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NBA Scores: The Pacers are making us all look silly

Plus: Kawhi’s game-winner and Boston’s continued dominance.

Indiana Pacers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The last time I wrote one of these daily scores recaps, I spent the intro fawning over the NBA’s unpredictability. The Pistons were playing the Mavericks, and I had no idea what to expect from the game — not even Luka’s presence on one side could sway me in one direction or another. I might as well spend every intro from here on out repeating the exact same sentiment, almost word-for-word. Of course, I won’t — like the league, I’m all about keeping things interesting — but in a league that is becoming less and less uniform in its day-to-day, a trend is emerging: you can never count on what you might believe to be the inevitable.

With every passing night in the NBA, I find myself impressed by yet another young name or team that shatters its own expectations. Lately, that fresh face has been Indiana’s Andrew Nembhard. The rookie guard from Gonzaga has spent the last week taking name after name, and proving himself an indispensable cog in Rick Carlisle’s unexpectedly-successful machine. Over his last four games, Nembhard is averaging 15.6 points on 53 percent shooting (46 percent from three), as well as 7.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds. His efficiency is off the charts. Last week, he hit a buzzer-beater to give Indiana the win over the Lakers.

And Monday night, he continued to deliver, leading a shorthanded Pacers squad past the Warriors. That starts off today’s recap of Monday’s NBA Scores.

Paced by Nembhard, Indiana handles Golden State, 112-104

Without Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, and a host of others, you’d have been forgiven if you mentally penciled in the Warriors as winners of this one before turning out the lights and calling it a night. But people forget about the likes of Nembhard (31 points), Buddy Hield (17), Jalen Smith (15), Bennedict Mathurin (14), Oshae Brissett (14), and Isaiah Jackson (13), all of whom put together an exhilarating team-effort in Indiana’s win over the Warriors. Even on a shorthanded night, this team proves to be dangerous.

Klay Thompson finished with 28 points in defeat, while Steph Curry shot just 3-for-17, totaling 12 points on the night, his season-low.

Rockets outlast Sixers in double-OT, 132-123

In his first game since Nov. 2, James Harden looked ... rusty. After missing 14 games with a tendon strain in his right foot, he returned and scored 21 points for Philadelphia but shot just 4-for-19 from the field. The Rockets took advantage, forcing two extra periods before pulling away in the second overtime. Joel Embiid led the way for the Sixers with 39, but fouled out in the first OT.

Giannis, Bucks hand Magic ninth-straight loss, 109-102

The Milwaukee Bucks have won five out of six, and though Orlando kept this one on the closer side, a game never really feels in doubt when Giannis Antetokounmpo is dominating. He finished with 34 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks to keep his squad rolling. The road ahead is a tougher one, though: In their final 12 games of 2022, the Bucks will meet nine teams over .500, six of them coming on the road.

Luka still owns Phoenix, leads Mavs in blowout win over Suns, 130-111

Los Angeles Clippers v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Kawhi returns, hits game-winner to lead Clips over Hornets, 119-117

The Los Angeles Clippers have spent the better part of the last 10 years being the NBA’s premier “what could have been” team. Whether it was the Lob City days, or the recent iteration of the franchise, led by two injury prone stars, they’ve always had the makings, but never the durability nor, perhaps, the luck to get over the final hump.

Now, last night’s win over the lowly Hornets shouldn't send fans to the sportsbooks to place their championship bets on this group. But if it inspires anything, make it a return to stability. Kawhi Leonard was the hero, a welcome sign for a team that has been without him for the better part of a year and a half. After missing the previous six games due to a sprained right ankle, Kawhi hit seven of his 15 shots, good for 16 points, to go with six rebounds and the game-winning jumper in 28 minutes. He’s only played in six games this season, but if this one is any indication, he’s on his way back.

Thunder use big second half to soar past Hawks, 121-114

If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t part of your MVP conversation, stop having the conversation. I don’t care that the Thunder are 11-13 and unlikely to make the playoffs — they are one of the league’s most entertaining teams, and it all starts with SGA, who’s having the best season of his still-young career. He’s averaging 31.8 points, six assists, and a tick under five rebounds per game; against Atlanta on Monday, he led the way with 35.

We’ve seen players put a team on their backs before. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen something quite as electric as this.

No Ja, JJJ, Bane... no problem! Grizz beat Heat, 101-93

Tatum, Brown lead Celtics past Raptors, 116-110

Honestly, enough said.

Nobody in the league can really figure out what to do with the Celtics at all. They’re 20-5, winners of eight of their last 10 (and two straight), and even on “off” nights from their better players, role guys creep out of the woodwork to step up and contribute. Last night, it was Blake Griffin. Next time, it will be Luke Kornet, or Justin Jackson. But at the end of the day, it will all come back to Tatum and Brown, who combined for 53 in Monday’s win over Toronto. Marcus Smart added 18 points and seven assists for the title favorites.