Andrew Wiggins had his midrange jumper going, and the Nuggets did not have anyone who could stop him. Much like the Cavaliers couldn’t the night before.
The Timberwolves’ athletic wing had back-to-back 40 point games when he put up that number in Minnesota against Denver on Wednesday night. Against the Nuggets Wiggins hit a couple threes and got some buckets inside, but he shot 8-of-11 on midrange jumpers, and that was opening everything else up.
You can check out all his buckets from the last two games above. Or just watch his poster dunk against Denver if you prefer.
The Timberwolves split the two games, falling to the Cavaliers but beating the Nuggets.
Three things we learned Wednesday: It’s the Westbrook, ‘Melo show
For most of the NBA, it was getaway night before the All-Star break, with 28 teams in action. Here are the three stories we pulled out as worth knowing from the busy night around the league.
1) Russell Westbrook’s triple-double enough to out duel Carmelo Anthony, Knicks. This looked like Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks’ night to start. While the Thunder started out ice-cold shooting, hitting just 1-of-10, Anthony made Adam Silver look smart for picking him as an All-Star and could not miss. Oklahoma City had assigned their best wing defender in Andre Roberson on Anthony and Roberson was doing his job — Anthony was not getting shots from his spots on the floor, and everything was contested. Didn’t matter. Anthony started the game 7-of-7 and had 19 points in the first quarter on his way to an eventual 30 points.
Then Russell Westbrook started doing Russell Westbrook things.
The MVP candidate finished with his 27th triple-double of the season: 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists, shooting 13-of-22. It was another powerful performance in a powerful season from Westbrook.
2) Suns’ Derrick Jones Jr. finally dunks in an NBA game. Looking for someone to challenge Aaron Gordon in the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, the NBA went deep in the Suns’ bench to get Derrick Jones Jr. — a rookie who can dunk but has now only played 24 minutes all season, spending most of his time in the D-League. But in limited minutes against the Lakers Wednesday night, Jones got loose and threw down three big dunks.
Consider this a little All-Star Saturday taste.
3) Raptors come from 17 down to start fourth to win.Serge Ibaka didn’t suit up in a battle of struggling teams, and for three quarters the Raptors showed why they needed him — the lane was clogged, the offense couldn’t hit shots, and the entire thing was like watching an elephant walk through mud. Charlotte, maybe more desperately needing a win than Toronto, had built a 17-point lead after three quarters behind 20 points (to that point) from Kemba Walker.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) —Russell Westbrook scored 38 points and posted his 27th triple-double of the season to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 116-105 on Wednesday night.
Westbrook moved into sole possession of third place for the most triple-doubles in a season, behind Oscar Robertson’s 41 in 1961-62 and Wilt Chamberlain’s 31 in 1967-68. The star guard had 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the 64th triple-double of his career.
The Knicks jumped out to a 16-2 lead and shot 73 percent in the first quarter to take a 39-27 lead. Anthony made his first seven shots and scored 19 points in the first quarter.
New York led by 17 in the second quarter before the Thunder rallied and took a 62-60 lead at halftime. Westbrook had 19 points and 10 assists at the break.
Westbrook clinched his triple-double on a rebound with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. Oladipo’s 3-pointer as time expired in the period put the Thunder ahead 88-80.
With about five minutes remaining, Westbrook caught Anthony on a pump fake before draining a 3 that put the Thunder up 105-94.
Knicks: C Joakim Noah and G Brandon Jennings sat out with injuries. Noah missed his fifth straight game with a sore left hamstring, while Jennings sat out with a sore Achilles tendon. … Willy Hernangomez started in Noah’s place and finished with eight points and 10 rebounds. … Anthony was held to one point in the second quarter.
Thunder: G Alex Abrines was added to the Rising Stars Challenge as a replacement for injured Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid. Abrines joins Thunder forward Domantas Sabonis on the World Team. … Thunder owner Clay Bennett presented Westbrook with his All-Star Game jersey before the opening tip. … Former center Kendrick Perkins attended the game. He was at the team’s practice earlier in the day.
It’s a nice change of pace to see the guy covering DeMarcus Cousins flip out after a call they don’t like.
Late in the first half of the Sacramento vs. Golden State game Thursday night, Cousins drove from the arc, spun to the middle and Draymond Green got called for the reach. And he did not like the call. At all. He flipped out, drew a couple of technicals, and got to get to the plane to New Orleans before the rest of this fellow All-Stars.
That gives Green 10 technicals on the season.
The Warriors pulled away in the second half without Green for a comfortable 109-86 win, Klay Thompson led the way with 35 points.
Jahlil Okafor: “I thought it’s a good chance” he would be traded
Jahlil Okafor is back in the lineup for Philadephia against Boston Wednesday night after the Sixers took the unusual step of sitting him out for two games due to trade rumors. Guys have sat before trades before, but it’s usually because something is imminent. Not in this case, Okafor sat two games — maybe as an attempt to drum up interest in a deal for him — and nothing happened.
“I thought it’s a good chance,” Okafor said Wednesday after going through shootaround. “While I’m not traveling with the team, I was expecting something to happen pretty fast. Nothing did, so I’m back and I’m playing tonight. I did think for a while that I probably wouldn’t be here in Boston right now.”
He added, “It was just a weird situation for me, something I’ve never had to deal with.”
I had heard that talks were somewhat serious with one team, not one on most people’s radar for a trade with Philly, but clearly it didn’t pan out. That could have been part of the smoke screen, or there could have been a little fire there. Sixers coach Brett Brown said there were serious talks, but they fell apart.
“I don’t believe they’re off,” Brett Brown said of trade talks. “I think this particular one has not happened. The trade deadline is whenever it is, it’s probably fluid. The one that was the reason for us reacting to us to Jahlil not being with the team, very advanced discussions, did not happen.”
Okafor could be moved before the Feb. 23 trade deadline, but the Sixers are not going to get much in return. Okafor has a valuable NBA skill — he can score the rock inside. He’s averaging 11.6 points a game this season shooting 51.3 percent, and 78 percent of his shots come within 10 feet of the rim. The problem is every other part of his game — he can’t space the floor, he doesn’t defend well, he’s not strong on the boards for a big, and he doesn’t fit the direction of the modern NBA with bigs. Teams are not going to give up much to get him. As the Sixers are finding.