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NBA ICYMI: The Baby Lakers Run With the Big Boys

Everything you need to know about Wednesday night in the NBA

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

All the need-to-know info from Wednesday’s slate.

The Present Faces the Hopeful Future

For an entirety of regulation basketball, Lonzo Ball played a better game than Steph Curry. That is an objective fact that feels as surreal to type out as it was to watch on Wednesday night at Staples Center. Lonzo had 15 points on 45 percent shooting and nine assists and made three 3s. Curry, while wearing a wrap on his shooting hand, also had 15, but only made one of seven 3s and shot 35 percent while adding seven assists.

But by overtime, the two-time MVP woke up. Curry hit three back-to-back 3s to open up the period and totaled 13 points in OT, dashing the Lakers’ hopes away like they were a piece of harmless lint on a pair of trousers. Despite the Lakers’ late, valiant comeback attempt fueled by Brandon Ingram, the Warriors won, 127-123, in what was a delightful, back-and-forth affair.

Ingram had a career night while dueling with Kevin Durant. While Durant posted 29 points, Ingram surpassed him with 32 points, displaying his slowly developing repertoire and giving glimpses of the type of player he could become.

Lonzo’s shooting exorcism of sorts also showed that hey, maybe he can make a shot after all. In the third quarter, he got hit near his eye and began to bleed. He reportedly received three stitches after the game.

It was Lakers’ youth battling against championship pedigree, and though the champs stayed the champs, the young underdogs showed plenty of bite.

Introducing: Hack-A-Ben Simmons

Without John Wall, the Wizards have turned into a scrappy team looking for innovative ways to win. Last night against the Wolves, they did it with their bench. On Wednesday, they were down 18 at the half and tried to do it by hacking Ben Simmons.

With Adam Silver fittingly in attendance, the Wizards put Simmons on the free throw line 24 times in the fourth quarter, which meant the frame lasted longer than Titanic. It sort of worked. Simmons missed enough shots to put the the Wiz back in it; they cut the lead to three points with just under 40 seconds left, but eventually fell 118-113.

The game featured 101 free throws—64 by the Sixers and 29 by Simmons alone. The rookie point guard finished with 31 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and two steals. If the only way to stop Joel Embiid is to keep him off the court, it appears teams now know how to at least contain Simmons: put him on the free throw line, even if in the end it may not matter. Simmons still posted career-highs in points and rebounds and made just enough free throws (15) to escape with the W.

He also did a whole lot of this:

Hello, NBA. This Is Your God Now.

Air Gordon Goes Off on the Thunder, Who Are Reeling

This is the dunk you’ll see more than a few times Wednesday, and rightfully so—it’s another display of Aaron Gordon’s effervescent athleticism. But don’t let it distract you from the fact that Gordon also obliterated the Oklahoma City Thunder for 40 points, shot 13-of-23 from the field and 6-of-12 from 3, and capitalized on Carmelo Anthony’s continually shoddy defense.

The Magic, who had lost nine games in a row, trounced the Thunder, 121-108, going up by 22 at one point on the second-best defense in the league, which looked disengaged and lackadaisical throughout. With the loss, OKC falls to four games under .500 and the dysfunction and discord seem to be rising, not diminishing. Russell Westbrook, whose postgame x-rays on his left hand came back negative, scored a team-high 37 points on a team-high 23 shots. The postgame frustration was evident, even if it was, to an extent, his own doing:

Should this downward trend continue, it raises the question of what the Thunder can do to try to repair their clear disjointedness. Whether Billy Donovan’s seat gets hot (his postgame comments were telling)—

—or whether Sam Presti can pull off another move before the trade deadline comes and goes, the Thunder need change. After all, Paul George’s case for staying in OKC can’t be built if this team doesn’t even make the playoffs.

Wayback Wednesday for Dwight Howard

Kristaps Porzingis Gives Knicks Fans a Heart Attack

Just a few minutes into the first quarter of the Knicks’ home game against the Heat on Wednesday night, Kristaps Porzingis and Justise Winslow both ran after a loose ball. As they met each other by Miami’s bench, Winslow accidentally stepped hard on Porzingis’s foot, bending his right ankle and sending the Knicks’ star to the locker room. Porzingis did appear to be able to put some weight on it as he was helped off the court.

The Knicks announced that the X-rays on Porzingis were negative and that he was available to return to Wednesday’s game. But he didn’t need to: The Knicks won comfortably, 115-86. Thank the unicorn gods and the basketball gods alike.

Kyle Lowry Figures Out the Defender Maze

Lowry had his best game of the year, putting up 36 points (DeMar Derozan had 30), hitting eight of his 11 3-point attempts, and being interviewed by Drake postgame. The Raptors beat the Hornets, 126-113, to win their sixth in their last eight.

Anthony Davis Is Mad

Twenty-four hours after LeBron James was ejected for the first time in his career, Anthony Davis was also ejected for the first time in his career.

Maybe it’s the holiday stress getting to some players; maybe it’s the holiday stress getting to some refs. Whatever the case, Davis’s absence cost the Pelicans in what was a close game that turned into a 120-102 final in favor of the Timberwolves.

Golden State Humor

LaMarcus Lights It Up

Forty-one points on 24 shots. Tying a career-best 3-of-3 from the land beyond the arc. A 104-95 win over the Grizzlies that puts San Antonio at 14-7 without a single minute from Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge, Pop, and Co. are playing well enough to keep Leonard out until he’s fully healthy and stay in the inconsistent Western Conference’s top four.

As always, never doubt the Spurs.