The NBA Trade Deadline is officially in the books and we all know what that means. New faces in new places. Teams are tanking. Contenders are making their final push for the playoffs. And most of all, the lights get brighter as every game means more than the last.
But no matter what time it is in the NBA season, we all know that nothing shines brighter than the Friday Night Lights! So, to kick off Post-Trade Deadline weekend in the NBA, here are some of the top performers from Friday night’s great slate of games.
Despite it being a reunion between former All-Star forward Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons, the star of the show for Brooklyn was of course James Harden. Harden’s 44 points were the most he has scored since joining the Nets. He was also just two assists away from yet another triple-double on the season. Griffin did come up big as the team’s second-leading scorer with 17 points off of the bench while going 5-of-8 from the floor with two threes. Now things did get a little chippy throughout the game between Griffin and his former teammates. But in the end, it was he and the Nets who had the last laugh by winning the game 113-111.
In a close affair where the feisty Detroit Pistons were keeping things relatively close for the majority of the game, Jerami Grant and the Detroit big men were the story of this game. Grant led the team with 19 points along with Saddiq Bey who had 14 points while hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers. Mason Plumlee chipped in as well with a quiet double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in the game. No revenge for the Pistons player but they were surely a tough out against a Brooklyn team that has been on fire as of late.
The two-man combination of Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul were the leaders of the charge as the Phoenix Suns took down the Toronto Raptors, 104-100. Ayton and Paul both had 19 points apiece while flirting with double-doubles as Ayton had nine rebounds and Paul had eight assists in the game. Devin Booker of course got in on the action as well with 16 points, six rebounds, and two assists while shooting 6-of-14 from the field with two threes.
After an interesting sequence of events or lack thereof in terms of the Toronto Raptors moving All-Star guard Kyle Lowry, the Raptors got back to business as usual. Pascal Siakam led the charge with a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds along with Fred VanVleet’s 22 points as he shot 8-of-15 with six threes. Lowry had a bit of a quiet game after all the trade noise as he only had 11 points, six assists, and five assists on only 12 shots. Definitely, a wild week for the Raptors and this was a tough way to kick things off following the trade deadline.
Big performances all around from the Boston Celtics starting five as Tatum leads the way in the 122-114 victory to snap the Milwaukee Bucks’ eight-game winning streak. Alongside Tatum’s 34 points, the rest of the starting five came to play as well. The backcourt of Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart combined for 44 points while hitting ten threes. Jaylen Brown also contributed a solid 18 points with four threes and Robert Williams III chipped in a near double-double with seven points and nine rebounds. Strong performance all around for the Celtics’ main contributors in a good outing to prove that they can still contend with some of the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.
After winning eight straight, this was a bit of a letdown for the Milwaukee Bucks. Khris Middleton was the team’s leading scorer with 19 points with four threes while All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled with 16 points and eight rebounds. To round out the Big 3, Jrue Holiday had 17 points, three rebounds, and four assists while shooting 7-of-12 from the floor with three threes. Now a small bright spot was the offensive production coming from the Bucks’ bench. Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Sam Merrill combined for 27 points off the bench which hopefully for Milwaukee will become a trend as the season continues.
No Lamelo Ball, No Problem! Malik Monk came out like gangbusters as he scored 24 points in the first half alone and finished the game with 32 off the bench in route to the Charlotte Hornets taking the dub over the Miami Heat, 110-105. Terry Rozier also had a big performance in this one as he contributed 26 points and a career-high 11 assists while knocking down four threes. The Hornets continue to surprise us this season as they look to keep this playoff push going in spite of losing their rookie phenom for what may be the remainder of the season.
In spite of the five-point loss, all five Miami Heat starters scored in double-figures. Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson led the way with 20 points apiece along with Bam Adebayo who had 17 points and eight rebounds. The most interesting performance on the night may have actually come from the veteran forward Trevor Ariza who had a solid overall game with 14 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Now they did not play point guard Goran Dragic or the newly acquired Victor Oladipo in this game, so we are really in for a treat once Miami gets their full squad together healthy.
Despite missing All-Star point guard Damian Lillard who was out due to injury, CJ McCollum and the Portland Trailblazers were just too much for what remains of the Orlando Magic. McCollum and newly acquired small forward Norman Powell both scored 22 points apiece to lead the team. Robert Covington, Enes Kanter, and Anfernee Simons all also had 15 points apiece as the Trail Blazers put on an offensive clinic to win the game 112-105.
The remains of the Orlando Magic put up a decent fight but unfortunately, they are just going to have to come to the realization that this is their new reality. Of the eight guys that played, seven of them scored in double figures with Chuma Okeke leading the way with 22 points. Center Khem Birch had a solid double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds along with James Ennis III who had 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three. The Magic have officially kicked off the rebuild with all the moves they made at the deadline. But despite them having some solid pieces to build around like the injured Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz who are out for the rest of the season, the road to the end of this season will surely be a tough one for Orlando.
Strong performances from the Minnesota Timberwolves big men in this one. Of course, the walking double-double that is Karl-Anthony Towns had to really work for his as he put up a smooth 29 points and 16 rebounds while shooting poorly from the floor. Off the bench, Juan Hernangomez and Naz Reid kept the frontcourt domination going as they combined for 35 points on 14-of-24 shooting from the field.
