NBA's Top Stats, Best Highlights, Updated Playoff Picture from Aug. 2 Results

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2020

Houston Rockets' Russell Westbrook moves the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks during an NBA basketball game Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP)
Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press

If your only plan for Sunday was to watch the latest crop of NBA games in Orlando, Florida, congratulations on an excellent choice. Five of the six games on tap for Aug. 2 were decided by single digits, and not a single team scored under 100 points. There were inspiring rallies, thwarted comebacks, clutch plays and much, much more.

Sunday's slate of games also provided a bit more clarity for the playoff picture, with one team clinching its spot in the postseason. 

Here's a rundown of the top performers, plays and more as the first weekend of NBA action in the bubble came to a close.


August 2 Scores, Stats & Highlights

Nets 118, Wizards 110

Caris LeVert (BKN): 34 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST

Joe Harris (BKN): 27 PTS, 7 REB

Jarrett Allen (BKN: 22 PTS, 15 REB

Thomas Bryant (WAS): 30 PTS, 13 REB

Troy Brown Jr. (WAS): 22 PTS, 10 REB, 8 AST

The Brooklyn Nets took a big step toward making the playoffs with a 118-110 over the Wizards to start off Sunday's action.

Both teams were playing without their biggest stars. No Bradley Beal, John Wall or Davis Bertans for the Wizards, while Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan (among others) were not available for the Nets.

Despite all the talent off the court, the product on it was excellent. Washington jumped out to an early 11-2 lead, but the Nets woke up shortly after that. The two teams then traded buckets and kept the score close right up until the final couple minutes in a free-flowing, back-and-forth affair.

Caris LeVert, who was an unsolvable riddle for the Wizards with a game-high 34 points, took over at the end of the game, scoring eight points in the final three minutes to give the Nets the breathing room they needed to secure the win.

While LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen did the heavy lifting with the scoring, they weren't the only reasons the Nets were able to pull out a win. Chris Chiozza clearly brought his bag of tricks with him to Orlando:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

🧀 C H E E S E R O L L 🧀 @Chiozza11 | @BeyondMeat https://t.co/G6Y3gsiytM

This sequence saw Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot make a play at both ends of the court:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

here for everything about this @timcabs sequence https://t.co/umskVF6dFr

In a tough loss, Thomas Bryant was a bright spot for the Wizards. The 23-year-old center scored 30 points on 60 percent shooting from the floor. He also knocked down four three-pointers in the first half. 

Washington Wizards @WashWizards

😤 @nolimittb31 😤 1 half. 18 points. 7 rebounds. Career-high FOUR 3-pointers. https://t.co/1JvrymCcSa

The Wizards are back in action Monday against the Indiana Pacers and will need to get hot quickly in order to force a play-in game against the Nets for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. 


Celtics 128, Trail Blazers 124

Jayson Tatum (BOS): 34 PTS, 4 REB, 8 AST

Jaylen Brown (BOS): 30 PTS, 6 REB, 2 STL

Jusuf Nurkic (POR): 30 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST

Damian Lillard (POR):  30 PTS, 16 AST

The Boston Celtics may have won this high-scoring contest against the Portland Trail Blazers, but they could have made it much easier on themselves.

The Celtics were hot right from the start, racing out to a 37-24 lead by the end of the first quarter. Thanks to sublime shooting from Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown, they maintained a comfortable advantage and were up by 20 points deep into the third quarter. 

When a guy like Tatum is in this deep of a groove, there's not much you can do as a defense:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bounce back, Tatum. That was pretty. (via @celtics) https://t.co/ljpgIPsJjy

It's even tougher when he's making pinpoint cross-court passes:

Boston Celtics @celtics

JB TOMAHAWK. https://t.co/pA7saZ7NPn

The Blazers finally started to claw their way back late in the third, with the comeback effort getting a spark from this absurd shot by Damian Lillard:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

DAME. TOUGH. (via @NBAUK) https://t.co/pgsNQMBrpB

Portland took a 101-98 lead with about nine minutes left in the first quarter, the team's first lead since the opening seconds of the game. The game was a fierce battle from that point on, but a clutch shot from Brown helped the Celtics maintain a slim advantage late. 

Boston Celtics @celtics

.@fchwpo was CLUTCH in the 4th @jetblue Play of the Game ⤵️ https://t.co/XDIaqzm5r1

The Blazers would cut the Celtics' lead to one with 3.4 seconds remaining, but Gordon Hayward hit two free throws and then Jusuf Nurkic's ensuing inbound pass went out of bounds, sealing their fate.

