Five Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: Nobody can stop E’Twaun Moore; Westbrook’s pretty good, too


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.

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.

Steve Kerr on MVP race: “If Daryl Morey wants to run his own one-man campaign for James Harden, he can do that”


As the NBA season enters March, the MVP race is heating up, and the two frontrunners so far are Stephen Curry and James Harden. So far, their teams have taken vastly different approaches to doing PR for the battle. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has been very vocal about Harden’s credentials, while the Warriors haven’t been so focused on lobbying for Curry to win. Golden State coach Steve Kerr took a shot at the Rockets’ campaign on Thursday:

This back-and-forth is an extension of the one that took place last weekend at the Sloan Conference between Morey and Warriors GM Bob Myers. Morey pointed out that the Rockets would be “nowhere” without Harden, and Myers countered that Golden State had beaten Houston four times and had a better record.

Truthfully, Curry and Harden both have strong MVP cases, but they aren’t the only ones in the conversation. Russell Westbrook has been playing out of his mind in February, keeping the Thunder in the playoff hunt with Kevin Durant hurt and averaging a near triple-double for the month. And LeBron James has looked like his usual self since a two-week layoff earlier in the season.

The winner of the award won’t be decided by one person’s lobbying, but it’s been interesting to watch the differences in their approaches.

Who will win NBA scoring title? Russell Westbrook passes James Harden for lead


Russell Westbrook’s career-high 49 points last night moved him past James Harden and atop the NBA’s points-per-game leaderboard.

Nine players have ended a day leading the league in points per game. Here’s how each of their scoring progressed throughout the season:


Russell Westbrook:


James Harden:


LeBron James:


Kevin Durant:


Stephen Curry:


Blake Griffin:


Kobe Bryant:


Klay Thompson:


Marc Gasol:


When Durant gets healthy, that will cut into Westbrook’s scoring load. Likewise, Dwight Howard’s eventual return will lower Harden’s usage.

But neither Westbrook nor Harden will fade like other temporary leaders.

If forced to pick, my money would be on Westbrook. Harden should push him to the season’s end, though. And LeBron is hanging close in case either falters.

Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Masked Russell Westbrook just needs a cape


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 being concerned about the amount of crap (literally) left on Mount Everest

1) Russell Westbrook is a destroyer of worlds. Anytime you do something that can only be compared to Michael Jordan you are killing it. After Wednesday night’s 49-16-10 line, Russell Westbrook now has put up four straight games with a triple-double — the last guy to do that was MJ. Westbrook has been superhuman and has to be right in the middle of any MVP discussion — especially putting up these numbers days after surgery to his face that forced him to wear a mask. Westbrook’s 49 points against a better-than-you-think Sixers defense moved him past James Harden as the leading scorer in the NBA this season. Westbrook now averages 27 points a game, Harden 26.9. OKC needed this game (the Pelicans remain one back for the final playoff spot in the West), and Westbrook got it for them. Maybe what has impressed me most about Westbrook is we have seen numerous other athletes in other sports come back from injuries and it takes a while to get over the mental hurdle, to play fearlessly again. Not Westbrook. Mask or no mask he only knows how to attack.

2) Get that man some coffee: Marc Gasol is a closer. You’ll hear this heading into the playoffs: “But who are the Grizzlies going to give to ball to when they need to close out games? They don’t have that star.” Show them video of this game — Marc Gasol knows how to close. Alec Baldwin would get him coffee. Houston was rightfully frustrated after not getting a foul call on Harden at the other end, but the final play shows why the Rockets need Dwight Howard back for the postseason. Terrence Jones had another strong game for the Rockets, but for much of the key parts of the game Kevin McHale had him matched up on Gasol. Jones tried but he is not going to win that matchup, and he didn’t with the game on the line.

3) Anthony Davis returned and reminded us he’s as good as anyone. Here’s a name nobody is mentioning anymore in the MVP race but should be in your five-man ballot: Anthony Davis. He missed five games with his shoulder injury but was back Wednesday and had 39 points and 13 rebounds. The Pistons defended him, but Davis hit 13-of-17 contested shots. That’s insane. In the final minute, he knocked down two midrange jumpers, pulled down a rebound, and altered the potential game-tying three. Oklahoma City likely gets the eight seed but the Davis and his Pelicans are not going away.

4) Portland in the NBA Finals? It could happen. The Trail Blazers have become my dark horse team to come out of the West and this game shows why. Portland was down 10 inside three minutes to go but they close games well, they have a defense with size in the paint (hello Robin Lopez) that can get stops, they have a good defender on the perimeter in Wes Mattews, and they have guys who can knock down threes. Damian Lillard missed his first 12 shots yet Portland was able to grind out a good win against the Clippers. With the addition of Arron Afflalo, there’s just a lot to like in Portland.

5) Charlotte looked like a playoff team knocking-off Brooklyn. If you watched this game you would have had no idea these two teams came into Wednesday tied for the eighth seed in the East — Charlotte was clearly the better squad. The Hornets went on a 27-4 first quarter run, and that was about it for the game — Charlotte moved the ball better on offense and defended better on defense. Mo Williams was brilliant again for them, helping save their season. There are six teams battling for two playoff spots in the East, I like Charlotte’s chances. And remember, the Hornets get Kemba Walker back soon from injury — they are only getting better.