Career Nights for Some Potential Budding NBA Stars
Anfernee Simons scored 31 points along with a career-high 11 assists to help lead the Portland Trail Blazers to the 115-110 victory over the Washington Wizards. This was also a big game for Jusuf Nurkic who chipped in 23 points and 14 rebounds while watching Simons score 26 of his 31 points in the first half. Solid night for the Trail Blazers’ wings as Nassir Little and Robert Covington combined for 33 points.
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This loss for the Washington Wizards snapped a three-game winning streak, but this loss also came in the absence of All-Star guard Bradley Beal. Spencer Dinwiddie stepped up in a big way, leading the team with 27 points and Kyle Kuzma continued his red-hot start to 2022 as he finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Wizards now have Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant back and it looks like they are working them back into the lineup as they both played less than 15 minutes apiece.
RJ Barrett and Julius Randle combined for 50 points to push their winning streak to three-straight as they took down the Atlanta Hawks, 117-108. The entire starting New York lineup carried as Evan Fournier finished with 18 points, Alec Burks had a near triple-double (17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists), and Mitchell Robinson finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. With this victory, the Knicks are 22-21, putting them above .500 for the first time since early December.
After being presumably fleeced by the Knicks in the recent Cam Reddish trade, it looks like New York got to get their cake and eat it too. Not only do most Knicks fans view this as slight revenge over the Hawks for last postseason, but it also hands Atlanta their 10th straight home loss this season. Nonetheless, Trae Young led the way with 29 points and Danilo Gallinari added 17. The Hawks now drop to 17-26 as they hang out at the bottom of the East amongst the Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons.
Darius Garland had 27 points and a career-high 18 assists to help the Cleveland Cavaliers overcome an 18-point deficit to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 107-102. Cleveland fans are thanking Lauri Markkanen graciously as he only finished with 12 points, but three of those points came with 11.4 points left in the game to help seal the victory. Garland’s amazing night and Markkanen’s big play go hand in hand as that bucket gave Garland the 18th assist that tied Chris Paul for the most assists in a game this season. Have to respect the frontcourt duo of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen as well who combined for 33 points and 18 rebounds. This win pushes the Cavs streak to four straight victories.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way with 21 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder were up by 74-56 through the early portion of the third quarter. Then things just went downhill from there. But they get good performances from guys like Darius Bazley and Lu Dort who each scored 17 points apiece. Rookie Josh Giddey even chipped in with 11 points and ten rebounds. With this loss, the Thunder have lost six of their last seven.
Center Robert Williams hit a pair of free throws in the final ten seconds to edge out the 114-112 victory over the Chicago Bulls. The Celtics were trailing 112-106 with two minutes left in the game and then proceeded to score the last eight points of the ball game. Jayson Tatum led the team with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jaylen Brown also chipped in 19 points and Dennis Schroder stepped up with 16 points and eight assists.
Chicago entered this game without both Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball, but that did not stop them from making this a game. Nikola Vucevic led the way with 27 points and DeMar DeRozan finished with 23 points and was a buzzer beater away from sending the game to overtime. The man of the hour for the Bulls though has to be Ayo Dosunmu who scored a career-high 21 points along with ten assists. This is the team’s fourth loss in five games as this team tries to regain its footing after a hot start to 2022.
Pascal Siakam records his second career triple-double to help the Toronto Raptors overcome a 15-point deficit to take down the Milwaukee Bucks, 103-96. The Raptors were coming off a tough 16-point loss to the Detroit Pistons and they clearly came out with a higher sense of urgency in this one. OG Anunoby finished with 24 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. Fred VanVleet and Chris Boucher combined for 32 points. Precious Achiuwa even notched a double-double with 14 points and ten rebounds. Big win for Toronto who is slowly working themselves up the Eastern Conference standings.
Despite the loss, Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated from the free throw line going a perfect 17-of-17 but it just was not enough. Khris Middleton and Grayson Allen combined for 34 points, but Jrue Holiday’s presence was definitely missed in this game. One thing worth pointing out is the fact that this loss now makes the Bucks 0-3 against Toronto this season. Not saying that the Raptors are the defending champs’ kryptonite or anything, but just a little nugget of information to think about.
