Good morning, folks. It’s crazy what good teammates can do for a star player, isn’t it? Let’s talk NBA Bubble.
Booker and the Suns move to 4-0
The Phoenix Suns used the unofficial offseason to its advantage and look like a whole different team down in Orlando as a result. With everyone–excluding wing Kelly Oubre Jr.–finally feeling healthy, Devin Booker has been able to showcase to the rest of the basketball world what Kentucky fans already knew: he’s a future superstar. The one-time Wildcat dropped a 20-point, 10-assist outing, taking over down the stretch with excellent shot-creating and even better decision-making. Book’s scoring abilities have never been in doubt, but it’s his ability to run the offense alongside point guard Ricky Rubio that makes him such a threat with the ball in his hands.
With a healthy supporting cast surrounding him, one that can actually complement his strengths, Booker has come out hungry and eager to make his first playoff appearance. Thanks to a 114-99 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday (who came into the game with a 3-0 record in the Bubble), the Suns remain undefeated in the Bubble and continue to soar through the standings. They now trail the 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies by just two games and the 9-seeded Portland Trail Blazers by a game and a half.
Late in the third quarter, the Suns were trailing 75-71 before rattling off an impressive 14-0 run to close the period. Booker was on the bench with five fouls but came back in the game with eight minutes left and executed the gameplan to perfection. Scoring the ball and making plays is one thing, but to do it where every game is a must-win and playing with five fouls is what breeds excellence in this league. The 23-year old Booker is well on his way.
Fox gets the best of Lonzo (again)
Well, well, well, is anyone surprised?
As is tradition whenever De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball go head-to-head, the former came away with the better stat line and, more importantly, the win. The Sacramento Kings earned its first win inside the Bubble with a 140-125 victory over Ball and the New Orleans Pelicans. Fox led the BBNBA in scoring with an outstanding 30-point showing where he shot 12-21 from the floor to go along with three boards and 10 dimes for his ninth double-double of the season and his first of the restart.
Sacramento has now pulled themselves into a tie with the Pellies, sitting 2.5 games back of the Grizzlies for the 9-seed and two games back of the 8-seeded Blazers. With only four games remaining for the Western Conferences bottom six teams, the Kings are in a tough spot and might have to win out to have a chance at forcing a play-in round. The good news is that both teams have the opportunity for an easy win; New Orleans will take on the Wizards next while the Kings face the Nets.
Heat blow 20-point lead to Bucks
This one has to sting for the Miami Heat, who were at one point controlling the Milwaukee Bucks with a 23-point first-half lead. Without Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, the Heat poured in 73 first-half points and led by 17 at the intermission. However, not even seven minutes into the third quarter, Milwaukee stole the lead and ultimately won by a final score of 130-116. The Bucks clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference with the win.
Eric Bledsoe played in just his second game back for the Bucks after his arrival to the Bubble was delayed by a positive coronavirus test. The Milwaukee point guard took the court for 23 minutes, stuffing the box sheet with nine points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He played just 18 minutes during his initial return this past Tuesday.
For Miami, Bam Adebayo struggled on the offensive end, shooting an uncharacteristic 2-10 from the floor. He finished the night with six points, five rebounds, and six assists while turning the ball over four times (he did make just his second triple of the season, however). Fellow Heat teammate Tyler Herro picked up some of the scoring slack, dropping 20 points to go along with four rebounds and five assists, but five more individual turnovers came back to bit him and the team. Miami turned the ball over 19 total times and shot just 42 percent from the floor (Milwaukee turned the ball over 14 times and shot over 52 percent).
No LeBron means another loss for Anthony Davis and the Lakers
I wouldn’t take these Los Angeles Lakers games too seriously right now. After LeBron James sat out Thursday’s 113-97 loss to the Houston Rockets, it’s clear that L.A. is doing more experimenting with lineups and resting key players than actively trying to win games. They’ve already secured the top spot in the West with just three seeding games left to go. So while Anthony Davis hasn’t looked like himself the last few games, it’s nothing I’d worry about–yet, at least.
Davis still registered 17 points, 12 rebounds, and three assists, but turned the ball over a season-high seven times. It was also one of a handful of games this season where he played fewer than 30 minutes. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was sprinkling minutes all throughout his bench: Quin Cook played 29 minutes, Dion Waiters 24 minutes, Talen Horton-Tucker played 19, JR Smith played 12, and Jared Dudley was in for 11 minutes. That won’t be the case in a week or two.
As someone who suffered through several painful–yet rewarding–years watching LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers waltz through regular-season games with “broken” offenses, I’ve learned to never put any stock into these type of games. Both he and Davis can–and will–activate the playoff switch once it begins. And when they do, you’re going to see an entirely different Lakers squad than the one that is now 2-3 in the Bubble.
Other notes from the Bubble
- Jamal Murray was out once again for the Denver Nuggets, who fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 125-115. The starting point guard has now sat out all four of the Nuggets seeding games with a sore hamstring.
|De'Aaron Fox (SAC)||140-125 W vs. NOP||30||12-21 (1-4)||3||10||3||1||3||+16||37|
|Tyler Herro (MIA)||116-130 L @ MIL||20||6-12 (1-5)||4||5||1||0||5||+9||33|
|Devin Booker (PHX)||114-99 W vs. IND||20||6-12 (1-5)||3||10||0||0||3||+12||29|
|Anthony Davis (LAL)||97-113 L @ HOU||17||5-8 (0-0)||12||3||0||1||7||-9||29|
|Eric Bledsoe (MIL)||130-116 W vs. MIA||9||3-8 (2-3)||8||5||2||0||1||+12||23|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||116-130 L @ MIL||6||2-10 (1-1)||5||6||1||0||4||-21||21|
|Patrick Patterson (LAC)||126-111 W @ DAL||6||2-4 (2-3)||1||0||0||0||0||-8||15|
|Wenyen Gabriel (POR)||125-115 W @ DEN||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (DAL)||111-126 L vs. LAC||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||115-125 L vs. POR||DNP-Hamstring||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Rajon Rondo (LAL)||97-113 L @ HOU||DNP-Thumb||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TODAY IN THE BUBBLE
1:00: Jazz @ Spurs (Johnson)
4:00 (NBA TV): Thunder (Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander, Noel) @ Grizzlies
5:00: Kings (Fox) @ Nets
6:30 (TNT): Magic @ 76ers
8:00: Wizards @ Pelicans
9:00 (TNT): Celtics (Kanter) @ Raptors