A Tuesday night in late November isn’t supposed to belong to the NBA. There were no national games this Tuesday, no marquee matchups, and just six games total.
Basketball ruled the evening anyway.
J.R. Smith stopped playing defense to greet an old friend. Andre Drummond laughed about and applauded his own ejection. Paul Pierce missed a wide-open dunk, so Chris Paul gave him CPR. Doc Rivers got so mad he became a meme.
In the six games, every team with a worse record than their opponent ended up winning. Giannis Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks hand the Cavaliers their third loss of the year with 34 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and five steals. The Magic held the Spurs to 83 points in an upset win and the Pelicans pounded the Lakers. Utah won its fourth straight game since George Hill’s return by thrashing the Rockets for a 19-point win.
The wildest game of the night was the Clippers vs. Nets, which went to double overtime and ended with a 127-122 Brooklyn victory. If you want a full recap of its weirdness, check it out here. To give you just the best highlights: Sean Kilpatrick (yes that’s a real NBA player) scored 20 points in the fourth quarter alone while scoring a career-high 38 points to lead Brooklyn to the win; Paul had one of the filthiest pump fakes we’ve seen that led to a three-pointer that forced the first overtime; and Doc Rivers got ejected and had to be restrained by his own players, but the Nets missed three out of four free throws after that happened, allowing Jamal Crawford to force a second overtime. Brooklyn finally took it in the second period of free ball.
That’s the NBA for you. As the NFL struggles with ratings down across the board and baseball still can’t figure out to relate to younger viewers (unless they can repeat Cubs-Indians Game 7 every year), basketball can capture younger audiences in a moment’s notice. Players frequently go viral just from ridiculous feats of athleticism, but J.R. Smith can also do it just by hugging Jason Terry while play is happening (and have an alter ego after the game). No matter what’s happening, the NBA is never more than a moment away from hitting the national stage.
It doesn’t have to be the NBA vs. other sports, either. This is why we love the league; we can start casually watching a Tuesday night and look up three hours later wondering what happened. It was supposed to be a slow night! Only six games on television, and somehow a million things happened anyway.
Tuesdays like this Tuesday are great for the NBA, and they’re greater for us. You can say a lot about the NBA, but don’t ever say it’s boring.
Utah with George Hill is fantastic.
We wondered how the Jazz would survive the start of this season without Gordon Hayward, but they did that just fine. As it towards out, George Hill might be the lynchpin on Utah’s roster. With him, they’re 7-1. Without him, just 3-5.
The Jazz beat the Rockets on Tuesday, a team that did have a better record than them but arguably isn’t a better team. Hill even had his worst game of the season — eight points on six shots — but his impact and team-best plus-17 doesn’t go unnoticed. For one, Hill is really good and has perennially been underrated. Plus, point guard was Utah’s biggest problem last season, and there’s still not many great options that the Jazz can revert back to in Hill’s absence.
The Jazz’s 11-8 start is still a bit of a disappointment, but there are clear signs they’ll be better. Their plus-6.6 net rating is the biggest one — the team is winning big and losing small, and that rating ranks fourth-best in the league. Utah has the third-best defense and 10th-best offense. In every sense, they’re a force in the West.
To be fair, the Jazz had better splits last season, too. It felt like they should have won more games and should have put it together more cohesively — and they just didn’t. But it’s due time for that trend to change. Hill is exactly what Utah needed at the point, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors still forms a great frontcourt, and the Jazz have more depth than ever before. Rodney Hood only played 20 points despite scoring 19 on Tuesday! There’s almost not enough minutes to go around.
Four straight wins. If Utah is going to become the Utah team we believe they can, now’s as good as ever. They don’t need to win 10 or 20 straight, but they need to win. The Heat, Nuggets, Lakers and Suns are up next — there’s no more excuses.
If you don’t believe in anything else, believe in Anthony Davis.
Davis did it again. On Tuesday, Brow dropped 41 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks on 14-of-27 shooting. New Orleans knocked off the Lakers, 105-88.
New Orleans is now 5-2 since Jrue Holiday returned, but it really is just him and Davis doing this. On Tuesday, it was the same thing — Davis had 41, Holiday had 22, and Omer Asik had — well, Asik had 10. And no one else scored double figures. Alright, then.
Solomon Hill has been a disaster on offense despite nearly $50 million this offseason, and Buddy Hield was on his way to a DNP-CD until playing a single minute in garbage time. The good news is that Tyreke Evans is still out there and could be ready to return within the coming weeks, giving the Pelicans a much needed offensive boost. But Holiday and Evans are still both injury prone, and once again, it looks like New Orleans is desperately needing its top players to play an entire season despite no evidence they can do that.
I still had a weird belief the Pelicans might end up alright this season, but there’s really no reason for that. They’ll probably hang around in the playoff race longer than last season, but if Holiday or — lord forbid — Davis miss a few weeks in February, it’s hard to see them sticking around.
The most J.R. Smith play of all time.
We talked about Smith’s play above, and we linked it, but we can’t leave without being 100 percent sure you watched it. Please enjoy.