It looks like the new NBA season is going to be full of surprises, just like the last one. Case in point: the shorthanded Chicago Bulls went to their locker room at halftime in their game against the Portland Trail Blazers behind by 20 points and feeling pretty low. Chicago went into the game as 9.5-point underdogs, so they were already off to a bad start. When the two teams reappeared after the break, though, something had changed.
The Bulls Blaze A Trail
The Bulls had allowed Portland to put up 39 points in the first quarter alone and nothing seemed to be going right for Chicago on Tuesday evening in Portland. What transpired during that halftime is unknown, but the Bulls came out a different team, finally ready to play some ball. They finished with seven players in double figures, led by Coby White, who had a career high 10 rebounds and scored 21 points. Otto Porter Jr. also had a good night, scoring 19 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Bulls has overcome that 20-point deficit and beat the Trail Blazers on their home court by a final score of 111 to 108. In a post-game interview, Zach LaVine, who put up 18 points himself, said to reporters, “We didn’t stop playing.” But when asked if last years’ Bulls team could have pulled off that come-back, LaVine answered with an emphatic “NO.”
Denver Finds Gold
The Denver Nuggets hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday evening as 10.5-point favorites at the Ball Arena in Denver. The Nuggets won the game, but they did not cover. The best show of the game was the phenomenal shooting of Nikola Jokic, who scored 35 points to lead all players on Tuesday night.
Jokic scored 13 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter as the Nuggets had to hustle to finally beat Minnesota by a final score of 123-116. Jokic himself was making a sort of comeback after being charged with two technical fouls in the second quarter.
Teammate Will Barton, who scored 20 points, had a piece of pregame advice for Denver’s big man, “Just go out there and win MVP. You could be the best player in the world if you want to.” Later, Barton told reporters, “When he’s aggressive, it’s over with.”
The Nuggets blew an 18-point lead in the first half and then, in the third period, found themselves down by 8 points. They then went on one of those exciting 15-0 runs in the fourth quarter to take over and win the game.
The Clippers Get Caught
The San Antonio Spurs went into their away game against the LA Clippers with the Clippers as 7.5-point underd0gs. But no one had counted on Patty Mills coming in off the bench and scoring 27 points, which included eight 3-point shots and the 3-4 San Antonio Spurs had defeated the 5-3 Clippers by a final score of 116-113 in an exciting game at the Staples Center in LA where the Spurs were finally able to snap a four-game losing streak.
The Spurs were confident and led by 24 points in the first quarter and held on, even in the face of an all-out attack by Kawhi Leonard in the third quarter and almost giving up the lead in the fourth. San Antonio tied a franchise record by sinking 20 3-points shots from behind the arch.
Mills told reporters in his postgame interview, “It was a mentality we came out with on the defensive end. It has nothing to do with shooting the ball. Playing team defense like that fuel the fire and confidence for everyone to be able to play with the same sort of energy.”
LeBron And Crew Find Revenge
Meanwhile, the defending NBA Finals champion LA Lakers team was in Memphis taking on the Grizzles on Tuesday evening as 9.5-point favorites. The Lakers did finally beat the Grizzles by a final score of 94-92, but, obviously, they did not cover the spread. The happiest people at the game were those involved with bringing in Anthony Davis to complement LeBron James. They have become just about the best “dynamic duo” in the NBA this year and at times seem unstoppable.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said after the game, “That’s why he’s great. He finds a way to make those superhero-type plays. Our focus is on making sure we don’t need those superhero-type of plays to close games out.” He was speaking of the way that James and Davis took over the game in the fourth quarter.
But hats off to the Memphis Grizzlies who hung in there and stayed up with the superheroes throughout the game, only losing by 2 points. LeBron and Davis each scored 26 points; James grabbed 11 rebounds and had 7 assists, while Davis got 10 rebounds and 4 assists.