All the need-to-know info from Tuesday’s slate.
More Bad News for the Cavs
Kevin Love left for the locker room five minutes into the Cavaliers’ matchup in Detroit on Monday to get X-rays on his left hand, which revealed a non-displaced fracture in his fifth metacarpal. (He broke his hand.) Love will likely be out for six to eight weeks.
The Cavs forward-turned-center was tangled with Anthony Tolliver and Reggie Bullock under the basket when the injury occurred. Love previously broke the same hand in 2009 during the preseason, and he broke the other twice during the 2012-13 season, including the knuckle-push-ups incident (fun stroll down memory lane: no one believed that’s how it really happened). He now has had surgery on both.
For shorthanded Cleveland, losing Love is the biggest possible blow short of a sidelined LeBron James. Coming into Tuesday, Love was contributing the second-most points per game (18.2) and led the team in rebounding (9.6). His absence leaves Tyronn Lue with even fewer frontcourt options than he already had.
Love will be further evaluated on Wednesday when the team returns to Cleveland.
A 60-Point Haul for Harden
James Harden—the man, the myth, the beard, the (soon-to-be) MVP, the legend—became the first NBA player in league history to record 60 points in a triple-double. His line in its glorious entirety is as follows: 60 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, four steals, and a block. Harden went 17-for-18 from the free throw line, 5-for-14 from the perimeter, and 19-for-30 overall.
His 60 snatched the franchise record from Calvin Murphy, who had an adorable cameo—
Calvin Murphy loved seeing James Harden break his scoring record pic.twitter.com/fcMwumqgFg— AP (@Ananth_Pandian) January 31, 2018
—and gave Harden access to one of the current NBA’s most exclusive clubs. Of all active players, only LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, Klay Thompson, and Devin Booker have scored as many.
Harden could have broken the franchise scoring record in November against the Jazz, but it was a blowout, and Mike D’Antoni yanked him after 56 points. And even though it just happened on Tuesday, it feels like Harden has broken it many times before, a déjà vu prompted by watching him go off over and over and over again.
There are no words for James Harden's performance tonight. pic.twitter.com/yEaGkTZp44— ESPN (@espn) January 31, 2018
Only Harden, Russell Westbrook, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have ever scored 50-plus-point triple-doubles (the retirees once; Russ and Harden now both three times). And again, only the Beard has done it with 60. Can you imagine stepping where not even Wilt Chamberlain had stepped?
The Rockets won, barely, their largest lead of the game also being the end score—114-107. Our guy picked the right game to make history: Houston was without Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza and mostly without Eric Gordon, who played for just 10 minutes, and Orlando’s bench outscored the Rockets reserves by 27.
Now Presenting 2018 All-Star Andre Drummond
Drummond, who was picked by commissioner Adam Silver as a reserve for Team LeBron after John Wall reinjured his knee and withdrew from the All-Star Game, had 21 points and 22 rebounds on Tuesday.
the newest NBA All-Star Andre Drummond puts down the fastbreak dunk pic.twitter.com/FirIjPA3aV— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 31, 2018
Detroit beat Cleveland, 125-114. The Cavs were without Love for most of the game, sure, but Blake Griffin has not yet been cleared to play for the Pistons, leaving them not only without him, but also the three players they traded away to get him. (And the picks, who as you all know, play excellent defense and were missed as well.)
LeBron, Drummond’s All-Star captain, could at least take his new teammate’s solid performance as a silver lining to the loss. (But LeBron was loving it before the game even began.)
NBA Bucket List: Dunk on Anthony Davis
All Time and All-Star
In Cleveland’s loss Tuesday, Dwyane Wade passed Larry Bird on the all-time scoring list (32 overall). After the game—literally not three hours after Love went down—Wade suggested his All-Star replacement. (It’s still not you, Jaylen or Ben.)
Lean on Beal When There’s No Wall
When the Thunder and Wizards met last Thursday, Andre Roberson and John Wall were active, Bradley Beal dropped 41 points, and Russell Westbrook, thinking Beal had been selected before him in the All-Star draft, scored 46 points in vengeance.
Since then, Roberson has been declared out for the season (ruptured patellar tendon), and Wall, who is experiencing pain in the same left knee that sidelined him earlier this season, will be out for the next six to eight weeks. Neither Beal nor Westbrook had the performance he did last go-round—Paul George led all scorers with 28—but Beal did put in the passing work required to fill Wall’s (new signature!) shoes.
Beal finished with nine dimes, which is five more than his typical performance, ties his season-high, and equals Wall’s per game average. Washington won this time, 102-96.
Manu Ginobili is a magician pic.twitter.com/ZCOoZioSoU— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 31, 2018
This Was the Only FG Javale McGee Missed All Game
But he, like, really missed it. (McGee finished with 14 points on 7-for-8 shooting in Golden State’s 129-99 loss to Utah. RECORD SCRATCH—WHAT?)
A 30-Piece Chicken Nuggets for the Warriors Coming Right Up
Since Rudy Gobert’s return, Utah’s defense has topped the league. The Warriors learned that on Tuesday—Klay Thompson put up 27 points, but Kevin Durant was held to 17 and Steph Curry contributed 14, a far cry from the 35 points he averaged the three games prior.
But to put up 129 on the fully healthy Warriors’ defense? To hand the defending champs their worst L of the season? That, my dear friends, is called a performance from one Sir Ricard Rubio. The Spaniard shot 56 percent for 23 points, his second-highest total of the season. Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles each added 20.
And finally, the award for Most Vicious Tweet From an NBA Team Account goes to …
The Jazz! Enjoy the nightlife in Utah, my dear Warriors.
Serge Ibaka Doesn’t Care If Your Nickname Is Jimmy Buckets
Purified in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. pic.twitter.com/fn5BOE4Hcz— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 31, 2018
No More Blake In L.A.
The Clippers lost their first game without Blake Griffin on the roster, 104-96, to the Blazers. It was far from the first time L.A. played without Griffin, though; injuries held him out of 16 of the 49 games he was a Clipper this season.
The New Knicks Unis Are … Fire
And they played well in them, beating that other New York team, 111-95, and sweeping the Nets for the first time in seven years. (This is Brooklyn’s fourth straight loss, tying their longest losing streak this season.) Kristaps Porzingis drained six 3s and scored a game-high 28 points, Enes Kanter snagged 20 rebounds, and Frank Ntilikina showed hope from behind the arc, hitting two deep shots for only the sixth time this season.
Frankie Smokes [looks at uniforms] [looks fondly at his nickname] [makes Twitter-meme Lady Science GIF face] sealed the win by showing off.
Cue the proud-dad tears.
Also, it’s the Knicks, so cue the obligatory Kristaps highlight: