The NBA was back in full swing last night, a full slate of games on tap. Some were interesting. Some weren’t. If you didn’t see it all go down, here’s what you missed:
The Lakers beat the Celtics after honoring late owner Dr. Jerry Buss.
The passing of longtime Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss has been the somber talk of the NBA of late, and the Los Angeles Lakers fittingly played the Boston Celtics in their first home game since the news broke. Kobe Bryant gave a pregame speech at the Staples Center, and Magic Johnson, who was in the studio for ESPN, teared up as he remembered his former owner in the moments following. As a tribute, the Staples Center left Buss’ customary box open, shining a light on his seat throughout the game.
Still, the game had to be played. And after getting blown out by the Celtics in their first meeting of the season, Los Angeles responded in a big way with a 113-99 victory. Dwight Howard actually looked like Dwight Howard, scoring 24 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, Kobe Bryant added 16 points and seven assists and seven Lakers’ players scored in double figures.
James Harden scored 46 in a win over OKC.
The Houston Rockets’ offensive machine might be streaky, but when it’s on, it’s on. James Harden in particular scored 46 points against his former team and Jeremy Lin had 29, including a late three to put Houston up six and all but secure a 122-119 victory. Russell Westbrook’s 28 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists weren’t quite enough, and Kevin Durant only scored 16 points on 4-13 shooting; Thabo Sefolosha, in part, made up for that with 28 points of his own.
Houston is still clinging to the Western Conference’s 8th seed, and Oklahoma City is 3.5 games back of conference-leading San Antonio. But the win was particularly cathartic for Harden, who had his world blown up before the season when the Thunder sent him packing to the Rockets. Though he’s exploded in a big way, it has to be weird facing his former teammates and friends like that.
The New York Knicks, well, who knows.
At the end of the third quarter, the Indiana Pacers led 102-66. J.R. Smith got ejected. The Knicks couldn’t put the ball in an offense, and gave up dunk after dunk on defense. The game mercifully ended at 125-91, but was already at a 30-point margin in the second quarter. The Knicks shot 33.7% from the field, including 5-28 from deep, while the Pacers poured it, shooting at a clip of 53.2% and 11-24 from beyond the arc. For a team that was already skidding heading into the All-Star break, it looks like there’s still some regrouping to do.