Author: Kurt Helin

Dallas at Chicago

PBT’s Tuesday night NBA Winners/Losers: Dallas, Chicago play game of season


Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while reading about the housewife on heroin….

source:  Kevin Durant. He’s back, and from his first shot he showed the smooth, effortless scoring touch that earned him an MVP last season. The touch that made him one of the NBA’s most beloved players. He showed off all the shots — he attacked the rim at points, showed off his fadeaway at others, there were catch-and-shoot buckets — and while there were moments that it looked like he had missed 17 games following foot surgery most of the time you wouldn’t have known. The bigger concern for the Thunder is they still lost to Pelicans — OKC has a hard road to get back to the playoffs in the brutal and deep West. Still, it’s just fun to have him back.

source:  Dallas Mavericks/Chicago Bulls. Best. Game. This. Season. (At least so far.) The real winner was anyone who watched this one. The Mavericks became the first team to beat Chicago when the Bulls starting five play together, but this game was filled with drama and big plays all night long. There was free basketball with double overtime and big shot after big shot— Derrick Rose hit a big three to send the game to double overtime, Monta Ellis hit one with just over 30 seconds left in that second OT to give the Mavericks the lead. Pau Gasol puts up 29 points (but on 25 shots) and has 14 boards, but in the end the Mavericks just executed a little better in the clutch, and that vaunted Bulls defense just could not contain the high powered Mavericks offense. This just wasn’t the West beating the East (again), this was one of the best of the West going into arguably the best team in the East’s home and winning.

source:  Kirk Hinrich. You can never say “this team lost because of this guy” or “this one play” because a lot of little things, so many different plays go into any outcome. But this felt pretty close. Following a pair of Gasol free throws the Bulls were up three with four seconds left in regulation. If you’re Chicago do you just foul up three and give up only two free throws? Tom Thibodeau wanted to. Monta Ellis was bringing the ball up and Hinrich tried to make the professional, smart foul but waited too long and with a second left Ellis started to go up for the shot as he took the foul. It was an obvious call — three free throws. Ellis sank them and the game went to overtime. Eventually the Mavs got the win.

source:  Stephen Curry. Cold blooded killer. Curry picked up the final three of his team-high 22 points when he drained the game winner with two seconds left to give his Warriors a victory over a feisty Magic team. That’s 10 in a row for Golden State, and that’s the hard way to do it.

source:  Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic. This is what it looks like when all of the Suns’ backcourt if firing at once — they combined for 61 points on 35 shots, were 6-of-10 from three (that was mostly Dragic), they had 10 assists and eight steals. They flat-out owned the Pacers backcourt and were the reasons the Suns picked up a comfortable win at home over the Pacers.

source:  Anthony Davis. Kevin Durant got the top billing here because it’s just great to have KD back in the game, but the Pelicans won and Davis is the reason — 25 points, 10 rebounds, six steals, and four blocks. He has been the best player in the NBA this young season and has lifted the Pelicans up to .500. Oh, and he did this to Kendrick Perkins.

Kevin Durant scores 27 in return, not enough to get Thunder needed win

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans

Kevin Durant was back and, while there were fits of rust, mostly showed reminders of why he has an MVP trophy on the mantle. It wasn’t just the 27 points on 18 shots, it was that signature effortless, polished scoring touch that has made KD one of the NBA’s biggest stars. That was back.

Durant and Russell Westbrook were back. The Thunder were supposed to be back.

But this movie didn’t follow the script the Thunder expected and frankly need — Oklahoma City lost to New Orleans 112-104.

Rather, this game was a reminder of what a mountain remains in front of OKC just to make the playoffs in the brutal Western Conference. The 5-13 Thunder will need to finish with at least 47 wins (the current pace of the eight-seed Phoenix Suns), and likely a little more. That means going at least 42-22 the rest of the way — a makable number, they had a higher winning percentage than that last season, but one that leaves little margin for error.

However, it’s going to be easy because the West is so deep with talent, which is what they were reminded Tuesday — going up against New Orleans is automatic win anymore. Not with Anthony Davis playing like he wants Durant’s MVP trophy. And it’s not just the Big Easy, there is no easy win in Sacramento or really any stop in the West.

Durant looked good for a guy who missed 17 games with the first significant injury of his career. His first play of the game he drained a three pointer. Over the course of the game he showed off his burst and handles that let him get to the rim and finish, he knocked down catch-and-shoot jumpers, and that Nowitzki-esque fadeaway jumper is back too.

Which is good — for the Thunder, and just for fans of basketball. There are few more compelling players in the league. Few guys are just a joy to watch like KD.

But he and the Thunder can’t afford the moral victories of just being back anymore. They need actual victories to get their goal of making the playoffs out West.

Cold blooded: Stephen Curry hits game-winning three to beat Magic (VIDEO)

Orlando Magic v Golden State Warriors

As I watched this play start to develop, as Stephen Curry was bringing the ball up the court, I had no doubt in my mind he was going to take and make a three. He’s that cold blooded.

He’s that clutch.

The Warriors have now won 10 in a row but surprisingly were down nine with just over four minutes left to visiting Orlando. Then Curry and Klay Thompson got hot. They hit three quick threes and we had a game. Tobias Harris hit a key shot late to put Orlando up two late.

But it was Harris who made the mistake of not running Curry off the three-point line with the game in the balance. Curry’s going to shoot, but don’t let him pull up and beat you with a three.

Because he will. He’s that cold blooded.