The Celtics as a team shot 60 percent from three-point range, with Tatum, Brown, and Hayward combining to go 15-of-21 from deep. Tatum's all-around effort has to make Boston feel good about its chances in the playoffs. 

The Blazers got another big game out of Lillard, and Nurkic's play is also encouraging. They're on the edge of playoff contention and have a pivotal contest coming up on Tuesday against the Houston Rockets. 


Spurs 108, Grizzlies 106

Dejounte Murray (SAS): 21 PTS, 10 REB

Derrick White (SAS): 16 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST

Ja Morant (MEM): 25 PTS, 9 REB, 9 AST

The Spurs won a nail-biter against the Grizzlies on Sunday, a result that had big implications for four teams.

Memphis' loss not only allowed the Blazers and Spurs to stay within striking range of the eighth spot in the West, but it also secured a playoff spot for the Dallas Mavericks. Per ESPN.com's Tim McMahon, the Mavs can finish no lower than seventh in the West, avoiding a possible play-in game.

The Spurs, playing without LaMarcus Aldridge, got the win thanks to a balanced team effort. Six players scored in double figures, led by Dejounte Murray's 21 points (he also led the team with 10 rebounds). 

San Antonio Spurs @spurs

The bank is open on Sunday in the bubble. @DejounteMurray | #GoSpursGo https://t.co/FqLtYPUTzg

Despite shooting just 23.3 percent from three-point range, the Grizzlies never really let the game get away from them. Just as he has been all season, rookie Ja Morant was a constant source of inspiration. He led the team with 25 points and dazzled as a distributor as well. 

Memphis Grizzlies @memgrizz

🚨 PUT EM ON A POSTER 🚨 https://t.co/dqP5kooMS9

The Spurs had an 11-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Grizzlies kept their cool and closed the gap late. In the end, it was veteran DeMar DeRozan who came to the Spurs' rescue.

This clip shows the two clutch buckets he made late, including one of his patented mid-range jumpers.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

DeMar clutched it out for the Spurs 🔥 https://t.co/F1fBPSLu6Q

With 10 seconds left, the Grizzlies tied the game at 106 thanks to a Jaren Jackson Jr. three-pointer, but DeRozan was not done playing hero, sinking two clutch free throws with one second left in the game to give the Spurs the win.

While they're still on the outside looking in, the Spurs have a chance to extend their 22-season playoff streak if they keep up the clutch play. Their next game is Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers. Memphis will look to bounce back Monday against the New Orleans Pelicans.


Magic 132, Kings 116

Nikola Vucevic (ORL): 23 PTS, 11 REB, 2 STL

Aaron Gordon (ORL): 22 PTS, 5 REB

Terrence Ross (ORL): 25 PTS

Harry Giles III (SAC): 23 PTS, 8 REB

Not every game can be a thriller. The Orlando Magic were feeling it on the offensive end of the floor from the first minute to the last and ended up cruising to a 132-116 win over the Sacramento Kings as a result. 

A long-range buzzer beater from Markelle Fultz was a perfect capstone to a first quarter that saw the Magic score an eye-popping 44 points:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport


Aaron Gordon was a big part of the early onslaught, as he scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half. The team kept the good times rolling right on into the second half. This assist from D.J. Augustin was particularly slick:

Orlando Magic @OrlandoMagic

👀 this dish by D.J. 👀 @augustinDj14 | @NikolaVucevic https://t.co/2cOVfsBY51

There wasn't a whole lot for Kings fans to love about this game, although Harry Giles III had a nice game coming off the bench, scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

Maybe it's the fact that they're the only team playing in their hometown, but the Magic look like they are completely in sync in the bubble. They can't afford to get comfortable, though, as they are seventh in the East and just half a game ahead of the Nets.

Orlando did suffer a blow during this game, when Jonathan Isaac landed awkwardly on his leg early in the fourth quarter and had to be taken off the court in a wheelchair, per SportsCenter. Hopefully, it isn't too serious.


Rockets 120, Bucks 116

Russell Westbrook (HOU): 31 PTS, 6 REB, 8 AST

James Harden (HOU): 24 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST, 6 STL

Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL): 36 PTS, 18 REB, 8 AST

Khris Middleton (MIL): 27 PTS, 12 REB, 4 AST

Brook Lopez (MIL): 23 PTS, 12 REB, 2 BLK

The game with the most star power on Sunday did not disappoint. The three most recent MVPs—Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and Russell Westbrook—all had big games, and the Milwaukee Bucks also a couple of great performances from Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez in a contest that went down to the wire.

