There were plenty of memorable performances and good battles between the teams that played in the NBA’s New Year’s Eve games. Here are our favorites.
LeBron James and Russell Westbrook close out the year with a bang
LeBron James continued his strong play in December in his final game of 2021. He was dominant against the Portland Trail Blazers and finished with 43 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists while shooting 16 of 26 from the field and 5 of 10 from deep.
He was backed up by Russell Westbrook, who had another triple-double with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. Brodie had the game’s best plus/minus at +29.
It was a rough night for the Blazers, who lost 139-106. None of their starters eclipsed the 20-point mark, and the only player to do so was Ben McLemore, who played 30 minutes as a reserve.
DeMar DeRozan has a rough night shooting, but saves the Bulls at the end of the game
DeMar DeRozan had a tough night shooting against the Indiana Pacers, going 8 of 24 from the field, but that didn’t matter in the end. The Bulls’ prized offseason signing had 28 points, 6 assists and 3 steals, and was ready to answer the call at the end of the game.
After the Bulls forced a stop on the other end, DeRozan confidently took on the responsibility of taking the final shot, and made a huge three-pointer to give them a 108-106 win.
The Bulls, who started the season strong and saw things derailed for a while after Covid-19 problems, have now won six in a row and have taken the first seed in the Eastern Conference. They have a 23-10 record, which is the same as the Brooklyn Nets.
Coby White, in a rare start thanks to Lonzo Ball’s absence, also had a good performance with 24 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Jimmy Buckets lived up to his nickname
Jimmy ‘Buckets’ Butler was in full force against the Houston Rockets. While he’s capable of affecting a game on multiple fronts, he focused on scoring against the Houston rockets and finished with 37 points while shooting 12 of 21 from the field and 11 of 11 from the charity stripe.
Trae Young and Clint Capela combine for a deadly inside-outside combo
Trae Young is starting to look better after coming back from health and safety protocols. Though he didn’t shoot that well, finishing 11 of 28 from the field (but 5 of 12 from deep), Ice Trae had his hands all over the Atlanta Hawks’ offense. He finished the game with 35 points and 11 assists.
He got a lot of help from big man Clint Capela, who dominated the paint with 18 points, 23 rebounds and 4 blocks. The Hawks needed the combined effort because the Cleveland Cavaliers made it a tough game all the way until the final buzzer sounded.
Kevin Love turned back the clock for the Cavs, finishing with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists in 3 minutes off the bench, and will be disappointed in missing a game-tying three in the final minute.
Ja Morant continues to make a small minority of Grizzlies fans shut up
Ja Morant’s had quite the week. After coming back from injury, some stupid Memphis Grizzlies fans were saying stupid shit to him, telling him to sit down after they lost a couple of games after his return. In this minority of fans’ altered view on reality, they apparently thought that the Grizzlies were a better team without him after they went 10-2 in his absence.
Well, Morant closed out his year with a bang. Over Memphis’ final four games of 2021, Morant has put up 122 points, 27 rebounds and 23 assists. Oh, and all of those games were wins. He capped off the year with 30 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists and finished with a plus/minus of +15 in a 118-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Timelord froze the Suns in Boston
The Phoenix Suns, who stayed relatively healthy to start the season while everyone else started having Covid-19 problems, are now on the receiving end of the health and safety protocols hammer. With key rotation players in Jae Crowder, DeAndre Ayton and JaVale McGee stuck in limbo, the 2021 NBA Finalists had a tough task against the Boston Celtics.
Boston were missing Jayson Tatum and Dennis Schröder, also due to protocols, but good performances from Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, who had near-identical statlines and combined for 48 points, 20 rebounds and 6 assists.
Much to the home fans’ delight, Robert ‘Timelord’ Williams III had a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assists, 2 steals and 5 blocks with only 3 turnovers.
The Raptors use a fourth-quarter surge to beat the Clippers
Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet carried the Raptors to a 116-108 victory against the short-handed LA Clippers. The trio combined for 82 points, and Siakam was particularly dominant with 25 points, 19 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. That’s a good sign for Raptors fans who have grown frustrated with Siakam’s inconsistency since Kawhi Leonard left. Sure, they faced a Clippers team without Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, and coach Tyronn Lue, but the Raptors will take any win that they can for now.