Thursday night’s NBA games gave us some big surprises, as usual.  There’s never enough hoops action to enjoy and a full slate of games offered plenty of excitement.  It also showed that several teams aren’t heading in the right direction.

Nets Wrap Up The Celtics 

Thursday night was definitely the night for Kyrie Irving, who was unstoppable after scoring 40 points and leading the Brooklyn Nets to a 121-109 victory over the Boston Celtics.  James Harden managed to get 22 points and ten rebounds for the team, which improved 25-13 with its 12th win in 13 games. Landry Shamet and reserve Jeff Greed scored 18 and 11 points, respectively.

For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum tried to give it all after scoring 31 points but it wasn’t good enough, as Boston has now lost its fourth straight. Marcus Smart, who returned from injury, had 19 points, while Daniel Theis and Jaylen Brown scored 17 and 13 points, respectively.

The Nets started the fourth leading by two points, but only 3 minutes were needed to extend the advantage 100-90, and Irving wasn’t even playing by that time.  The Celtics will now travel to Houston on Sunday night, while the Nets are going to host Detroit on Saturday.

Bulls Take Another Hit

The Philadelphia 76ers took down the Chicago Bulls 127-105 on Thursday night and Tobias Harris, in a night where Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons weren’t playing, had to sweat the shirt and scored 24 points in total.  With Harris and six other Sixers in double figures, the Sixers demonstrated one more time why they’re the leaders of the Eastern Conference.

Dwight Howard scored a season-high 18 while grabbing 12 rebounds at the same time, and Tony Bradley also did his job, achieving a season-high 14 on 7-for-7 shooting.  Furkan Korkmaz added 16 points, and the Sixers came out on top even though their stars were not playing last night.  For the Bulls, the All-Star Zach LaVine scored 19 points, but the result was not enough to satisfy coach Billy Donovan, as he called it a “huge step backward” for the team.  Coming up next, the 76ers visit Washington today, and the Bulls are getting ready to host Miami later in the night, as well.

Antetokounmpo Makes It Look Easy

Giannis Antetokounmpo came back strong after his MVP performance in the All-Star Game to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the New York Knicks 134-101 on Thursday night.

Antetokounmpo achieved his fifth triple-double of the season after scoring 24 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists in only 29 minutes.  Bryn Forbes didn’t miss any of his seven 3-point attempts and finished the game with 21 points.  The Bucks have won seven of their last eight and now they’re getting ready to begin a three-game road swing.

On the other hand, RJ Barret, Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley scored 22, 17, and 15 points, respectively.  It wasn’t enough, though, as they were handed their most one-sided loss of the season.  Up next for these teams, the Knicks will visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, which will be the second game of a four-game road swing.  On that same day, the Bucks will travel to Washington, in the first of two straight games with the Wizards.

Clippers Find Some Juice

The LA Clippers routed the Golden State Warriors 130-104 on Thursday night and Kawhi Leonard had a lot to do with that victory.  He scored 28 points while giving the Warriors to their season-worst fourth consecutive loss.  Paul George added 17 points and Serge Ibaka managed to get 16 points and 14 rebounds.  Even though they achieved a victory, Leonard said after the game, “We’ve just got to keep improving. We’re not where we want to be.”

For the Warriors,  Kelly Oubre Jr. and Andrew Wiggins scored 15 points each, while Steph Curry only managed to get 14 points at the end of the game. Curry seemed distracted and couldn’t bring the magic from the 3-point contest he won in last weekend’s All-Star Game, as he missed seven of eight shots from long-range.  The winner of this game will visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night starting a three-game trip, while the Warriors are going to host the Utah Jazz that same night.