Last night’s matchups featured a handful of interesting storylines manifesting in the early going of this NBA season. The resurgence of teams like the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks who struggled to start the season. Continued domination by teams like the Utah Jazz. But we also witnessed a few unprecedented stat lines across the board ranging from multi-time All-Stars to potential rising stars and even a few rookies/second-years in the mix. Let’s take a look at some of last night’s primetime performers.
In a wire-to-wire matchup between two of the East’s best, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards snuck out with the 103-100 win over the Miami Heat. Although Beal led the charge with 21 points, it was the 16 points apiece from Spencer Dinwiddie and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope that really won the game for the Wizards as they both hit clutch threes in the final minutes to seal the win. Don’t sleep on Montrezl Harrell either who finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals in 25 minutes off the bench. The Wizards continue to build upon their unprecedented success as they sit 2nd place in the East and prepare for their rematch with the Charlotte Hornets.
Despite the loss, all the major players for the Miami Heat stepped up to the challenge. Alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo had a solid all-around game as he posted a stat line of 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. More so, the Heat continue to get big contributions off the bench as PJ Tucker and Tyler Herro combined for 34 points. Miami’s four-game win streak now comes to an end, but they look to start up another one starting with the Detroit Pistons.
In what could have been a potential trap-game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Boston Celtics got the job done winning the game 111-105. Coming off an emotional blowout victory over the rival Los Angeles Lakers in the return of LeBron James, it was all hands-on deck as five players scored in double figures. Alongside Tatum, Dennis Schroder dropped 29 points, four rebounds and six assists against his former team. The Celtics also got double-doubles from Al Horford (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Enes Kanter (10 points, 10 rebounds). Boston continues their three-game Western Conference road trip as they look to take on the Houston Rockets.
The young Thunder were competitive, and we actually got to see some flashes from some players who could grow into long-term pieces for the OKC core. Oklahoma City finished with six players in double figures as Lugentz Dort led the charge with 16 points all on threes. Off the bench rookie forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Ty Jerome combined for 25 points. The Thunder may be working for the 1st overall pick, but we have to admit that even in losing, they are a pretty fun basketball team to watch.
This one was a full team effort for the Atlanta Hawks as they had four players finish in double-figures as they took down the red-hot Charlotte Hornets, 115-105. The man of the hour was Clint Capela who was practically automatic from the floor only missing one shot, but he also got a lot of help from John Collins who had 15 points and eight rebounds. They also got big contributions from Danilo Gallinari and Cam Reddish off the bench as they combined for 35 points and 12 rebounds. Not to mention Trae Young who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds despite shooting only 2-of-7 from three. After struggling to open the season, the Hawks are now on a four-game winning streak and look to extend that to five with their upcoming matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This loss snapped the Charlotte Hornets five-game winning streak, but they went out swinging. Miles Bridges continues to make his Most Improved Player case as he led all scorers with a 35-point double-double in a game high 38 minutes. Second-year sensation LaMelo Ball also had a big night with a triple-double with 15 points, 11 assists, and ten rebounds. In this game the Hornets dominated in offensive rebounds (21 to 8), points in the paint (62-50) and second chance points (24-8). Nonetheless, the depth of Hawks just outweighed Charlotte’s talent. From one potential Eastern Conference contender to another, up next the Hornets prepare for their early season rematch with the Washington Wizards.
All-Star forward Julius Randle flirted with a triple-double as the New York Knicks outlasted the Houston Rockets, 106-99. Although Randle had the eye-popping stat line, this was really the Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley show. The two guards combined for 33 points off the bench and Burks was stroking it from three as he hit six of his seven attempts. Regarding the Knicks recent free agent pickups, Kemba Walker continues his underwhelming season with only nine points on seven attempts, but Evan Fournier scored 19 points with five made threes. Next up for the Knicks is a clash of top-5 teams in the East as New York goes on the road to take on the Chicago Bulls.
No break games for any of the Houston Rockets’ young guys, but a good all-around effort as six players finished in double-figures. Christian Wood and Jae’Sean Tate both finished with double-doubles as they combined for 29 points and 22 rebounds. In terms of the team’s younger players, rookie guard Jalen Green finished with 16 points and the combination of Alperen Sengun and Kenyon Martin Jr. finished with ten points apiece. As the Rockets continue to seek their second win of the season, they have yet another tough East opponent coming up as they prepare for Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics.
After a three-game skid, the Indiana Pacers get back in the win column after taking down the New Orleans Pelicans, 111-94. The star frontcourt duo of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner led the way as they combined for 31 points and 19 rebounds. They also both showed up on the defensive end as Sabonis had two steals while Turner had two blocks. In the backcourt, Justin Holiday finished second on the team with 17 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points as they both hit four threes apiece. For a team that has big decisions to make as we approach the trade deadline, hopefully for Pacers fans this will be the win to help turn Indiana’s season around.