Looks like the Houston Rockets are unfortunately back to their losing ways. Losing to the Timberwolves 107-101, the standout players for the Rockets were Christian Wood, John Wall, and Ben McLemore. Wood looks healthy as he continues to make his case for Most Improved Player as he had a near double-double with 24 points and nine rebounds. Wall was the ultimate facilitator with 14 points and 15 assists but struggled shooting as he went 6-of-25 from the floor and 1-of-7 from three. McLemore on the other hand went ballistic from three as he got all 21 points on threes along with three rebounds and three assists. The Rockets were in control for most of the game, but the Timberwolves had a late-game rally that swung things in their favor.
Just Nikola Jokic doing Nikola Jokic things in this one. 37 points, six rebounds, and nine assists while having a field day in the fourth quarter as he and the Nuggets closed the game 113-108. Jamal Murray chipped in a double-double with 23 points and 11 assists on 10-of-18 shooting from the floor. The last of the three-headed monster was Michael Porter Jr. with 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor with five threes in the game. The Nuggets simply were the better team in the clutch and that’s why they were able to pull out the victory.
This was pretty much the Zion Williamson show in this one and he did not disappoint as he was doing it on all fronts. Driving to the hoop, put back layups, and even a three-pointer just to keep the defense honest. Putting up an insane 39 points while only missing three shots and one free throw all night. Outside of Williamson, the backcourt of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Eric Bledsoe combined for 30 points as the New Orleans Pelicans continue to sit Lonzo Ball. Not really sure what the Pelicans’ plans are for the remainder of the season feel relatively unknown and tough losses like this make the chances of playoff push seem even more unlikely.
The name of the game in this one was three-point shooting as the Indiana Pacers hit 20 threes in this game as they blew out the Dallas Mavericks 109-94. Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon combined for 44 points and 20 rebounds while shooting 7-of-12 from behind the arc. Indiana also got a lot of production from their bench as Doug McDermott scored all 12 of his points on threes. The combination of T.J. McConnell and Edmond Summer combined for 20 points on the night. The Pacers pretty much swung early and often leaving the Mavericks to fight from behind all night.
The Luka Doncic-less Dallas Mavericks just could not handle the shooting onslaught of the Indiana Pacers. Dallas only shot 8-of-35 meaning that the Pacers hit 12 more threes than the Mavericks which was essentially the deciding factor in the game. The bright spots came from Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. Porzingis dominated with 31 points and nearly 20 rebounds, but his biggest struggle came from beyond the arc. Hardaway Jr. added 16 points and five rebounds off the bench, but similar to Porzingis, Hardaway Jr. could not seem to hit his threes as he only shot 2-of-7 from three. The Mavericks need Luka back ASAP.
The dominant Utah Jazz continue to maintain stride as they get their 18th straight home win to lead the entire NBA as they take down the Memphis Grizzlies in a close 117-114 victory. The All-Star one-two punch of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert was the story in this one. Mitchell got hot from three shooting 5-of-7 in route to 35 points along with five rebounds and six assists. Gobert came out swinging with 25 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks while going 11-for-14 from the floor. This team just continues to fire on all cylinders as they just keep finding ways to beat teams with a different guy going off every night.
The young and scrappy Memphis Grizzlies were in this game to the very end and that had a lot to do with the play Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks. The two combined for 54 points and Morant had a double-double with 11 assists. Jonas Valanciunas also had a solid game as he went off for 14 points and 18 rebounds on the night. This game was close all the way through and came down to Utah’s Mike Conley having to win a late-game jump ball to seal the victory.
This game was not even close as John Collins put up a career-high 38 points along with 12 rebounds as the Atlanta Hawks blew out the Golden State Warriors 124-108. The pick-and-roll combination of Trae Young and Clint Capela both went off as they both also had double-doubles alongside Collins. Young had 21 points and 15 assists on 6-of-14 shooting from the floor. Capela had 18 points and 15 rebounds on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting from the floor along with three blocks and two steals. Again, this game was just complete domination by the Hawks.
The Golden State Warriors continue to try and push through with former NBA MVP guard Stephen Curry, but it is just not working. Draymond Green had zero points in the game, but James Wiseman held things down in the frontcourt with 18 points and five rebounds on 7-of-13. The backcourt of Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jordan Poole also had solid games as they combined for 29 points, six assists, and six rebounds. But of course, the player of the night for the warriors was Andrew Wiggins who went full Maple Jordan as he nearly had a 30-piece and even chipped in two blocks on the other end of the floor.
Another big-time blowout, but this one was a little more unprecedented. With no LeBron James or Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to snap their four-game losing streak by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-86. Montrezl Harrell was the main catalyst of this victory as he gave the Lakers 24 points, ten rebounds, and two blocks as he played 30 minutes coming off the bench. Talen Horton-Tucker also was big off the bench with 15 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals while shooting 6-of-11 from the field. This bench production from Harrell and Horton Tucker along with the 17 points and seven assists from Dennis Schroder was more than enough to flood the Cavaliers with a nonstop offense that was just too much for them to handle.
Larry Nance Jr.
With Collin Sexton out, this game was all about the frontcourt of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Larry Nance Jr. and Jarrett Allen combined for 30 points, 21 rebounds, ten assists, and two blocks on the night while shooting 11-of-23 from the floor. Point guard Darius Garland also chipped in a little bit with 14 points and five assists but struggled shooting from three as he went 1-of-6 from behind the arc and shot 6-of-17 overall from the floor. And unfortunately, things are only going to get worse as now the Cavs are looking to buyout Andre Drummond, essentially letting him walk away to a contender without receiving any kind of assets in return. Definitely a tough night in Cleveland.