Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks

Nets Notes

The Nets defeated their in-state rival Knicks 110-107, behind a statement performance from Kevin Durant, who finished the game with 53 points (19-37 FG, 4-13 3PT), six rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. The 53 points were a season-high and just a point shy of his career-high. Andre Drummond added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and one block on a perfect eight for eight from the field. Bruce Brown, whose value and strong play has grown consistent of late, finished the game with 15 points (7-14 FG, 0-1 3PT), seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Nic Claxton contributed off the bench, compiling 10 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one block. Seth Curry was a late scratch due to an ankle injury. The Nets have now won three in a row after losing four in a row.  During this winning streak, Durant has reminded everyone in the league and everyone watching at home just how dominant he can be. The spiciest and most hilarious result of a late-season Nets winning streak would be a 76ers vs. Nets first-round matchup—one can only hope!

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Knicks Notes

RJ Barrett continues to develop and provide Knicks fans with hope that he can one day be a superstar.  The young guys on the roster—Quentin Grimes, Jericho Sims, Miles McBridge, Obi Toppin, and Immanuel Quickley—are all interesting, but this has otherwise been a lifeless, disappointing Knicks season. The future for the Knicks (and their head coach) is a great deal murkier today than it was at the start of the season. Do they keep Mitchell Robinson, who’s playing some of his best ball at the moment? Can they move on from Evan Fournier? Would they consider trading Julius Randle for multiple pieces? The Knicks have once again found themselves in NBA purgatory, a no man’s land middle ground where they are neither a lock for the playoffs nor are they bad enough to chase the top pick in the draft. They might also be slightly more expensive than you’d like for a team with this limited upside. Julius Randle, despite underwhelming this season, had a solid game in this contest, finishing his day at the office with 26 points (9-17 FG, 3-7 3PT), four rebounds, four assists, and one steal. I’ve seen a lot of Julius Randle getting into pushing and shoving matches with opposing players and in one instance even getting into a verbal confrontation with one of the coaches on the Knicks staff. I haven’t seen nearly enough of Julius Randle dominating games from start to finish. That needs to be corrected next season. Evan Fournier added 25 points, two rebounds, five assists, and one steal. RJ Barrett tallied 24 points, one rebound, two assists, and three steals. Mitchell Robinson notched 7 points, five rebounds, one assist, and four blocks.

 

Los Angeles Clippers vs Detroit Pistons

Clippers Notes

The Clippers fought back from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Pistons 106-102 in this game. Marcus Morris Sr. did the heavy lifting on offense for the Clippers, as he finished the game with 31 points (10-19 FG, 3-5 3PT)), seven rebounds, and two assists. Luke Kennard added 16 points, three rebounds, and two assists on four made threes. Reggie Jackson tallied 15 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, two steals, and a block. Ivica Zubac double-doubled, finishing the game with 14 points, 15 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. Zubac’s backup, Isaiah Hartenstein, also had a solid game. He finished the contest with 12 points, four rebounds, and two assists. Terance Mann appears to have cooled off after a recent hot stretch, as he finished this game with just six points, four rebounds two assists, and one steal. Paul George is still working toward a return, but as of now the Clippers and Lakers look more like comatose giants than sleeping ones. Barring a serious surprise, it looks like both teams’ seasons will end with a whimper, either in the play-in tournament or in the first round.

Pistons Notes

Cade Cunningham led the Pistons in scoring in this game and finished just one rebound shy of a triple-double. Cunningham tallied 23 points (10-20 FG, 0-3 3PT), nine rebounds, 10 assists, and two blocks. Jerami Grant added 21 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one block. Marvin Bagley III compiled 15 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Saddiq Bey shot the ball poorly on his way to finishing the game with 13 points, eight rebounds, and two steals. Cory Joseph finished the game with 10 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one steal.  While this young Pistons team would like to have held on to this victory, losses like these serve as education. They should be better for it in the near future and, in truth, they are better off racking up losses and improving their draft position as opposed to compiling a few meaningless wins, which might negatively impact their rebuild.

 

Dallas Mavericks vs Boston Celtics

Mavericks Notes

With the 95-92 victory over the Celtics, the Mavericks won their seventh game in eight contests and snapped the Celtics’ five-game winning streak. Luka Doncic was the leading scorer for the Mavericks, finishing the game with 26 points (8-16 FG, 4-10 3PT), eight rebounds, eight assists, and three steals. Doncic hit a game-tying three-pointer with just over a minute to play and assisted Spencer Dinwiddie on what became the game-winning three a few possessions later. Dinwiddie tallied 18 points, five rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Dorian Finney-Smith finished the game with 19 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block. Jalen Brunson added 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists. Maxi Kleber was held scoreless in this game, but he contributed with his strong rebounding and shot-blocking. He finished the game with 13 rebounds and three blocks.

