LeBron. Le Cordon Bleu. Le Diplomate. Le Creuset. Le Meruice. Le Meridien. Le PS5. Le Los Angeles Lakers. Le just means The but that doesn’t diminish its greatness. It’s the first one written, first one seen, first one spoken, and introduces all things, big or small. With that said, only a select few are blessed with the Le. In France, not so much but in the good ole’ US of A, it’s akin to finding Coke in a glass bottle. LeVert, as in Caris LeVert has been great and looks to have finally found his footing in Indiana. Two games ago, he went for 34 points, two tres, five boards, three dimes, one steal, and three blocks. For an encore, he went bonkers again….

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
26 6 6 2 3 2 1/8 7/18 11/13

….in 36 minutes. The usage rate was a whopping 29. Over the last four games, LeVert has been a top 15 player. Houston sure could use a player of his caliber.

Here’s what else I saw last night:

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This was the Gary Trent Jr. game! He willed the Raptors to a much-needed victory over the Cavs in Cleveland. Of course, we have to start off with Trent Jr. Last night, the man shot 17-19 (89.5%!) from the field and did not miss a single two-pointer on his way to 44 points! He also grabbed seven boards while dishing out four assists. Rookie Malachi Flynn also had a very good game scoring 20 points, handing out 11 assists, and stealing the ball twice. Chris Boucher had another excellent defensive night swatting four shots while getting one steal with his teammate OG Anunoby scored 15 points with five rebounds and three assists. 

On the other side, the Cavs got 29 points from Collin Sexton, who shot 50% from the field and also handed out five dimes. Kevin Love put another 20 minutes of action under his belt scoring 18 points, grabbing in three boards, and stealing the ball once. Before exiting the game due to injury, Darius Garland put up 19 points and had eight dimes on 41.2% shooting from the field.

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Just an overall tough night as a basketball fan in terms of the level of competitiveness in the NBA last night. Only one game was decided by ten points or less. We had blowouts ranging anywhere from 12 points all the way to a whopping 53 points! But with blowouts comes a handful of big-time performances and some nice performances by some bench guys that do not typically see a lot of playing time. So with that in mind, here are the Friday Night Primetime Performers from last night’s games across the league.

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(W) BUCKS -VS- LAKERS
With King James and Tha’ Brow out, we hoped this was the Drummond show.
Unfortunately, after all that time off, his big toe wasn’t ready.
Jrue Holiday: Complete baller, Jrue the Damajah is on point.
Rare for the PG to be the “Glue Guy.”
On this roster, he steadies the ship and makes the tough plays.
Efficiency, rebounding and 5 STOCKS, this guy does it all.

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Career night for Joe Ingles, who stepped in as a starter for the resting Mike Conley. Ingles went off for a career-high 34 points on just 17 shots, including eight connections from long distance. With so much scoring he only distributed two dimes, but chipped in with a pair of steals as well. Conley’s return will cap Ingles’ value, but he’s still a borderline top-100 player off the bench contributing threes, assists and good percentages.

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I doubt Rudy Gobert has ever been an underdog. He has probably towered over everyone by a foot or more ever since he was born. When he popped his head out of Mrs. Gobert, he tried to calibrate how far it was to the floor but his eyes weren’t developed enough yet. Just a blur. He then proceeded to punch his right arm out of Mrs. Gobert then reached. And reached. And reached. And reached. Until he finally felt the coldness of the floor below. I ain’t stepping on that he thought because he had yet to learn language. Mrs. Gobert, taken aback by the length of her baby, gasped then leaned back in surprise. Mr. Gobert, though, just grinned. He crumpled up a piece of paper then threw it at his newborn son. Instinctively, baby Rudy swatted it away and the rest is history. Always a giant amongst boys, Rudy lived life with the gods. Until the fateful day that he licked some microphones. Never has a man so big morphed into one so small. An underdog by the name of Rudy was born once again. But we are a fickle species, and it did not take long for our Rudy to become a giant once more.

PTS REB AST STL BLK TOV 3PT FG FT
24 28 1 2 4 0 0 8/10 8/13

Dayam. That was the fifth career 20/20 game of Gobert’s career. Over the last 13 games, he’s been a top 15 player on a per-game basis. Over the last four games, he’s the number five player!!! Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! And that’s with zero tres, little dimes, and terrible free-throw shooting. Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! On the season, Gobert is averaging 14.4 points, 13.6 boards, and 2.8 blocks while shooting 64% from the field.

Here’s what else I saw yesterday:

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The Knicks, after getting walloped by the Bucks, took care of business against a Thunder team without their star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and one of their key young guys in Darius Bazley. 

Julius Randle posted a triple-double after a lackluster return to action against Milwaukee the other night. He scored 26, assisted 12 times, and grabbed 12 boards on top of two steals. RJ Barrett also continued his excellent form with a nice 32 piece and stealing the ball three times. Immanuel Quickley also had an eye-catching game since he racked up 33 minutes of playing time with Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton not being available for this game. IQ scored 21 points on the back of three triples. 

The Thunder had a balanced scoring effort since they had eight players hit double digits in points. The young Frenchman Theo Maledon scored ten, had two triples, and dished out three assists. Fan-favorite, Lu Dort, scored 14 and grabbed six rebounds with five assists and Al Horford contributed with 16 points and five boards. A new hopeful in the world of fantasy who seems primed to come into a bigger role now in the second half of the season after the dust from the trade deadline settles is Aleksej Pokusevski who scored a measly four points but grabbed seven rebounds with two assists. I think we can expect much better from Poku moving forward. 

The Knicks pick up a much-needed win here ahead of a brutal second half scheduling-wise while the Thunder continue their development in a season where they have exceeded all expectations.

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If you’re looking for intro material, check out yesterday’s post regarding the Eastern Conference All-Star team. If click and reading isn’t your thing, here’s a quick refresher:

The task was to assemble a 12-man ballot comprised of 3 Guards, 3 Forwards, 2 Centers, and 4 Flex positions with 9-category scoring (points, boards, dimes, steals, swats, turnovers, three-pointers made, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage) in mind. Votes were cast and write-ups were, uh, written up by the Razzball basketball staff.

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Mason Plumlee: With Flake Griffin sitting, it’s the point center show in the Motor City.  This savvy Dukie can wheel and deal, pound and confound, folks.  Underrated center in the Association, who by the way has raised his FT% to 67%, which doesn’t sound like much, but up from career average of 56%.  See, old dogs CAN learn new trix.  Shhh, he taught Joker all he knows.  Case in point, 10 assists with only 1 turnover!

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This week’s Friday Night games hit differently. With the recent announcement of both the Eastern and Western Conference All-Star reserves, the talk of the town has zeroed in on the topic of All-Star snubs.

Some guys like Devin Booker and Domantas Sabonis recently went from being snubbed to just squeaking in as alternates for the injured Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant. But not every All-Star snub was so lucky. Guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, De’Aaron Fox, and even Jimmy Butler are just some of the notable names on the outside looking in who just missed the cut. With that, it feels safe to say that there are a good handful of former All-Stars and potential All-Stars that may feel a bit overlooked.

So, what better way to draw national focus and attention to yourself than to play under on the big Friday Night stage. This Friday we had some standout performances by a number of guys who put up some pretty spiteful stat lines with the intention of showing voters what a big mistake they may have made by passing on them. With that, here are the top performers from Friday Nights’ big games under the bright lights!

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