Joel Embiid's gutsy, long 2-point jumper between the free throw stripe and 3-point line with 3.3 seconds left in regulation saved the Philadelphia 76ers from an embarrassing loss to the unrecognizable Miami Heat, who were missing nearly half their roster (including Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo) to injuries and COVID-19 protocol. Slightly fading away, Embiid sunk the shot that sent the game into overtime, and then took over to barely put the Heat away, 137-134. He finished with an unreal 45 points on 16-of-23 shooting (13-of-13 from the free throw line), 16 rebounds, four assists, five steals and a block with four turnovers.
While Embiid had a great night, nothing about the Sixers' win was pretty. With three minutes and 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Ben Simmons fouled out after attempting all of two field goals, and things looked grim. With 32.2 seconds remaining in regulation, the team trailed by five points. Chaotic play from skittish Heat players in a spotlight they weren't used to handed Philly the keys to avoid an ugly loss. The Sixers were, of course, missing their own share of players to medical protocols, including Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle and more. But this should've been a much simpler night.
On the flip-side, the Heat were really impressive, nearly beating a team with two All-NBA caliber stars without having one of their own. Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, Precious Achiuwa and Gabe Vincent all stepped up big-time. Robinson made 6-of-14, 3-pointers for 26 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Vincent, in his 11th NBA game ever, made 4-of-12, 3-pointers for 24 points, three assists and two rebounds. Achiuwa, a rookie, finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and a block. And Herro carried Miami late, scoring 34 points with three 3-pointers, seven rebounds, four assists, a block and six turnovers.
For as long as the bulk of the Heat's roster is sidelined quarantining, those four guys are in line to have the space to produce monster nights. With only eight total players, Robinson played 46 minutes, Herro played 39 minutes, and Vincent and Achiuwa each played 36. Embiid's game was the story of the night, but the Heat looking competent with a short rotation was a very close second. Maybe they won't crumble without their stars for the next few games.
Did James Harden play his last game for the Rockets on Tuesday?
The Rockets' performance against the Lakers was so ugly that in the second quarter, LeBron James felt comfortable enough to launch a corner 3-pointer, immediately drop his hands, and turn around and face his teammates before the shot swished through. Yeah, it was bad. The game ended in a 117-100 Lakers win, and was followed by a ton of postgame jabs from James Harden at management and his teammates, and John Wall at Harden.
Harden, when talking about the Rockets, said that the team is, "just not good enough ... I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed," according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. He walked away from the podium after saying "thanks," and that was it. That's pretty much a public trade request?
Where the Rockets go from here is unclear. What we assumed to be true behind the scenes came to life after the blowout loss to L.A., and now it's really difficult to see Harden and Wall sharing the backcourt again. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that while Houston is still looking for a trade, nothing is imminent. At this point, will Houston just tell him to pack his bags and head home?
Ok, let's talk about everyone else from the six games (Celtics vs. Bulls was postponed) from Tuesday night.
Danny Green — Green followed up a night where he didn't make a single shot from the floor and scored just two points with a 29-point win where he made a career-high nine 3-point shots on 21 attempts. That's a lot of attempts! Green was letting the ball fly all night with the Sixers' backcourt reserves still in quarantine. He added 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers, too. That's how a veteran player bounces back from a bad night.
Nikola Jokic — The No. 1 fantasy player in 9-cat leagues had another trick up his sleeve — a career-high seven steals to go along with 23 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, a block and just one turnover in 34 minutes. It wasn't enough to beat the Nets though, 122-116.
Will Barton — Barton had his best game of the year so far, scoring a season-high 22 points, including a season-high six made 3-pointers on eight tries. He also added three steals and a block to his two rebounds and one assist. Barton's been fluky on any given day this season, but catch him on the right night and he's a fantasy star.
Kevin Durant — Without Kyrie Irving again, Durant nearly triple-doubled, scoring 34 points with 13 rebounds and nine assists in a win over the Nuggets. He turned the ball over seven times, but sunk four 3-pointers.
