Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while trying to set up your own prom date draft…
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder. This is what an aggressive Russell Westbrook gets you. I don’t just mean the triple-double — 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. I mean his play from the start took the star of Game 1, Chris Paul, and knocked him back on his heels. On the first play of the game Westbrook jumped a passing lane and set the tone with his defense. Westbrook attacked CP3, got a couple early fouls on him and largely took Paul out of the game. This wasn’t a simple matter of “good” or “bad” Westbrook because they are part of the same package — the aggressive Westbrook that dominated Paul can be the same one that goes out of control for a stretch. There is just far more good than bad with him and we saw it in Game 2.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. That is your MVP, ladies and gentlemen. He’s on an emotional high, he knows his team needs a win and he comes out and splashes a three 40 seconds in the game. In the first quarter he drops 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He goes on to score 32 points and be one assist shy of also having a triple-double. It was vintage KD — just like his acceptance speech.
Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers. Hey Roy, good to see you again. We missed you. Hope you enjoyed you’re mental walkabout for the last couple months, are you back to stay for a while? First and foremost he was back as the defensive anchor in the paint that the Pacers need — they are always going to win starting on that end of the court. Then he also dropped 28 points. Here’s the big thing — he’s had some other good games during his slump, only to revert to his bad form. Do that in this series and the Pacers go home (they played much better and this game was still close). He has to be consistent. That said, every journey starts with one step.
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.
Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.
Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.
The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.
Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.
But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.
Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.
The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.
He might get back far sooner than that.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star break.
Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.
The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.
Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.
Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.