All the need-to-know info from Tuesday’s slate.
Not Like This, KP
Kristaps Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee, the Knicks announced after he underwent a postgame MRI. Reports indicate he will undergo season-ending surgery. Porzingis landed awkwardly on his left leg after dunking all over Giannis Antetokounmpo in the second quarter of the Knicks’ matchup with the Bucks on Tuesday night.
Here’s the video of the play:
[Cut to countless Knicks fans wallowing in the unfairness of this incident.]
Porzingis, who has had a couple of injury scares this season and missed seven games, was carried to the locker room by his teammates. The All-Star big man was initially not able to put much pressure on his leg. The injury almost certainly ends any hopes the Knicks had of making the playoffs and cuts short Porzingis’s third season in the league. This has been Porzingis’s best season as he’s averaged a career-high 22.9 points per game and shot nearly 40 percent from 3. He started the season leading the league in scoring, which earned him some early MVP talk. In short, this is devastating for both the Knicks and the league. Of note: This is the fourth injury to a member of LeBron’s All-Star team.
The Land Hits Rock Bottom
How low can you go? How bad can it get? Those are the prevailing questions for the Cavs as they stumble into the trade deadline and the All-Star break. I didn’t think it could get much lower than a team meeting that keeps looking more incendiary with each report. I didn’t think it could get worse than a blowout loss to the Rockets in prime time that caused LeBron to say that the Cavs shouldn’t be on national TV anymore. But hey, guess what: On Tuesday night in Orlando, it did get worse.
After being up by as many as 21 points on the Magic, who were on the back end of a back-to-back, the Cavs were outscored 65-31 in the second half (which, as our own Zach Kram pointed out to me, is the third-worst half by point differential in Cavs history) and ultimately lost, 116-98. It was an embarrassing performance for the Cavs defense—the third-worst in the league—which allowed Jonathon Simmons to score 22 points in the third quarter alone …
That Cavs D rolling out the red carpet pic.twitter.com/rkj9jG2iwX— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) February 7, 2018
And a pathetic showing for the offense, which was able to put up only nine points in the final period. This is no longer a midseason crisis. It’s a lot worse than that.
“When adversity hits, we go our separate ways” - Isaiah Thomas— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 7, 2018
Giannis + Gus Johnson Are a Match Made in Heaven
Gus Johnson speaks for all of us pic.twitter.com/VGJ6675aWz— Behind the Buck Pass (@BehindTheBucks) February 7, 2018
In case you missed that, Giannis actually jumped OVER Tim Hardaway Jr. Has there been a better in-game dunk in recent history? Giannis finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a pair of blocks. The Bucks beat the Knicks, 103-89.
The Sixth Men of The Six
Kyle Lowry had an ultra-efficient 23 points in 25 minutes. DeMar DeRozan added 15 of his own. But in Tuesday’s matchup between the Celtics and the Raptors, Toronto’s dominating 111-91 win over Boston was a product signed, sealed, and delivered by the Raptors bench.
Pascal Siakam, C.J. Miles, Jakob Poeltl, Fred VanVleet, and Delon Wright were all a combined plus-67 in 120 minutes played on the night. The unit scored a combined 54 of the Raptors’ 111 point and fueled Toronto’s victory as the second seed in the East outshot and out-rebounded the Celtics, edging them in assists 29-21, and forcing them into 17 turnovers.
“There’s not many more groups I enjoy watching more than their second group when they’re all on the floor together,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said pregame. By the time the game had finished, I bet Stevens probably hadn’t enjoyed watching that second unit dismantle his squad. Toronto is now tied with Boston in the loss column for the 1-seed in the East.
The first half of the Warriors’ matchup against the Thunder on Tuesday looked to be well on its way to a tantalizing duel between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Both led their teams in scoring at the half, Westbrook with 27, Durant with 24. It was perfect for the narrative. But in the second half, a fella by the name of Paul George took over and dropped 21 points to put away the defending champs. He finished with 38 points and outplayed Durant on both ends of the floor. I’ll say it for the millionth time: Paul George should be the no. 1 option on the Thunder. Full stop.
But overall, it was the Thunder’s suffocating length and the Warriors’ clumsiness that led to the 125-105 result. Golden State turned the ball over 25 times and the Thunder capitalized, scoring 38 points off those turnovers. Draymond was ejected after two technicals, and only Durant scored in bunches to keep up with OKC’s 47.3 percent shooting from the field.
Warriors in two games vs Thunder this season: 46 turnovers, 45 assists.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 7, 2018
The Warriors are now 1-4 against the Thunder and the Rockets—a fact that will likely become meaningless once the playoffs arrive. So cherish it.
Please wait while we connect you to James Harden.
The Nets gave the Rockets all they could handle, but in the end, 36 points from the Beard helped give Houston the 123-113 victory—the team’s fifth in a row.
Embiid Is Everywhere
Joel Embiid took seven 3s on Tuesday night, tied for the most of any of Sixer. He made three of them as he racked up 27 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and added three blocks. He did just a little bit of everything, rolling to the rim for easy dunk finishes:
Spotting up for 3s, and hitting tough fadeaways:
And outright denying players at the rim like a human fly-swatter:
The Sixers beat the streaking Wizards, 115-102, to put themselves over .500, just three and a half games behind the 3-seed in the East. Philly stays winning.
Ingram for the Slam
This exclamation point finish was part of Brandon Ingram’s game-high 26-point night. The Lakers beat the Suns 112-93 for their 11th victory in their past 15 games. Trust the progress.
Belinelli on the Block
The Hawks held Marco Belinelli out of Tuesday’s game against the Grizzlies as they are reportedly planning to trade him before Thursday’s deadline. Belinelli is averaging 11.4 points on 23 minutes per game this season. He’s shooting 41.1 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from 3. The Hawks, who held the league’s worst record headed into Tuesday, trounced the Grizzlies 108-82.