Our grades from Tuesday night around the NBA, or what you missed while watching crazy big wave surfing videos.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ bench. The Lakers bench played free, played Mike D’Antoni ball and scored 76 points including the final 46 the Lakers scored to spark an opening night upset win over the Lakers. Xavier Henry had a career high 22, but Clippers coach Doc Rivers said it was the attacking of Jordan Farmar (16 points, 6 assists) and Jordan Hill (12 points and 7 offensive rebounds) that turned the game.
The Indiana Pacers’ defense. The best defense in the NBA picked up where it left off, allowing the Magic just 84.1 points per 100 possessions, with Roy Hibbert blocking seven shots and the Pacers blocking 18 total. The Magic shot just 38.7 percent as a team and 37.5 percent inside 8 feet. Granted, this defensive showing was against what passes for the Orlando offense, but the Pacers are going to make a lot of teams look bad this season.
Miami’s “big three.” They weren’t bad — a combined 46 points on 45.7 percent shooting — but while LeBron James was +8 on the night both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were even. It was really the Heat bench that won this game for them, it was the bench that made the big run that turned it into a blowout. They’ll take the win, but this wasn’t vintage from Miami’s elite.
Derrick Rose. Welcome back to the NBA, here’s one of the league’s most athletic and best defenses in the NBA to go against, have fun. All night long the Heat seemed to cut off Rose’s driving lanes in a way few teams can. To expect a dominant performance was asking too much, but 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting with more turnovers than assists (5 to 4) was a rough way to return.
A good rule of thumb: If LeBron James is getting few breakaway dunks, the other team is in trouble.
Enter the Toronto Raptors, who got to watch a dunking clinic by LeBron as he had multiple breakaways during the Cavaliers’ 38-point win on Wednesday night. LeBron played well, and the Cavaliers got a balanced attack from their stars — 25 points from Kevin Love, 23 each from LeBron and Kyrie Irving.
Watch LeBron’s night above. Toronto needs to find a way to keep him from having another game like this Friday.
After a beatdown at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 — a loss where he was just 5-of-12 shooting, a loss that has the Raptors on the brink of playoff elimination — Kyle Lowry did what he had to do and went in front of the media to answer questions and try to explain that loss.
But really, his face when he walked into the interview room and saw the box score summed up the Raptors night perfectly.
Lowry and the Raptors need to turn it around and win at home Friday night to keep their playoff dream alive another day.
The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.
It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.
Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.
Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.
Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.
Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.
Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?