According to the Inside the NBA postgame show at the end of an action-packed Tuesday, the 40-point game count is now up to 105 across the league (including 23 in half of January alone), which is a historical number of epic proportions. The next closest season by the Jan. 17 mark is 1960-61, which had just 77 games.
While Damian Lillard and Joel Embiid put out the 40-point outings of the night, four others came close as well with 35+. Lillard and Fred VanVleet, who’s been in the news lately with talks of free agency suitors for this upcoming summer, were the only losers among the six high-scorers, though both were up against other high scorers.
Starting with a great first game from TNT’s primetime doubleheader, here’s what stood out to me across the Association:
Jrue Holiday leads Giannis-less Bucks past Raptors, 130-122
A hotly contested game, each squad’s combo guard played star on the night. Jrue Holiday finished with 37 points (16-26 FG), six rebounds, seven assists, and two steals while gifting Milwaukee three of their final six field goals in pulling away. For Toronto, Fred VanVleet posted 39 points (15-28 FG), nine rebounds, and seven assists.
The contest also featured big nights from Grayson Allen — 25 points, including two of Milwaukee’s final two field goals — and Gary Trent Jr., who along with his 28 points learned what it really means to lose your head(band).
Nets still winless without Durant after falling 106-98 to Spurs
In Tuesday’s post, I mentioned that Brooklyn was starting their first losing streak since October. Up to three games now, that streak continued on Tuesday as the Nets struggled offensively, especially from deep (3-23, 13.0%). T.J. Warren was the only Net to score over 16, and he did so with just 19 (7-13 FG) off the bench.
The bottoming Spurs stay in the league’s bottom four despite the win. Keldon Johnson stepped up as his running mate on the wing, Devin Vassell, continues to recover from knee surgery. In the win, Johnson posted a career-high 36 points (11-26 FG), 11 rebounds, and four steals for his third double double of the season and 18th of his career.
Jokic outduels Lillard in Denver’s 122-113 win over Portland
Another day, another triple double from the back-to-back reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic. With 36 points (13-14 FG), 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, the Joker notched his 13th triple double of the season and ninth of his last 17 games. With his elite production and efficiency on this particular night, he adds his name to a barren list for the second time:
30-point triple-double on 90% shooting in NBA history:— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 18, 2023
⭐ Nikola Jokic tonight
⭐ Nikola Jokic on Oct. 20, 2018
⭐ Wilt Chamberlain on Feb. 24, 1967
⭐ Wilt Chamberlain on Feb. 17, 1966 pic.twitter.com/Hy6qQ2ssfh
Not to be forgotten, Damian Lillard posted the first 40-point game of the night. With 44 (12-20 FG, 6-12 3P, 14-14 FT) on the night, Lillard posted his third 40-point outing over his last four games, now averaging 42.5 per game over that stretch.
Sixers pull away from Clippers late in win, 120-110
Leading by just two points with 10:50 left in the game, Philly rattled off a 24-7 run over the next 7:59 to take control with a 19-point lead. Joel Embiid played the role of unstoppable force with 41 points and nine rebounds, which was especially necessary for the Sixers as James Harden struggled — just six points on 1-6 shooting.
The Sixers boosted themselves into sole possession of #3 in the East while the Clippers, who are 2-8 over their last 10, now find themselves looking down at the play-in slots, tied with Golden State for #6.