All the need-to-know info from Tuesday’s slate.
A Backcourt, Old and New
That Jordan Clarkson vision pic.twitter.com/HgUEZO3XC2— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 14, 2018
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.)
Clarkson and JR on the same team is hilarious pic.twitter.com/5WZKjFDb31— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 14, 2018
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:
Kyle Lowry stops and lobs it up to DeMar DeRozan pic.twitter.com/79DeDfu0x9— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 14, 2018
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.
Joffrey is having a night!!— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 14, 2018
16 points, a career high 11 rebounds and this dunk pic.twitter.com/PyzNRpcwTp
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.