As New Orleans continues to struggle in the absence of Zion Williamson, Pelicans fans are looking for something to be excited about. In this game, that thing was the New Orleans bench. For the Pelicans, second-year guard Kira Lewis and forward Najee Marshall both stepped up as they combined for 26 of the team’s 42 bench points. Although Jonas Valanciunas finished with a double-double, former All-Star Brandon Ingram had a relatively quiet night with 12 points, three rebounds and four assists. Next up the Pelicans prepare for a physical frontcourt matchup as Valanciunas will square off with Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Great outings by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis as they dominated in their 117-108 victory over the Orlando Magic. The duo of Antetokounmpo and Portis combined for 56 points, 35 rebounds and four blocks as they both finished with double-doubles. Portis’ 24-point finish is a season-high for him and Antetokounmpo lived at the free throw line with 23 attempts (15-of-23). To round out the Milwaukee Big-3, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton both had solid games as they finished with 24 total points, 13 total assists and five rebounds apiece. After a rough start for the defending champs, they are now on a three-game winning streak as they prepare for the rubber match against the Magic.
With Cole Anthony out due to a right ankle sprain, the Orlando Magic got to see a few other young guards shine in the loss to the Bucks. Leading the way, RJ Hampton had a coming out party with 19 points and nine assists while hitting five threes in 28 minutes off the bench. 2021 lottery pick Jalen Suggs also had a good all-around game with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. Following the lead of Hampton off the bench, forward Chuma Okeke and guard Mychal Mulder each scored 13 points apiece. Orlando may not be a contender in the East for a while, but performances like these show that the Magic are slowly but surely rounding out their young core.
In unprecedented fashion, the Big 3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dominated as they took down the Memphis Grizzlies, 138-95. The trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards combined for 79 points. The T-Wolves also put on a clinic from beyond the arc as they hit 20-of-41 threes in comparison to the Grizzlies who were 9-of-32. As the scoreboard indicates, Minnesota dominated in every category but none more glaring than their 30 point off turnovers. For a team looking to be in the mix for the Play-In tournament and beyond, this is the kind of win that can really boost the confidence of a young squad.
In a lopsided game, there isn’t much to praise about the play of the Grizzlies besides the fact that second-year guard Desmond Bane kept things interesting with his 21 points. Notably, Most Improved Player candidate had an uncharacteristically quiet night with a season-low 11 points and five rebounds on only nine shooting attempts. Fans should not expect that to be a trend for Morant who is currently top-10 in scoring and will be highly motivated in their upcoming matchup with the Utah Jazz.
Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz dominate the Sacramento Kings, 123-105. Gobert was not the only Jazz center to finish with the double-double as Hassan Whiteside posted a stat line of ten points and ten rebounds in 17 minutes. All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell led all scorers with 26 points along with five rebounds and five assists. Then to round things out, the trifecta of Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson finished with a combined 43 points. Just too much talent for the Sacramento Kings to handle.
The Kings put on a good show, but it just was not enough to truly compete with the depth of the Utah Jazz. Richaun Holmes led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds on 9-of-10 shooting from the field, but it was the Sacramento guards who carried for most of this game. The trio of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton combined for 46 points on the night. Can’t forget Harrison Barnes who finished with a solid 18 points and eight rebounds. The Kings have been struggling as of late as they are 3-7 in their last ten, but they have a good opportunity to get in the win column as they welcome the undermanned Philadelphia 76ers.
Speaking of the Sixers, the Portland Trailblazers move to an above .500 record after taking down Philadelphia, 118-111. The key to this victory was Damian Lillard who started to look like himself after scoring a season-high 39 points and hitting all 14 of his free throws. Lillard seemed to be more engaged on the floor, so much so that he had three blocks which is an uncommon performance for most guards on the defensive end. His backcourt crime partner CJ McCollum added 18 points, six rebounds and five rebounds.
If you are looking for someone to give you solid nightly rebounding numbers, Jusuf Nurkic is a good player to start with. Nurkic finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds in this game and is averaging 11.2 rebounds a game this season. Watch out for the Trailblazers who are now on a three-game winning streak and could be a major play in the West if Lillard continues to return to form.
The Portland Trailblazers have been a tough team to face and the Philadelphia 76ers had to learn that the hard way. But in spite of the loss, they did get great performances from Tobias Harris and second-year guard Tyrese Maxey who each had 28 points. We also got to see the return of Thybulle who in limited minutes finished with nine points, a steal and a block. This team is plummeting down the conference standings without All-Star center Joel Embiid as they sit in 10th place. Next up, the Sixers look to bounce back as they continue their Western Conference road trip with a matchup against the Sacramento Kings.