While the individual showings were great, the Rockets made history as a team. Per the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen, Houston matched the NBA regulation record for three-point attempts with 61 (they made 21 of them). Harden and PJ Tucker were the main culprits, with both of them going 3-for-12 from distance. 

Harden had a tough night shooting, but he still managed 24 points. His best work actually came on defense, where he had six steals. The one in the following clip was the most important, as it helped cap off a 9-0 run that saw Houston take a 113-112 lead with just under two minutes left in the game.

Houston Rockets @HoustonRockets

BEARD X BRODIE https://t.co/x6cpIxWB8G

The Beard also played some great defense to stifle Antetokounmpo about 15 seconds later. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Harden put the clamps on Giannis in crunch time 🔒 https://t.co/dPdgdHg9vX

That heroic stand was made all the more impressive by the fact that The Greek Freak had a game-high 36 points and looked almost impossible to defend on several occasions earlier in the game. 

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

The Greek Freak put up a near triple-double in the bubble. https://t.co/ZP2xo7S4IH

The Rockets were able to hold onto the win late thanks to clutch free-throw shooting from Westbrook and Danuel House Jr. The win pushes them into fifth in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

With the loss, Milwaukee missed out on clinching top spot in the Eastern Conference.


Suns 117, Mavericks 115

Devin Booker (PHX): 30 PTS, 4 AST

Ricky Rubio (PHX): 20 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST

Cameron Johnson (PHX): 19 PTS, 12 REB

Luka Doncic (DAL): 40 PTS, 8 REB, 11 AST

Kristaps Porzingis (DAL): 30 PTS, 8 REB, 4 BLK

The Dallas Mavericks got massive performances from Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis on Sunday, but it was the Phoenix Suns who came away with the win, their second in Orlando. 

The Mavericks were in control early on thanks to Doncic and Porzingis. They had a double-digit lead by the tail end of the first quarter and played the Suns about even in the second frame.

One of the better plays came early in the second quarter, when Boban Marjanovic got a wide-open lane and dunked over a helpless Ricky Rubio. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Rubio stood no chance for Boban 😂 https://t.co/Mzoacdj73p

Rubio was on the wrong end of that highlight, but he created a few of his own on a night that saw him score 20 points and get within striking range of a triple-double.

The veteran point guard's best moments saw him get very crafty. Here he is making a great nutmeg pass in one clip and then creating a little alley for himself in the paint with a good ball fake.

Bleacher Report NBA @BR_NBA

Rubio nutmeg 👀 https://t.co/PPVloyEsEm


Ricky Rubio uses the ball-fake to perfection! #WholeNewGame https://t.co/DPhAH5anen

Porzingis and Doncic combined for 70 points in this one, and their two-man game was excellent. Their chemistry was on full display with this alley-oop in the third quarter:

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Sheeeeesh 💪 #MFFL | @kporzee https://t.co/e4pyhCG1X5

Eventually, Phoenix climbed all the way back. Booker showed off his brilliance throughout the game, making a number of tough shots. The Suns took a slim lead early in the fourth quarter and kept the high-wire act going until the end of the game. Doncic tried to rally the Mavs late with six points in the final two minutes, but it wasn't enough.

A big part of the Mavericks' problem was three-point shooting. As a team, they knocked down just six of their 31 attempts from beyond the arc. The Suns weren't much better from downtown with a 36.4 percent rate, but it was enough to get the job done. 

It's a tough loss for the Mavericks, but the result isn't as disappointing as it might have been. They have already clinched a playoff spot, and fighting for a higher seed isn't as big of a deal without a true home-court advantage at stake.


Updated Playoff Picture

Eastern Conference

1. Milwaukee Bucks (54-13)

2. Toronto Raptors (47-18)

3. Boston Celtics (44-22)

4. Miami Heat (42-24)

5. Indiana Pacers (40-26)

6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-27)

7. Orlando Magic (32-35)

8. Brooklyn Nets (31-35)

9. Washington Wizards (24-42)


Western Conference

1. Los Angeles Lakers (50-15)

2. Los Angeles Clippers (45-21)

3. Denver Nuggets (43-23)

4. Utah Jazz (42-24)

5. Houston Rockets (42-24)

6. Oklahoma City Thunder (41-24)

7. Dallas Mavericks (40-29)

8. Memphis Grizzlies (32-35)

9. Portland Trail Blazers (30-38)

10. San Antonio Spurs (29-36)

11. Sacramento Kings (28-38)

12. New Orleans Pelicans (28-38)

13. Phoenix Suns (28-39)