Upset mania was in full swing in the NBA Monday night, as the Phoenix Suns beat the Milwaukee Bucks, the New Orleans Pelicans went on the road and smacked the Utah Jazz, and the San Antonio Spurs showed the Denver Nuggets that there will be no easy outs in the playoffs (which seems to always be the case in the West, doesn’t it?)
And we’ll get to all of those games. But regular readers of Pace and Space know that I can’t resist an opportunity to crack open a bottle of Haterade, and you know what that means…
The Lakers lost at home—such as it is when you share the building with your opponent, but the court was marked in Lakers colors and the fans were Lakers season ticket holders—to the Clippers, 113-105.
Patrick Beverley said that the Clippers are the best team in Los Angeles, and considering the Clips are 37-29 and in seventh place while the Lakers are 30-35, 5.5 games behind the 8 seed, and have about as much chance to make the playoffs as I have of Kat Dennings showing up at my front door topless and begging for a weekend of fun, Beverley is right.
LeBron James had 27 points, Rajon Rondo had a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists, but Kyle Kuzma got injured, the rest of the Lakers played badly enough that the team finished at just 41.9 percent shooting despite LeBron and Rondo combining to shoot 19-of-36, and that was enough.
Danilo Gallinari had 23 points to lead the Clippers, Lou Williams added 21 off the bench, Beverley had 13 points, nine rebounds, and five steals, and the Clippers hit 49.4 percent of their shots to grab the win.
Big Ballmer Brand brought the team highlights:
You want highlights? We got highlights.
📼 LAC 113 – LAL 105 pic.twitter.com/2mP5jwHyjY
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 5, 2019
What Just Happened In Phoenix?
The Milwaukee Bucks just finished up a 3-2 road trip in the worst possible way, losing an embarrassing 114-105 ballgame to the lowly Phoenix Suns and helping the Knicks in their quest to get Zion Williamson.
Kelly Oubre Jr. had 27 points and 13 rebounds, Deandre Ayton had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Devin Booker added 22 points, and even though the Bucks posted a Total Team Effort with seven guys in double figures, it wasn’t good enough.
Some days, you just die by the sword, and the Bucks’ 36.8 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent from three was one of those shooting nights where you can’t win with a lid on the basket.
Shockingly, the Suns won both games against Milwaukee—the worst team in the league swept the season series against the best team.
Nothing in this world makes sense, so here’s some Oubre highlights:
— NBA (@NBA) March 5, 2019
The Spurs Will Not Die
Getting just one win off the Rodeo Road Trip put San Antonio behind the 8-ball…but coming home and getting a couple of wins in the side pocket solidifies their playoff aspirations; the Spurs are now three games up on the Kings for the 8 seed in the West.
DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 46 points on 20-of-36 shooting, the Spurs shot 48.2 percent as a team and turned the ball over nine times, and the Spurs either got a huge amount of help from the referees or did a great job forcing Denver to settle for jump shots; the Nuggets were 4-of-4 from the free throw line for the entire game.
San Antonio did, however, make a meal of this one; they led by 16 after three quarters, by 18 with seven minutes left, and by as many as 21 in the second quarter.
Denver’s furious charge just ran out of steam; they were down 104-103 with 49 seconds left and ended up with four missed shots and a turnover, ensuring that 104-103 would stand as the final score.
San Antonio never trailed, the basket just plain sealed as if by divine will at the end of the game.
Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 2002 for the men of the match:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 5, 2019
The Pelicans are in that odd position of having nothing to give Anthony Davis but just enough minutes to keep the team from getting fined.
And yet they beat the mighty Jazz in Utah 115-112.
Julius Randle and Jrue Holiday had 30 points each, and if the Pellies are to make something of the remnants of their roster after they trade Davis, those two guys could play a leading role in creating something new. Maybe go with a Clippers/Pacers strategy of trading star power for team cohesion?
That’s three in a row. And for Mardi Gras, how about flashing some…highlights:
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 5, 2019
The Nets walloped the Mavericks in Brooklyn 127-88, and Luka Doncic, who has been losing a bit of steam in the Rookie of the Year discussion to Trae Young (more on Young in a minute), shot 6-of-18 and posted a frightening minus-31 plus/minus on the court in 29 minutes.
Brooklyn finds itself on the wrong side of the Pistons in the East standings as they try to retake the 6 seed, and getting 22 points and an equally insane plus-33 out of DeMarre Carroll helped on that front.
And speaking of insane plus-minus numbers, Allen Crabbe led them all with plus-39.
Dallas is 6-25 away from home. Gene Hackman needs to get out a tape measure and make sure the rims are still 10 feet off the ground.
Franchise-record winning margins deserve total highlights:
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 5, 2019
Dwyane Wade set kind of an odd record in Miami’s 114-113 win over Atlanta.
He passed Michael Jordan…for most blocks all-time by a guard.
Guards don’t get many shotblocking opportunities, so the ability to get position, rise up, and swat a shot without committing a foul is a heck of a neat-o stat for the Hall of Fame to put on Wade’s plaque in a few years.
Trae Young had eight turnovers in this one, the inevitable letdown game after a scorching-hot stretch following All-Star week coming in brutal fashion. Side-by-side, his numbers aren’t anywhere near Doncic’s, and when voters look at the overall season stats, the Rookie of the Year race isn’t going to be as close as Twitter would have you believe.
Wade led the Heat with 23 off the bench on 10-of-17 shooting, and he’s your man of the match:
Dwyane Wade put on a show in his final career game vs Atlanta.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 5, 2019
And finally, the Kings stayed in shouting range of the top eight in the West, beating the Knicks 115-108 at home.
Buddy Hield had 28 points, Harrison Barnes scored 22 on an efficient 7-of-13 shooting, and Sacramento went buck wild from the free throw line (26-of-33 against 18-of-28 for New York) to take eight extra points in a game they won by seven.
The moral of the story is you gotta make your free throws.
Get on the Buddy system for the man of the match:
— NBA (@NBA) March 5, 2019
Pacers Tuesday later—and brace yourselves, I’m going to (gasp!) say nice things about Nate. Talk about Luka and Trae after that. Other stuff on Wednesday that you’ll like and I’ll talk about in more detail at breakfast tomorrow. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!