Celtics Notes

None of the Celtic go-to scorers shot the ball well in this game. Jayson Tatum led the way with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, but he was just 7-23 from the field and 3-10 from three. Tatum had scored 30 points in five straight games prior to this one, including 44 against Charlotte on March 9th and 54 against Brooklyn on March 6th. Al Horford added 17 points, six rebounds, two assists, five steals, and two blocks. Marcus Smart tallied 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block. Jaylen Brown finished the game with 14 points, five rebounds, four assists, and one steal.

 

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Orlando Magic

76ers Notes

The Philadelphia 76ers rallied back from down 17 points in the first half and 14 in the fourth quarter to beat the Orlando Magic 116-114 in overtime. Joel Embiid did much of the heavy lifting for the 76ers, finishing the game with 35 points (9-28 FG, 3-5 3PT, 15-17 FT), 16 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and two blocks. James Harden added 26 points (5-19 FG, 3-11 3PT), six rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Tobias Harris finished the game with 26 points (10-18 FG, 3-5 3PT), nine rebounds, two assists, and one block. Georges Niang scored 16 points (6-10 FG, 4-8 3PT) and grabbed four rebounds off the bench. Tyrese Maxey finished the game with just 10 points, two rebounds, five assists, and one steal. The 76ers are the second seed in the East, though they are essentially in a tie with the Bucks who are third in the standings. Based on how their recent matchup with the Nets went, it might behoove them to risk upsetting the basketball gods and do whatever is necessary to avoid Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.

Magic Notes

Wendell Carter Jr. led the Magic in a game that six players scored in double figures. Carter Jr. finished the game with 23 points (10-19 FG, 2-5 3PT), 12 rebounds, two assists, and three blocks. Cole Anthony added 19 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Jalen Suggs tallied 19 points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block. Chuma Okeke notched 13 points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal. R.J. Hampton totaled 11 points, two rebounds, and three assists. Moritz Wagner added 10 points, one rebound, and one assist. Markelle Fultz chipped in with 8 points, four rebounds, 11 assists, and two steals. It was an unusually quiet game for Franz Wagner who finished the contest with just six points, seven rebounds, one assist, and two steals. Mo Bamba, who had a big game against Embiid earlier this season, tallied just five points, five rebounds, one steal, and two blocks.

 

Atlanta Hawks vs Indiana Pacers

Hawks Notes

The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Indiana Pacers 131-128 behind an explosive Trae Young performance. Young finished the game with 47 points (13-20 FG, 7-10 3PT, 14-14 3PT),  three rebounds, five assists, and two steals. The fourth-year guard was able to get wherever and do whatever he wanted on the floor in this game, almost toying with Pacers defenders. Including Young, seven Hawks players scored in double figures. They controlled the game pretty much the whole way, never trailing after the Pacers scored the initial basket, but they saw their 19-point first-half lead dwindle to just two points in the fourth quarter. The Pacers made them earn it, you could say. De’Andre Hunter and Danilo Gallinari each scored 15 points. Kevin Hurter tallied 14 points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals. Bogdan Bogdanovic finished the game with 13 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block. Onyeka Okongwu also tallied 13 points and added nine rebounds, two assists, and one block. Clint Capela added 19 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block.

Pacers Notes

The Sactown duo of Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield continue to thrive for the Pacers. Haliburton and Hield co-led the Pacers in points scored. Haliburton finished the game with 25 points, two rebounds, 10 assists, and one steal. Hield notched 25 points, four rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Hield could be an interesting player for fantasy next season. It’s possible his usage drops once Brogdon, Duarte, Myles Turner, and T.J. Warren are fully re-integrated, but the improved passing he’s shown in Indiana combined with a potential positive three-point shooting regression could have him in line for a big season. Duane Washington Jr. added 22 points, three rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Terry Taylor finished the game with 16 points and four rebounds. Oshae Brissett notched 15 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Jalen Smith compiled 13 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks. Isaiah Jackson tallied 12 points, 15 rebounds, one steal, and two blocks. He also made Onyeka Okongwu look rather small, emphatically blocking his shot at the basket on one occasion. The Pacers now have a slew of young players with real potential, mainly Haliburton and Jackson. Duarte is solid, but likely projects as a low-end starter or overqualified reserve. I don’t yet know if Jackson has the instincts or the switchability to be a defensive player of the year, but he’s certainly got the shot-blocking prowess to be a considerable deterrent in the lane.  Haliburton’s game speaks for itself and he’s got plenty of room to improve. The Pacers could try to compete next year or sell off even more pieces if they wanted to go with a fuller, slower rebuild.

