Basketball has returned after a four-day absence. Cue the happy tears.
A picture, as the saying goes, says more than a thousand words. Let’s see if I can keep up with that amount. To the points!
Sixers overcome 17-point deficit on top Grizzlies, 110-105
That’s five — count it — five straight wins for the Philadelphia 76ers, who almost certainly seemed out of this one for most of the action. Despite shooting just seven of 25 from the field, Joel Embiid finished the game with a routine 27 points and 19 rebounds, while James Harden (31-7 and 7) and Tobias Harris (20 points) helped level Philly’s attack, especially after down the track as they made their way from behind.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, continue to struggle, losing eight of nine before a 3-1 streak to end the first half of the season, but that loss leaves them 4-11 inside the last 15. Though Desmond Bane had 25 goals with Ease, seemingly rolling from floater to floater, Ja Morant only scored 15 for Memphis, and while he tried to edge tackle Joel Embiid, well…
Are the grizzlies doing well in the west? Are they okay…at all?
Jokic leads Nuggets over Cavs, 114-109
The idea that every player whose name isn’t Nikola Jokic should be this season’s MVP leader just seems silly to me. I mean sure I’m going to have a heated battle for second place. The more the better! But the Joker is currently averaging a triple-double and has his team five games ahead of the next squad at the top of the Western Conference standings. Voter Fatigue, Shmoter Shmatigue; We shouldn’t casually take what he’s accomplished this season.
The best? He has 22 games left. On Thursday, he dropped another triple-double — 24 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists — shot 61.5 percent from the field and helped carry Denver past the Cavs and an epic performance by Evan Mobley. The sophomore dropped 31 points and pulled down nine rebounds, but Jokic and company (specifically Michael Porter Jr., who led Denver by 25 points) stood out to win their fourth straight win.
Celtics outlive Pacers in OT, 142-138
For the first time in long before the All-Star break, Boston not only had all of its starters available, but In the starting lineup. It wasn’t just the first time since the All-Star break: it was only the second time all seasons that Boston’s starting lineup of Jayson Tatum Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams shared the floor at kick-off. Not bad for Boston for having the best record in the NBA, despite the shortcomings mentioned in terms of their overall health.
Against Indiana – a tilt that should have been a no-brainer on paper – it didn’t seem to matter. Indiana caught fire from the deep in the third quarter after trailing as much as 16 to wrap things up. Also, Myles Turner called the C’s into duty, scoring a season-high 40 points and notching a career-high eight triples; and Tyrese Haliburton had 22 points and 14 assists.
Still, the Celtics held on thanks to some late-game heroics from the ever-versatile Jayson Tatum. His tip with 10.4 seconds left effectively sealed the win for Boston, who have now won eight of their last ten games to stay top of the East.
Magic rushes past Pistons, 108-106
Wendell Carter Jr. for the win.
The Magic are four games from the play-in game. You should tackle it. I will die on this hill.
Raptors trump Pelicans to win third place in a row 115-110
The Raptors, who we once thought were a losing case and a rousing disappointment for this season’s age, have now won six out of seven and are looking pretty, pretty good. Even without Fred VanVleet, the Raptors managed to outlast the perpetually undermanned Pelicans behind 26 points from Pascal Siakam and 21 points and a career-high 18 rebounds from Jakob Poeltl. Toronto is now 3-1 since Poeltl recaptured at the close, while New Orleans – led by an easygoing 36-piece by Brandon Ingram, all for nothing – dropped its second straight and sixth of its last 10.
The pelicans need Zion back and more.
Luka and Kyrie lead Mavs to Spurs defeat, 142-116
Luka Doncic scored 28 points; Kyrie Irving added 23. It’s the first time these two have won together in Dallas and thank God for that. Had they somehow lost, who knows what questions would have come up with full force. Perhaps facing the hopeless Spurs on this particular occasion has helped as they have now miserably lost 15 in a row. It’s depressing basketball, if you can call it basketball, that San Antonio airs every night. Is Pop okay? I really hope they have the best wellness coach in the league on his side for his sake.
Jazz sneaks past Thunder in OT, 120-119
That’s pretty cool.
Of course, he might have stayed at just 40 points that night if Lu Dort hadn’t been fouled, sending Markannen to the free throw line, where he hit all three free throws to take a 120-119 lead OT. (Of course, it was the first time the Jazz had led since the second quarter.) SGA had a shot at the win, but it came to an end. Game, Set, Jazz. Markannen (43 points) edged out SGA (39) in the contest as Utah tries to stay alive in the play-in race. They’re now 0.5 games down from Thunder for the 10th seed. Who said this win means nothing?
Kings pass Blazers, 133-116
It’s not a Jokic-esque total, but Domantas Sabonis had his seventh triple-double (18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists) of the season on Thursday to lead Sacramento to an easy win over the Blazers. De’Aaron Fox scored a game-high 31 points.
As for Portland, it wasn’t nearly a banner night, but it’s forgiven considering Damian Lillard (rest), Jermani Grant (rest), Jusuf Nurkic (calf strain), Anfernee Simons (sprained ankle) and Justice Winslow (sprained ankle) all sat. That led Nassir Little (26 points), Cam Reddish (24) and Trendon Watford (15) to lead a Blazers roster that has now lost three of its last four.
New Look Lakers Top Warriors, 124-111
Malik Beasley (25 points, seven threes) and Austin Reaves (perfect six-on-six, en route to 17 points) were so good that LeBron James (13-9-8) and Anthony Davis (12-and-12) had to hardly appear. But the real star of this revamped Laker show has got to be the man, the myth, the mo.
Print out the play-in banner.