According to Inside the NBA Postgame show at the end of an action-packed Tuesday, the 40-point game count has now increased to 105 league-wide (including 23 mid-January alone), which is a historical number of epic proportions. The closest season after January 17 is 1960-61, which only had 77 games.
While Damian Lillard and Joel Embiid brought out the night’s 40-point outings, four others at 35+ also came close. Lillard and Fred VanVleet, who has been in the news lately with talks about free agency contenders for the coming summer, were the only losers among the six high scorers, although both went head to head other high scores.
Starting with a great first game of TNT’s primetime doubleheader, here’s what caught my eye across the Association:
Jrue Holiday leads Giannis-less Bucks past Raptors, 130-122
A hotly contested game with each team’s combo guard being the star of the night. Jrue Holiday finished with 37 points (16-26 FG), six rebounds, seven assists and two steals while giving Milwaukee three of their last six field goals as they pulled away. For Toronto, Fred VanVleet had 39 points (15-28 FG), nine rebounds and seven assists.
The competition also included big nights from Grayson Allen — 25 points, including two of Milwaukee’s last two field goals — and Gary Trent Jr., who along with his 28 points, learned what losing your head (ribbon) really means.
Netze is still winless without Durant after falling 106-98 to Spurs
In Tuesday’s post, I mentioned that Brooklyn was beginning its first losing streak since October. For up to three games, that streak continued Tuesday as the Nets struggled offensively, particularly from deep (3-23, 13.0%). TJ Warren was the only net player to score over 16 goals, and he did so with just 19 (7-13 FG) off the bench.
The last Spurs remain in the bottom four in the league despite the win. Keldon Johnson performed while running-mate on the wing, Devin Vassell, continues to recover from knee surgery. With the win, Johnson had a career-high 36 points (11-26 FG), 11 rebounds and four steals for his third double-double of the season and 18th of his career.
Jokic trumps Lillard in Denver’s 122-113 win over Portland
Another day, another triple-double by reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. With 36 points (13-14 FG), 12 rebounds and 10 assists, the Joker had his 13th triple double of the season and the ninth of his last 17 games. With his top-notch production and efficiency on this particular night, he adds his name to a dreary list for the second time:
30-point triple-double at 90% shooting in NBA history:
⭐ Nikola Jokic tonight
⭐ Nikola Jokic on 20.10.2018
⭐ Wilt Chamberlain on February 24, 1967
⭐ Wilt Chamberlain on February 17, 1966 pic.twitter.com/Hy6qQ2ssfh
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 18, 2023
Not to mention, Damian Lillard scored the first 40-point game of the night. With 44 (12-20 FG, 6-12 3P, 14-14 FT) that night, Lillard made his third 40-point outing in his last four games and is now averaging 42.5 per game over the stretch.
Sixers pull away from Clippers late in the win, 120-110
Philly led by just two points and 10:50 into the game before putting on a 24-7 run over the next 7:59 to take control with a 19-point lead. Joel Embiid played the part of the unstoppable force with 41 points and nine rebounds, which was especially important for the Sixers as James Harden struggled – just six points on 1-6 shooting.
The Sixers have pushed into sole possession of No. 3 in the East, while the Clippers, who are 2-8 over their last 10, are now looking down on the play-in slots tied with Golden State at No. 6.