NBA Round-Up: 4/3/21

By Joe Torosian —

New York No Match For Dallas. Mavs take “The Derek Harper Tropy.”

(April 2)
Dallas at New York: Mavericks win—99-86
(The Derek Harper Trophy)
In the middle of the Mavs’ (26-21) easy victory over the Knicks (24-25), one thing became apparent—New York forward Julius Randle is not Bernard King.

I grew up watching Bernard King. I saw Bernard King, Mr. Randle, you may wear number 30, but you are no Bernard King. The Knicks are barely an NBA team. The NBA is barely an NBA league.

Dallas’ Luka Dončić led all scorers with 26-points, but the guy needing rescue off the Dallas roster is backup point guard Jalen Brunson. The lefty’s line was 15/7/5 off the bench.

New York remains tied with Boston in the Eastern Conference’s seventh spot—ten games behind Brooklyn.

The Mavericks are 10.5 back of the Utah Jazz in seventh in the Western Conference.

NBA Games Seen 95:
Trail Blazers:6

Philadelphia at Lakers: 76ers win—109-101
(The Steve Mix Trophy)
The 76ers (32-13) took control of this game in the third quarter but couldn’t put the Lakers (28-17) away until (former Laker) Danny Green connected on a trey with less than a minute to play to give Philly a 107-101 advantage.

Green led all scorers with 28-points and got help from teammates Seth Curry (19-pts) and Tobias Harris (17-pts). The struggling team from Los Angles had three players score over 20 points. Kyle Kuzma scored 25, while Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell added 20 apiece.

The 76ers continue to have the best record in the East and lead Milwaukee and New Jersey by 2-games. They’ve also won nine of their last ten, mostly without starting center Joel Embid.

For the Lakers, this was their fourth consecutive loss. They’re now in fourth place in the Western Conference, 5-games off the pace.

Note: Both Green and Dwight Howard received their championship rings before the game. Officials threw Howard out of the contest for taunting Harrell at the end of the first quarter.


Boston at Milwaukee: Bucks win—121-119
(The Don Nelson Trophy)
Boston’s Daniel Theis missed an open three at the buzzer to preserve Milwaukee’s victory. The Bucks (29-14) led by as much as 25 in the third quarter before the Celtics (21-23) rallied.

Khris Middleton led all scorers with 27-points, plus 13-rebounds and 4-assists.

Boston has too much talent not to be good, and they’re not good. They couldn’t even steal a game that Milwaukee left wide open for them to take. Gasp (for some to think), the Celtics need to blow the whole thing up or fire HC Brad Stevens.

The Bucks flirt with greatness, but they will never be great. There’s a lot to like but nothing to believe in.

Note: Boston attempted 94-shots, 47 of them from beyond the arc where they connected on 40%. Nice, but they only shot ten free throws—making them all. Maybe the analytics people should consider the value of driving to the basket a little more often and getting to the foul line. Then, possibly, they could’ve averted a 2-point loss.


Clippers at Dallas: Mavericks win—105-89
(The Kurt Nimphius Trophy)
It’s easy to sum this game up. The Clippers (26-16) didn’t show up to play. The Mavs’ (21-18) Luka Dončić did.

LA shot 42% from the field, 28% from beyond the arc, and 54% from the foul-line, and Dallas had control for much of the night.

Luka Dončić led all scorers with 42 points to go with 9-assists and 6-rebounds. Paul George led the lethargic Clippers with 28.

In fourth in the Western Conference, LA now trails Utah by 4.5 games and is only a game up on the streaking Denver Nuggets (24-16, winners of 8 of 10). The Mavericks hold the conference’s eighth spot.


Utah at Boston: Jazz win—117-109
(The Sidney Wicks Trophy)
The Jazz (29-10) used a 40-point fourth quarter and the foul line to take down the Celtics (20-19) in Boston.

Utah, coming off its poor performance against Golden State, hit on 22 of 24 free-throws. While the Celtics, combining poor shooting and standard NBA sloppy play, went to the line only four times—converting three.

(Maybe a few too many three-pointers?)

Jayson Tatum, 29, and Jaylen Brown, 28, led Boston, now 7.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers. They are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Utah put six players in double figures, Donovan Mitchell leading the way with 21. The Jazz continue to lead the Western Conference with the best record in the NBA. They are up 2.5 games on both the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers.


Golden State at Clippers: Clippers win—130-104
(The World B. Free Trophy)
The Clippers (25-14) led 59-43 at halftime, built the lead to 39 late in the third, and led 104-68 to start the fourth to cruise past the Warriors (19-19).

LA’s Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 28-points, and Serge Ibaka added 16 along with 14-rebounds. Golden State put no one over twenty-points and was outmatched inside from the start.

Warrior’s rookie center James Wiseman failed to take his mandatory COVID test over the weekend and was benched until the start of the fourth quarter by HC Steve Kerr.

The Clippers finished the game without Patrick Beverly, who left early with a knee injury.

The victory snapped the LA’s three-game losing streak and tied them with the Lakers for third (3.5 back of Utah) in the Western Conference. For Golden State, the loss was its fourth in a row. They are currently tenth in the West and in the conference’s final playoff spot.

Boston at Brooklyn: Nets win—121-109
(The Nate Archibald Trophy)
The Nets (25-13) went on a 13-2 run to end the contest and take the victory. Kyrie Irving scored 40-points, and Landry Shamet (former Clipper, former Sixer) scored 21 off the bench with 7-three pointers. James Harden finished with 22-points and 10-assists.

The Celtics (19-18) had their 4-game winning streak snapped and looked like a team without mental toughness again. Extremely talented, but Boston is softer than their Mama’s love. Jayson Tatum scored 31, and Marcus Smart added 19 in his first game back from injury.

