It was one crazy day and night in the NBA — too big for five takeaways, so we’re going with seven (and still left some good stuff out). Here is what you need to know from a wild day around the Association:
1) Mavericks fans let DeAndre Jordan hear it, enjoy a side dish of revenge. If this were any other game in Dallas, we would be talking about Dirk Nowitzki‘s 31 points and how the veteran is shooting 55.3 percent (a career high) and hitting 51.6 percent from three so far this young season. But that’s not what this game was about in Dallas — this was the night that traitor DeAndre Jordan came back to town (that’s how they saw it in Dallas). As promised he was booed like the devil himself.
What Mavs’ fans enjoyed more was the 25 points from Wesley Matthews and the way he overpowered J.J. Redick much of the night. That and the 12-2 run late in the fourth that gave Dallas a quality win. It was pretty close to an ideal night for Mark Cuban and his team.
2) LaMarcus Aldridge‘s return to Portland was a very different experience. Unlike Jordan in Dallas, LaMarcus Aldridge was greeted with a mix of cheers and boos on his coming back to Portland.
Portland fed off the energy of the crowd, went on an early 14-2 run and led 18-10 early, but the relentless execution of the Spurs eventually overwhelmed them and by the middle of the second quarter the Spurs were in control. They never really pulled away, Portland made runs, but it just felt like the Spurs were going to get the win and they did, 113-101. The game was a perfect example of what Aldridge gained on the court by leaving: He had 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, but he never had to just carry the load, it was a team effort (Kawhi Leonard had 20, Manu Ginobili 14). Midrange jumpers Aldridge had to take in Portland are now passes to an open Danny Green for a three (if not Green, someone else). Portland, even last year when it was deeper with talent, just never played that way
More bad news for Portland: Sharpshooting big man Meyers Leonard dislocated his shoulder in this game and is going to miss some time (how much is not yet known).
3) Kings win, DeMarcus Cousins drops 33, and George Karl is reportedly safe (for the season). So everything is just peachy in Sacramento now, right? Okay, maybe not. But it appears that for one night at least the Kings’ team meeting worked as they came out and played with some real fire and energy and that got them a nice win at home over Detroit. DeMarcus Cousins outplayed Andre Drummond, Boogie put up 33 points and played quality defense on the Pistons’ lynchpin all night. Rajon Rondo was solid and had a triple-double of 14 points, 15 assists, and 11 rebounds. It was the kind of effort and win the Kings needed.
GM Vlade Divac finally got around to backing his coach, saying George Karl will coach the Kings through the end of this season. None of this means all the drama is gone, or that next summer owner Vivek Ranadive won’t try to lure John Calipari or someone else in to take over the franchise, but the Kings needed a win for stability and they got one.
4) Stephen Curry is just flat our ridiculous. First he did this:
Then he did this. It’s just not fair.
5) Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis‘ game-winning shot overruled by replay. The fast-growing legend of Kristaps Porzingis in New York — he’s contributing more than expected as a rookie, and showing some real toughness — almost grew by leaps and bounds on Thursday when he appeared to hit a game winner to beat the Hornets in Charlotte — but replay showed he just didn’t get the ball off in time.
6) Game winners galore: Cody Zeller, Nikola Vucevic, and Kenneth Faried each drop one. There were huge game-winning shots everywhere you turned on Wednesday night. We’ll start the tour in Charlotte — since Porzingis’ shot was late, this one by Cody Zeller is your game winner.
The Lakers visited Orlando, Kobe Bryant sat and D'Angelo Russell looked the best he has all season, but the Lakers couldn’t execute with the game on the line. Los Angels got the ball in a tie game with 25.5 seconds left, tried to take a late shot, but the play of Lou Williams in isolation led to a shot that didn’t even it the rim and a shot clock violation. That left 1.5 seconds for Nikola Vucevic to do this:
Denver drew up a final play that got Danilo Gallinari the last shot, and just like the Lakers’ Willaims he airballed his chance — but this is why you have to put a body on Kenneth Faried.
7) Nets win! Nets win! Theeeeeee Nets win! I don’t know if this model is sustainable for Brooklyn, but for a night they hit their threes (8-of-17), knocked down the midrange jumpers they take too many of, and played their best defense of the season. Of all the games they were going to get their first win of the season, on the road against a good Rockets team would not have been my prediction, but here we are as the Nets triumphed 106-98. Bojan Bogdanovic had 22 off the bench, Joe Johnson had an inefficient 16, and the Nets will take it. My guess as to what was different? Lionel Hollins shaved off his beard.
That leaves the Sixers as the only winless team in the NBA.