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NBA ICYMI: Jordan Clarkson Already Looks Like One of LeBron’s Guys

And he’s made fast friends with a rejuvenated J.R. Smith. Plus, the Raptors are finally pushed in the fourth, Ryan Anderson earns some of his paycheck, and everything else you need to know about Tuesday night in the association.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

All the need-to-know info from Tuesday’s slate.


A Backcourt, Old and New

Seriously, watch LeBron James watch this pass zoom by. Court vision recognize court vision.

Clarkson, who finished with twice as many points (14) as starter George Hill in as many minutes (24), will certainly become a LeBron bench favorite. He’s shown more energy already than Cleveland’s former bench, capable playmaking, and a willingness to be a teacher’s pet:

Ask J.R. Smith or Tristan Thompson—it pays to be one of his guys. And speaking of J.R.—welcome back, my friend! Even before the Cavs traded nearly half of the roster, Smith was getting back to form after a rough start to the season. His reinvigoration culminated against the Thunder on Tuesday: He finished with 18 points by going 6-for-9 from deep and added six rebounds, three assists, and a steal.

He also casually sealed the game with what might be the pass of the season.

And full circle, from old backcourt to new, these two already love each other! Just in time for Valentine’s Day. (This is your reminder that Wednesday is Valentine’s Day.)

Great Form, Kyle Lowry

Remember the days when you were too scrawny to get a 3-pointer to go the distance? This buzzer-beater is for 10-year-old you.

Rest Easy, Raptors

One reason Erik Spoelstra was happy to welcome Dwyane Wade back was his mentorship in clutch moments. Miami is in need of Throwback D-Wade—the Heat have played the most down-to-the-wire games of any team all season. Including Tuesday’s tight 115-112 loss in Toronto, 70 percent of Miami’s games have been within five points in the last five minutes.

Wade couldn’t save Spo this time. If any team on Tuesday’s slate was ready to close a game, it was the Raptors. They entered the contest coming off a five-game win streak with a 21-point average margin of victory. Only twice in that span was a player on the court for 30 minutes or more, and not once did Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, or Jonas Valanciunas play one second in any of those fourth quarters.

This is about as well-rested as it gets:

DeRozan and Lowry combined for 49 points; the Raps’ six-game win streak matches their longest of the season.

Death by Bledsoe

Tony Parker: 35 or 25?

San Antonio’s Other Frenchman

When there is no LaMarcus Aldridge or Rudy Gay, there is Joffrey Lauvergne. The backup-backup center played 24 minutes against the Nuggets on Tuesday, more than double his usual court time.

Denver pulled away with an 18-3 run late in the final quarter and won 117-109, but the Spurs left the game victorious on the boards, 42-35. Joffrey reigned there, grabbing 12 rebounds and scoring 26 points—his first double-double in nearly two years. By the end of the third quarter, he had topped his season highs in both categories.

The big man has a $1.7 million player option this summer. Opt out, Joff! This is your time!

Ryan Anderson Earns Some of That Salary

Houston has been paying out without getting much return on Anderson this season. He was averaging fewer than 10 points per game coming into Tuesday and is making fewer 3s per game than Gerald Green, a bummer of a contribution for the league’s most notoriously deep-shooting team. (It’s also Anderson’s one notable strength.)

But against the Wolves in a 126-108 win, Anderson finally fit in again. He finished with 21 points, and his six 3-pointers tied for his second-most all season.

That’s nine straight for Houston.

Andrew Wiggins Does Not Earn That Money

Those who defended Wiggins’s shiny new five-year, $146.5 million extension stayed off Twitter on Tuesday. He took 14 shots. He made two. He took five 3-pointers. He made none. (I guess it’s all part of the plan for Wigs to shoot himself out of the 31.6 percent slump from deep this season.)

On a positive note, Wiggins did make three of his four foul shots, going above and beyond his season average of … 63.4 percent.