DeMar DeRozan put on a show in front of his hometown crowd
Zach LaVine and the Bulls set the tone for the game early as they made 5 of 8 of their threes in the first quarter against the Lakers. They even forced a foul on a three-point attempt with 6:08 left in the first quarter, which also drew a technical from an irate Anthony Davis. DeMar DeRozan converted that play for four points to give them an 18-11 lead.
The advantage was to 33-25 by the end of the first. The Bulls found success in the quarter playing a small lineup, whose mobility cause problems for LA. It also didn’t help that Anthony Davis only took one field goal attempt in the first quarter. The Bulls played with the mindset of allowing anyone but Davis to beat them, and it worked well. They ran double and triple-teams at the Lakers’ big man and stymied his offense as Davis made 2 of 4 field goals in the first half.
Russell Westbrook did what he could to keep the Lakers in the game, and though he missed his threes, his midrange game was on point in the first half. Westbrook had 19 points on 8 of 14 shooting by the end of the second quarter. DeRozan had 22 points, while LaVine had 17 for the Bulls at halftime – which saw the Bulls still leading 57-48.
The Lakers had trouble going on any big runs in the third quarter, which saw the Bulls push the lead to 94-73 heading into the fourth. Anthony Davis got himself tossed out of the game with 2:20 left in the third quarter after he complained to the ref after the Bulls were allowed to continue playing as he was putting his shoe back on. That was just the second ejection of his career.
Before his ejection, Davis did get it going for the Lakers in the second half as he finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Neither was Westbrook’s 25 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Talen Horton-Tucker, who’s still getting in the swing of things, had a good night with a career-high of 26 points on 9 of 19 shooting in the Lakers’ 121-103 defeat.
Alex Caruso again got a start for the Bulls today, and he came back to a huge ovation from the LA crowd, which was nice to see. They even played him a touching video tribute during the first timeout of the game. He didn’t light up the scoreboard and finished with no points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals while playing good defense.
Lonzo Ball, another former Laker and UCLA product, was also effective from distance, shooting 10 of 13 overall and 7 of 10 from deep as he finished with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Derrick Jones Jr. bullied his way in the paint for the Bulls as well, and in the third quarter alone had three and-one chances and had 13 points.
DeRozan finished the game with 38 points and 6 assists, while LaVine had 26 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
The Lakers are 4-5 without LeBron James so far this season. The Lakers were on an 8-0 streak against the Bulls before suffering today’s defeat, a stretch that had lasted since 2016. Third quarters haven’t been good to the Lakers this season, as they have a -89 point differential in the the third quarter so far this season, which is the worst in the NBA.
The Wizards showed that they have no quit in them as they stay atop the Eastern Conference
The Washington Wizards looked like they were in dire straits through most of their game against the New Orleans Pelicans, but came up big down the stretch. They simply wouldn’t go away, much to the delight of their home fans.
The Pelicans piled on a double digit lead in the third quarter, pushing it to 63-44 with 10:43 left in the period, but the Wizards showed no quit in them. They fought back furiously in the quarter to cut the lead to 80-73 heading into the final stanza.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got it going in the fourth, scoring 10 points in the period along with some key defensive plays. Kyle Kuzma made his first field goal in the fourth quarter, but it was a big three. He had another triple with 1:19 left to complete a 14-0 run that pushed the Wizards lead to 101-92
It’s worth noting that this victory again came without Bradley Beal, who is still taking personal time off after the death of a family member. Beal will be very proud of his teammates’ performance over the last two games without him.
Spencer Dinwiddie again provided a steady presence, finishing with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists as he found a way to lead the team even as he shot 8 of 20 from the field. Montrezl Harrell finished with 15 points, 2 rebounds and 4 assists off the bench and Deni Avdija had an extremely important 11 points and 10 rebounds. Avdija seemed to always be present when they needed a defensive stop or a big rebound in the second half.
New Orleans went without a field goal for more than six minutes in the fourth quarter, something that’s going to have their fans fuming. That stinker of a fourth quarter nullified a 31-point night from Brandon Ingram.
The Wizards have now won five in a row and are 10-3, and still on top of the Eastern Conference.
The Suns win ninth-straight game
It wasn’t easy, but the Suns have now won their ninth game in a row. This time, they came up against a stubborn Minnesota Timberwolves team that just wouldn’t go away until the final whistle. In a game that featured 8 lead changes and 12 ties, the Suns barely squeaked by 99-96.
