Philadelphia 76ers v Orlando Magic

Tuesday night NBA Grades: Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo with dueling rookie triple doubles

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If you were busy exploring our galaxy online and not watching hoops Monday then you missed the first time in NBA history that two rookies recorded triple-doubles in the same game. We’re here to help you out with our nightly grades from around the league.

source:  Michael Carter Williams, Philadelphia 76ers. The early leader in the Rookie of the Year race has put it all together this year — he is shooting better than he did in college, he’s getting to the line, he’s passing well and has a real sense of running a team, he is a good rebounder, and he leads the league in steals. So I guess we shouldn’t be shocked that he put it all together in one game for a triple-double — 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. He had 7 of those points plus four assists in the two overtimes to help secure the win.

source:   Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic. Before you go and hand that Rookie of the Year trophy to MCW in Philly, Oladipo would like to have a word with you. The reason Orlando was in this game was the rookie’s first ever triple double with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. (To be fair, Arron Afflalo’s 43 points had a lot to do with Orlando’s game too, he was special.) Oladipo had a bit of a rough start to the season turning the ball over too much, but coach Jacque Vaughn has let the rookie learn from his mistakes and lately we’re starting to see the benefits of that. He’s looked good of late.

source:   Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks. The longer the season goes on, the more it becomes clear that Knight’s future in the league appears to be as a reserve. He just lacks the court vision and sense a starting point guard in the league needs and he can’t help carry the Bucks. He had some good moments in the fourth quarter Tuesday, but for the most part Boston’s Avery Bradley won the war — Jennings had 15 points but on 5-of-15 shooting, which is pretty close to his season average of 36.1 percent. He doesn’t seem to recognize open teammates or play strong defense. It’s been a rough year for him.

source:   Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith (Detroit Pistons). We know that the Miami Heat’s weakness is interior defense, and the three bigs in Detroit have started to play better together lately. Tuesday night all of that came together — Drummond, Monroe and Smith combined for 41 points and 28 rebounds, leading the Pistons to the upset win. It wasn’t exactly efficient (Smith was 7–of-21 shooting) but they are getting the job done with that Detroit is climbing the standings in the East.

source:   Toronto Raptors. They blew a 27-point lead in the second half (this grade is not lower because the Warriors can get hot shooting and have a magic at home… but still 27 points). It’s not all on coach Dwane Casey but he had the Raptors doing some odd things like this random double-team traps on the Warriors perimeter players, which a pass later led to a wide open three. Toronto’s defense has been pretty solid most of the season, but things fell apart in the fourth quarter in Oakland.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

Minnesota Timberwolves Zach LaVine slam dunks the ball during the NBA all-star skills competition in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: