Biggest Takeaways from Saturday Night's NBA Action
Saturday night's NBA action included a big win by the Golden State Warriors, a point proven by the Miami Heat and an ugly basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls, but it taught us a thing or two as well.
There's not really a single overarching takeaway that's going to come from tonight, but trends continued and teams went on to do what they've been doing all along, for the most part.
A lot of things can be taken away from a night chocked full of 10 good basketball games, especially when they included the return of Ricky Rubio, Kyrie Irving in a facemask, an impressive night from a former member of the Los Angeles Lakers and the continuation of a double-digit losing streak.
Looking back, this night won't stick out any more than any other random Saturday night throughout the season, but at this point in time, we can start to make a lot of observations from what we've seen, including tonight's games.
One Win Doesn't Determine Future Success
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The Miami Heat fell prey to the daunting Washington Wizards nearly two weeks ago 105-101, so obviously there were going to be a few eyes focused on the game between the two the second time they played each other.
Those eyes turned away pretty quickly.
Miami dropped 102 on Washington this time around while holding them to an oppressive 72 points, as just two Wizards reached double-digit scoring numbers.
Miami was able to spread the scoring load around so that LeBron James led the way with just 23 points, but every member of the Heat ended up scoring.
Some problems still existed, mostly in that Miami was only able to outrebound Washington by three boards despite the 30-point advantage, and they shot below 30 percent for three, but a win is a win.
Kyrie Irving Is Awesome Regardless of a Broken Jawbone
In case you didn't hear, Kyrie Irving broke his jaw in Cleveland's game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night, played through the rest of that game, got himself a face mask for the game against the Knicks, flew to New York late and played in a magnificent black facemask.
If you thought he'd be tired, think again.
Kyrie was able to drag the Cavs back from a deficit they racked up in the first half and had them within an Anderson Varejao free throw of tying the game up with a second to go.
Andy missed the freebie and the Cavs lost, but Irving walked away with a career-high 41 points.
Irving wasn't just chucking shots up either, as he scored on 15 of his 25 attempts.
It's not like the news is of any surprise at this point, as Irving has been magnificent all season long, but it's definitely shocking that he could do it all with a broken jawbone.
Ricky Rubio's Exuberance Will Do Wonders for the Timberwolves
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The Minnesota Timberwovlves starting point guard returned to action Saturday night, as the Minnesota Timberwolves took down the Dallas Mavericks 114-106.
Rubio only played in two nine-minute stretches, but he was able to put down nine points and end up with eight assists in those 18 minutes.
The first time Rubio came in, the Timberwolves were down 28-18 late in the first quarter. He left midway through the second with the Timberwolves trailing 39-37.
Rubio came in again in the third with the T-Wolves up by double-digits and the Mavs were able to cut it down to eight points, but he kept the offense invigorated.
Minnesota played inspired basketball when he made his way into the game, and when they took him out in the fourth quarter, they allowed their lead to slip away and Dallas tied it up to force overtime.
The Timberwolves won the game without him in overtime, but it's evident that Rubio is going to add a lot in terms of energy and exuberance as he works his way back into the starting lineup.
The Bulls Can Keep Winning If They Force Their Pace
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The Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets play two of the slowest-paced games in the NBA, but the Chicago Bulls continued to show that they are the best slow team out there.
Chicago, as the sixth-slowest team in the NBA, has beaten the fourth-slowest team in the NBA in the Philadelphia 76ers on two separate occasions and the Brooklyn Nets, the team that has the fewest possessions per game in the league.
It just seems like Chicago knows what they're best at: forcing turnovers, getting into the lane and hoping for offensive rebounds.
When they play grinding basketball and hold their opponents under (an arbitrary) 93 points, they're 7-4; otherwise, they're 6-5.
The style of play can change drastically if Derrick Rose returns this season, but they've learned a lot so far this season just by playing in so many close games.
The Western Conference Should Be Afraid of the Golden State Warriors
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Before the Golden State Warriors left for the East Coast, they were 10-7 and looked like they had the potential to work their way into the playoffs if things fell the right way.
A respectable 3-4 finish on their seven-game road trip would have made a believer out of me, but they went above and beyond.
