Khris Middleton and the Bucks got a huge win, the Raptors snapped a losing streak, the Nets accidentally won, Boogie went crazy, Hassan Whiteside and Seth Curry went down, and Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka are probably looking at a suspension. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Bucks 93, Blazers 90 – Giannis Antetokounmpo played through a tweaked ankle and had 22 points and a fun stat line, despite 8-of-21 shooting, but it was Khris Middleton’s 26 points, three boards, three assists, three steals and three 3-pointers that got it done for the Bucks. He’s been killing it over his last five, has played in all 12 Bucks games in March, and has scored in double figures in all of them. And yes, his arrival and subsequent ballin’ tendencies have slowed the roll of Giannis a bit. Malcolm Brogdon cooled off, but I’m still into him and the Bucks’ bench was disappointing, as usual, although Greg Monroe did manage nine points and nine boards.
Damian Lillard went off with 31 points and a full stat line on 13-of-26 shooting, and C.J. McCollum added 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting in the tough loss. The Blazers are on the outside looking in right now, sitting in the No. 9 spot, 1.0 games behind the Nuggets in the West. Jusuf Nurkic was solid again with 11 points, 14 boards, two steals and two blocks, while Noah Vonleh and Moe Harkless may be the worst starting forward tandem in the league. Allen Crabbe played 31 minutes and scored 11 points, but he’s been shooting it terribly over his last five games. I have a feeling he’s about ready to get hot and break out for a big game soon.
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Raptors 122, Bulls 120 OT – The Raptors held on in overtime to snap an 11-game losing streak against Chicago, led by DeMar DeRozan’s 42 points on a team-record 38 shot attempts. Robin Lopez and Serge Ibaka got into an actual fight and suspensions are likely, even though no punches appeared to land. Both were ejected. DeRozan finished with seven rebounds, eight assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer to go along with his 42 points on 17-of-38 shooting. Cory Joseph was nice with 19 points, but had just two assists, and Ibaka had 16 points, six boards and two 3-pointers before going to the locker room. DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas were both disappointing with eight points, which has become too commonplace this season. And the Raptors’ bench was quiet.
The Bulls got a monster line from Jimmy Butler (37 points, 10 boards, 6 dimes, a steal, 2 blocks and three 3-pointers on 11-of-21 shooting) and Rajon Rondo had a season-high 24 points, five boards, eight assists, four steals and four 3-pointers on 9-of-16 shooting. Welcome back, Rondo. Paul Zipser started in place of Dwyane Wade (elbow) and played a career-high 41 minutes, finishing with 12 points, five boards, four assists, a steal and two blocks. Zips got my attention, but I need to see how many minutes he gets in the next one before getting too excited, especially since Ro-Lo was ejected and Cristiano Felicio left after a hard fall. But with Ro-Lo all but suspended for tonight’s game against the Pistons, we should get all the Jimmy, Rondo and Zipser we can handle again. Nikola Mirotic played 26 minutes in a start but scored just eight points, while Bobby Portis had nine points in 21 minutes. Is any player as frustrating to try to figure out as Mirotic? I’m about to give up. Felicio could get the start for Lopez tonight, but as I mentioned, he had a hard fall and played just 16 minutes last night. Denzel Valentine played a whopping 35 minutes, but hit just 1-of-7 shots for four points in the loss. Valentine’s minutes should stick with Wade out for the season, so don’t be surprised if he has at least one big game in his next few. The Bulls are 2.0 games behind the Heat for the No. 8 seed, while the Pistons are 1.0 game in front of them. Tonight’s Pistons’ game in Chicago should be a war and I’m buying Valentine.
Nets 98, Pistons 96 – The Nets accidentally won on a Brook Lopez buzzer-beater, but still sit comfortably in last place with just 14 wins. Bro-Lo went off for 29 points, seven boards and three more 3-pointers, while Caris LeVert added 15 points and three 3-pointers in the win. Spencer Dinwiddie started at point guard again and had 10 points, eight boards, four assists and two blocks, while Jeremy Lin sat out with an ankle injury. Isaiah Whitehead played 28 minutes off the bench and had seven points, four boards and two assists on 2-of-9 shooting, but should continue to get minutes with both Lin and Sean Kilpatrick (groin) hurting. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was quiet with just four points and four boards, and his lack of scoring is a pain. Aaron Goodwin, Quincy Acy and K.J. McDaniels all contributed off the bench, while Trevor Booker played just 14 minutes. You can rely on Bro-Lo, assuming he’s not shut down at some point, and maybe Dinwiddie, LeVert and RHJ, but that’s about it.
The Pistons got solid efforts from Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, while Reggie Jackson took a backseat to Ish Smith. Jax had seven points and two assists in 20 minutes, while Ish got hot off the bench and scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Smith played 28 minutes and added seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. Jackson is still the starter and the guy to own, and had played well in his previous two games. But the Pistons need to win every game from here on out, so if Smith is hot and Jax is struggling, Stan Van Gundy will go with the hot hand. Jon Leuer was a bust and I don’t trust him off the bench. As for Ish Smith, just keep an eye on him, as usual. The Pistons are one game behind the Heat and one game in front of the Bulls, which should make tonight’s game at Chicago a blast to watch.