Are the NBA’s nightly slates getting busier and busier, or is it just me? It feels like there is more basketball to watch than ever — perhaps that’s just because the product is so unbelievably entertaining, more often than not. Tilts between teams like the 15-51 Detroit Pistons and the 31-34 Washington Wizards are worthy of a national audience because of said game’s competitive nature; the Orlando Magic are taking the Milwaukee Bucks to the figurative brink, for crying out loud.
In short: Basketball is beautiful. Now, let’s get to Tuesday’s games, shall we?
Hornets halt Knicks hot streak, 112-105
Of COURSE it would be the 14th-place Charlotte Hornets to bring the New York Knicks’ red-hot run to an end. I had a feeling this might be the result of tonight’s game; I even almost bet on it. But I refrained, and for that, I’m a fool. Kelly Oubre Jr. (27 points) and Terry Rozier (25, seven assists, and five boards) are probably laughing in my face as we speak.
The Knicks did practically everything right in pursuit of their 10th consecutive victory: RJ Barrett tied Oubre’s game-high in points with 27, yet despite having five other players finish in double-figures, they couldn’t hold off those feisty Hornets — who, mind you, had lost three in a row entering this contest.
Sports are baffling. This result just carves another notch into that notion’s belt.
Thunder top Warriors, 137-128
The Oklahoma City Thunder have all the makings to be a genuinely terrifying postseason out in a matter of years. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one thing (he had 33 to lead the Thunder in scoring). But then there’s Josh Giddey, who dropped a 17-11-17 triple-double on Tuesday to push OKC past Steph Curry (40 points in defeat) and the Warriors, who are now 7-25 on the road.
Most triple-doubles before turning 21 years old:— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 8, 2023
21 — Luka Doncic
7 — Magic Johnson, Josh Giddey pic.twitter.com/HhRX304CRU
OKC has won three in a row and now finds itself tied with the Pelicans for the 10th spot in the Western Conference standings. Maybe this plucky group will be a tough out even earlier than expected.
Giannis-less Bucks hold off Magic, 134-123
Without Giannis Antetokounmpo, it stands to reason that the Milwaukee Bucks could be vulnerable. Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton should still be counted as two of the NBA’s 25-to-40 best players, but neither one can replicate what Giannis brings to the table on a nightly basis.
And yet, life on the road seems to be far too easy for the Bucks at the moment, Giannis or no Giannis. After defeating Orlando on Tuesday, Milwaukee has won nine in a row away from Fiserv Forum. In this particular game, both Holiday and Antetokounmpo were absent. Thankfully, Khris Middleton (24 points and 11 assists), Brook Lopez (26 points and 11 rebounds), and Jevon Carter (24 added points) were capable in their teammate’s stead.
Cole Anthony (23 points), Franz Wagner (21), and Paolo Banchero (20) made sure that things remained interesting, though it was Milwaukee’s game to lose from the jump. With the win, the Bucks improve to 9-1 in their last 10 and sit two full games clear of the Boston Celtics atop the Eastern Conference.
Nets steamroll Rockets, 118-96
Over the course of his last 10 games — otherwise known as the games since he became a member of the Brooklyn Nets — Mikal Bridges is averaging 26.5 points per game. If that was his average for the year, he’d rank 12th in the league in scoring. In short, Bridges’ run since being traded to Brooklyn has been nothing short of special. Without his 30 on Tuesday, the Nets may not have outlasted the porous Rockets, but alas, this young Houston squad proved to be no issue. Brooklyn has won three in a row.
Sixers pummel Timberwolves, 117-94
Primetime, nationally-televised basketball, baby? Who wouldn’t want to dedicate two-and-a-half hours to watching Joel Embiid ground Rudy Gobert into a pulp? Embiid went off for 39 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and three blocks, while the only Timberwolf to pour in anything of note was Anthony Edwards, who dropped 32 points on 12-of-24 shooting. The next best Minnesotan — Taurean Prince — scored just 13 points; Chris Finch’s squad never stood a chance.
Tyrese Maxey, meanwhile, scored 27 points to back up Embiid’s effort, helping the 76ers to their third win in a row, and their eighth game in 11 tries. They’re a dangerous squad; it’s undeniable.
Kyrie and Luka combine for 62, Mavs stave off Jazz, 120-116
Dallas has one of the better duos in the NBA, and as long as those two are playing efficient basketball together, they’ll be tough to beat — no matter the headaches one of them may cause overall. On Tuesday, Kyrie Irving was the main hero, hitting a clutch triple late in the game to put Dallas ahead for good; he scored 17 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, while Luka Doncic finished with 29 points and 10 boards.
Kyrie Irving outjumped an unmarked Kelly Olynyk for this rebound before hitting a big 3. pic.twitter.com/fjsM7SKHlh— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) March 8, 2023
Lauri Markannen — who else — led the way for the Jazz, scoring 33 points in defeat. Utah has lost four in a row and continues to spiral toward the lottery. Perhaps it’s for the best.
Lakers continue to surge, beat Grizzlies, 112-103
The Los Angeles Lakers remain without LeBron James (sidelined with a right foot tendon injury) yet don’t seem all that phased. On Tuesday, they won their seventh game out of 10 tries and moved into ninth place in the West. Anthony Davis led the charge, scoring 30 and pulling down 22 rebounds, while Dennis Schroder (17 points and nine assists), Austin Reaves (17), Rui Hachimura (hey, 17 for him, too) all aided the effort. Jaren Jackson scored 26 points and Tyus Jones had 16 for the Grizzlies, who are now 0-2 without Ja Morant and have lost three in a row overall.
To make matters worse, they fell out of second place in the West, which is now owned by Sacramento. Bet you didn’t have that one on your 2022-23 NBA season bingo card.
Gafford’s game-winner stuns Pistons, 119-117
I have a weird obsession. We all do; yours might be ketchup on eggs or subtitles on streaming. Mine? It’s game-winners that come off of airballs.
DANIEL GAFFORD FOR THE WIN. pic.twitter.com/Q4OMKMrLGt— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 8, 2023
Thank you, Daniel Gafford. You’ve fueled my addiction for another day. And for that, I am eternally grateful.