The Brooklyn Nets handle business taking down the New Orleans Pelicans, 120-105 but lose Kevin Durant in the process. Durant exited the game in the second quarter with what has been diagnosed as a left knee sprain after crashing into Nets’ guard Bruce Brown. Injury update news did indicate that Durant will miss time, somewhere between four and six weeks. In spite of the Brooklyn-on-Brooklyn crime, this team still prevailed as the rest of the team stepped up on offense. Alongside James Harden who finished with 27 points, Patty Mills added 21 points and rookie Cam Thomas came off the bench and gave them 20. This game was utter domination by the Nets as they never trailed in this game.
Rough night defensively for the Pelicans who were down by only ten at the end of the first quarter and just could not seem to close the gap any further. The only two players who really did much for New Orleans in this game was Brandon Ingram with a team-high 22 points and Josh Hart added 14 points.
Despite entering the game listed as questionable due to knee soreness, Joel Embiid came in and dominated in the second half to help the Philadelphia 76ers take down the Miami Heat, 109-98. Embiid finished the first half shooting 3-of-11 from the field and then proceeded to score 25 of his 32 points in the second half. Embiid also got help from Tobias Harris who finished with 22 points and Seth Curry who added 21. With this win, Philly has won nine of their last ten games.
Omer Yurtseven scored a career-high 22 points along with 11 rebounds as he pushes his double-digit rebounding streak to 14 straight games. Quiet night for Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry who combined for 16 points, but the bench stepped up to help keep things afloat. Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin both came off the bench and gave the Heat 16 points apiece. Nonetheless, the key to this loss is that Miami shot 38% from the floor and 26% from three which will lose you most games,
Derrick White returned from his five-game absence to give the San Antonio Spurs 19 big points to lift them to the 101-94 victory over the LA Clippers. It can’t be a coincidence that in the five games that White has been out, the Spurs had also been on a five-game losing streak. Nonetheless, this was an important bounce back game for the Spurs as they are starting to get some guys back healthy. Along with White, Dejounte Murray finished with a near triple-double with 18 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. San Antonio also got back Doug McDermott, Keldon Johnson, and Devin Vassell as they look to make a strong push as we get closer to All-Star weekend.
After winning two straight games, the LA Clippers have now lost two straight after falling to the Spurs last night. Nonetheless, Marcus Morris Sr. scored 15 points and Amir Coffey led the way with 20 points. Serge Ibaka also had a productive night coming off the bench as he finished with ten points and ten rebounds in only 18 minutes.
Nikola Jokic recorded his eight triple-double of the season as the Denver Nuggets destroy the Los Angeles Lakers, 133-96. Rookie Bones Hyland finished with a career-highs in points (27) and rebounds (10), while Jeff Green aka Uncle Jeff went crazy for a season-high 26 points. This is Denver’s second straight blowout victory as the team seems to be quietly hitting their stride.
In spite of LeBron James dropping 25 points and nine rebounds, the Lakers suffered their third straight loss. Now one thing worth noting is that James may have had 25 points, but he did so on pretty horrible efficiency from both the field and from three. Russell Westbrook also had a pretty quiet night with 19 points. LeBron James has led Los Angeles in scoring in all of the last 13 games, but he just isn’t getting enough help over these last couple of games. With Anthony Davis reportedly having a chance to come back later this month, hopefully he can be the shot in the arm that this team so desperately needs,
Kristaps Porzingis returned in a big way as he helped lead the Dallas Mavericks get past the Orlando Magic, 108-92. Porzingis’s number got called on the very first play of the game and then continued to score 12 of his 19 points in the first quarter. Luka Doncic also had a solid night leading the team with 23 points and nine rebounds despite struggling from three. Mavericks’ fans have to be excited to see the 7-foot-3 Latvian back on the court for a squad that is 7-1 so far in the month of January.
Tough night for the Orlando Magic’s starting lineup as leading scorer in the starting-five was Robin Lopez with 16 points in 16 minutes. But the bench did step up to keep things interesting as rookie Jalen Suggs and Moritz Wagner both scored 16 points apiece. The Magic allowed the Mavericks to get 38 free throw attempts and in turn led to them their 10th straight loss. They are also an NBA-worst 8-36.