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Denver Nuggets vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Sixers win 126-119

Top Performers

Joel Embiid

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
4718518/314/718/3132

Nikola Jokic

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24898/122/26/602

Key Takeaways

  • Can you tell that Joel Embiid is tired of coming in second? Because that was made extremely clear after last night’s performance in the battle between the top two MVP finalists the past two seasons. After being snubbed as an All-Star starter and barely being mentioned in the MVP conversation this season, Embiid had a near 50-20 game on the head of the reigning MVP and this year’s lead candidate, Nikola Jokic. Embiid took this matchup so personally that he finished in style, hitting a dagger jumper in the closing moments, followed by the infamous Michael Jordan shrug. Five other Sixers finished in double figures, including James Harden, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds, but last night was all about Embiid.
  • On the other side of the matchup, it was a pretty quiet night for Nikola Jokic. He still nearly notched another triple-double, but he only took 12 shots. Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. combined for 42 to try and help, but it just was not enough to stave off the dominance of Embiid.

 

Chicago Bulls vs. Orlando Magic, Bulls win 128-109

Top Performers

Nikola Vucevic

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
2613611/182/52/202

Cole Anthony

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21669/153/50/000

Key Takeaways

  • DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine each dropped 32 points and combined to go 12-of-13 from the free throw line and 8-of-13 from three to lead the Chicago Bulls to victory over the Orlando Magic.
  • Buy the Patrick Williams stock now because he is picking up steam. He finished this game with 16 points, six rebounds, a block, and a steal. Williams has also put together a good stretch, scoring double figures in seven of the last ten games. He is slowly getting more on-ball opportunities, and we are starting to see him become more of a factor in this Chicago offense.
  • Quiet night for Orlando’s starting unit as only Wendell Carter finished in double figures with 11 points along with five rebounds. This game was carried by the bench duo of Cole Anthony and Mo Wagner who combined for 48 points as they each hit three threes. Why does it always seem like Mo Wagner is due for a big game once a month? Something to keep an eye on.

 

LA Clippers vs. Atlanta Hawks, Clippers win 120-113

Top Performers

Kawhi Leonard

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
328412/205/103/311

Trae Young

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
3151010/210/211/1410

Key Takeaways

  • The LA Clippers are just a different animal when Kawhi Leonard is on the court. Leonard was fully locked in as he hit a season-high five threes and his co-star Paul George chipped in with 23 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. More people would be believers in this Clippers team if we could just see more consistency in their rotation. This is easily the “Load Management took too far” team and that also makes them the biggest enigma in the league.
  • The Atlanta Hawks are 1-3 in their last four games and Trae Young might not be named as an All-Star despite averaging 27.2 points and 9.9. assists a game. The Hawks just can’t seem to catch a break and every time they seem to start catching momentum, they follow it up with a nosedive.
  • It should be noted that the Hawks’ entire starting five finished in double figures with their second-best performer being Clint Capela who finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

 

Washington Wizards vs. New Orleans Pelicans, Wizards win 113-103

Top Performers

Daniel Gafford

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
211228/110/05/815

CJ McCollum

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
24559/192/64/511

Key Takeaways

  • The Washington Wizards finished with seven players scoring double figures led by Daniel Gafford who stepped up big-time in the absence of Kristaps Porzingis. Kendrick Nunn seems to already be getting comfortable in Washington as he has scored 12 points in both of his first two games with the team. Still confused about the direction of this team after the Rui Hachimura trade, but I have a feeling that they are just as confused as we are.
  • CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram combined for 46 points while the rest of the starting lineup combined for 18, including Jonas Valanciunas who had 0 as he was ejected after only eight minutes of action. And Valanciunas’ presence was missed too because the Wizards scored 25 second-chance points and the Pelicans were outrebounded 53 to 42.

 

New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets, Nets win 122-115

Top Performers

Kyrie Irving

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
326912/275/123/620

Julius Randle

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191087/161/64/610

Key Takeaways

  • As a native New Yorker, Kyrie Irving understood the magnitude of the situation in the Battle of the Burrows, and he showed out. Irving scored 21 of his 32 points in the final nine and half minutes, carrying Brooklyn to its 9th straight victory over the Knicks. This was also Irving’s 6th straight game of 30 or more which is a career-high and a franchise record for the Nets.
  • Don’t’ sleep on Nicolas Claxton who finished this game with 13 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and three blocks on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the field.  Claxton has had four straight double-doubles and seven in his last eight games.
  • Julius Randle had the best all-around game of the night with a near-triple-double while the duo of RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson combined for 50 points. But it wasn’t enough. It looks like the Nets just have the Knicks’ number.

 

Houston Rockets vs. Detroit Pistons, Rockets win 117-114

Top Performers

Eric Gordon

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
24078/171/87/720

Jaden Ivey

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
16754/92/46/811

Key Takeaways

  • In the Battle of the Bottom Two, the Rockets prevail without Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. Eric Gordon is playing to get traded to a contender, so he led the team in field goal attempts and three-point attempts. Tari Eason (16 points, 10 rebounds) and KJ Martin (15 points, 13 rebounds) each finished with double-doubles.
  • But the most interesting thing for the Rockets was that with Alperen Sengun out, Jabri Smith Jr. started at Center. Now he was inefficient from the floor, shooting 2-of-12 from the field and missing all three of his threes. But he has 12 rebounds, two steals, and three blocks. He isn’t a natural Center, but on the defensive end, playing him there for stretches could be a good wrinkle to incorporate long-term.
  • The Detroit Pistons were outscored in the paint 70 to 42 and they allowed 21 second-chance points along with 15 fast break points. They only had eight second-chance and fast break points combined. Nonetheless, Alec Burks led the team with 21 points with all 18 of his 21 coming from beyond the arc.