The question that lingers for Brooklyn is Kevin Durant. If he’s hurt (hamstring), he’s hurt. If they’re playing it safe, then they’re playing it safe…But whatever the truth, will Durant and the team be able to turn it on when the playoffs start?

The Nets are a fun team to watch…and, unless something changes, a team that will lose to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals.


San Antonio at Dallas: Mavericks win—115-104
(The Avery Johnson Trophy)
The Spurs (18-16) put six players in double-figures, and DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 30, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the team’s 18-point fourth quarter that led to the loss.

The Mavericks (19-16) led by a point after three quarters and used a 12-2 run early in the final stanza to take control. Luka Dončić racked a triple-double (22/12/12), and Kristnaps Porzingis got fat after the contest was decided to finish with 28.

San Antonio, obviously, continues to play a refined version of the game that has allowed it to stay above .500 and remain relevant. Still, they’re going nowhere with their zero payroll. And neither, really, is Dallas with its higher payroll and Euro poster-child, Dončić.

Dončić is good, but with little help, Dallas fans should be delighted with—maybe—a first-round series win. But neither should they be surprised by an early exit from a “play-in” game.


Miami at New Orleans: Heat wins—103-93
(The James Posey Trophy)
In the last contest played before the All-Star break, it was interesting that New Orleans was without Zion Williamson and Miami without Bam Adebayo.

(J.J. Reddick also sat, but…whatever.)

The Pelicans (15-21) clearly missed Williamson and fell behind by 16 early. In the fourth, they rallied and pulled to within a bucket, 87-85. The Heat (18-18) then went on an 11-2 run, ten by Jimmy Butler, to secure the victory.

Butler (“Jimmy Buckets”) led all scorers with 29-points, including 9-assists. New Orleans put six players in double-figures, Brandon Ingram leading with 17.

Ingram, again, proved he’s a nice compliment but not a game changer…and he still isn’t George Gervin.


Golden State at Portland: Trail Blazers win—108-106
(The Jim Barnett Trophy)
It’s always refreshing to turn on an NBA game and see the franchises in their traditional colors. Wednesday night, I half-expected Portland to come out in purple and gold.

Damian Lillard’s step-back three with 13.7 to play put the Trail Blazer’s (20-14) up 108-106. The Warriors’ (19-17) Draymond Green was called for charging on the next possession, and the game went to Portland.

In a night where both offenses struggled, the contest was tied at 84 with 11—minutes left and again at 103 with 2:05 remaining.

Golden State’s Steph Curry led all scorers with 35-points. Portland was led by Carmelo Anthony’s efficient (8-of-13) 22 and Lillard’s not so efficient 22. The Trail Blazer’s shootist was 6-of-17 from the floor and only 3-of-10 beyond the arc.


Clippers at Boston: Celtics win—117-112
(The Cornbread Maxwell Trophy)
This game was neck-&-neck until the Celtics (18-17) made plays the Clippers (24-13) didn’t down the stretch. The victory was Boston’s third in a row.

LA’s Paul George led all scorers with 32-points, 21 in the first half, but late took a pair of contested threes he didn’t have to and missed them. The Clippers, playing without Kawhi Leonard (back spasms?), got 25 from Reggie Jackson. Easily Jackson’s best game in two years with the team.

Kemba Walker, looking at times like UConn-Kemba, led Boston with 25. Jaylen Brown scored 18, and Jayson Tatum 14. Tatum is the most talented of this trio but tends to wither and vanish at crucial times. In this case, he looks like a better version of the Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram.


Utah at New Orleans: Pelicans win—129-124
(The Kelly Tripucka Trophy)
The Pelicans (15-19) turned a 5-point halftime lead into a 15-point lead in the third and a 17-point lead with ten minutes to play on Monday night. The Jazz (27-8) rallied and pulled to within a point, 124-123, with 46-seconds to play. Donovan Mitchell’s lay-up rolled off the rim. Rudy Gobert’s tap back missed, and then Utah was called for going over Zion Williamson’s back.

Williamson made the ensuing free-throws, and New Orleans was able to close out the game.

The Jazz got 26-points each from Williamson (10-boards) and Brandon Ingram. Lonzo Ball added 23, and J.J. Redick, Eric Bledsoe, and Josh Hart were all in double-figures.

The Jazz were led by Bojan Bogdanović’s 31-points, including 7-threes. Gobert scored 22, Mitchell (rough shooting night), 21, and Jordan Clarkson, 20.

During the game, the announcing crew (Spiro Dedas, Grant Hill, Channing Frye)
made the following statements:

“Brandon Ingram’s game reminds me a lot of George Gervin.”

“That’s a pure stroke.”—Regarding Lonzo Ball’s outside shot.


Clippers at Milwaukee: Bucks win—105-100
(The Marques Johnson Trophy)
The Bucks (21-13) built a 70-60 midway through the third quarter and then saw the Clippers (24-12) run off 13 unanswered points. LA led 81-77, heading into the fourth.

In the final stanza, the Milwaukee defense cracked down, the Clippers’ offense went cold, and Giannis (his last name is too long to spell) closed out like an All-Star. The two-time MVP scored a game-high 36-points to go with 14-rebounds, 5-assists, and 4-blocks. All-Star game snub Khris Middleton finished with a 19/6/8 stat line.

Kawhi Leonard led LA with 25-points. Paul George had 16, and Serge Ibaka delivered 11-points and 11-boards.

The win was the fifth in a row for the Bucks as they remain third in the Eastern Conference, a game behind first-place Philadelphia 76ers. The Clippers, currently in third, stay in a three-way logjam with the Lakers and Phoenix Suns behind the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz.

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