All the need-to-know info from Wednesday’s slate.
30 Minutes or Less
At the end of the first quarter of Bulls-Blazers, Chicago had 19 points.
C.J. McCollum had 28. No Portland player has ever done that in the first quarter. No Portland player has done that in any quarter. He broke his previous career high, 43, before the fourth quarter began.
Terry Stotts let the man hit 50 points before taking him out; in 29 minutes, McCollum shot 18-for-25 from the field, 6-for-9 from the 3, and a perfect 8-for-8 from the line. Before Wednesday’s 124-108 Blazers win, Klay Thompson was the only person to ever drop 50 points in 30 minutes or less.
But we all knew C.J. was capable. Who wouldn’t have predicted big things?
Celtics guard Terry Rozier started in place of Kyrie Irving in Boston’s 103-73 win over the Knicks after Brad Stevens decided he was the much, much better option …
Either that or Irving was out with a quad contusion. Not sure. Rozier, who averages 23 minutes off the bench, ended the game with two firsts: his first career start and first career triple-double. Only one other player in NBA history, Tony Wroten, has done that.
Rozier dropped 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter and finished with 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
First career start, first career triple-double. Have a night, Terry! pic.twitter.com/7xvzs4CuDU— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 1, 2018
Trade Julius Randle to Juilliard
Fancy stuff, Julius Randle pic.twitter.com/An0EuQ0kGM— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 1, 2018
Don’t Cry for Me, Tyreke Evans
Memphis lost its first game since deciding to sit Tyreke Evans, though maybe that’s the point. Before the Grizzlies’ matchup with the Pacers, ESPN reported that the hot-commodity wing would be benched until a trade involving him was completed.
That’s mom-wrapping-her-kid-in-bubble-wrap-level caution, as the trade deadline is next Thursday. But the Grizz have good reason to keep buyers happy. It seems every team in the NBA—save the one Memphis faced on Wednesday—is interested. (Though, with a nod to Victor Oladipo, don’t rule out Kevin Pritchard.)
Evans had missed three games all season prior to this one, a 105-101 loss to the Pacers which moved Memphis to 0-4 without him. Without Mike Conley, Evans has been the yeast responsible for making any Grizzlies’ offense rise—he leads in points and assists per game on the NBA’s second-lowest scoring team.
Despite being unable to close out the Pacers on Wednesday, Evans-less Memphis did put up 101, a smidge above its average, thanks to Wayne Selden (24 points) and Marc Gasol (23 points). The Grizzlies face Detroit on Thursday and will take on Blake Griffin, Motor City’s Own, for the fourth time this season.
Glad to See Dwight’s Still Having Fun in Atlanta
Congrats, You Are No Longer a Rookie, John Collins
John Collins touches the sky on the big to big alley-oop pic.twitter.com/PhzXMHrPFd— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 1, 2018
Not an Illusion: The Magic Won
On the second night of a back-to-back, without Aaron Gordon or Nikola Vucevic, Orlando and its tragic defense ... won! Really! Look up the box score!
For just the fourth time in 24 games, the Magic walked off the court winners for the night—still losers overall, and owners of the second-worst record in the NBA after beating the Lakers on Wednesday, 127-105.
Los Angeles was without Lonzo Ball (sprained left MCL) and had not played since Sunday. (Not unusual for small-market teams traveling to a high-profile place like Orlando to look sluggish, of course.)
Orlando hit nine 3-pointers in the third quarter, the first time in franchise history the team had ever done so in a single frame. Evan Fournier had five 3s, Mario Hezonja had four, and Mo Speights, three.
The Moose Leaves the Desert
The Phoenix Suns have agreed to a contract buyout with Greg Monroe, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 1, 2018
[Cleveland, New Orleans, and Boston immediately perk up.]
Dunk It Into Existence
On Tuesday, Ben Simmons and Jaylen Brown got upset after not being chosen as John Wall’s replacement in the All-Star Game. (Method of protest: one sarcastic laughing emoji for Ben; three hand-on-chin thinking emoji for Jaylen.) With Kevin Love now having to withdraw as well, both are out to prove his worthiness.
Ben Simmons, ladies and gentlemen:
Should Ben Simmons be an All-Star? pic.twitter.com/5jxiIZCq5E— The Ringer (@ringer) February 1, 2018
And Jaylen Brown:
Marcus Morris Exits After Fall
Marcus Morris is helped off the court after a hard fall underneath the basket. pic.twitter.com/wu8TU7h1Jw— ESPN (@espn) February 1, 2018
Morris left the game after a hard fall under the basket and did not return. The injury was identified as a bruised hip, though he also got hit pretty hard in the head:
Scary scene in Boston. Marcus Morris gets hit in the head on a dunk, takes a brutal fall to the floor, has to be helped to the back... pic.twitter.com/jAUPK3d9wl— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) February 1, 2018
Brad Stevens had no update on Morris after the game.
D Loading Is Still Loading
In the Nets’ 116-108 win over Philadelphia, D’Angelo Russell had his best game since returning from knee surgery and a 32-game absence. In 17 minutes off the bench, the third-year guard scored 22 points and added five rebounds and three assists.
Brooklyn’s other point guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, led the way, finishing with 27 points.
The Battle for the Third Seed
Seventy-two days have passed since Cleveland’s defense last held its opponent to less than 90 points. Against Miami and without Kevin Love (who, to be fair, is not helping the defensive cause), the Cavs rekindled whatever fire remained after a defeating loss to the Pistons on Tuesday.
They beat the Heat, 91-89, and held off Miami from taking third place in the East from them. Both sides played basketball better kept in the dark—the Heat shot 3-for-28 from deep and turned the ball over 19 times; the Cavaliers made six 3-pointers and turned it over 16 times.
This go-ahead basket from Jae Crowder gave the Cavaliers an edge in the ugly game:
LeBron James sealed the game on Miami’s last possession, locking down James Johnson with such authority that he couldn’t even manage an attempt at a buzzer-beater.
Cleveland has won three of its past four, which are the most encouraging words written about Cleveland in the past month.
Isaiah Canaan Suffers Brutal Injury
Seconds before the first quarter of Mavericks-Suns ended, Phoenix guard Isaiah Canaan suffered a traumatic leg injury on a drive to the basket. Many have already compared it in nature to Gordon Hayward’s early-season ankle fracture.