Celtics 129 (22-7), Cavaliers 117 (9-22)
The Celtics are the real deal. This time last year, there were clearly chemistry issues and something seemed off. But this season has been a complete heel turn.
The two main factors to thank? Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who have both leveled up their games to an All-Star level caliber. Brown had a career-high 34 points with 9 rebounds, while Tatum had 30 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks as the Celtics improved to 13-1 at home.
There’s not much better to watch two young studs realize their potential and turn that into consistent dominant production. Brown is 23-years-old, and Tatum 21. They aren’t going away anytime soon.
Magic 98 (14-17), 76ers 97 (23-11)
The Magic hung on for one of their best wins of the season against a 76ers team that, albeit inconsistent, was coming off a fresh pounding of the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks. Aaron Gordon had himself 19 points and 11 rebounds (and one sweet lob throw down), Nikola Vucevic had a 19-12-7 line, and Terrence Ross contributed 17 off the bench.
Bucks 112 (28-5), Hawks 86 (6-26)
Absent Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks still managed to steamroll the slumping Hawks. Trusty veteran Ersan Ilyasova was phenomenal in only 24 minutes, recording 18 points, 17 rebounds and a monster + 37 plus/minus in relief for the resting Greek Freak. Khris Middleton also had a highly efficient game, scoring 23 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing 7 assists.
It was another brutal loss for the lottery-bound Hawks, who unfortunately lost Trae Young to an ankle injury halfway through the game, but X rays were luckily negative. Get well soon Trae, the league is not the same without you.
Thunder 104 (16-15), Hornets 102 (13-21)
This was a thriller.
Dennis Schroder, who has quietly become one of the best sixth men in the league, dropped 24 points, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 27 (and had a filthy euro-step), and the reliable Steven Adams had a 14-12 double-double to knock out the Hornets in overtime.
Despite the loss, Devonte’ Graham was excellent. He had a clutch full-court drive to the rack to force OT in the first place, and he stayed splashing tough shots down the stretch. He was one rebound off of a triple double with 15 points, 13 assists and 9 boards. Terry Rozier also had 26.
Heat 113 (23-8), Pacers 112 (21-11)
It all came down to a wild late possession, as Jimmy Butler passed to Duncan Robinson, who zipped the ball to Kendrick Nunn in the left corner. Nunn attacked the rack, and just missed a reverse layup, which was tipped into the air by Butler, and recovered by Bam Adebayo. Adebayo kicked it out to Goran Dragic on the perimeter, who swerved into the lane for a silky game-winning floater.
Follow that? In short, it was exhilirating.
Warriors 105 (9-24), Suns 96 (11-20)
After trailing for a majority of the game, the Dubs came roaring back down the stretch, and finally secured the lead with a thunderous Glenn Robinson III cutback dunk. An underrated aspect of the game that the Warriors crushed the Suns in was turnovers. While Phoenix coughed the ball up a stunning 26 times, Golden State limited themselves to 10 turnovers.
D’Angelo Russell led the way with 31 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, while Devin Booker had his eighth game of the season with 30 points or more for the Suns.
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