All the need-to-know info from Tuesday’s slate.
The King in the Fourth Returns in the First
For the first time since May 19—and the first time in wine and gold—Isaiah Thomas was back on the court. Jose Calderon started at the point and Thomas checked in with 4:33 remaining in the first quarter. He picked up where he left off: missing two consecutive 3s, hitting a pull-up jumper, blowing past Shabazz Napier on a drive—
Isaiah Thomas takes the contact for an and-1 layup!— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 3, 2018
That hip looks fine pic.twitter.com/jpSGRQE0oi
—and, of course, getting T’d up.
Thomas’s limited minutes were encouraging ones, as he looked comfortable both absorbing contact and pushing the pace. He finished with 17 points and three assists in 19 minutes, shooting 50 percent overall and 3-for-8 from deep. Welcome back, IT.
Thomas will not play Wednesday against the Celtics in Boston.
Change the Rules So This Counts, @NBA @NBA @NBA
The bucket didn't count...— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 3, 2018
Still a crazy shot by Jae Crowder from behind the hooppic.twitter.com/pwewpMOOpS
It’s only fair to no. 33.
The Michael Beasley Version of a Swish
I’m not saying his attempts *don’t* go in, but …
every time beasley gets MVP chants an angel's shot rims out— Haley O'Shaughnessy (@HaleyOSomething) January 3, 2018
Speaking of Beas, It’s Only a Bucket If He Thinks It Is
Crazy play. Manu threw the ball in on accident, but the refs didn’t count the basket at first... Michael Beasley kept playing. pic.twitter.com/G3m3OGSU1G— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) January 3, 2018
Book a Reservation on the Perimeter
Devin Booker led the Suns’ comeback win against the Hawks, 104-103, two days after he dropped 32 points on Philadelphia.
With 37 seconds remaining, Booker sprinted cross-court, and with the help of a double-screen, he was wide open to take this 3—
It's a 1-possession game, thanks to Book. pic.twitter.com/HZbPNzAu1i— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 3, 2018
—making it a one-possession game. On the Suns’ next possession, Kent Bazemore fouled Booker from behind on a 3-point attempt, sending him to the line with the chance to put Phoenix ahead. He hit all three to the tune of MVP chants.
Marquese Chriss, who ended with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks, sealed the game with this block on Taurean Prince:
Despite going scoreless in the third quarter, Booker finished with 34 points, seven assists, five rebounds, 15 trips to the free throw line, and, to keep Suns fans humble, eight turnovers.
(Will.I.Lay.It.In just didn’t flow.) Lou had a game-high 33 points in Tuesday’s 113-105 Clippers victory against Memphis, L.A.’s sixth win in its last seven games. He shot a perfect 15-of-15 from the free throw line.
Kawhi Leonard played a season-high 31 minutes against the Knicks in the Spurs’ 100-91 win on Tuesday. It was the second time the teams played in six days. (New York lost the first, as well.)
Kawhi didn’t enter the game in the first matchup but finished Tuesday with 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
Jarrett Jack Put Himself Through the Spin Cycle
HOLY HELL, WHAT A PASS FROM JACK TO KANTER pic.twitter.com/AVQXTkntNv— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) January 3, 2018
Kemba Walker Now Has the Second-Most Assists in Franchise History
He now has 2,582 career dimes. He also did this:
How about some other numbers?
- Charlotte’s 72 first-half points are the second-most for a road game in franchise history.
- Charlotte’s 131 points are the most they’ve scored all season.
- Charlotte’s 131 points are the most Sacramento’s allowed all season.
- Sacramento’s 111 points are the fourth-most they’ve scored all season.
It’s Time to Love Again
Kevin Love is playing alongside a 33-year-old MVP candidate, so yeah, there’s little room left for attention. (Literally little room—LeBron is 250 pounds of pure muscle and his beard is rapidly approaching Kyle O’Quinn width.) But his stat lines—night in and night out—have to be brought up when mentioning the Cavaliers’ success last month. In the Cavs 127-110 win over Portland, which broke a three-game losing streak for Cleveland, Love had 19 points on seven shots in 26 minutes. He missed one of his five 3-point attempts and one of his six free throw shots.
Love has had better statistical seasons, but as far as his offensive game goes, he’s never looked more versatile. In his 15 games before Tuesday’s, Love averaged 23.5 points, 10.4 boards, and shot 46.4 percent from the perimeter.