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NBA ICYMI: Blake Griffin Has His MVP Moment, While Aron Baynes Gets Run Over by One

Everything you need to know about Thursday night in the NBA

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

All the need-to-know info from Thursday’s five-game slate.


Thank You, Blaked God

In what might have been the best game of the NBA season thus far, Blake Griffin reminded the league that he, too, is a closer, and that he, too, should have his name emerge as a nominee in the way-too-early MVP campaigns.

It’s been around four seasons since Blake was seriously considered, finishing third in the 2013-14 vote. After hitting a game-winning pull-up 3-pointer at the buzzer in the undefeated Clippers’ 104-103 win over the Trail Blazers on Thursday, he’s checked yet another box — clutch — on the list of qualifications.

It’s perfectly fine to disagree, the season has just begun. (So long as you’re prepared for Doc and Pat to hit you with this look):

Boogie Back

What DeMarcus Cousins surely wanted most from his return to Sacramento was a win against the franchise that dealt him after promising not to. Despite a third-quarter 19-point deficit, he got that as the Pelicans beat a roster of Kings mostly unrecognizable to Sacramento’s former franchise cornerstone, 114-106.

With Anthony Davis sidelined by a knee injury, Cousins had both the ample looks to put up numbers against his former squad and an out in case he did not beat them — though rest assured, Boogie, you did that. He finished with 41 points, 23 rebounds, six assists, and a warm reception from some old friends.

Z-Bo Gets Intimate

#NBAAfterDark

Did Aron Baynes Learn His Lesson?

As the first clip expired in the Bucks 96-89 home loss against the Celtics, Giannis Antetokounmpo began to drive —

— leading to what should’ve been a funeral procession for Aron Baynes. The Celtics big man ultimately dodged the embarrassment, even as he lay on the floor, post-etherization. The Greek Freak missed. If Giannis didn’t, the posterization would’ve been Baynes’s second time this season getting jammed on by Giannis alone:

That was eight days prior. Fool Aron Baynes once … and it doesn’t matter. His fate is still in Giannis’s ridiculously sized hands.

Kyrie Doesn’t Care About Your Court or Your Defense

Looks like someone found his footing on that “30-year-old” MECCA court.

Markkanen Made the 3 That Mattered

Lauri Markkanen’s 3-point percentage had climbed each game of the season so far (yes, I know, we were just three games in). The 7-footer made 62.5 percent of his eight deep attempts in the Bulls’ Tuesday loss to the Cavaliers; before Thursday, his average perimeter shooting led all rookies who were taking three or more a game. (Lauri’s averaging 7.3.)

In Chicago’s 91-86 win over the Hawks on Thursday, Markkanen took eight 3s and hit just two, the latter pushing the Bulls’ lead to 90-86 in the fourth. Who knows if securing the first win of the season is enough to get Chicagoans (most of whom were infatuated with the prospect of Dennis Smith Jr. being on the team) in favor of Markkanen — but his other game highlight should be. They call him the Finnisher for a reason.

(It’s because he’s Finnish).

DeAndre (Finally) Makes Contact

DeAndre Jordan logged his first swat of the season against the Blazers:

The three-plus game stretch marked his longest to open the season without a block since the 2009-10 season.

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