Five Notes From a Wild Week in the NBA

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Even during the wintry dog days of winter, the NBA never sleeps. A constant content machine that keeps on plowing ahead. This week has been particularly invigorating.

Five Notes From a Wild Week in the NBA

1. A Wild Wednesday night in the NBA

Wednesday night in the NBA was bonkers. Take a look at this:

  • Joel Embiid scored 50 points in 27 minutes. It’s worth repeating: 50 points in 27 minutes! Absolutely absurd.
  • In that same game between the Sixers and Magic, Mo Bamba scored a career-high 28 points in the first half. Bamba drained seven 3s and had a sequence of three straight blocks. Alas, he only attempted two shots in the 2nd half while the Magic got stomped by 23 after halftime.
  • Nikola Jokic had a RIDICULOUS triple-double with 49 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in the Denver Nuggets Revenge Game home comeback win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Jokic had an incredible Serbian sling pass to Aaron Gordon in the corner for the go-ahead game-winning bucket in the final seconds of OT. Just last week it was the Clippers who rallied from being down by 25 in the 2nd half to beat Denver. So the overtime win was extra sweet for Big Honey.

Triple-Doubles

  • Jokic wasn’t the only one with a triple-double on Wednesday night:
    • Dejounte Murray: 23 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds in a 118-96 San Antonio Spurs win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was Murray’s eighth triple-double this season, and he would rack up his ninth (25-12-10) on Friday night in a 15-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets. He’s now tied with Russell Westbrook for second-most in the NBA this season. (Jokic leads with 11.)
    • Domantas Sabonis: 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a 111-104 Indiana Pacers win over the Los Angeles Lakers. It was the fourth triple-dub of the season for Sabonis and his third this month.

More Monster Performances

  • Luka Doncic joined Jokic with a 40-burger of his own, finishing with 41 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists in a four-point over the Toronto Raptors. The Dallas Mavericks had won 10 out of the last 11 games until losing to the Suns on Thursday night.
  • Trae Young popped off for 37 points and 14 assists in a 134-122 Atlanta Hawks win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. After looking like roadkill for a month, the Hawks have a pulse. (And a three-game winning streak after defeating the Miami Heat on Friday night.)
  • In what would usually be the headlining matchup between the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and the young swaggering Memphis Grizzlies, somehow Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 33 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists and Ja Morant’s 22 points, 14 assists, and 8 rebounds are buried amongst a truly scintillating night of hoops.
  • A final shoutout goes to Ivica Zubac who scored a career-high 32 points in the Clippers’ loss to the Nuggets. And also to the two big upsets of the night: the Houston Rockets taking down the Utah Jazz on the road and the Detroit Pistons comeback win in Sacramento against the “untouchable” Sacramento Kings.

As if you needed any more evidence: 15 players scored 30 points or more on Wednesday night, tying the most in a day in NBA history.

WHEW. What a night!

2. The First-Ever NBA/NHL Brother Combo

Miles Bridges was not the only one who brought his A-game from Charlotte to MSG on MLK Day.

The always fantastic Charlotte Hornets broadcast team featuring the always ecstatic Eric Collins and the always lovely Ashley ShahAhmadi dropped a great nugget about how New York Knicks Quentin Grimes and his brother, Tyler Myers, are the first-ever brothers to be in both the NBA and NHL. Myers is a 13-year NHL veteran who plays for the Vancouver Canucks and his maternal half-brother Grimes is a Knicks rookie that started college at Kansas and transferred to Houston, putting the Cougars on the map. Hornets color commentator Dell Curry joked that they might hold this distinction forever.

3. The Spacing of the Games on MLK Day was Glorious

As chronicled with a mega-preview and mega-review, the NBA featured 12 games on MLK Day, beginning at 12:30 pm and stretching across 12+ hours the rest of the day. This is an immensely easier way to try to watch every game than on a regular busy NBA Monday, Wednesday, or Friday night that can feature 12 or even 13 games jam-packed into a 5+ hour window from 7:00 pm to 12:30 am. Like this past Wednesday night: at one point there were eight games all on at once with two more getting ready to tip-off. Madness!

Hoops fanatics wouldn’t mind if the NBA trotted out a few more matinees during the week. If the MLB can pull it off for seven months, the NBA could sprinkle a few in. Right?

