All the need-to-know info from Tuesday night’s slate.
Don’t Put Dwyane Wade on Your Antique Shelf
Three games back, Miami lost a one-possession game to Philadelphia. Dwyane Wade was in a Heat jersey once again, and like many times before in those digs, he was trusted with the last shot: a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. Wade missed. Miami lost.
Wade didn’t miss against Philly this time around—and not just on the game-winning stepback jumper. The vet scored 13 points in the last five minutes, drawing fouls and pulling up and hitting floaters and flashing smiles. The Miami Vice–themed throwbacks didn’t hold a flame to the vintage Wade.
Dwyane Wade has been making big shots in Miami for a LONG time... pic.twitter.com/50juITFiOu— Dime on UPROXX (@DimeUPROXX) February 28, 2018
He wound up with a game-high 27 points in 25 minutes off the bench—and of course, playing like the Wade of old, had three steals as well. Miami’s 102-101 win on Tuesday is the first time in six games that the Heat have pulled out a W in a game that ended within four points.
One of Miami’s biggest issues leading into the All-Star break was its inability to close those frantic, close games the team is so prone to. Forty-three of the Heat’s 61 games this season have been within five points in the last five minutes—a stat I keep repeating in ICYMI because it’s a stat that keeps ticking upward.
Wade being Wade, the closer, is obviously good for both Miami and its beloved son, who is, very clearly, not ready to join Udonis Haslem as an honorary board member of the bench.
Am I right, LeBron?
Wait, So Is LeBron James Getting Older or Not?
Watching LeBron James at this point in his career is like watching the Benjamin Button of stats. Sure, he’s passing landmarks only someone this far into his career should be able to—or really, some benchmarks that no one has ever reached 15 seasons in, or, like, ever—
—yet he plays like a guy one year into his prime. LeBron capped off Tuesday with a triple-double consisting of 31 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists, a fitting finish considering another Benjamin Button record he broke. After snagging his seventh board in the 129-123 win over Brooklyn, he wound up averaging a triple-double in February, becoming the oldest player in history (33) to do so in any calendar month.
One-hundred Days of Solitude
After 100 days, Paul Millsap returned to action on Tuesday night. “To get to this point,” he told reporters before the game, “I broke down this morning.”
Millsap came off the bench but didn’t play like someone reacclimating slowly. He finished with nine points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and one steal in the Clippers’ 122-120 comeback against the Nuggets.
and a quiet has come over the "how does Millsap fit in when he returns" hot takes pic.twitter.com/zco1hJJOad— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 28, 2018
But there were rattling adjustments elsewhere; Nikola Jokic, who typically takes about seven shots in the first half of a game, didn’t shoot a single time through the first two quarters. That’s exactly the production one worrying about reintegrating Millsap into an offense that Jokic leads does not want to see. The Joker wound up with 18 points, though it didn’t matter, as Denver blew a 19-point lead.
Giannis Gotta Stay High All the Time
A New Start for the Finnisher
Monday, Jarrett Allen wiped away all of Lauri Markkanen’s clout with a single posterization. Tuesday, the rookie was readmitted to the 7-footer club.
Injury Bug Stings the Hornets
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was Charlotte’s first locker-room departure, leaving Tuesday’s contest against the Bulls with a left hamstring strain just six minutes in. Then Dwight Howard suffered a rib injury, and late in the second quarter, Cody Zeller (sore knee) joined them in the back. (Noah Vonleh gave Zeller a pretty rude send-off a few minutes before.)
Oh my goodness, Vonleh just DROPPED Cody Zeller pic.twitter.com/oAAR4m6Xek— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) February 28, 2018
Only Howard played again in the game, though he kicked off his second-half return by committing a technical that was sandwiched between two shooting fouls. (The tech is Howard’s 13th this season; he has three to go before a league suspension.)
But Charlotte did begin to pull away after he was T’d up in the third, eventually pulling out a 118-103 win. Salute Kemba Walker for that: The guard hit six 3s for 31 points. He also missed what would have been his most fulfilling shot:
J.J. Redick: He’s No Dwyane Wade
JJ Redick had a chance to win it but he missed the wide open shot pic.twitter.com/ydsAulmdyf— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 28, 2018
Kidding, Processors! Although, I mean …
Kyle Korver—and his shot—are returning to form.
In the five games since he’s played alongside Cleveland’s shiny new arrivals before Monday, Korver hasn’t managed over nine points, not even averaging a measly five. He went for a game-high four 3s (all in the second quarter) and 18 points against the Nets, production that was originally expected playing with the revamped second unit. Jordan Clarkson drawing defenders, in theory, leaves Korver more open, but the latter was shooting significantly worse over that five-game stretch.
George Hill also found his groove, going for a season-high 26 points after averaging nine points so far as a Cav.