Celtics trounce Nets by 43, 139-96
With three-and-a-half minutes left in the first quarter, the Boston Celtics held a 38-9 lead and had drained all seven of its three-point attempts. By the end of the first quarter, Boston’s advantage swelled to 30, the score 46-16. The term “unconscious” is often thrown around as it relates to shots falling in basketball, but I’m not sure it had ever been applied as aptly as it was by Mike Breen describing the Celtics in the opening frame.
Hell, he could have said it every second for the rest of the game, and it wouldn’t have lost meaning. Had it been the lone word he repeated for the next three quarters — “Unconscious,” he’d say, followed by Doris Burke’s eloquent breakdowns of dribble hand-offs — no one would have bat an eye. The Celtics were that good, nay, great, nay, outstanding on Wednesday, led by Jayson Tatum (31 points) and Jaylen Brown (26), plus Robert Williams III, Derrick White, Malcolm Brogdon, and Luke Kornet, who all finished in double-figures. At one point, Boston led by 49; at no point did they trail.
Everyone else in the NBA is playing for second-best at the moment.
Timberwolves drop Warriors in OT, 119-114
Despite seven players finishing in double-figures, led by (who else) Steph Curry’s 29, the Warriors just didn’t have enough to stop — *checks notes* — D’Angelo Russell and Naz Reid. Russell matched Steph’s game-high 29 points to continue his ridiculously hot month of January, and Reid dropped 24 and pulled down 13 rebounds in the win. After Russell fouled out in overtime, Anthony Edwards picked up the slack. He scored half of Minnesota’s overtime points and finished with 27.
Trail Blazers top Grizzlies, 122-112, behind another big night from Dame
Speaking of unconscious, Damian Lillard is on the heater of all heaters at the moment. He hasn’t scored fewer than 24 points since Jan. 8, and is averaging 38 points per game since then. He has scored 30 or more in 11 of those 13 games, 40 or more in six of them, and 50-plus in two. On Wednesday, he scored 42 points, which paired nicely with his eight rebounds and 10 assists. He outdueled Ja Morant (32-9-12) handily, which is hardly an easy ask.
The Blazers can be anything on any given night — good, bad, ugly, stunning, etc. If they squirm their way into the play-in tournament by season’s end, that should (oddly) make them one of the more daunting matchups in the West.
Sixers avoid second-straight loss to Magic, win 105-94
When Joel Embiid (28 points in Tuesday’s win) and James Harden (26) are playing this well, both individually and together, the Philadelphia 76ers are going to be hard to beat. The only thing standing in their way of a title — a notion I must consider, even as they continue to experience their hottest stretch of the season — might be that night-in-nigh-out third option. Tobias Harris (16 points on Tuesday) fit the bill against the lesser Orlando opponent Philly drew on Tuesday. But he’s as streaky as they come. Tyrese Maxey could be the guy, but he’s gone cold over his last three, scoring a combined 31 points and shooting just 10-of-31 over that stretch.
A win is a win. I’m just being the curmudgeon who yells at clouds; which I like to call “thinking big,” but alas.
Hawks wallop Suns in Phoenix, 132-100
Sometimes, it’s just one of those nights.
February 2, 2023
Rockets stun Thunder, 112-106, without Green, Porter Jr.
Somehow, some way, in this universe — the one we are presently living in, yes, this one — the Houston Rockets, without the often-chaotic services of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., beat the Oklahoma City Thunder. In an alternate timeline, this makes so much sense. In this one, a timeline in which Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having the best season of his career and Jabari Smith Jr. can hardly manage to score nine points against the middling Thunder of Oklahoma City, it’s baffling.
But alas, it’s what happened. Eric Gordon, a man who positively hates being a member of the Houston Rockets, led all scorers with 25 points and was confidently flanked by Tari Eason, who added 20. SGA had 24 and Josh Giddey, 20, but it wasn’t enough.
Yes, one of my parlays tanked because of this game. Can you tell?
Sabonis drops season-high 34 to lead Kings past Spurs, 119-109
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to decipher that San Antonio and Sacramento are two teams heading in the opposite direction. With this loss, the Spurs have dropped seven in a row and 12 of their last 13. Meanwhile, the Kings — led by Domantas Sabonis’ 34 points and 11 rebounds — have won nine of their last 12 and are third in the West. Even though the Spurs kept things close in this one, thanks in large part to a 69-33 advantage in scoring off the bench, the Kings never budged en route to their second-straight win.
Jazz sneak past Raptors, 131-128
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Utah won the Rudy Gobert trade, and it’s not particularly close.
Walker Kessler in the win!— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 2, 2023
14 Rebounds (7 OREB)
He's shot 80%+ in 22 of his 50 career games. 100% FG in 16 games. pic.twitter.com/r7lKmJaydk