The NBA All-Star break is going to give several teams welcome relief after recent performances. Last night’s games were all over the place and having a week or so off is going give a number of players a chance to do whatever it is they need to do to try to find their mojo. There’s still a lot of hoops action to come after the break, and every win counts.
Harden Visits His Old Stomping Grounds
James Harden was back in Houston last night, but was wearing a Brooklyn Nets jersey. Whether he was out to prove something isn’t known, but he put up a triple-double to give the Nets a win against the Rockets as Brooklyn cruised to a 132-114 victory. 29 points, ten rebounds and 14 assists helped the Nets set a franchise record as they took their seventh straight win on the road.
The Nets will savor that win as they now go on vacation until after the All-Star break. Their first game will be against the Boston Celtics, while the Rockets will use the downtime to figure out a new strategy. They’ll be able to put that into practice when they take on the Sacramento Kings and both of those games will be played on March 11.
Pacers’ McConnell Becomes Master Thief
T.J. McConnell set a new NBA record last night as his Indiana Pacers took on the Cleveland Cavaliers. He picked up nine steals in the first half, ten overall, and a triple-double, becoming the first NBA player to have a point-assist-steal triple-double since Mookie Blaylock did it for the Atlanta Hawks in 1998. McConnell had 16 points, 13 assists and ten steals, beating Blaylock’s 14, 11 and ten.
McConnell’s performance, which included eight consecutive baskets late in the game to give the Pacers the advantage, pushed Indiana to a 114-111 win. The Pacers had been favored against the Cavs and didn’t disappoint. They take on the Denver Nuggets tonight in their last game before the break, while the Cavaliers will step away until March 12 when they face the New Orleans Pelicans.
Embiid Fires On All Cylinders
The Philadelphia 76ers took on the Utah Jazz last night as clear underdogs, but that didn’t matter to Joel Embiid. He put up 40 points and landed a three-pointer at the final buzzer to send the game into overtime, and the race was one. It was an East vs. West contest that the East won, as the Sixers rallied in OT to take the 131-123 victory.
Embiid was on fire, but Ben Simmons wasn’t too far behind. He added 17 points to help Philadelphia deliver the second straight loss to Utah, and both he and Embiid will now appear in this Sunday’s All-Star game. They’ll be able to face off again against the Jazz, as both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are in the game, as well. After the break, the Sixers will take on the Chicago Bulls on March 11 and the Jazz will host the Rockets on March 12.
Raptors Still In Trouble
The Toronto Raptors have lost any mojo they had and picked up another loss last night at the hands of the Detroit Pistons. Wayne Ellington had 25 points, while two backups, Rodney McGruder and Saben Lee added 20 each to give Detroit the 129-105 victory. That win helped the Pistons rebound from a three-game losing streak.
The Raptors had to play without several key players, including Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, who were forced out due to NBA health protocols. In addition, head coach Nick Nurse and other personnel were away from the court. The Raptors aren’t getting a chance to slow down yet, as they have to face the Boston Celtics today. The Pistons will also try their luck one more time before the break, taking on the New York Knicks tonight.
Hornets Sting The Timberwolves
The Charlotte Hornets played one of their best games of the season last night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Unfortunately for them, they’ve already managed to drop down so far in the ranks that wins won’t really matter. Terry Rozier had 31 points and Gordon Hayward added 23 to give the Hornets a 135-102 win.
The Hornets were favored in the game, just barely, and managed to give gamblers a win on both the spread and the Over/Under. Minnesota has now dropped nine straight, including five losses after Ryan Saunders was replaced by Chris Finch as head coach. Charlotte will meet Detroit after the break and Minnesota will get a long, eight-day stretch to regroup before taking on the Pelicans on March 11.
Mavs Win Without Doncic
Luka Doncic wasn’t able to play for the Dallas Mavericks last night, but Kristaps Porzingis stepped in to pick up the slack. He had 19 points and 13 rebounds as the Mavs beat the Thunder in a low-scoring 87-78 game. Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Josh Richardson assisted, as well, as Dallas was able to treat this as a neighborhood pickup game more than an NBA contest throughout the second half.
The Over/Under for the game had been set at 223, which already seemed really high, but the final score was much lower than expected. It took a while for Dallas to find its rhythm but, once it did, it took control and never let go. The Thunder have to take on the San Antonio Spurs tonight, while the Mavs get a break until March 10 when they meet the Spurs.
LeBron-less Lakers In A Lull
The LA Lakers took on the Sacramento Kings last night without LeBron James. Already missing big man Anthony Davis, the Lakers were in a bad position and continue to have difficulty. They fell to the Kings, 123-120, in a game that adds frustration to an already frustrated squad.
Both the spread (4.5) and the Over/Under (226.5) missed last night as the Kings were favored to win. One more basket would have helped, but the Kings have to be proud of their performance. They took a one-point lead with 30 seconds left in the game and, with just three seconds on the clock, sunk a basket for the final victory. The Lakers will take a break until March 12 when they play the Pacers, but the Kings have to take on the Portland Trail Blazers tonight before getting a week off.