What Happened Last Night: The Heat Romped, And Apparently The Thunder Can Lose
It feels weird – a Friday morning with no NFL game from the previous night to discuss. Of course, given last Thursday’s game, maybe that’s a good thing. Still, Thursday night NFL became the new normal real quick. But we press on, buoyed by the presence of two marquee teams in last night’s NBA action… and the onset of bowl season. So without further ado, the latest edition of What Happened Last Night…
Even the Thunder can’t win ‘em all.
Remember yesterday, when I made a big deal about the Thunder’s big winning streak, going as far as to say they “couldn’t lose” in the headline? Well, you knew I was just speaking figuratively, right? Because as invincible as OKC might have looked yesterday morning, last night was a different story – the Thunder fell 99-93 to the T-Wolves, ending their 12-game unbeaten run.
Of course, the Thunder were going to lose eventually, and playing on the road against a solid Minnesota team on the second night of a back-to-back without Kevin Martin seems as logical a time as any to drop one. Still, this was an impressive win for the Wolves. Kevin Love’s shooting touch, so inconsistent since his return from a broken hand, was relatively on point (he shot 9-for-20, including 4-for-9 from three, and finished with 28 points). Nikola Pekovic had a fine game himself, with 24 points and 10 boards, and J.J. Barea had 18 off the bench. If the team’s injury woes ever let up enough for them to fire on even close to all cylinders (we’re talking Love, Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy etc. all able to play at once)… this could be a good team.
Around the Association…
When you think “Heat-Mavericks,” you probably still think of the 2011 NBA Finals. Last night’s game between those same teams was… not quite like that. Sure, that owed largely to the absence of Dirk Nowitzki (though good news: he’s practicing again), but it also owed to the Heat’s growth since then: honestly, even if Dirk had played and been at full strength last night, the Heat probably would have come away with a win.
And without Dirk there? The Heat rolled, crushing the Mavs 91-61 through three quarters and then coasting to a 110-95 win as they rested LeBron and Wade in the fourth quarter. The Heat got strong performances from every member of the Big Three: LeBron, Wade, and Bosh combined for 60 points, 21 rebounds, and 15 assists on combined 24-for-40 shooting in just 92 combined minutes. The Heat haven’t always looked so great this year, but last night served as a reminder that they can still blow teams (and again, in fairness, these Mavs still aren’t at full strength) out of the building.
And in last night’s other NBA action, the Trail Blazers topped the Nuggets 101-93 despite an off night from Damian Lillard (12 points on 3-for-14 shooting). Really, though, it wasn’t a great shooting night in general – both teams shot below 40 percent, the Nuggets tossed up a goose egg on threes, failing to make even one in 22 attempts – so Nicolas Batum’s 5-for-9 performance from long range loomed especially large. Whether it’s a 5×5 stat line or shooting the lights out, that guy’s always doing something interesting.
San Diego? Beautiful. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl? Ugly.
Eight combined turnovers. One combined offensive touchdown. a 6-3 score heading into the fourth quarter. It was almost like San Diego State and BYU got together and hatched a plan to make the maximum number of viewers change the channel, or become so disenchanted that they turn off the TV altogether.
And then, BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy (a third-team All-American) went to work. If the offense wasn’t going to score, then by God, Van Noy decided he’d have to do it himself, reaching the end zone on turnovers twice in the fourth quarter – first on a fumble recovery (on a fumble he himself forced), then an interception – and powering the Cougars to a 23-6 win. It led to one of the most impressive final stat lines you’ll see for a defensive player: eight tackles (five solo), 1.5 sacks, 3.5 total tackles for a loss, forced fumble, fumble recovery, interception, two touchdowns. Oh, and a blocked punt. Hey, you’ll never guess who the game’s defensive MVP was!
And given that we’ll surely be on some kind of abbreviated holiday schedule when we return, “What Happened Last Night” recaps might be taking a bit of time off. Please do try to get by without me. Happy holidays.
Photos via Getty