Anthony Davis — Davis's five blocks were a season-high, and he got them in just 29 minutes. He added 19 points (one 3-point make), 10 rebounds, two assists and no turnovers.
LeBron James — James was James, scoring 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting, with eight rebounds, five assists, a block and five turnovers. He's a little good at this. I think he has a bright future in this league.
Myles Turner — Turner, the No. 12 player in 9-cat leagues, swatted five shots in a win over the Warriors, 104-95. He posted a season-high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting (three 3-pointers) with 12 rebounds and two steals.
Andrew Wiggins — Wiggins? Yeah! Wiggins. The Warriors lost, but Wiggins is coming into his own. He blocked a career-high five shots, and scored 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting (4-of-9 from 3-point range), with seven rebounds, three assists and just two turnovers in 35 minutes.
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Mike Scott — Scott made a season-high four 3-pointers on 12 tries in his second game back from a knee contusion. He scored 16 points with three rebounds and one assist in 16 minutes.
Isaiah Joe — Joe's taking advantage of the opportunity given to him with the Sixers missing so much depth. He scored 13 points in 37 minutes, draining 4-of-10 3-pointers. That's 11, 3-point makes in his last three games. Heck, he didn't take a single shot inside the arc on Tuesday. He also tallied five rebounds, an assist and two blocks.
Bruce Brown — Brown had his best night of the year, scoring a season-high 16 points with six rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two turnovers in 26 minutes. He's worth playing for as long as Irving remains sidelined.
Joe Harris — Harris had a nice little fantasy showing, with a rare three-steal night (tied his career-high) to go along with three made 3-pointers for 15 points, four assists and three rebounds.
Jordan Clarkson — The Jazz blew out the Cavaliers, who were without Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Kevin Love and Andre Drummond, 117-87, and Clarkson was a big reason why. He drained five 3-point shots for 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and four turnovers.
Donovan Mitchell — Mitchell was huge, too, scoring a game-high 27 points with five 3-point makes, four assists and three rebounds with one turnover in 30 minutes. (Clarkson and Mitchell combined for two more 3-point makes than the entire Cavaliers team. Cleveland played so poorly I don't think I can even highlight a single players' performance. Yikes.)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — Pope had a great fantasy night, scoring four 3-pointers on five tries for 14 points, three rebounds, one assist and three steals.
DeMarcus Cousins — There was little to like on Tuesday night if you were a Rockets fan, but Cousins had his best game in a Houston jersey. In 18 minutes, he scored a season-high 13 points (two 3-pointers) with 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal with one turnover.
Lonnie Walker IV — Without DeMar DeRozan (personal) again, Walker stepped up. He scored a game-high 24 points (three 3-point makes) with three rebounds, two assists, a block and one turnover in 36 minutes to beat the Thunder, 112-102. The 22-year-old could see this type of output for as long as DeRozan sits.
Aaron Holiday — Without Victor Oladipo (rest) in the lineup, Holiday scored 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting (two 3-pointers) with 12 assists to just one turnover, and two steals in 28 minutes. It's his brother, Justin, who ranks just outside the top-100 of all players in 9-cat leagues, while Aaron doesn't rank inside the top-200. Monitor Aaron's play going forward.
Ben Simmons — Simmons had a huge opportunity against a skeleton Heat crew, but fouled out in the fourth, and finished with just five points, 12 assists, six rebounds, two steals and six turnovers. (Not such a great audition if he wanted to become a Houston Rocket.)
Bol Bol — Bol Bol got the start against the Nets, but he didn't do much in the box score with his minutes. He made 2-of-3 shots (one 3-pointer) for five points, two rebounds, one assist and two turnovers in 16 minutes. His role in Denver is far from stable.
James Harden & John Wall — The postgame jabs were bad, and the on-court performance matched. Wall scored a season-low 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting with five assists, though he did post two steals and a block. Harden scored 16 points on 5-of-16 shooting with seven rebounds, six assists, one steal and three turnovers. If this is the end of the road for Harden in Houston, it shouldn't be remembered like this.