Breakfast Special: A Thunderous Collapse in Indianapolis

Ave Sabonis, we who are about to highlight film salute you.

As the Ides of March dawn, the Indiana Pacers, far from being four games into an 11-game losing streak like your reverse-jinxing columnist predicted Tuesday, have now won two big games at home to get to 44-25, retain their hold on third place in the Eastern Conference, and give their fans…optimism (?!) heading into a monstrous Western swing on the road.

Russell Westbrook got his triple-double, of course, scoring 19 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and dishing 11 assists. Paul George, in his old building against his old team (such as it is; only Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner are left from PG13’s time in Indy), went bonkers for 36 points.

PG also turned the ball over five times, was a mediocre 10-of-23 from the field (despite going 6-of-11 from three), and posted a minus-5 in a game his team lost 108-106.

Meanwhile on the Pacers side, Wesley Matthews showed himself to be Victor Oladipo Lite in the clutch, making a critical layup to give the Pacers the win and complete a comeback from as many as 19 points down. Indiana won the second half 58-43.

And Domantas Sabonis showed that as he goes off the bench, so go the Pacers, scoring 26 to lead all scorers on 7-of-12 shooting and 12-of-13 from the line.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the starters with 23, the career fringe starter and backup blossoming in Indiana into a bona fide top scoring threat—seriously, Bogdanovic had minus-1.2 career VORP before 2017-18 and has posted plus-1.9 in Indiana.

After playing like hot garbage in the second half in Milwaukee and Philadelphia and nearly collapsing away a 14-point fourth-quarter lead against the Knicks, the Pacers look like the clutch monsters they’ve been at their best this season.

Matthews really was Johnny on the spot:

Cory Joseph set the stage at the end of the third quarter with a “screw your ‘preserve the FG%’, I’m scoring” buzzer-beater:

But there’s a reason the page image is Lithuanian breakfast today:

The Joker is a Thief

Nikola Jokic stole a win for the Nuggets at home against the Mavericks, pulling a 100-99 victory from the jaws of defeat with a sweet little floater at the buzzer:

There is no loss more heartbreaking than the one in which you play absolutely perfect defense on your man, forcing him to take a bad shot with the game on the line…and he makes it anyway.

Just a gut punch for Mavs fans.

Luka Doncic had 24 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists for the Mavs.

But Jokic had 11 points (on 4-of-9), 14 rebounds, and eight assists of his own, including that buzzer-beater, and that was enough even in one of those games Jokic has from time to time where he goes churchmouse silent on offense and knuckles down defensively.

Paul Millsap led the Nuggets with 33 points and eight rebounds, and Dallas got bitten by their poor shooting, hitting just 42.5 percent from the field compared to 48.1 for the Nuggets.

The best highlights are in the stretch run:

#LOLakers

National NBA media are often accused of putting too much emphasis on LeBron James and the Lakers.

And…well…hello, LeBron! Welcome to the top 3 featured section of the Breakfast Special, once again not buried in the Lightning Round!

Wait…am I one of the bad guys?

No matter. LeBron had 29 points and a neutral zero plus/minus in a game the Lakers lost 111-98 to the Raptors, because the Lakers are a burning garbage fire and…DEAR GODS CHARLES BARKLEY!

Chuck dropped the hammer so hard, Chris Hemsworth should tip his hat.

Kawhi Leonard had 25 points for Toronto, the Lakers squandered the chance to capitalize on the Raptors’ gods-awful shooting by turning the ball over 20 times, and just for good measure LA shot 15-of-24 from the line.

Toronto shot 39.6 percent from the field. They still won by 13. Gods save us.

Give it up for the guy who is NOT signing with the Lakers next year:

Lightning Round!

The Orlando Magic, enigmatic as they are, can look like the Knicks on one night and the Warriors on the next.

They beat Cleveland 120-91 to go to 32-38, which keeps them in the playoff hunt (man, the East, huh?)

Aaron Gordon had 21 points, D.J. Augustin added 20, and Nikola Vucevic tossed in 19 plus 11 boards, the Magic got seven guys into double figures for the Total Team Effort, and shooting 14-of-31 from three when your enemy shoots 7-of-31 is a fine way to win a basketball game. 21 is a lot of points to get over an opponent on the same number of shots.

Augustin’s your man of the match because the NBA’s official Twitter said so:

Stick a fork in the Sacramento Kings after they fell in Boston 126-120.

The Celtics, who some nights look like the 3 seed and some nights look like a lottery team, made their play for the Indiana/Philadelphia slugfest becoming more of a battle royale.

Kyrie Irving scored 31 points on 10-of-28, not terribly efficient (35.7 percent) until you consider he had a triple-double with 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

Throw in 21 from Marcus Morris Sr. and 22 off the bench from Jaylen Brown and stir, instant Celtics win.

Surprisingly, that’s only Kyrie’s second career triple-double. I thought he had more:

And finally, Donovan Mitchell poured in 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting, Derrick Favors had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Rudy Gobert added to the double-double train with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 13 rebounds, all in the service of the Utah Jazz thumping the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-100 in a thankfully racist-fan-free arena in Salt Lake.

Well…at least if there were racist fans, they kept their mouths shut, and thank gods for small miracles.

Speaking of.

Mitchell is your man of the match on the court:

Got a feature coming later. Follow @RealFoxD on Twitter to know the moment it goes live.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!