Exiting the All-Star break, the Toronto Raptors found themselves in a rare position: sitting at the head of their divisions. A Tuesday night win over Washington definitely aided the Raptors’ cause to ride the fourth-best defense in basketball towards a fun playoff run.
For at least a night, Chicago had other plans. The Bulls, riding Carlos Boozer’s 20, Joakim Noah’s 13 assists and some timely Jimmy Butler defense, dropped the Raptors 94-92. The win marks Chicago’s fourth straight in the W column, the game itself a showcase for some of the best teams that the Eastern conference has to offer.
As exciting as an Oklahoma City/Golden State shootout? Hardly. But don’t be surprised when we’re treated some gritty, rough-and-tumble six or seven-game playoff series.
— Nice shot buzzer beater, Trevor Ariza. If you were a fan (instead of a pro), you’d definitely win a new car, $10,000 or have LeBron tackle you in celebration.
— Look at Charlotte! The Bobcats continue to win, dropping Detroit 116-98. Their record is 25-30, good enough for eighth in the Eastern Conference with one and a half games separating them from the fifth seed. If only some distinguished, handsome writer had given them props over the summer. If only…
— Look away, Lakers fans. Dwight Howard had a solid 20-13 stat line, and James Harden added 29 as the Rockets added another embarrassing L to the Lakers’ season, 134-108. That sound you heard was a Chris Paul jersey getting exchanged for a Kobe, at some hypothetical jersey exchange spot.
— Six straight for Cleveland. Kyrie did his thing in dropping 22 points and seven assists, but he wasn’t alone. Every Cleveland starter chipped in with double-digit points, and the Magic fell, 101-93. It should be noted that the Cavs have been eating some cupcakes during their winning streak, but their next three games – at Toronto, hosting Washington and hosting Toronto – should serve as a good litmus test.
The playoffs are still in reach (they’re only three spots out of eighth, because Eastern Conference), despite the team’s inherently streaky nature.
— Kevin Love had a hell of a night, dropping 42 points, 15 rebounds and knocked down five three-pointers were made, his second game posting a stat line so heavy. In fact, there have only been three games in history with those numbers…and Love owns two of them. His numbers were a big reason why the ever-in-limbo Timberwolves dropped the Pacers, 104-91.
The result probably isn’t indicative of anything; the Pacers will bounce back, and the Wolves won’t make the playoffs. Love can definitely get his buckets, though. The performance marked eight straight games with 25-10.
— Melo went off, too. His forty-two points led the way to a 98-91 victory for New York over the Pelicans. Looking at the box score is kind of funny, the disparity so great: no other starter added more than six. Thank God for J.R. Smith! Those 19 points were much needed.