It was a light four-game slate in the NBA on Tuesday night. Here’s a recap and some analysis of the night that was.
Golden State Warriors 114, Memphis Grizzlies 95
The Golden State Warriors showed the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday that despite having seven inactive players, they are still a competitive team. After a tight first quarter, the Warriors went on a 23-2 run in the second quarter that gave them a 54-34 lead with 3:34 left in the frame. From there, GSW kept Memphis at arm’s length until the final buzzer.
Alec Burks led the way with 29 points and eight rebounds. Glenn Robinson III chipped in 20 and Eric Paschall had 17. Draymond Green had a very Draymondesque line of eight points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, and two blocks. Ja Morant paced Memphis with 20 points and six assists. Jae Crowder added 15 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists.
- This was Alec Burks’ second straight game as Golden State’s starting point guard. He went 2-of-13 from the field in the Warriors loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, but dished out five assists without a turnover. In this game, he reeled off 29, but only gave out two assists while fumbling the ball five times. Here’s hoping he’ll find that balance of scoring and playmaking in future games.
- This was a winnable game for Memphis, but they failed to capitalize. They were at home facing a shorthanded roster that had lost seven straight games, and even though they endured a second quarter drought, this full strength roster couldn’t find a way to close the gap at any point in the second half. It goes to show you can’t dismiss any opponent in the NBA. They will need to ratchet up the effort if they want to compete with the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
- I appreciate Draymond Green’s presence on this Warriors roster, so it’s good to see that the elbow injury he suffered in the third was minor. I think his on-court intelligence and competitive nature is good for the young players around him. His veteran savvy is part of what could turn these young prospects into impactful role players in the coming years.
New Orleans Pelicans 115, Portland Trail Blazers 104
This game was notable as it marked the return of future Hall-of-Famer Carmelo Anthony in his first NBA game since last November and his first game with a Northwest Division team since February 2011. He finished this game with 10 points and four rebounds.
His Portland Trail Blazers — without Damian Lillard due to back issues — remained competitive with the New Orleans Pelicans in the first half, ahead 54-53 at the break. However, the Pels outscored Portland 35-25 in the third quarter, giving them a lead they would never relinquish.
Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 22 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds. Brandon Ingram also had a big night with 21 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. CJ McCollum paced Portland with 22 points, five assists, and two steals. Two Blazers had double-doubles: Hassan Whiteside racked up 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Nassir Little had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
- I thought Carmelo Anthony looked alright in his debut, but then I saw his final statline. Yikes! Sure, he had 10 points and four boards and went 2-of-3 from 3-point range. But he also had five turnovers and five fouls and went 2-of-11 inside the arc. Ultimately, I think he can be a positive addition offensively, but it seems there will be a bit of an adjustment period.
- The kids were definitely alright in this game. Nassir Little has been so good during this back-to-back, and I could see him developing into a key role player by season’s end. I still like how Anfernee Simons carries himself on the court, even if he has his share of defensive lapses. For New Orleans, Jaxson Hayes instantly becoming a looming lob threat and a defensive pest (three blocks, two steals) is great to see. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had a rough game, but I still think he can develop into a dangerous player.
- You can tell that New Orleans is slowly turning it around. There was tons of energy and ball movement and smart decisions on both ends of the floor. You were hard-pressed to find a Blazers shot that the Pels didn’t contest. On the other side, Portland just looks lost. They were able to make a lot of hard-earned shots in the first half, but that wasn’t sustainable to the full 48 minutes. Defensively they were a mess as well, and you can’t even blame Carmelo for it! It was mostly the guys that had already been on the roster that made the miscues. I’m confident that Portland can be a dangerous team at full strength, but there is an enormous chasm between that point and where they are now.
Sacramento Kings 120, Phoenix Suns 116
The Sacramento Kings set the tone for this game early when Buddy Hield intercepted a pass and took it in for a breakaway dunk 12 seconds into the game. Sacramento maintained the lead until the final buzzer, leading by as many as 26 points. The final margin could have been larger, but the Phoenix Suns outscored the Kings 22-12 over the final three minutes of the game, as they attempted to close the gap by hitting 3-pointers and fouling. They went 4-of-5 from distance and committed six fouls in that span.
Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Kings with a career-high 31 points from off the bench. He also made a career-high seven 3-pointers. Cory Joseph dished out his own career-high of 14 assists. Richaun Holmes picked up 20 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks. Devin Booker dropped 30 points and eight assists for Phoenix in the losing effort. Kelly Oubre (eight rebounds, five steals) and Mikal Bridges each had 20 points.
- Ricky Rubio, who missed Monday’s game against the Boston Celtics due to back problems, left this game after one half. He wasn’t himself, going 0-of-7 from the field and handing out two assists. Once again, while Booker took up the playmaking duties alongside Tyler Johnson and Elie Okobo, it was still clear that this team is missing its main offensive engine. Without Rubio, Phoenix is basically back to being the team they’ve been the past few years. It could be a rough stretch for the Suns if Ricky needs extended recovery time.
- The league’s top offense this month strikes again. When you come away with a 53.2/41.9/92.0 team shooting split, you likely going to win the ballgame. This turnaround from an 0-5 start has been impressive, especially with DeAaron Fox and Marvin Bagley sidelined. Here’s hoping they can maintain at least some of that consistency as the season wears on.
- Even before taking the career night he had into account, Bogdan Bogdanovic is making his own case for Sixth Man of the Year. He’s just such a potent scorer and has improved as a playmaker and defender. Those facts were just amplified on Tuesday night. I’m not going to predict that he will break this career-high again this season, but I definitely feel he’s in line to have at least a few more big nights this year.
Los Angeles Lakers 112, Oklahoma City Thunder 107
The Oklahoma City Thunder returned to the Staples Center for the second straight night, but this time it was to face off against the Los Angeles Lakers. Like Monday night, however, the Thunder came up just short despite a valiant effort. The Lakers kept them at arm’s length, holding the lead for almost the entire game and by as many as 12 points.
This was a night for the dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James finished with a triple-double: 25 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists. Davis led all scorers with 34 points while adding seven rebounds, four assists, four steals, and two blocks to his ledger. Dennis Schroder unleashed 31 points from off the bench for OKC, going 12-of-20 from the field. Danilo Gallinari added 25 points to the loss.
- It’s funny how the oft-maligned Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13 points tonight, 3-of-4 on 3-pointers) was the one to ice the game for LA. His right wing trey with 55.3 seconds left in the fourth staved off the Thunder’s comeback bid and cemented the final score. KCP does have his flaws, but it’s good to see him get an individual win tonight.
- Man, LeBron and AD are so much fun to watch together. They’re definitely my favorite duo of this young season. LeBron is just so savvy with the ball and Davis is just so dominant whenever he gets a touch. Like the Sixth Man of the Year battle the Los Angeles Clippers are having, these two are definitely duking it out for MVP.
- I’m not surprised at all by the fight the Oklahoma City Thunder are showing each game. They’re at a place where they lack the superstar to be a contender, but they’re way too talented to be blown out every night. You combine that with a team buying into the coaching and each other, and you have a team that will be playing spoiler all season long.