 

Sacramento Kings vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, T-wolves win 117-110

Top Performers

De’Aaron Fox

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293610/241/78/1020

Anthony Edwards

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3410614/215/71/221

Key Takeaways

  • Anthony Edwards deserves to be an All-Star this season. Between all the turmoil with the underperforming of Rudy Gobert, the injury to Karl-Anthony Towns, and the high expectations entering the season, Edwards has been the one steady force. He is growing as a ballhandler and distributor as he has gotten more of a point guard role as of late. You can see the wheels turning when you watch him play and he is developing more and more with every on-ball rep. After a pretty bad start to the season, Edwards somehow has this team sitting 6th in the West. He should be an All-Star.
  • The dynamic duo for the Beam Team showed out as De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis combined for 52 points, but three-point shooting sunk this game for them. The Kings shot a combined 9-of-33 (27%) from beyond the arc while the T-wolves his 17-of-37 (46%).

 

Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs, Suns win 128-118 in OT

Top Performers

Chris Paul

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
3171112/201/46/612

Jeremy Sochan

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308511/253/65/500

Key Takeaways

  • The combination of Chris Paul (31) and Mikal Bridges was just good enough to hold off the San Antonio Spurs in an ugly win where Bridges had eight of the Suns’ 18 points in overtime. Deandre Ayton also played well with 23 points and eight rebounds.
  • The Spurs hadn’t had the lead all game and even was down by as much as 13 points. Only to turn around, make things competitive in the final four minutes, and tie things up before the end of regulation. This team fights hard regardless of their record. Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson combined for 64 points, but the team just could not execute enough in OT to complete the comeback.

 

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics, Celtics win 125-121 in OT

Top Performers

LeBron James

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
419815/306/125/600

Jaylen Brown

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379313/232/99/1111

Key Takeaways

  • It wouldn’t be a rivalry without a little bit of controversy. Lakers guard Patrick Beverly grabbed a courtside camera to show a referee that Jayson Tatum CLEARLY fouled LeBron James on the final missed layup of regulation. Despite reports after the game saying the call should have been overturned, at the moment, Beverly was awarded a technical foul and the Celtics started overtime at the foul line.
  • Alongside LeBron James’ 41 points to lead all scorers, Anthony Davis came off the bench again and had a solid night with 16 points and ten rebounds. Davis is still playing with restrictions after missing so much time due to injury, but notably, the Davis-Russell Westbrook minutes have quietly been good.
  • Celtics escape off the back of 67 combined points from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown along with 26 points off the bench from Malcolm Brogdon. After losing three straight, this team needed a win, so even though it wasn’t a clean victory they’ll take what they can get to re-establish momentum.

 

Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz, Jazz win 108-100

Top Performers

Spencer Dinwiddie

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
354811/236/117/1011

Lauri Markkanen

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295011/204/83/411

Key Takeaways

  • So, I’m just convinced that Jason Kidd’s whiteboard for offense just says “ISOLATION SCORING” in bold red. Because even with Luka out, it seems like the team just leans on whoever the remaining best ballhandler is and has them take a bunch of shots. In this case, it’s Spencer Dinwiddie, and the man had 23 shot attempts, a season-high. For context, Christian Wood also missed this game, but that is even more of a reason for this team to consider utilizing some more ball movement. Also, even though the Utah Jazz are not bad, it feels safe to say that this team cannot catch a dub without Luka Doncic in the lineup.
  • Another 25+ point performance for Lauri Markkanen as he comes closer to being named a first-time All-Star. But I think the more impressive performance for the Jazz came from Walker Kessler, who is seriously campaigning himself as a top-3 candidate for the Rookie of the Year. He finished this game with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks in 25 minutes as part of the starting lineup. This guy has carved out a role for himself as a defensive anchor and has been throwing nightly block parties for the last month.

 

Toronto Raptors vs. Portland Trailblazers, Raptors win 123-105

Top Performers

Precious Achiuwa

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
2713011/161/24/421

Damian Lillard

PTSREBASTFG%3P%FT%STLBLK
304310/202/98/900

Key Takeaways

  • In place of the injured OG Anunoby (left wrist sprain), Precious Achiuwa got the start and made the most of it. He led the team in points and was tied for the second most shot attempts with 16. Toronto’s entire starting five finished in double figures, including Scottie Barnes, who had a near triple-double with 18 points, ten rebounds, and seven assists. Since coming off of a three-game losing streak, the Raptors are 3-1 in their last four. This team continues to add to the melodrama of the NBA Trade Deadline. Every time they win is another reason to convince GM Masai Ujiri to keep this team together and ride out the rest of this season.
  • After coming off the most efficient 60-ball in NBA history, it seemed only right that Damian Lillard would cool off. Although he still finished with 30, his three assists are tied for his lowest in the last ten games, along with the three-ball not falling. Jeremi Grant also had a strong game with 26 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks as he looks to make a late push for one of those Western Conference All-Star reserve spots.