All the need-to-know info from Thursday’s slate.
11 percent from his brain, 65 percent from the field
Approaching the new year, the MVP race is going as we all suspected:
3. LeBron James
2. James Harden
1. MICHAEL BEASLEY
B-Easy dropped 32 points in 25 minutes on one of the best defenses in the league. Boston—which also has the best record in the East—lost to the Knicks because of a man who unironically wears three watches (he’s STRAPPED IN). The Celtics couldn’t find a man to stop him—neither Al Horford or Marcus Smart could hold Beasley back after he checked back into the game after halftime. From that point—5:20 remaining in the third—until the end, Beasley scored 28 points. He finished with 12 rebounds in the Knicks’ 102-93 win.
tired: nice, beas— nicole baesley (@nicjbae) December 22, 2017
wired: BEASLEY 4 MVP
A quote from Rodger Sherman and his Slack Stats: “Michael Beasley has played 534 career games. He's scored at least 30 points 15 times. Three have been this year. HE'S REBORN.”
Two points I have a strong feeling New Yorkers want to hear:
- This is Beasley’s second 30-point game in his last three.
- Carmelo Anthony hasn’t scored more than 28 this season.
And one point New Yorkers don’t want to bring up:
- Kristaps went 0-for-11 in his first game back after missing the last two; his 23 minutes produced one point.
Are we sure [ducks Pizza Rat chucking his pizza] the King of New York is Latvian and not a 28-year-old lefty with cornrows?
When did Michael Beasley start feeling the hot hand as he scored 31 in a win against the Celtics?— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 22, 2017
"January 9, 1989," he said. pic.twitter.com/2LxQ9Eau14
Finding Candy for His Daughter Was LeBron’s Assist of the Night
lebron being mic'd up is actually better than i imagined. he's asking anyone he can find to give his daughter candy lmaooo. pic.twitter.com/Jv8W57KIVh— Whitney Medworth (@its_whitney) December 22, 2017
The Raptors Didn’t Take Care of the Ball …
By the end of the third quarter, Toronto had racked up 18 turnovers. The Raps are typically adept in taking care of the ball; before Thursday’s loss, they had given away the fifth fewest in the league (an average 13.8 per game). In the 114-109 win over Philly, Toronto totalled 21—tied for their most of the season.
… but DeMar Sure Did
The master of the midrange had the best 3-point shooting night in all his nine seasons against the Sixers. DeRozan finished with career highs in both points (he dropped 45) and made 3-pointers (6-for-9 from deep). Before the season began, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor weighed the possibility of DeMar extending his game outward. Thursday’s performance is not a definitive yes—DeRozan is hitting just 32.1percent of his 2.7 3-point tries per game this season—but at least a sign he’s keeping his head above water. Before the season, for a then-career 28.1 3-point shooter, it felt like DeMar going deep would be him pushing himself off the boat and just hoping for the best.
At the very least, he’s doggy-paddling.
In his fourth game of the season, Leonard finished with 10 points on 50 percent shooting, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 20 minutes. It was the longest Gregg Popovich let Kawhi stay on the court since his unique quad injury, but he’s making the most of that time:
Rodney Hot Hand
A recurring question: Where will the Jazz find offense tonight? Especially in what would be their 100-89 win over the Spurs: Utah’s leading scorer, rookie Donovan Mitchell, was out with a toe contusion.
Rodney Hood was the answer Thursday, finishing with 29 points (on 24 attempts, but a high-scoring night is a high-scoring night). And hey, it’s Utah’s second win during this walking-on-hot-coals stretch of their schedule:
utah needs to win this one because they are about to take a bunch of Ls pic.twitter.com/DQC9YR4wfE— Haley O'Shaughnessy (@HaleyOSomething) December 14, 2017
Can’t Wait for the “Jayson Tatum Is 33 Years Old Tweets” in 14 Years
(But really, Tatum is doing this at 19.)
Troy Daniels Sent the Grizzlies Packing
Korver of the Fourth
There is not a more reliable fourth-quarter sharpshooter than Kyle Korver. The Cavs needed his 3-pointer with 4:43 left to break the tie, and eventually slip past the Bulls, 115-112. (Be proud, Chicago, even though you’re no longer streaking!)
Korver had hit another 3-pointer earlier in the final clip, and a jumper after that. Cleveland’s most reliable shooter off the bench is also the NBA’s best this season—Korver leads the league in fourth-quarter 3s and shoots them at 48.2 percent during the final 12 minutes.