Welcome to the latest edition of “What Happened Last Night?” As expected, it’s mostly about the basketball right now – specifically NBA basketball, since college teams haven’t started conference play yet, leading to rampant cupcake blowout games. There was a bit of college action we’d like to discuss, though, so we’ll get to that later. First, the pros.
Winning streaks all over the place.
The Thunder’s streak, for one. The defending Western Conference champs beat the Hawks last night, 100-92, in Atlanta for their 12th straight win. The biggest reason for that win? Hint: he doubles as the biggest reason the Thunder are now 21-4 on the season, and triples as the biggest reason the team ever developed into a title contender in the first place. That’s right: Kevin Durant. Durant produced one of the best games of what has so far been an MVP-level season last night, with 41 points (18 in the fourth quarter) and 13 rebounds. It’s the 10th time in Durant’s career he’s pulled off a 40/10 double-double. BOLD PREDICTION TIME: he will do that at least one more time before his career is over.
And the other win streak of note belongs to those erstwhile L.A. black sheep, the Clippers, who’ve now won 11 in a row. Last night they defeated the Hornets (who are on quite the losing streak, with nine of those in a row now) 93-77, and, as he is wont to do, Chris Paul led the charge. He only scored 10 points in 28 minutes, but more tellingly, he notched 12 assists… with zero turnovers. If the Clippers keep being this balanced (five players in double figures last night), defending this well (New Orleans shot 39 percent), and Paul keeps playing the point guard position about as well as it can be played, they’ll keep winning. Oh, and playing more teams as bad as the Hornets would help the streak continue, too.
Around the Association…
Alas, just as some squads can do no wrong, others can’t win no matter what they do. Like the Bobcats. The poor, poor Bobcats. Things looked so promising during that 7-5 start… and now, not even a third of the way through the season, that promise is a distant memory, Charlotte having dropped its 13th straight last night, falling 121-104 to the Suns. Granted, it would be hard for anyone to get up for a game the night after blowing one to the Lakers in such heartbreaking fashion, but seriously, the ‘Cats just all need some collective time off, or something. But they only have a night off before their next chance to break the streak… against the 17-9 Warriors. Something has to go right for this team soon. Right?
In other league action, the Nets continued a bit of a downward spiral of their own, falling 100-86 to the Knicks, their eighth loss in 10 games. Paul Pierce played out of his mind (40 points on 13-for-16 shooting) to lead the Celtics over the Bucks, 103-91. In a pair of 20-plus-point blowouts, the Pacers and Rockets topped the Jazz and Sixers, respectively. The Magic won their fourth in a row, heightening my platonic crush on Jacque Vaughn’s coaching ability… but this was against the Wizards, so one can’t get too excited. Finally, the Kings held off the Warriors in a wild one, 131-127 (no OTs), the Grizzlies topped the Bucks 90-80 in a much, much less wild one, and the Raptors continued their mini-surge, topping the Pistons 97-91. Jose Calderon (17 assists) continued to shred defenses.
College basketball upset watch:
Well, the Cornell-over-Duke upset I clamored for yesterday didn’t quite come to pass (Duke crushed the Big Red 88-47), but the Blue Devils’ chief rivals fared much worse – No. 23 UNC dropped one to Texas, 85-67. This isn’t a total shock – after all, the Tar Heels are only No. 23, so they’re not thought of as a truly elite team nationally at the moment – but losing so convincingly to a team outside the top 25 entirely is not a good look for Roy Williams’ squad. They’re still 8-3 on the year, but clearly have plenty to work on if they want to replicate the Elite Eight runs of the last two Heels teams.
So close to that holiday break you can taste it.
Or maybe you’re on it already. And if you are, let me be the first to thank you for still reading this site while you are somewhere other than your office. I mean, if you’re off on vacation in some beautiful locale and still reading this, I might start questioning your judgment a little bit, but I’d still be grateful.
Photos via Getty