Good afternoon, folks. Anthony Davis is here. Time to run and hide. Let’s talk NBA Bubble.
Welcome to the Bubble, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers
There they are!
I was beginning to wonder when the top-overall seed in the Western Conference would finally show up, but they made a huge statement once they finally did; the Los Angeles Lakers are still the team to beat.
After an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Damian Lillard and the eight-seeded Portland Trail Blazers the other day in Game 1, the Lakers came out looking to put Game 2–and the entirety of the east coast–to bed early. Led by 31 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists from former Wildcat Anthony Davis, the Lakers controlled this game from the opening tip. Portland shot just 35 percent from the floor in the first half and ended up trailing by 27 points at the intermission. To make matters worse for the Blazers, Lillard dislocated his finger during the third quarter, although the x-rays thankfully came back negative. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, L.A. was leading 88-58. With the win, the Lakers tie up the series 1-1.
Following a poor outing in Game 1 where he shot just 8-24 from the field, Davis popped off to shoot 13-21 overall that included a lethal 3-4 clip from beyond the arc.
”I just wanted to come out tonight with the mindset tonight to be aggressive and to help my team on both ends of the floor and do whatever I had to do to help the team win,” Davis said after the win.
Fellow Kentucky teammate, Rajon Rondo, still hasn’t made his Bubble debut after he fractured his thumb over a month ago, but he should be returning any game now. Ahead of Game 2, Rondo was listed as questionable and his status will be determined game-by-game. His return will have a significant impact on the Lakers rotation, as he’ll surely slide in to help alleviate some of the ball-handling duties that have been almost exclusively reliant on LeBron James.
Wenyen Gabriel received his second straight start for the Blazers in the absence of an injured Zach Collins. Even though Portland lost, Gabriel has plenty of positives to take away from his outing. He played in 20 minutes, adding seven points and five rebounds on a 3-8 shooting clip. As always, his high-energy and endless motor gave head coach Terry Stotts incentive to leave him in the game. It also didn’t hurt his case that Portland was dead in the water after the first quarter, but Gabriel continues to play important minutes for the Blazers’ playoff run.
SGA’s 31 points not enough against red-hot Rockets
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poured in a playoff career-high of 31 points, but this James Harden fellow is just too good right now. Even though he scored just 21 points and was an unusual 2-11 from behind the 3-point line, Harden’s nine assists and zero turnovers as a playmaking maestro set up the Rockets as they cruised to a 2-0 series lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (without Russell Westbrook, I should add, who is still dealing with a minor injury).
Unlike Game 1, when OKC was blitzed from the onset and never got back up on its feet, the Thunder were ready for the task in Game 2. OKC was dominant during the first half, especially in the second quarter, shooting 50 percent from the floor throughout the first 24 minutes. At one point towards the end of the second period, Houston went on another one it’s infamous brick-sprees, missing 15 consecutive triples to end the half. The Thunder were able to snag a 59-53 halftime lead.
The third quarter was built off of back-and-forth runs, with both teams rattling off respective runs of at least 11-0. However, a massive 17-0 run to open the fourth quarter–with Harden cheering from the sidelines–spelled immediate doom for OKC as they ended up losing 111-98.
Gilgeous-Alexander shot 9-17 from the field and 3-7 from deep to go along with his six rebounds, but it was the unusually poor play from Chris Paul that put the Thunder into holes they couldn’t climb all the way out of. The Thunder will go as far as Paul and SGA lead them; that being said, they can’t continue to exchange poor performances. When both players are thriving, the Thunder typically are, too.
With healthy Thunder guard Lu Dort back in the lineup, Hamidou Diallo saw his minutes stripped in Game 2. After averaging over 24 minutes per outing during the eight seeding games, the one-time Wildcat appeared in just three minutes of Game 2 after a 14-minute run in Game 1. The ever-reliable Nerlens Noel contributed four points, nine rebounds, and two blocks for OKC in his 17 minutes.
Other notes from the Bubble
- The Miami Heat went up 2-0 against a banged-up Indiana Pacers squad thanks to quality outings from its two former Wildcats. Bam Adebayo stuffed the stat sheet, registering seven points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block, and zero turnovers. Tyler Herro played 34 minutes for Miami, trailing only Jimmy Butler’s 37 minutes for most on the team. The rookie dropped in 15 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists.
- Eric Bledsoe and the Milwaukee Bucks finally got back on track, making light work of the Orlando Magic after being thoroughly outplayed in Game 1. Bledsoe posted 13 points and seven assists for the Bucks, who easily won Game 2 by a final score of 111-96.
Series standings from Thursday
(1) Bucks tied with (8) Magic 1-1
(5) Heat lead (4) Pacers 2-0
(1) Lakers tied with (8) Trail Blazers 1-1
(4) Rockets lead (5) Thunder 2-0
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)||98-111 L @ HOU||31||9-17 (3-7)||6||2||1||0||1||+7||37|
|Anthony Davis (LAL)||111-88 W vs. POR||31||13-21 (3-4)||11||3||1||1||2||+32||29|
|Tyler Herro (MIA)||109-100 W @ IND||15||4-14 (3-8)||5||3||1||0||1||-1||34|
|Eric Bledsoe (MIL)||111-96 W vs. ORL||13||6-12 (0-3)||2||7||1||1||4||+3||25|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||109-100 W @ IND||7||3-7 (0-0)||5||4||2||1||0||+19||32|
|Wenyen Gabriel (POR)||88-111 L @ LAL||7||3-8 (1-4)||5||1||0||0||2||-11||20|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||98-111 L @ HOU||4||2-4 (0-0)||9||1||0||2||0||+13||17|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||98-111 L @ HOU||0||0-1 (0-0)||0||0||0||0||0||-6||3|
|Rajon Rondo (LAL)||111-88 W vs. POR||DNP-Thumb||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TODAY IN THE BUBBLE
1:30 (NBA TV): Raptors @ Nets [TOR leads 2-0]
4:00 (TNT): Nuggets (Murray) @ Jazz [Tied 1-1]
6:30 (TNT): Celtics (Kanter) @ 76ers [BOS leads 2-0]
9:00 (TNT): Clippers (Patterson) @ Mavericks (Kidd-Gilchrist) [Tied 1-1]