Breakfast Special: James Harden “Only” Scores 28

James Harden‘s streak of consecutive 30-point games came to an end in the Rockets’ 119-111 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Houston, and it did so in the most James Harden way possible, as the Beard shot 7-of-21 from the field, 0-of-10 from three, and 14-of-16 from the line.

He also turned the ball over six times, just the most Harden game you can possibly dream up.

Harden did, however, get some support from his teammates for a change, as Chris Paul poured in 20 points on 5-of-10 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line, Eric Gordon had 16 points and a plus-18 off the bench, and Kenneth Faried even made a three-pointer on his way to 13 points and 10 rebounds because Mike D’Antoni could turn Ben Simmons into Klay Thompson if the Sixers traded Simmons to the Rockets.

The Rockets other than Harden did a great job taking care of the ball, so Houston won the turnover battle 17-12. Free throws made more of the difference, as Houston shot 26-of-30 (86.7 percent) compared to 16-of-23 (69.6 percent) for Atlanta.

And, of course, this is a Mike D’Antoni-coached team, so Houston shot 15-of-51 from three-point land and 24-of-39 from two-point range to go with all those free throws, which is how the Rockets have put their season back on track and shot all the way up to fifth in the West at 35-25.

Harden stunk out the joint despite the counting stats, so let’s give the reel to CP3:

LOLakers

LeBron James and company, on paper, are still very much alive to make the playoffs, as their 29-31 record is good for tied for 10th in the Western Conference and they trail the reeling eighth-place Spurs by just three games with 22 to play.

But that’s still a three-game deficit against a team that’s going to be getting back home off the Rodeo Road Trip, and there are two teams (Minnesota and Sacramento) who also have eyes on that final playoff spot if indeed the Spurs collapse completely.

Plus, in just the past three days, the Lakers have lost twice, first at New Orleans and, Monday night, in Memphis by a 110-105 count.

The Grizzlies are 24-38 and going nowhere. The Pellies, who beat LA over the weekend, are 27-35. These are not teams you lose to if you’re making a playoff push.

LeBron had 24 points as part of a triple-double (12 rebounds, 11 assists), but he shot an awful 8-of-23 to get there.

Brandon Ingram had 32 on 12-of-18, but he played defense like he’d never seen a basketball game before.

Meanwhile, on the Memphis side, Mike Conley had 30 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and the Grizz bullied the Lakers on the boards to notch a 57-46 advantage they rode to the close win.

Give it up for Conley:

The Reeling San Antonio Spurs

Seriously, the Spurs need to get back to AT&T Center like now.

San Antonio got smoked by Brooklyn 101-85, in the process demonstrating that when a sniper rifle misfires in a rapid-fire league, you’re good and stuffed.

The Spurs shot 4-of-24 from three as a team. The Nets were 19-of-50.

At some point Scott-Hollins Syndrome, left untreated, is fatal to coaching careers, and we are watching the twilight of Gregg Popovich travel poorly; the Spurs are 1-7 on the Rodeo Road Trip, the lone win a one-point victory in Memphis.

D’Angelo Russell had 23 points for Brooklyn in the win, and all 10 Nets players who saw action notched at least five points even as just three of them hit double figures.

In plain and simple point of fact, Kenny Atkinson outcoached Gregg Popovich, beating him by playing 2019 basketball, where his team shot just 31 two-point attempts. Three is more than two.

Russell is the man of the match, and there’s a fun three-pointer that he took from New Jersey in the clip:

Lightning Round!

What is it with Stephen Curry and having trouble getting going in his hometown of Charlotte?

The Warriors beat the Hornets 121-110, but Steph shot just 5-of-18 from the field and 4-of-14 for three. That is…not good.

But this is the Warriors, and Klay Thompson (26), DeMarcus Cousins (24), and Kevin Durant (20) had Steph’s back in the big win.

Even Draymond Green looked more like himself out there, with 14 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds.

Klay’s hot hand gets him the man of the match honors:

If you have designs on hosting a West playoff series, don’t lose in Cleveland.

Portland has designs on hosting a West playoff series, as they’re the 4 seed. They didn’t lose in Cleveland, as the Trail Blazers beat the Cavaliers 123-110.

CJ McCollum led the Blazer attack with a scorching 35 points on 12-of-18 shooting and 7-of-8 from three. Damian Lillard followed it with 21 points, and that was enough to power the rest of the squad to victory.

It’s your highlight, CJ:

Some nights it doesn’t matter what you do defensively, the other team’s gonna make shots and you’re gonna be left out in the cold.

The Pacers were left out in the cold, losing 113-109 at the Hot N’ Ready in a game that wasn’t as close as the score.

Blake Griffin had a triple-double for the Pistons (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) and Andre Drummond beat up the Pacers’ frontcourt on the boards, grabbing nine of his 16 rebounds on the offensive glass and being his usual self in creating matchup nightmares no matter who the Pacers set to guard him—Drummond just owns Myles Turner, there’s no nice way to say it.

Dwane Casey earned his Raisin Bran as Detroit shot 18-of-41 from three:

The Miami Heat are 15-15 on the road, a team doing what they need to do away from home to make the playoffs.

Unfortunately, they’re a disaster in South Beach, seemingly unable to win on the Vice Court, sitting 11-18 at home and 26-33 overall, and oh by the way they lost to the Suns, who snapped a 17-game losing streak by winning 124-121.

We may be seeing the swan song of Erik Spoelstra in progress.

It was a Total Team Effort for Phoenix, as seven guys scored in double figures, led by Devin Booker‘s 20.

The Suns shot 50.6 percent from the field, 40.6 percent from three, and 84 percent from the line, and we’ve got total team highlights:

The Bucks decided it was Rest Day for Greekazoid, as Giannis Antetokounmpo was inactive in Chicago Monday night.

Milwaukee beat the Bulls by double digits anyway, winning 117-106.

Ersan Ilyasova was Ersatz Giannis, and while he wasn’t nearly as explosive, scoring just ten points, he was plus-25 during his 24 minutes.

It was Khris Middleton who led the way, scoring 22 points, matched by Malcolm Brogdon‘s 22 (and plus-25) to power the win.

And without the Freak, let’s get some props to the rest of the Bucks’ best-in-the-league roster:

The Sacramento Kings are learning just why the Mavericks were so willing to part with Harrison Barnes—Barnes sucks—as he went 0-of-4 from the field, did nothing of value on the basketball court, and wasted his minutes in a game the Kings lost in Minnesota 112-105.

Meanwhile, Sacramento had no answer for Karl-Anthony Towns, as the KAT scored 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting and hauled in 21 rebounds, a one-man wrecking crew, the anti-Barnes, and a genuine superstar on a team that just drew level with the Lakers in the standings.

And here’s two minutes of Towns abusing every defender the Kings put on him.

The New Orleans Pelicans were, in the first half, getting beaten from pillar to post by the Philadelphia 76ers.

They lost by just one point, 111-110, as a furious fourth-quarter comeback fell just short.

For the Sixers, they were without Joel Embiid, but they have HERO OF SERBIA Boban Marjanovic, so that doesn’t matter.

Boban was 6-of-8 for 12 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes, Boban’s buddy Tobias Harris led all scorers with 29, and that got the Sixers the close win.

But…wait…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Your buddy’s got you, Bobi. Harris is the man of the match:

And finally, the Dallas Mavericks are 6-24 on the road, unable to beat anyone.

The Clippers were the “anyone” the Mavs couldn’t beat this time, smacking Dallas 121-112.

Montrezl Harrell had 32 off the bench, Lou Williams had 21, and Danilo Gallinari led the starters with 20, because the Clippers go seven deep on a team that doesn’t have five good starters, and if that made your head hurt, join the club.

I haven’t bothered to go and count, but I swear the Clippers lead the NBA in bench-player man-of-the-match honors, and Trezz gets this one:

Coming later, it’s Pacers Tuesday, and we’re talkin’ ’bout playoffs. Specifically, a bit of late-season forecasting, panic at the March madness on the schedule, and a thorough examination of the three most likely potential playoff opponents in Round 1.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!