Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers 133-132
An overtime thriller last night saw Russ tie the Big O, Oscar Robertson, for the all-time triple-double list, but also had the Wizards pick up their 32nd win and tiebreaker over the Indiana Pacers which allowed them to leapfrog the Hoosiers and find themselves in the ninth seed of the Eastern Conference.
Starting with that man Russell Westbrook of course, who posted yet again another triple-double of 33 points, 19 rebounds, and 15 assists. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the biggest Westbrook fan, but I’ll also admit that what this man is doing right now is absolutely historic and legendary. At some point down the line, after Russ is long retired, we will all look back and realize how truly underappreciated he is and what he does on the court each night. Like Russ himself says, if it were easy, anyone would do it. Bradley Beal had a phenomenal performance with a 50 piece on 19-for-31 shooting which included only three triples. Russ and Beal seem to be picking it up at the right time. The Wizards also got solid minutes from Alex Len who flirted with a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Domantas Sabonis continued his very strong season for the Pacers with a Russ impersonation against Russ himself. Domantas scored 30 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out 13 assists. Sabonis continues to put the Pacers on his back, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough on most nights. Caris LeVert also contributed with 35 points, an impressive 14 rebounds, and eight assists as well as two steals. A combined 65 points from the top Pacers stars on the courts, but ultimately not enough for the squad that now finds itself in the 10th seed and clinging onto the last play-in spot. The Pacers hold a three-game lead over the 11th seeded Bulls, but the way things are going, that lead is anything but safe.
Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers 104-118
The 76ers found a way to get to yet another routine win this season against a Detroit Pistons that should have been a layup of a game for them even without Ben Simmons.
The Pistons had a solid team night with six players scoring in double digits. The rookie Saddiq Bey, who has quietly been having an excellent rookie season, added another solid performance to this year’s repertoire with 14 points and seven rebounds on the back off 60% shooting. Jerami Grant also returned to the lineup and scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds. Jerami started off the year scorching hot and inserted his name into the Most Improved Player conversation, but it is clear now that that award is going elsewhere. Mason Plumlee also contributed another good game of 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, and a steal as well as two blocks for the tanking Pistons side.
For the 76ers, we saw Joel Embiid score 29 points, grab six rebounds and hit an efficient 11-13 from the field. Another solid performance from the big man who will most likely continue to see the MVP award fade towards the Joker. Tyrese Maxey had a solid outing with 22 points, five rebounds, four assists as well as two steals, and a block while Dwight Howard climbed into the top 10 of the all-time double-doubles list with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Matisse Thybulle meanwhile, had another outing, which highlighted his defensive prowess through his game-high five steals.
Memphis Grizzlies at Toronto Raptors 109-99
The Grizzlies picked up a much-needed win against the Raptors in their play-in fight tournament fight out West.
Jonas Valanciunas once again posted a monster game of 18 points, 21 rebounds, and four blocks while also shooting 60% from the field. JV has been one of the most consistent players and, dare I say, is one of the most underappreciated players across the league. Jaren Jackson Jr. also had a solid game with 20 points, a block, and three steals as well as four rebounds as he continues to work himself back from meniscus surgery. The self-professed “top 5 point guard”, Ja Morant scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and handed out six dimes while shooting 42.9% on only seven shot attempts.
As for the Raptors, all of the starters scored in double digits as well as Jalen Harris off the bench who had an impressive performance with 16 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. combined for 41 shot attempts and scored 18 points apiece. Malachi Flynn filled in for a yet again resting Kyle Lowry and scored 15 and grabbed seven rebounds, while also having three assists and a steal. The Raptors seem to have perhaps thrown in the towel for the season, and I am pretty sure you guys did not need me to notice that.
Brooklyn Nets at Denver Nuggets 125-119
The Brooklyn Nets here picked up an impressive win against the MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic and ushered themselves back into the second spot in the East.
Kevin Durant had an excellent performance of 33 points on 9-for-14 shooting while also grabbing 11 rebounds, handing out seven assists, and stealing the ball twice. KD has been nothing short of magnificent this season. Every time this man shoots, you just know the ball is going in. Kyrie Irving scored 31 points and dished out four assists while Blake Griffin had a very good outing of 20 points, three assists, and two steals.
For the Nuggets, the Joker scored 29 points, hauled in seven boards and got six assists. People are starting to run out of words to describe Jokic and yes, I am one of them. Despite last night’s loss, just hand the man his MVP now. Facundo Campazzo also continued to be a sensation in the starting point guard role, scoring 19, stealing the ball three teams, and assisting his teammates on five occasions while Michael Porter Jr. scored 28 points, grabbed four boards, and stole the ball twice. A third loss in the last four for the Nuggets after being one of the hottest teams in the NBA, but it’s not time to sound the alarm bells just yet.
Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz 116-124
The Rockets achieved to be in another close game against the NBA’s elite. This time they kept it close against the Jazz even though they ultimately fell in an eight-point loss.
Kenyon Martin Jr. once again took advantage of the uptick in minutes since the Rockets only had eight players to deploy in the game. He got a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds in nearly 40 minutes of action. Jae’Sean Tate returned from injury and nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, eight rebounds, and an impressive 10 assists while Khyri Thomas scored 27 points and grabbed five rebounds while also getting five, yes five steals! I guess somebody of the eight had to do something.
Bojan Bogdanovic for the Jazz followed up that near 50-piece with 20 points and five rebounds last night while Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert scored 13 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, and swatted three shots. Georges Niang also surprised us in the starting lineup and scored 24 points, grabbed two rebounds, and also stole the ball twice. Jordan Clarkson also led the bench unit and scored 21 points with four assists sinking two triples.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors 97-136
Stephen Curry. That’s it. Where would these Warriors be without him?
The Thunder continued their impressive tank and had Lu Dort score 16 points off the back of three triples and four rebounds. Darius Bazley also had an underwhelming night in a way, with only 11 points and five rebounds, while also ruining many field goal percentages as he shot a mediocre 33.3%. Svi Mykhailiuk ended up with the team-high of 17 points that went along with four rebounds and three steals. A night to forget for the Thunder, or to remember since they’re tanking anyway.
Now on to the alien. Steph barraged in 49 points off the back of 11 threes. 11 threes!! The man is absolutely insane. His 49-bomb last night also means that he keeps the lead in the scoring title race over Bradley Beal. Meanwhile Kevon Looney did an excellent job on the boards, grabbing 13 of them while Draymond Green scored 15 and dished out 15 assists.
San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trailblazers 102-124
The Blazers picked up another win last night against the Spurs, who are also fighting for placement.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with a team-high of 20 points and four assists as well as two steals. Now, if your best point total for your team was 20, then you’re obviously going to be in trouble. Lonnie Walker IV had the second-best performance with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Rudy Gay scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds.
As for the Blazers, Damian Lillard put up a 30-piece with eight assists while his backcourt mate, CJ McCollum scored 27, grabbed five rebounds, and had one steal. Jusuf Nurkic also continued his solid run of form with a near double-double of 17 points and nine rebounds as well as five assists for the big man. A very important win for Portland as they aim to build their lead over the Lakers in the 7th seed in order for them to stay out of the play-in tournament.