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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.