Breakfast Special: A Random Bucks-Kings Game Was the Best Thing

The Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings got together, played a barn burner of an NBA game that ended 141-140 in overtime in favor of the league’s best team, featured a Sacramento comeback from 14 down with 6:14 to go in regulation, involved the Kings actually grabbing a 126-124 lead, and then a combination of an Eric Bledsoe layup at the end of regulation (and Bledsoe stealing the ball from De’Aaron Fox to ensure the Kings didn’t get off a final shot) and then Malcolm Brogdon icing the game with two critical free throws to put the Bucks up 4, ensuring that a late Bogdan Bogdanovic three didn’t create a second overtime or a Kings win.

In other words, two teams that play fast (the Bucks are fifth in pace and the Kings are first) and have solid offenses (Sacramento is around league average in 18th; Milwaukee is fourth) put on a show for the ages on a random Wednesday night in February.

The NBA needs more games like this.

Four Bucks players topped the 20-point mark, and surprisingly Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t among them; he had just 17 points, posted a woeful minus-24 plus-minus, and got completely neutralized by Sacramento’s defense.

That happens to Greekazoid sometimes (Thaddeus Young did it to him in the Pacers game earlier this season), but it’s fascinating that the Kings held the best choice for MVP in this year’s race (shut up, James Harden stans) to minus-24 and managed to lose the minutes Giannis wasn’t out there by 25 points.

Coach Mike Budenholzer is trying to load-manage the Freak, who’s battling minor knee troubles, but the Bucks were able to step up for more than half the game (Giannis played just 24 minutes of a 53-minute game) without him.

Bledsoe led the way with 26 points, posted a triple-double (12 rebounds, 13 assists), got the game-tying score and game-saving steal, and was an absolute hero out there for his squad, so he’s man of the match, but this is bigger than one man’s contribution:

Beware the Last Dance

Dwyane Wade knows heroics, and even though there’s a big difference between a regular-season game in 2019 and, say, the 2006, ’12, or ’13 NBA Finals, D-Wade can still bring the goods.

To wit:

That was a game the Heat had no business winning 126-125, but it’s one thing to block a shot and another to leave yourself out of position so your opponent can get another one off that adds one more miracle to his legacy.

Wade had 25 points overall, and Goran Dragic provided 27 points off the bench to power Miami’s veteran reserve contributions. Dragic was also plus-13, showing off some of the form that got him into the All-Star Game in 2018.

Miami helped their cause by shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 45 percent (18-of-40) from three.

And besides the D-Wade game-winner, there was plenty else from the man of the match:

Freefall in Boston

The Celtics have now lost four in a row after falling 97-92 to Portland on their home floor.

Damian Lillard shredded the C’s for 33 points, Mo Harkless and Jusuf Nurkic had 17 and 16, respectively, and the Celtics had another atrocious night from long range (5-of-28, 17.9 percent) to hand the game to the enemy.

Enes Kanter has arrived in Portland in impressive fashion himself; in 18 minutes, he notched eight points and seven rebounds to anchor a Nurk N’ Turk center tandem that looks playoff-worthy already.

The Celtics remain three games back of the Pacers for the 3 spot, and they’re 2.5 behind Philadelphia for fourth. It’s looking more and more like Boston is going to play Game 1 of the first round (and possibly Game 7) on the road, and with the team in utter disarray, will it cost Brad Stevens his job?

The Rip City invaders got the win, and Dame gets the highlights:

Lightning Round!

The Hornets continue to bafflingly put the lie to the notion that “great teams win big and lose close.”

They disappeared in the clutch again, falling at home to Houston 118-113.

James Harden got back up to 30 points, but he went 10-of-29 to get there, which is not what MVPs do, it’s what selfish gunners who care only about counting stats do.

Harden shot 1-of-11 for three; Rockets not named Harden shot 12-of-28 (42.9 percent.)

And Kemba Walker had 35 for the game…and went 0-of-1 when shooting to tie or take the lead in the last five minutes, his missed three with 16.5 seconds left leading to the Harden free throws that iced the game.

Kemba choked in the clutch. What are the odds?

A big night for Clint Capela made him man of the match:

Atlanta outscored Minnesota by a combined 45-28 margin in the fourth quarter and overtime to win 131-123.

Trae Young has been on fire since the All-Star break, and he came up big with 36 points in this one.

Throw in 34 from John Collins and the Hawks’ youth movement looks as strong as any young core in the league.

Trae’s near triple-double nets him man of the match:

The Nets, if they are to catch the Celtics, need to have better nights than the one they had at home against Washington on Wednesday.

The Wizards led by 22 after three and finished with a 125-116 final.

Bradley Beal, who had 31 points and a game-high plus-23, is the man of the match:

The Bulls look surprisingly strong sometimes, and their win in Memphis showed off the potential of the Chicago youth movement.

Lauri Markkanen had 22 points, Otto Porter had 20, and Zach LaVine led them all with 30 in the Bulls’ 109-107 road triumph.

There’s a Finn in the water and the sharks are circling:

Nothing says “home sweet home” quite like that first Spurs home game after the Rodeo Road Trip.

And the Spurs, who had lost seven of eight, got a big win over the Detroit Pistons 105-93.

LaMarcus Aldridge hit 11-of-22 for 24 points, the Spurs’ three-point shooting came back from the dead (9-of-17, 52.9 percent as a team), and they just smacked Detroit arround two points at a time.

A team win gets team highlights:

The Mavericks just don’t lose in Dallas. So when the Pacers showed up, the 110-101 Mavericks win was all but inevitable.

Luka Doncic had 26 to lead the Mavs, Jalen Brunson had 24, Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20, and the Pacers’ bench unit suffered terribly with the absence of Domantas Sabonis, scoring just 28 points combined.

Doncic is done setting teenager superlatives in the league, as he celebrated his 20th birthday by making man of the match:

When Donovan Mitchell is efficient, good things happen for the Utah Jazz.

Mitchell had 32 points on 10-of-22 from the field and 9-of-12 from the line, powering all five Jazz starters in double figures as the Jazz beat the Clippers 111-105.

Holding the Clips to 39.4 percent shooting and 19.2 percent from three will win you some ballgames, especially when the man of the match is pouring in the points:

And finally, LeBron James went for 33 points, the Lakers shot 52.1 percent as a team, and despite 35 points from former Laker Julius Randle and 22 from future Laker Anthony Davis, the Pelicans couldn’t stop the Lakers from exacting revenge for Saturday’s game.

The 125-119 win keeps the Lakers alive in the playoff hunt, but they’re three games out of eighth and still a game behind the Kings for ninth. It’s far from a given for them.

It’s LeBron’s world when he wants it to be:

Coming later: Is He Any Good. Traffic’s up year-over-year compared to last February. That’s all you guys, my faithful readers, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!