The NBA can, on some nights, have a “WWE”-type of feel to their action. Sometimes that takes the form of literal knockout punches while others its dueling 40-point double doubles in overtimes.
There are also underdogs to root for, like Zion setting career-highs after some wrote him off or the Bulls toppling one of the best teams in basketball when it seems like all is a lost cause.
Let’s start with the knockout punch:
No love lost as Pistons blow out Magic, 121-101
Killian Hayes is likely going to face some suspension time, but he’s also likely never going to have to hear that he’s soft ever again after he literally KO’d Moe Wagner. The altercation didn’t affect the game much since it was already a near 20-point deficit that clearly didn’t get much better for Orlando, but both teams could be impacted going forward.
The final tally for players ejected reached three — Wagner, Hayes, and Hamidou Diallo — while numerous other Orlando players left their bench and could face suspension time themselves.
Wizards take advantage of shorthanded Suns, 127-102
Three Wizards spearheaded the offense as Phoenix didn’t have the firepower to keep up with Rui Hachimura (30 points), Kristaps Porzingis (22), and Kyle Kuzma (22). Deandre Ayton scored a season-high 31 points but disappeared for stretches and only grabbed seven rebounds in the loss.
Nets keep their streak going with 108-107 win over Hawks
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving combined for 54 points and 16 assists to help gift Brooklyn their 10th straight win. Nic Claxton also had an elite game, finishing with 17 points (8-9 FG), 10 rebounds, and six blocks.
Without Trae Young and Clint Capela, the Hawks offense came up just a bit short, led by Dejounte Murray, who shot 10-26 from the floor for 24 points. Five other Hawks finished in double figures as well.
Miami smashes Lakers, 112-98
DeRozan outduels Giannis as Bulls top Bucks 119-112 in overtime
Down by as much as 15 in the fourth quarter, the three of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic combined for 23 in the frame to rally and tie the game with just seven seconds remaining. In overtime, DeRozan took over even further with 10 points on his way to 42 for the game, his third 40-point game of the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 45 points, 22 rebounds, and seven assists in the loss.
Pelicans squeak by Wolves, 119-118, behind Zion’s career-high 43 points
Zion Williamson shot 14-21 from the floor and 14-19 from the line on his way to his first ever 40-point outing, supported by 20+ from CJ McCollum and Trey Murphy III as well.
Minnesota’s starting guards, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards, each scored 27 points in the loss. Russell, after the game, said Zion is playing a different game out there, “He’s playing football, we’re playing basketball. We can’t touch him or guard him. So, good for him.”
Warriors continue Chase Center dominance with 112-107 win over Jazz
Golden State is now 15-2 at home and 3-16 on the road for a “perfectly balanced, as all things should be” record of 18-18 on the season for the defending champs. No team in the league has fewer road wins and only Cleveland (16-4) has more home wins.
Kings trail for most of 127-126 win over Nuggets
Down for the first 46+ minutes and by as much as 19 points, the Kings led when it counted most behind Malik Monk’s free throw in the final second. He led the way for Sac with 33 points while De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis each added 31 more. Nikola Jokic finished with 40 on 15-24 shooting in the loss.