 

New Orleans Pelicans vs Houston Rockets

Pelicans Notes

The New Orleans Pelicans easily defeated the Houston Rockets 130-105 behind a strong, efficient performance from Jonas Valunciunas, who finished the game with 32 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. Jaxson Hayes tallied 21 points, six rebounds, two steals, and one block. Naji Marshall added 17 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and two steals playing as a starter. Jose Alvarado double-doubled off the bench, finishing the game with 16 points, two rebounds, 10 assists, and six steals. Willy Hernangomez compiled 12 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block. Devonte’ Graham finished the game with 10 points, one rebound, seven assists, and two steals. Herbert Jones tallied just seven points, three rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Trey Murphy III came crashing back down to earth after scoring 32 points against the Mavericks on March 11th. He finished this game with just 8 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal. The Pelicans secured the victory without Brandon Ingram (strained hamstring) or CJ McCollum (health and safety protocols).

Rockets Notes

Jalen Green led the Rockets in scoring in this game, finishing the game with 17 points, two rebounds, four assists, and one steal. David Nwaba added 15 points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, and one block off the bench. Jae’Sean Tate tallied 14 points and two rebounds. Christian Wood had an unusually quiet game in his first game back from dealing with an illness. Josh Christopher finished the game with 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists in 26 minutes. He finished the game with just eight points, but added 12 rebounds, four assists, and one block. Alperen Sengun notched 9 points, four rebounds, and one assist. Kevin Porter Jr. totaled just six points, six rebounds, five assists, and one block. Figuring out how to get Porter Jr. and Green to play well in the same game will certainly be on the coaching staff’s mind this summer.

 

Memphis Grizzlies vs Oklahoma City Thunder

Grizzlies Notes

The Grizzlies led almost the entire game and were ahead by as many as 18 points on their way to a 125-118 victory over the Thunder. Seven Grizzlies players scored in double figures, led by Desmond Bane, who finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Jaren Jackson Jr. tallied 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, and one block. Ja Morant added 17 points, five rebounds, and 10 assists. Dillion Brooks finished the game with 15 points, two rebounds, four assists, and one steal in his first game back in action (ankle injury). Brandon Clarke double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, one steal, and one block. Tyus Jones finished the game with 12 points, two rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Ziaire Williams tallied 11 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. Steven Adams finished the game with just 9 points but he tallied 16 rebounds, two assists, and one block. The Grizzlies are now the second seed in the Western Conference, although they’ll likely be jostling for that position with the Golden State Warriors for the remainder of the season.

Thunder Notes

The Thunder played well enough to hang around for most of this game, but were ultimately unable to get enough stops to come away with the victory. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder in scoring and finished the game with 31 points (9-20 FG, 1-5 3PT), six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and three blocks. Darius Bazley added 29 points (11-19 FG, 3-7 3PT), 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block. Lindy Waters III tallied 16 points, two rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block off the bench. Tre Mann notched 15 points, two rebounds, five assists, and one block. Aleksej Pokusevski finished the game with 10 points, eight rebounds, one assist, and one block. It will be an important summer league for Poku and Mann. Bazley is likely too good for Summer League, despite his poor shooting. Josh Giddey has already shown enough to give Thunder fans some hope about the future, but Summer League could be a way for him to work on his three-point shooting and pull-up shooting versatility during the heat of competition.

 

Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Lakers

The Phoenix Suns comfortably took care of the reeling Lakers by a score of 140-111. Seven Suns players scored in double figures, led by Devin Booker, who finished the game with 30 points, two rebounds, 10 assists, and four steals. Deandre Ayton added 23 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, and one steal. Mikal Bridges tallied 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Aaron Holiday played well off the bench, finishing the game with 12 points, four rebounds, five assists, and four steals. Jae Crowder finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals, and two blocks. Torrey Craig nearly double-doubled, finishing the game with 11 points, eight rebounds, and one block. JaVale McGee was a perfect four of four from the field and finished the game with 10 points, two rebounds, one assist, and one block. The Suns led almost the entire game and stretched their lead to 35 points at one point in the game, all the while playing without Chris Paul and Cam Johnson.

Lakers Notes 

LeBron James continues to play well to close out this season. He’s not exactly defying age, the signs of decline are certainly visible, but he’s forestalling the overwhelming diminishment of his game the way genius-level basketball players often do at the end of their careers. LeBron needs more help from his teammates these days than maybe he ever has since entering the league. But the man is 37, you shouldn’t be counting on him to carry you. The Spurs certainly weren’t leaning this heavily on Tim Duncan in his later years. James finished this game with 31 points (10-20 FG, 5-11 3PT), seven rebounds, six assists, and one block. Carmelo Anthony, another 37-year-old on the Lakers roster—might not be a good idea to have two 37-year-olds on your—added 18 points, one rebound, and one assist. Malik Monk tallied 13 points, four rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Russell Westbrook added 13 points, two rebounds, and two assists. Austin Reaves also scored in double figures, finishing the game with 10 points, four rebounds, and one steal.

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miles proudfoot
miles proudfoot
3 months ago

For the playoffs beginning today, how would you rank Duarte, Jalen Smith, and Brooke Lopez? Thank you!