Chris Paul, who had two points at the end of the first half, had another one of those second-half clutch performances that saw him finish with 21 points, 3 rebounds and 8 assists. Devin Booker led the Suns in scoring with 29 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. DeAndre Ayton had a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
The Suns created some unnecessary opportunities for the Wolves down the stretch, as Booker split a pair of free throws with 16.1 left in the game that left the score at 98-96, allowing Minnesota a chance to take a game-winner, but D’Angelo Russell missed the three. Fortunately for them, he missed.
Karl-Anthony Towns dropped 35 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, and Russell had 22 points but shot 7 of 21 from the field and 1 of 10 from three. Anthony Edwards struggled from the field and shot 2 of 11 on the way to 9 points and 13 rebounds.
Kristaps Porzingis looks like he’s finding his fit in Dallas
Man, this is the Kristaps Porzingis that the Mavericks have been waiting for.
Porzingis continued his mini-resurgence with another good game against the Nuggets, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block while making 5 of 8 three-pointers. It was the fourth time in five games that he scored at least 21 points. It’s no coincidence that the Mavericks have won 4 of 5 of those games.
KP’s performance was a big boost to Luka Doncic, who had a good night of his own with 23 points, 8 Rebounds and 11 assists. The Euro duo are starting to look a lot more comfortable with each other, and Porzingis even found Luka with a pass for an easy layup on a nifty pick and roll in the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets were up 79-70 with 3:24 let in the third quarter, but the Mavericks then went on an 23-6 run across the third and fourth quarters that flipped the score to a 90-83 Dallas advantage.
With 10:39 left in the game, JaMychal Green and Dorian Finney-Smith got into an altercation after Green slammed Frank Ntilikina down. Things were stopped from escalating, as Dallas coach Jason Kidd ran onto the court to talk to players from both teams and tell everyone to calm down. Dallas stayed the course, and a Doncic three-pointer made it a 98-88 game with just a little over six minutes left.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had a strong fourth quarter, and he finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the 111-101 victory. The one thing that the Mavericks will be worried about is Doncic rolling his foot with less than a minute left in the game, forcing him to go straight to the locker room before the whistle.
The Nuggets, who led by as much as 13 before losing, got a customary 35 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists from Nikola Jokic. However, they’re really showing how much they miss Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., as they don’t really have anyone who can create their own offense outside of the Joker.
Knicks win war of attrition against the Pacers
Madison Square Garden was the site of a close battle between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, which remained close for most of the game. There were 15 lead changes and 3 ties.
The Pacers started the third quarter with a 14-4 run, which pushed their lead to 64-52, but the Knicks were ready for a war of attrition. They went on a run of their own in the fourth quarter to push their lead to 87-82 with 3:26 left in the game.
Immanuel Quickley made 4 of 4 threes on the way to 16 points off the bench, while Derrick Rose chipped in 14 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. Taj Gibson only had 2 points, but had a big defensive contribution with 8 rebounds, 3 steals, a block and a steal. Gibson played an important role, because Mitchell Robinson was forced out of the game with a sort left ankle.
Kemba Walker only played 20 minutes, but was effective as he scored 16 points while shooting 8 of 11 from the field. Julius Randle finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists.
The 92-84 win is a big one for the Knicks, who snapped a two-game losing streak. The Pacers didn’t have a field goal in the last seven minutes of the game, which is why the Knicks survived 21 points and 15 rebounds from Domantas Sabonis, plus 22 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists from Malcolm Brogdon.
Celtics hold off late charge from the Cavaliers
The Boston Celtics found themselves in a close battle against the young and confident Cleveland Cavaliers, and managed to hold them off late in the game on the way to a 98-92 away victory.
Jayson Tatum struggled with his shot through the night, going 7 of 20 from the field and 2 of 8 from deep, but still finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and 2 blocks. He got just enough help from Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Dennis Schroder, who combined for 45 points.
Ricky Rubio started today’s game for the Cavaliers and had 28 points and 6 rebounds, while Cedi Osman had 26 points off the bench on 10 of 17 shooting. Rookie Evan Mobley, who’s been having a pretty great start to his NBA career, had a terrible night from the field, going 0 of 11 while finishing with 1 point, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.