If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while watching the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer…
1) E’Twaun Moore with night of his life, drains game winner. The Bulls were hoping not to need a lot of E’Twaun Moore this season. He’s a respectable backup combo guard, but they were only going to lean on him heavily if Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler were down. Well, they’re down. And Moore stepped up — a career high 19-points on 9-of-10 shooting. And with the Bulls down one and needing a game-winner… boom goes the dynamite.
2) Russell Westbrook’s triple-double streak ended; the slacker only scored 43 points. Westbrook tried to push the Thunder past the Bulls — he was in attack mode again and put up 43 points on 14-of-32 shooting. Then he only had eight rebounds and seven assists. If that’s an off night, the Thunder will take it. That said, of his shots 26 of them were contested, and he hit just 10 of them, and when he’s launching like this the Thunder’s half-court offense can get stagnant. With OKC now just half a game ahead of New Orleans they need to have everybody on the same page and working hard.
3) Craig Sager is back, and we’ve never been so happy to see an ugly suit. This was the feel-good story of the night. After missing 11 months to battle leukemia, Sager was back on the sidelines for TNT in a suit nobody else could pull off. And all felt right with the world.
4) Portland got another quality win… I wrote this last night, and it holds true: Portland is my dark horse to come out of the West. Wednesday night they beat the Clippers on the road, Thursday night they handled Dallas at home. LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 12 boards. To be fair this game wasn’t exactly filled with great shooting or scintillating play, but come the playoffs teams that have success are going to have to grind out wins. Portland did that.
5) … but the Blazers suffered a huge setback — Wesley Matthews is done for the season. This is a blow to their playoff chances, Matthews has a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg and is done for this season (plus likely misses the start of next one as well). Portland traded for Aaron Afflalo at the deadline and that will help ease the burden on Damian Lillard, but the Blazers depth took a real blow.
The play above came early in the third quarter of the Trail Blazer’s game against the Mavericks. Matthews caught the ball, tried to plant and drive and — without contact — and went down in pain. Non-contact injuries are the worst.
Matthews is Portland’s starting two-guard and defensive key. He was scoring 16.1 points per game, and he was shooting 39 percent from three this season.
This is a blow to Portland’s plans to go deep in the playoffs. They acquired Arron Afflalo for depth and he is a quality player who can take on the larger role (he was already getting key run for the team). However, the Blazers’ depth issues would quickly return at guard.
PBT Extra: Russell Westbrook taking the NBA by storm (VIDEO)
ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin breaks down Russell Westbrook’s historic run, which includes four consecutive triple-doubles, making him the first player to achieve the feat since Michael Jordan in 1989.
Jonas Valanciunas puts LeBron James on ground, LeBron does not like it (VIDEO)
Jonas Valanciunas earned a Flagrant 1 for that foul, which is about right. That’s not a basketball play, that’s putting a guy to the floor. I don’t think Valanciunas meant anything by it — if you’re going to foul LeBron James you better foul hard or he’ll go right through you for the and-1 — and that’s why he tried to help LeBron up.
But LeBron was having none of it.
From the Raptors’ perspective, I’ll take that foul. Toronto struggled to contain Cleveland’s offense all night so a little intimidation in the paint is something I could live with if I’m coach Dwane Casey. And Valanciunas put up big numbers — 26 points and 11 rebounds.
If I’m Cleveland, I’ll just take the win, thank you very much. Cleveland, Toronto, and Chicago are all in a virtual tie for the two, three and four seeds now in the East. Wins like this show why Cleveland will finish the two seed.