying to hand Allen the keys as they work on potential trade packages to move Drummond.
Melo the Menace is in the building. Carmelo Anthony has truly accepted his role as a veteran leader and microwave scorer off the bench for the Portland Trailblazers in a way that most could not have ever imagined. He has been on a tear over the last couple of games and has really stepped up as a reliable secondary scoring option next to Damian Lillard with CJ McCollum still out due to injury. The duo of Lillard and Anthony combined for 43 points en route to the Trailblazers handing Cleveland their sixth straight loss.
Gary Trent Jr.
This was an offensive clinic put together by Portland. Four players scoring 20+ points (Enes Kanter had 21 points and 13 rebounds) and the two young guards Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons came to play. Trent Jr. led all scorers in the game as he and Simons combined for 42 points on a whopping 8-of-15 shooting from behind the arc.
More career-highs as Nikola Vucevic tied his career-best with six threes made in this game as he was practically unblemished. Shooting splits were terrific, showed up on the defensive end with a couple of steals and managed to get anything he wanted against the Sacramento Kings defense in route to a 123-112 victory.
No Markelle Fultz. No Cole Anthony. Which meant the former 2013-14 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams got some serious burn and turned back the clock a bit. Putting up a near triple-double in this game, Carter-Williams may have had the single best performance by an Orlando Magic point guard of the entire season thus far. Not saying too much when it comes against the Kings, but he certainly showed that he can be a serviceable rotation player for a Magic team that desperately needs their talent to play up to snuff.
No De’Aaron Fox due to a left knee contusion and no Marvin Bagley due to a calf injury. Meaning the scoring load would rest on the trio of Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and the rookie Tyrese Haliburton. These three combined for 46 points along with Hassan Whiteside who went 7-of-7 for 16 points off the bench. Outside of Nikola Vucevic, Hield was easily the second hottest shooter from deep in this game as he nearly matched Vucevic’s six made threes all but three of his shots came from behind the arc.
The Memphis Grizzlies gave the Lakers all they could handle and then they let them off the hook. After once being up 20 in this game, the Lakers fought back strong led by LeBron James who hit three straight baskets in the closing seconds of the third quarter to put Los Angeles up 87-82 and the Lakers never looked back from there. Nonetheless, the young backcourt of Ja Morant and Grayson Allen combined for 45 along with Dillon Brooks who chipped in 12 points of his own. A strong performance against the defending champs despite being down both Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr.
As already mentioned, Clarke and Jackson Jr. were missing in action for this game which left the Grizzlies frontcourt a bit thin and it showed. The Lakers outrebounded Memphis 47 to 33 as Valanciunas was the only line of defense as a legit rebounder for this team. A tough night on the boards for the Grizzlies and that may have been one of the biggest deciding factors in determining the outcome of this game.
The Brow is Back! After missing the last two games due to injury, it seems apparent that Anthony Davis heard the chatter across social media about his physical toughness. People questioning his durability and his ability to play through pain. So, in spite of all the naysayers, the man came out aggressive with game-high 27 shot attempts on his way to a 35-point near double-double. Feels safe to say that the Brow is not a man to be messed with. You are poking the bear people and he is out for blood.
Top-2 candidate for the NBA MVP this season. Some people have him at No.1 and for good reason. Definitely gave the Lakers some clutch buckets to pull away in this game after a slow start as he looked to humble this young Grizzlies squad in a King-like fashion. He almost got a visit from Ms. Triple-Dub as well, but what is new. The man is in year 18 and is nearly averaging a triple-double for the season. James and the Lakers are cruising right now as this was their seventh consecutive victory and they look maintain this momentum as the All-Star break quickly approaches.
Is Bey a pickup? He’s on a rebuild team and he’s 🔥