Despite 30 points from Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers are unable to do anything at home against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the OKC Thunder. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics prevail in the top game in the East.
Pascal Siakam, meanwhile, towers over Charlotte, Milwaukee loses without half his team in the Heat.
Philadelphia 76ers (25-16) – OKC Thunder (19-23) 114:133 (BOXSCORE)
- What a statement from the Thunder! OKC had only won five away games this season, now they made guest appearances with one of the best teams in the east and dominated. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was once again the best player (37 points, 10/16 FG, 16/16 FT, 8 rebounds, 6 assists), but he didn’t have to shoulder the burden alone.
- OKC hit 14 threes, kept going to the free throw line (31/33 freebies!) and kept the ball far better than the Sixers (11:17 turnover). The Thunder overran Philly a number of times, scoring 21 fastbreak points – meanwhile, 21 was also the game’s highest lead.
- It didn’t stay that clear, in the fourth quarter the Sixers made it exciting at times because Joel Embiid (30 points, 10/17, 10 rebounds) reared up again here. But there was a minimal difference of 6 points, also because OKC did not show any weakness in a free-throw contest in the final minutes.
- The Thunder have now won four of their last six games. In addition to Shai, Josh Giddey (20 points, 8 assists), Jalen Williams and Tre Mann (both 14) were particularly popular, while Embiid received support from James Harden (24 points, 15 assists, 7 turnovers) and Tyrese Maxey (17 ).
Brooklyn Nets (27-14) – Boston Celtics (31-12) 98:109 (BOXSCORE)
- Fifth win in a row for the Celtics, who are now clearly in the lead in the East again after beating their closest rival in a head-to-head duel. While both sides were missing key players, it was less a Superstars matchup and more a duel that proved Boston’s depth.
- Jayson Tatum didn’t have a great shooting game (20 points, 7/22 FG), 11 rebounds, 5 assists, but had plenty of support and five teammates who scored at least 12 points – although Jaylen Brown and Al Horford were each absent. The three guards Marcus Smart (16 points, 10 assists), Malcolm Brogdon (16) and Derrick White (15) all showed strong performances. The Celtics dominated under the basket (48:31 rebounds) and used a strong phase on their bench early in the fourth quarter to pull away. In addition to Brodgon, Payton Pritchard (9) also had some good scenes.
- At the other end, Kyrie Irving (24) was the top scorer, with TJ Warren (20) and Joe Harris (18) hot on his heels. Ben Simmons had his team’s best plus/minus rating (+10) despite not scoring (0/3) – but he grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 13 assists. Without Kevin Durant, Brooklyn lacked the punch at the end to make it exciting again.
Miami Heat (23-20) – Milwaukee Bucks (27-15) 108:102 (BOXSCORE)
- The Heat almost did it again. After posting an NBA record 40/40 from the free throw line in the previous game, they were flawless in this game until Jimmy Butler of all people botched a free throw in the final minute. So in the end it was 15/16, the streak ended with 55 hit freebies. Butler will be able to get over it, but in the end it was enough for the win.
- It didn’t look like it at first. The Bucks, with half their team missing (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Joe Ingles, Serge Ibaka, Grayson Allen), made a dominant start and led early by 32-17, but that lead didn’t last long. The strong Jrue Holiday (24 points, 11 assists) was too much on his own, especially the other starters didn’t get enough, although the Bucks hit a whopping 22 (!) Threes. Very little went from the country of two, Milwaukee also seemed completely physically inferior (61:39 rebounds) and a little tired on the second day of a back-to-back.
- The Heat capitalized on that in the second half. Miami also lacked a backcourt (Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro) but had excellent representation. Gabe Vincent topped with a career high (28 points), while Bam Adebayo (24, 12 rebounds), Butler (17 and 11) and Max Strus (12 and 10) all had double-doubles. Victor Oladipo also had 14, 8 and 8 assists off the bench.
- While the starters were disappointing for the Bucks, three bench players were responsible for 15 three-pointers. Jevon Carter hit 6 (18 points), AJ Green 5 (15), and Jordan Nwora 4 (16) triples.
Toronto Raptors (19-23) – Charlotte Hornets (11-32) 124:114 (BOXSCORE)
- Are the Raptors finally getting their act together? After all, the Canadians have now won three games in a row, which they had never managed to do before this season. They could thank Pascal Siakam in particular for this, who gave the Hornets an extremely efficient 35 points (11/13 FG, 3/3 3FG, 10/12 FT) and scored 12 points directly in the first quarter.
- However, the performance was not completely sovereign – Toronto led the whole game and at times with up to 18 points, but in the end it was still close. With 1:19 to go, LaMelo Ball had a chance to pare back to -2 with a three, but his three didn’t want to fall and the visiting star then missed a layup as well. A three-pointer from Fred VanVleet (11 points, 8 assists) finally cleared things up on the other side.
- Ball scored 32 points (11/19) for the Hornets before fouling out in the final minute. Terry Rozier made 21 points, Mason Plumlee put on 16 and 15 rebounds (at 6/6 FG) – Charlotte, however, kept tripping over her own feet, her 22 turnovers led to 26 points for the hosts.
- With the Raptors, Scottie Barnes showed one of his best performances of the season (21, 8/14, 9 assists, 7 rebounds), Gary Trent Jr. confirmed his recent good form with 19 points, even if the three didn’t come (2/11). OG Anunoby scored 12 of his 15 points in the starting quarter.