Crazy fourth quarters and Devin Booker, name a more iconic duo. While last night’s game against the Nuggets was on Chris Paul’s return after 15 games due to a thumb fracture, Booker continued to perform like he has most of the season putting up 49 points, 4 rebounds and 10 assists, leading the Suns to their 60th win. And with that win, the Suns have now clinched first place overall (home court advantage through the playoffs) and are now on pace to become the 14th team ever in the history of the NBA to win more than 67 games. And if you didn’t believe me about Booker, the Suns, and the fourth quarter, they are now 44-0 when leading after three quarters. I’m not even sure how to live in a world where the Suns are this good.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Indiana Pacers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 129-98. In a rarity for this version of the Pacers, they were the more veteran team. Oshae Brissett spearheaded the Pacers’ attack, as he tallied 24 points (8-10 FG, 2-3 3PT), nine rebounds, one assist, and one steal. His day also included a highlight reveal reverse dunk in transition which came off a behind-the-back pass from Lance Stephenson. Have I mentioned that the Pacers are fun now!? Justin Anderson added 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Jalen Smith notched 17 points, five rebounds, and one block in just 17 minutes of play. I’m not sure if Smith will ever become the player the Suns hoped they were getting when he was drafted with the 10th pick in 2020, but he has at least grown into an intriguing prospect. He was 2-of-3 from behind the arc and also whipped out a Dirk-esque step-back off the dribble in the midrange. Terry Taylor (17) and Duane Washington Jr. (13) both had solid games as well. The Pacers led wire to wire and the lack of competitiveness of the game is reflected in the lower minute totals for Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Haliburton finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. Hield tallied nine points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Finally, Lance Stephenson scored just two points, but grabbed six rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and swiped three steals.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

My man had 41 in the first half en route to a career-best 60. Kyrie is a wizard with the rock and when he gets going it’s hard to take your eyes off him. The extra rest he’s enjoyed this season practically jumps off the screen (not that he or Brooklyn necessarily needed it to get by a pretty bad and pretty checked-out Magic team), especially here in the doldrums of the season.  He’s a first-round talent when he’s out there, but of course we know that he’s not always out there.

This begs the question: Wouldn’t you rather only have 50 games played by the best players in the world who aren’t visibly fatigued instead of the 82-game marathon that routinely eats some of its young by the time the season’s over? I may not agree with everything Kyrie says or does, but the point he’s making by showcasing the value of fresh legs could be a silver lining if the league ever moves away from an oversaturated product and finally pares back their slaughterhouse of a season. Irving looks unbelievable out there. Imagine if everyone was this fresh.

Here’s what else I saw on a quiet Tuesday night in the NBA…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

One team in this matchup projects to be a difficult and gritty playoff opponent and a sneaky conference finals contender; the other team in this matchup is the Brooklyn Nets. The Boston Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 126-120, behind a historic 54-point performance from Jayson Tatum. It was Tatum’s fourth 5o-point game, tying him with Larry Bird for the most 50-point games in Celtics history. Tatum finished the night with 54 points (16-30 FG, 8-15 3PT), five rebounds, three assists, and it was his hockey assist that led to a dagger Jaylen Brown three to stamp out all hope for the Nets. Jaylen Brown added 21 points, four rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Marcus Smart finished the game with 14 points, three rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. Al Horford finished the game with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block. Robert Williams III tallied 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, and five blocks.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For the first two seasons of Morant’s career, he finished as the 133rd and 201st player on a per-game basis for fantasy. The athleticism shined early and his ability to score was evident. He could board and dish out dimes with the best of them but, but, but….Did I stuffer mother f-er? The defensive stats weren’t bountiful, the tres didn’t rain down from the heavens, and the free-throw shooting was meh at 75-ish percent. At only 22 years old, I thought there would be improvement in Year Three but, as Caine from Menace II Society said, “I never thought he’d come back like this.” I’m such a stupid, stupid man as he would fall, then fall, then fall some more in drafts, but I’d pass, even though dimes are a precious resource and he was going to improve. Well, he’s not only improved, he’s broken out! And last night was just another leg on the victory tour.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Late February, everyone’s favorite little month, often feels like a desperate time in the NBA. The Trade Deadline, with all its promise, hope, and frequent disappointments, has come and gone, and with no cavalry coming to save you, you’re forced to come to grips with reality. Most of the time that reality isn’t pretty. Looking around the league, it seems like everyone is exhausted in ways that have become obvious. The NBA season is a long one, and the All-Star break is closer to the three-quarter pole than the halfway point, so if you haven’t figured out how to win by now, it’s getting awfully late to get it solved. Some teams have already begun to slowly pack it in and wind things down. “Better luck next year,” isn’t being said yet, but the phrase looms in the back of mouths in Indiana, Washington, and Texas. Outside, at least where I live, it’s gray, brown, and soggy, and it can be hard to remember that life and color exist in a universe that looks exactly the same way that a 19-40 season feels. It’s grim. Cold. Still. The NBA landscape can be equally sparse — I’m looking at you, Philadelphia, and your 40-point home loss — so when you see something beautiful and vibrant, you’ve got to celebrate it. So, with apologies to Giannis Antetokounmpo and his 50-point night (my god, he’s good), I’m renting out this Tuesday lede to Trae Young, who was a vibrant, flamboyant shot in the arm at home against a thoroughly game Cleveland group.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

