The last time Tyrese Maxey played point guard because the starter was out, he was in Gainesville, in a Kentucky jersey, overcoming an 18-point comeback to beat Florida.
Yesterday, as Kentucky won at Florida by 18, Maxey started in place of several Sixers who were out and absolutely LIT. IT. UP. Let’s talk Maxey and a productive day for Cats in the NBA.
Tyrese Maxey leads the Band of Misfit Sixers
Tyrese Maxey endeared Kentucky fans with his monster performances on the big stage; notably in the season-opener against preseason No. 1 Michigan State (26 points and the game-sealing three) and vs. rival Louisville (27 points & 7 rebounds). Saturday, Philadelphia was down almost all of their major contributors, leaving Maxey, Dwight Howard, Danny Green, and a host of G-leaguers to put up a fight against Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets.
The 76ers couldn’t overcome their roster limitations and were down the entire game, losing by a final score of 115-103. But despite the loss, Tyrese Maxey had the opportunity to break out in lieu of the regular starters. And boy did he. Maxey was the engine of the Philly offense, handling point guard duties while taking 15 more shots than any other Sixer. Of his 33 attempts from the floor, Maxey converted an efficient 18 of them, good for 54.5% from the floor, including 3-8 from behind the arc — racking up a total of 39 points. Thirty-nine! Easily a career-high since high school.
While Maxey never got quite that hot in a Kentucky uniform, he showcased on Saturday tough shot-making, his array of floaters and a nose for getting to the rim that made him a scary third guard at UK. Could he be next in the line of former Wildcats — Devin Booker, Jamal Murray and Tyler Herro — to emerge as a high-level scorer at the shooting guard position? Seems like it.
On the other side, Jamal Murray had a fairly quiet night for his standards, scoring just 14 points on 6-11 shooting while adding four assists in his team’s breezy victory.
Karl-Anthony Towns is BACK!
If you have access to The Athletic, I’d highly recommend checking out this article by Jon Krawczynski (not of The Office), who detailed the tough situation regarding Towns’ return from injury.
Karl suffered a wrist injury two games into the season and had missed Minnesota’s last six games, four of which saw the T-Wolves trail by 30 points or more. Originally, professionals believed the wrist hiccup could keep Towns out up to eight weeks, but with Minnesota falling off a cliff in KAT’s absence, the young superstar center fought to get back on the court as quickly as possible.
Saturday, he showed up to the pre-game warmups with a special wrist brace in hopes of playing. After going through warmups under the watchful eye of head coach Ryan Saunders, Towns returned to the locker room and decided he would play despite a heightened risk of re-injury and the major consequences that could bring.
To his credit, Towns didn’t hold back against the Spurs, finishing his first game of 2021 with 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists. A standard game for the two-time All-Star. But it’s his toughness that has his teammates and coaches impressed. If there’s anyone who needs a prayer these days, it’s Karl-Anthony Towns. Here’s to hoping for continued recovery with his wrist and more monster performances like last night’s. Some Minnesota victories might be nice too.
Tyler Herro finishes with 31 & 9
Herro continues to put the ball in the basket. Last night, he did most of his work inside the arc. Tyler got to the hoop in a variety of ways; he utilized the screen-&-roll, scored on cuts to the basket when he didn’t have the ball and was a menace off the dribble.
Tyler’s style of finishes at the rim was just as varied as his methods of getting there. Floaters, scoops, spin-moves, pull-ups, pump-fakes, Herro left Wizard defenders guessing every time he got into the lane. It was a smooth career-high of 31 points and he pulled down nine rebounds to along with it.
His teammate Bam Adebayo had a quiet night and dealt with foul trouble throughout.
Other BBNBA Notes
Booker’s Suns shine in Indy — Devin Booker is playing on the best NBA team of his career. Last night, the surging Suns nabbed a great win in Indianapolis vs. the Pacers. Booker had an average game by his standards, which means 25 points and seven assists. He’s not even the story of the game. Teammate Mikal Bridges continued his hot start to the 2021 season, erupting for 34 points with 6-8 shooting from three. Booker’s putting together another ludicrous statistical season, but the story of the Suns is the pieces around Devin that are taking pressure off of him; such as Bridges, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton on any given night.
Keldon Johnson stock continues to rise — Across the court from KAT, Keldon Johnson and his Spurs won with Johnson turning in another impressive performance of 17 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. In his one year at Kentucky, Johnson averaged 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Through the beginning of this NBA season, he’s already averaging 14.2, 7.4 and 2.7. He’s a real player in the NBA, and he’s set to be a cornerstone of a new era in San Antonio if he keeps this up.
PJ Washington and Charlotte’s exciting young core — MJ’s Hornets are finally one/one-hundredth as fun as his Bulls teams. After drafting LaMelo Ball, PJ Washington and Miles Bridges in the last three drafts — and adding Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward in free agency, along with the out-of-nowhere emergence from Devonte Graham in 2019-20, the Hornets are building something under head coach James Borrego. Last night, Ball had arguably his best NBA game, recording a 22-point triple-double on 9-13 shooting. In his aid, Washington chipped in 22 of his own, grabbed seven boards and swatted SIX shots. PJ’s becoming a utility ace that can drop 20 on any given night — and for a fun team, too.
Here’s how ALL of the BBNBA Cats played on Saturday:
|Jamal Murray||115-103 W @ PHI||14||6-11|
|Tyrese Maxey||115-103 L vs. DEN||39||18-33|
|PJ Washington||113-105 W vs. ATL||22||7-11|
|Devin Booker||125-117 W @IND||25||9-19|
|Bam Adebayo||128-124 W @ WAS||9||2-4|
|Tyler Herro||128-124 W @ WAS||31||12-20|
|Keldon Johnson||125-122 W @ MIN||17||6-12|
|Karl-Anthony Towns||125-122 L vs. SAS||25||9-17|
|Jarred Vanderbilt||125-122 L vs. SAS||2||1-1|
|Enes Kanter||125-99 W @ SAC||11||4-9|
|De'Aaron Fox||125-99 L vs. POR||10||3-9|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||112-98 W||6||2-5|
TODAY IN THE NBA
3:00 (NBATV): Jazz @ Pistons
4:00: Bulls @ Clippers (Patterson)
6:00: Thunder (Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander, Miller) @ Nets
6:00: Nuggets (Murray) @ Knicks (Knox-probable, Noel, Quickley, Randle)
7:00 (NBATV): Heat (Adebayo, Herro) @ Celtics
7:00: Lakers (Davis-questionable) @ Rockets (Cousins, Wall)
8:00: Spurs (Johnson, Lyles) @ Timberwolves (Towns, Vanderbilt)
8:30: Raptors @ Warriors (Mulder)