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 playing with a salmon cannon…
San Antonio Spurs. After Monday night’s win over the Clippers, Gregg Popovich called the game the best one his team had played all season. That lasted about 24 hours. The Spurs were even better on Tuesday night, playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road and not resting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker or anyone else. They took on the team that had been playing the best basketball in the league the first week or so of the season and behind 28 points and 7 assists from Tony Parker — who is the best point guard in the game again? — showed them why the standard is. And they did all this without their starting center or a couple other rotation players who are out injured. The Spurs are not yet playing like team we saw in Miami last June (a standard Popovich said he just hopes they can get back to) but they are not coming back to the pack. The Spurs are the bar to clear. Want to win a title? You have to be better than San Antonio.
Dirk Nowitzki. The future Hall of Famer became the highest scoring player in NBA history born outside the USA on Tuesday, passing Hakeem Olajuwon, fittingly with a midrange jumper. Nowitzki is a 7-footer who has knocked down 1,487 career three pointers, he has an iconic fade away that is probably the most unstoppable shot the game has seen since the skyhook, and he can score in the block or fem the midrange. There have been few scorers of his quality to grace the NBA. Ever. And in a few years we’re going to miss him.
Gary Neal. Charlotte had blown a 23-point lead against Portland and now had 3.5 seconds to score and send the game to overtime. They got the play they wanted — Gary Neal at the top of the key isolated with Damian Lillard on him. Neal blew right past Lillard, got in the lane and had a clean look at the game-tying shot — except he let it go a fraction of a second too late. Blazers win.
Toronto Raptors. The Drakes don’t want to make things easy on themselves, DeMar DeRozan called the team “drama queens” last week for all the close games (insert your own Drake joke here). The Raptors did it again Tuesday. They fell behind Orlando early — note to teams playing the Magic: Don’t leave Channing Frye open at the arc — and after three quarters they were down 11 points. Then they started the fourth quarter on an 11-0 run. The Raptors went on to pick up a 104-101 win to improve to 7-1 on the young season. Patrick Patterson had 9 points and was +15 in the fourth, while for the game Kyle Lowry had 19 points and 7 assists.