8 Takeaways from Wednesday's NBA Action
Wednesday’s NBA slate felt more tedious than tantalizing. Still, there were plenty of storylines to suss through on the night's 10-game docket.
Despite being blown out by the plucky Charlotte Bobcats, the Indiana Pacers became the first NBA team to secure a playoff spot.
In Beantown, the Golden State Warriors continued their winning ways by throttling the Boston Celtics, while the New York Knicks put the Minnesota Timberwolves’ playoff hopes on what could soon be permanent ice.
Elsewhere, the Orlando Magic played a video tribute to a chorus of boos, the Chicago Bulls bested an old divisional foe and the Portland Trail Blazers put an end to an epic NBA record.
All of that, plus 24 points from a starting lineup at Barclays Center, next on NBA Takeaways!
Take That, Boo Birds
The Magic welcomed the Houston Rockets to town with a video tribute sermonizing, in part, former Orlando star Dwight Howard.
You can read more here about how all of that unfolded, but suffice it to say, Howard did not receive a platter of the city’s finest meats and cheeses.
D12 would get the last laugh, however, as the Rockets erased a 14-point deficit to muster a 101-89 win behind his 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Leading up to the game, Chandler Parsons—a Magic fan growing up—hinted that, had he been in the crowd, he’d be booing his teammate too.
Parsons finished with 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while James Harden added 31 points, three rebounds and six assists.
Sometimes When You Lose, You Really Win
Rosie Perez said that in White Men Can’t Jump. It’s a great film. You should check it out.
Anyway, the Pacers came into Charlotte for their fourth game in five days and got clobbered by the Bobcats, 109-87.
And yet, in as clear an indication of just how fantastic and fortuitous Indiana’s season has been, the Pacers secured the league’s first playoff spot anyway.
After seeing his historic 38-point, 19-rebound performance Monday night overshadowed by LeBron James’ 61-point detonation, Al Jefferson had center stage all to himself, tallying 34 points and eight rebounds on 16-of-25 shooting.
Down Goes Korver
It had to happen sometime.
In going 0-of-5 from three-point range, the Atlanta Hawks’ Kyle Korver saw his record-breaking streak of 127 consecutive games with a made three come to an end in a 102-78 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
In case you’d forgotten, that’s a full 38 games longer than the previous record, set by Dana Barros way back in the 20th century (1994-96).
So Korver is still an otherworldly shooter, and the Atlanta Hawks—against more than a few preseason predictions—are still in the driver’s seat for the playoffs, and that's after losing Al Horford for the season.
However, even in the Eastern Conference, the Hawks will need to start winning eventually. They've dropped four in a row and 12 of 13 overall.
Stop It, Joakim
Has anyone made a "Joakim Stockton" joke yet?
Joakim Noah recorded another triple-double Wednesday night—10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a decisive 105-94 road win over the Detroit Pistons.
It’s Noah’s second triple-double in the past three games, the first being a 13-point, 12-rebound, 14-dime line in a Sunday rout of the Knicks.
It's amazing that, even in Derrick Rose's absence, the Bulls have managed to orchestrate an offense that can complement their stingy defense.
Here’s ESPN’s Michael Wilbon on Noah:
It has been more than 35 years since an NBA center handed out 14 assists in a game as Noah did Sunday. And if that's not enough, he scored 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, blocked two shots and barked orders from the high-post like some hardwood Peyton Manning.
It’s scary to imagine what Tom Thibodeau’s attack might look like with Noah at the high post once Rose is back in the fold.
You Lost to Whom?
At a full five games behind the Dallas Mavericks for the West’s eighth and final playoff spot, Minnesota has little margin for error.
That is why losing to the New York Knicks—a team that has turned losing into a surrealistic art form—isn’t the best look.
Carmelo Anthony’s 33 points helped pace the 'Bockers en route to a 118-106 road win, snapping a seven-game losing streak and catapulting the Knicks, well, a game up in their own win column.
But the real story here is the Timberwolves, who, in the midst of a juicy home stand, couldn’t afford this kind of slip-up.
Even coach Rick Adelman half-admitted as much, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Andy Greder, via Twitter: "We can’t give in and say, ‘this is a killer.’ I know everyone is gonna say, ‘You shouldn’t lose to Knicks.'"
No. 5 with a Bullet
Don’t look now, but the Washington Wizards are for real, and they have been for some time.
In dispatching the Utah Jazz 104-91, the Wizards made it seven wins in eight tries, while keeping Brooklyn at bay for the Eastern Conference's No. 5 seed.
And not a moment too soon, either: With seven of their next nine games coming on the road, the Wizards need every win they can get.
Against the Jazz, Trevor Ariza (26 points, five rebounds), Marcin Gortat (16 points, nine rebounds, four assists), Bradley Beal (22 points, five rebounds) and John Wall (14 points, 10 assists) led the way.
Coming off an epic win over the Pacers Tuesday night—that baseline-turnaround game-winner by Klay Thompson was a thing of beauty—the Warriors could have overlooked the Celtics.
But Golden State prevailed, thanks to a team effort. Eleven players logged at least 12 minutes, and no one scored more than 18 points (David Lee and Thompson).
The win, coupled with Minnesota’s loss, further solidified Golden State’s playoff standing.
That is good, because no one wants to live in a universe where Thompson and Stephen Curry are somehow not in the playoffs.
Starter (Strait) Jacket
We know the Memphis Grizzlies can have a hard time scoring from time to time, but this is ridiculous.
The Grizzlies starters accounted for 24 of the team’s 94 points in their 103-94 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Nick Calathes, Jon Leuer, Tony Allen, Kosta Koufos, Mike Miller, James Johnson and even ex-Knick Beno Udrih saw extended playing time.
To be fair, regular starting power forward Zach Randolph missed the game due to flu-like symptoms. Still, the starters didn't offer much for head coach David Joerger, save for Marc Gasol, who finished with 18 points and seven boards.
Thanks to the Dallas Mavericks losing to the Denver Nuggets, however, the Grizzlies remain just a game out of the playoff hunt.