“With the 22nd pick of the two thousand and twenty one NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select….Isaiah Jackson of the University of Kentucky,” voiced Adam Silver through my Bose speakers. Unfortunately, he was immediately shipped to Washington as part of the Russell Westbrook trade. As of this writing, I am on a mad search for the DeLorean that makes magic happen at 88 mph. I used to often ponder where I would go if I could travel through time. Meet Jesus? Commiserate with/for the dinosaurs? Naw, I’m definitely going back to August 6th, 2021 and doing everything in my power to wipe that trade from the annals of history. Then a funny thing happened. It’s not anals, damnit! I got a call on the celly and future Son told me to come outside. As the gull wing door lifted up to the sky, I saw future Son frantically wave me hurry up and get in. Before I could click the seatbelt, the back of my head mushed into the headrest like a Tempur-Pedic and zoom, zoom, zoom we went. Stars. Flashes of light. Darkness. They all zoomed by as we raced through time. Then I saw a face. Another. Then another until it looked like an army of ants marching towards a picnic. It was none other than DeUngela Jackson, mother to Isaiah Jackson. I channeled my innermost Nancy Kerrigan and bellowed, “Whhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyy?????” How is Isaiah going to help the Lakers get to the Promised Land? We need shooters to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Plus, Isaiah is only 18 years old and only played 20.8 minutes at Kentucky. Naw, Momma Jackson, I’m heading back in time for Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Kyle Kuzma. Excuse me as I eradicate the puke I just swallowed from myself. Well, after last night’s performace, future Son better get his ass back to 2022 because….

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Miami Heat took home the nervy, 113-107 victory, but the Lakers nearly caught them slipping. In a game the Heat led almost the entire way and by as many as 26 points, the Lakers put together a fierce fourth quarter and nearly stole the victory. For three quarters, however, the Heat played the basketball version of “the beautiful game.” Offensive production was spread across the lineup and they were flowing into good looks. Jimmy Butler led the charge in Kyle Lowry’s absence (personal reasons) and he finished the game with a triple-double: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, and one block. Butler’s 10th triple-double moved him into the first place on the Heat’s all-time list, surpassing LeBron James. Duncan Robinson was hot early and even scored some important points in the fourth quarter; he finished the game with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Bam Adebayo had a decent, but uneven game. He was stifled a fair amount by LeBron’s defense, as he was LeBron’s primary cover when the Lakers went small. Adebayo finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block. Gabe Vincent filled in admirably, once again, for Lowry and finished the game with 11 points, one rebound, six assists, and two steals. Caleb Martin also notched eleven points and further cemented his “best two-way player in the league status”—a dubious honor, he’d no doubt like to be rid of as soon as possible.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Despite the continuing drama in La La Land and the conversions it would bring writing about, I’m going to spend a bit of time on Devin Booker who dropped 48 points, six assists, five rebounds, and three steals in a win against the Spurs last night. Mmm, those sweet sweet unique hits from Phoenix… all 12 of them. I’m kidding, there’s actually a lot of people out there in the tri-state area, just too old to understand anything digital that’s not Facebook, so here we are. And even though Booker tried for 50 (was pulled with the Suns up by 10 and missing his last two shots), the stat line last night was downright dominant when you realize it may all be happening because he pointed at the Raptor. (Suns are 4-0 now since that incident by the way.) During the same span, Booker has been averaging 32.3 PPG and has carried the Suns a few times this past week all by himself, including last night’s win against the aforementioned Spurs. Best player in Arizona currently wearing #1? Don’t tell Razzball Football, but I think so…

Here’s what else I saw during last night’s games:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In the past I’ve mentioned that I don’t feel like I’ve got a great handle on who BI is as a player. There are flashy, stat-stuffing games like this one where it looks like he’s got it all figured out. A three-level scorer with more than a little playmaking ability offensively, and a long, rangy defender who alters shots and flits into passing lanes — there’s a lot to like about the slim 24-year-old with a massive wingspan. Then there are nights when the efficiency plummets and the turnovers, as seen here, balloon on him while the dimes dry up. For fantasy purposes, he’s got enough offensive punch to hang around the top-50 without much trouble, but the lack of defensive contributions and turnovers work like an engine regulator on his overall value. He’s been the 16th best player in the Association over the last week, so if you were wondering what the ceiling looks like, now’s your chance to catch a glimpse.

Speaking of catching glimpses, here’s what else I saw on a mostly-competitive night in the NBA…

Please, blog, may I have some more?