Golden State ended up winning six of their seven games on the road, ran their record to 16-8 and jumped their road record up to 10-5 after a meager 4-4 start.
Not only did they win six games on the road, but those six games included wins over the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks, all of whom seem to be on a beeline to the top of the Eastern Conference.
They're not nearly good enough to be considered a threat to break into the Western Conference elite, but those elite teams should definitely keep their eyes on the Warriors.
The Lakers Should Have Held onto Matt Barnes
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I'm not a big fan of using hindsight scouting, but in the case of the Los Angeles Lakers and Matt Barnes, it seems too important to pass up.
The Lakers, ever lacking on the defensive end and in terms of continuity as they put their team together, seem to be missing something in terms of dirty-work doers, an area where the Los Angeles Clippers are enjoying a rare embarrassment of riches.
Matt Barnes, a man who wanted to re-sign with the Lakers during the offseason, went off in the Clippers game against the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 21 points, grabbing three rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.
Barnes has played well enough all season long, as the Clippers forward continues to shoot well, scoring on a 47-percent clip while continuing to play fierce defense on the perimeter and dealing with bigger forwards in the post.
Kemba Walker's Ceiling Remains Unclear
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Coming into the NBA, Kemba Walker was too short, not strong enough, not athletic enough and too poor a shooter to make it in the NBA.
Well, he's worked his way into the Charlotte Bobcats starting lineup and started to not only prove people wrong, but turn some heads in the process.
Walker put down 32 points and seven assists in Charlotte's loss to the Orlando Magic in what was his 21st game (out of 22) of double-digit scoring this season.
Sure, he's probably not going to make many All-Star games, if any, but he looks like he's going to be able to play well enough and make the right decisions necessary to keep him in the NBA for a good chunk of time.
Memphis Is Best Without an Offensive Dominator
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The question that's been lingering ever since the Memphis Grizzlies took down the San Antonio Spurs in the 2010 playoffs seems to have an answer.
Who is more important to the Grizzlies, Randolph or Gay?
Quite frankly, both of these guys have played incredibly well for the Grizzlies this season, and the team performs best when they share the spotlight and the offensive load, including Saturday's game against the Utah Jazz.
Randolph shot the ball 16 times and Gay 13 times, the two combined for 39 points and the Grizzlies were able to beat the Jazz 99-86.
As far as the entire course of the season goes, Memphis is 3-4 when either Randolph or Gay ends up shooting the ball more than 20 times.
Of course, that is a small sample size, but that also means they're 11-2 when the two of them share the ball and shoot fewer than 20 times apiece.
It gets a lot more complicated than that, but that's the basis for the entire argument.
David West Can Be Indiana's Clutch Man
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The Indiana Pacers have desperately been searching for the right guy to step up late in games ever since Danny Granger went down before the start of the season.
For the majority of the first month of the season, they were very up-and-down in terms of late-game scoring, but David West might just be the guy they need to hold it down for the duration of Granger's injury.
At one point, the Pacers were ahead by just two, 68-66, in the fourth quarter. Thanks to an end-of-game run, in which West scored 13 points (of his 23), including an 11-0 run at one point, Indiana ended up winning 88-77.
Sure, they probably wish it would have been Paul George who stepped up, but West has been incredibly impressive so far this season.
San Antoino Is One of the Best Scoring Teams in Years
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The San Antonio Spurs continued to dazzle audiences as they took on the Boston Celtics at home in a showdown of the two best passing teams in the NBA.
Neither team disappointed, each dishing out their fair share of assists, San Antonio with a whopping 28 and Boston with a meager (in comparison) 22.
The Spurs end up dishing out right around 25 assists per game, which doesn't really seem to be all that much, but it's rather impressive when you compare it to all the best passing teams in the history of the league and some of the recent good passing teams.
San Antonio, at 25.44 assists per game after Saturday's game ends up with an assist on just under 64 percent of their field goals.
In comparison, the last team to average more than 25 dimes a game, the 2010 Utah Jazz, had an assist on just over 67 percent of their possessions. Looking way back, the 1985 Los Angeles Lakers averaged an all-time high of 31.4 assists per game, but that only equated to assists on 65 percent of their field goals.
If San Antonio can continue to keep the ball moving, they're going to continue to get the best looks possible.