4. Coaches, Get Your Superstars Out of Games That Are Over!

Milwaukee Bucks

In a recent ESPN Friday night primetime showdown between the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, Nets head coach Steve Nash waved an early white flag, pulling his starters with 6:58 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Nets were down 20 points as Kevin Durant, James Harden and co. took a seat on the bench while Bruce Brown, Jevon Carter, Day’Ron Sharpe, David Duke Jr., and Kessler Edwards entered the game.

Who remained in the game for the Bucks? The two-time MVP and reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo!

To be fair, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer was out in the health and safety protocols and top assistant coach Darvin Ham was the acting head coach. Giannis had also only logged 25 minutes up to that point. BUT STILL. Giannis had zero business still being in the game, going head-to-head against Kessler Edwards over the next few minutes in a 20-point fourth-quarter blowout. There was nothing to gain, but everything to lose.

Memphis Grizzlies

Another prime example of this was on Monday night in the MLK Day matchup between the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies on TNT. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter and down by 21 points, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan pulled DeMar DeRozan which all but signaled the game was over. Grizzlies acting head coach Darko Rajakovic (yup, Taylor Jenkins was out in the protocols) not only left Ja Morant in the game but also subbed in Jaren Jackson Jr.! So the Grizz star-studded young duo played the next couple of minutes against Ayo Dosunmu, Troy Brown Jr., Malcom Hill, Matt Thomas and Tony Bradley.

Not to mention this was right after Bradley stuck out his leg and knocked knees with Ja, igniting the scuffle that saw Steven Adams play his role as bouncer and literally pick up the 6-10 248-lb Bradley.

Now, the Grizz did put on a show in garbage time. That’s when Ja treated us with that sparkling spinning 360 layup. But even so, it is difficult to watch the game’s best players play in minutes they don’t need to. Yes, an injury can happen at any time. But an injury can’t happen if you are not in the game when you don’t need to be.

It must be noted that both of these instances did involve acting interim coaches and not the usual head coach. But there have been too many other occasions this season to only blame the assistants.

5. Three Wild Friday Night NBA Fourth-Quarter Road Comebacks

Los Angeles Clippers

On the East Coast in the city of brotherly love, the Los Angeles Clippers trailed the Philadelphia 76ers by 24 points in the second half, but they kept clipping away. Amir Coffey (the brewmaster with an unexpected evolution) and Marcus Morris Sr. (who was not wearing his usual headband because of a fresh line/haircut) were vital. But it was Reggie Jackson who scored the most points for the Clippers with 19, including seven big ones in the final five minutes. Down by one point with five seconds left, the Sixers’ Tyrese Maxey did have a chance at a game-winner at the buzzer but instead of a buzzer-beater, it was a near wedgie. Final: Clippers 102, 76ers 101.

This was the Clippers’ second 20-point comeback in the last ten days, having that 25-point comeback against the Nuggets as previously mentioned. It must be noted that Joel Embiid scored 40 points for Philly which runs Embiid’s average over the last 16 games up to an insane 33.5 points per game.

Miami Heat

Although the Miami Heat did not pull off the W Friday night in Atlanta, the Heat had a furious run in the fourth quarter to make it a super close game. Down by 14 entering the fourth quarter, a Duncan Robinson 3-pointer brought the Heat to within one point with 55 seconds remaining. The Heat would have two opportunities to make a go-ahead shot in the final minute, but Jimmy Butler missed a wide-open look right at the basket and then a far corner 3-pointer in the game’s final seconds. Final: Hawks 110, Heat 108.

Securing the win also achieved some revenge for the Hawks who recently lost to the Heat just last Friday night down in the 305.

Portland Trail Blazers

Up in Boston, The Portland Trail Blazers trailed the Boston Celtics by 11 points with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Celtics, however, would not make another field goal the entire rest of the game. Jusuf Nurkic made the go-ahead bucket, a turnaround push-shot, in the final 15 seconds after snagging an offensive board. Nurkic finished with a game-high 29 points and 17 rebounds. Final: Blazers 109, Celtics 105.

Per StatMuse, the Celtics are 9-17 in 26 clutch games this season, the fourth-worst record in the NBA. Meanwhile, this was the Blazers’ fifth road win of the season and their third road win in the last week.

BONUS BUZZER BEATER: STEPH CURRY FOR THE WIN!

The only thing better than watching Steph Curry‘s game-winning buzzer-beater live was also having a Warriors live MoneyLine.

What will next week have in store?

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