Everything you need to know about Tuesday’s NBA slate.
Tobias for Three
When you are 6-foot-9, miss only one shot the entire game, score 30 points, and drain seven 3s, you become the idealized iteration of a stretch 4. On Tuesday night, the Pacers had no answer for that version of Tobias Harris, whose hot-hand game fueled the Pistons’ 107-83 win.
Harris, who scored 26 in the first half alone, only needed 29 minutes to accomplish his studded stat line that also included six rebounds. His seven 3s were a career-high, surpassing his previous high of six, a personal best that was bound to be broken given Harris’s evolution as an outside shooter.
In his first year in the league (2011-12), Harris was not even averaging one 3 per game. Even as recent as the 2015-16 season, Harris was barely up to just over three attempts per game. Now, he’s making nearly three 3s a game on six attempts in Stan Van Gundy’s offense, which relies on surrounding a big man (Andre Drummond) with shooters. To survive in that ecosystem, Harris not only had to find a shot, but must maintain and improve. His percentage from outside the arc is over 43 percent, making nights like Tuesday possible and more importantly, giving a feeling that he can go for more.
A Most Beautiful Game
Throwback Tuesday: Dallas Mavericks Edition
Can I interest you in an 18-point, seven-rebound, three-block night from Dirk Nowitzki? What if I added on a 20-point night from J.J. Barea off the bench, including this dagger layup with under 20 seconds left?
JJ Barea clutch dagger with ten seconds left against the Raptors pic.twitter.com/bbBwJeEIbs— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) December 27, 2017
The Mavericks outlasted Toronto 98-93 on Tuesday night, breaking the Raptors’ six-game winning streak thanks to a performance from its only two remaining members from its 2011 title team. These two weren’t just the leading scorers for a team filled with younger talent, they also tapped into the sprier versions of themselves.
Aided by DeMar DeRozan’s off night (he didn’t score in double digits for only the second time this season) and despite Kyle Lowry’s 23 points, a 39-year-old and a 33-year-old turned back the clock just enough to give Dallas its second win in their last seven games.
The Bulls’ season is officially turning into something straight out of a rom-com.
On Tuesday against the Bucks, Bobby Portis was a +26. Nikola Mirotic scored 24 off the bench, David Nwaba had more rebounds than any Buck, while Kris Dunn added 20 points and 12 assists. The Bulls handled Milwaukee (who had Giannis!) at home and beat them 115-106. Chicago has won eight out of their last 10, their two losses coming to the Celtics and Cavs, and yet the bigger story remains the olive branch between Portis and Mirotic. After their pre-season scuffle, which I am forced to remind you included a punch to the face, they’re suddenly best friends:
The only response I have to this, at this point, is that I guess sometimes you need a little hard love.
Christmas May Be Over, But Pop Is Still in a Giving Mood
Around the League: Injury Updates
In the midst of the Pistons’ dominant win over the Pacers Tuesday night, Reggie Jackson landed awkwardly on his right ankle during a play in the third quarter.
Ankles aren't supposed to bend that way. Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson came down funky on his foot and screamed. He couldn't walk on it. pic.twitter.com/dlHNMtExel— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) December 27, 2017
Jackson did not return, and the Pistons called the injury a high-ankle sprain.
In other point guard injury news, the Warriors reportedly reevaluated Steph Curry today, who has been out the last six games with an ankle injury. Curry will remain out until at least Friday, according to the report.
Steve Kerr has said Steph needs to go through 2-3 practices before he comes back. Steph went 4-on-4 on Sunday, and has been doing some work on the court. So this new timeline gives the Warriors some time to build him up this week and see how he handles it before clearing him.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 26, 2017
And finally, Doc Rivers announced in his pre-game availability Tuesday that Blake Griffin, who has been out for a month with a knee injury, could return for the Clippers’ matchup against the Lakers on Friday. When Griffin injured his knee on November 27, the diagnosis was expected to keep him sidelined for two months.
Giannis in the Air
Oh my goodness, Giannis! pic.twitter.com/ByJeTkru1W— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) December 27, 2017
Giannis on the ground:
Giannis breaks his own ankles, throws a bounce pass assist from his butt pic.twitter.com/8Fbg76gTxk— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) December 27, 2017
Beware the Altitude
The Jazz traveled to Denver Tuesday night and got hit by a force on the court and in the air.
Sure, Donovan Mitchell did this:
What did that rim ever to do you, Donovan Mitchell?!?! pic.twitter.com/nGPHWurlyS— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) December 27, 2017
But Utah shot 32.1 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3. Denver paced their way to 107 points behind Jamal Murray’s game-high 22, but it was their defense that threw the Jazz out of rhythm. That’s five losses for Utah in their last six games; already suffering from injury woes, they were destined to flare out for relying far too much on Mitchell’s offensive firepower. No highlight dunk has been able to save them from this stretch, and the altitude on Tuesday certainly didn’t help either.
Welcome to Milos Range
Keep It Real, Keep It Tyson
With 0.6 seconds left in a tied game between the Suns and the Grizzlies, Dragan Bender lobbed a pass toward the rim from the sideline; it landed perfectly in the hands of a jumping Tyson Chandler who dunked it as the buzzer sounded.
WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED. pic.twitter.com/YL5wiBzvSA— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) December 27, 2017
Devin Booker’s 32 points were the catalyst to the narrow 99-97 win—only the Suns’ 13th this season—but Chandler’s dunk (and let’s be honest, his push off Brandan Wright) will be the highlight that’ll be looped. Plus, it elicited a genuine reaction from the old-school big man on a young team in need of bright moments like these to get them through a long season.