Joel Embiid & Nikola Jokic headline a historic NBA Wednesday!
This week has been a wacky one in the NBA with the schedule being so heavily loaded on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Monday was a day where the NBA and the country at large honored the great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and all of his contributions to this country, and there were some great tributes, and some great basketball to go along with it. Tuesday night there were only two games, and the Timberwolves and Warriors came away with some wins as Klay Thompson netted his first 20-point game since 2019.
And that brings us to Wednesday night, and we got a loaded 13-game slate that was absolutely off the chain. On Wednesday, there were 26 players who scored at least 25 points, 15 players who scored at least 30 points, and eight players who recorded 30-point double-doubles, all of which tied the NBA record for a single day, according to ESPN Stats & Info. So without further ado, let’s dive into Wednesday night’s action and I will do my best to hit all the major headlines from this absolutely insane night of hoops.
Entering Wednesday, Mo Bamba’s career-high in the NBA was 22 points, which he set on May 3, 2021, at Detroit. He surpassed that in the first half against the Sixers as he entered the locker room with 28 points including seven triples, which set a record for made-threes by a center in Magic Franchise history. The five three’s that he hit in the second quarter tied a franchise record for three’s in a quarter. Now Bamba only scored four more points the rest of the game, but he finished with a line of 32 points on 12-of-15 shooting (7-of-8 3-pointers) to go with four rebounds, three blocks, two assists, and just one turnover. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Magic lost 123-110 to Joel Embiid and the Sixers.
Well, how did they lose to Philly despite that amazing performance? Well, I’m thrilled that you asked. It’s because a man named Joel Embiid was simply too good on Wednesday, and he tied a career-high with 50 points on 17-of-23 shooting (1-of-4 3-pointers) and added 12 rebounds, two assists, three blocks, and one steal in 27 minutes. Embiid’s 27:03 was the fewest minutes played in a 50-point game in the shot clock era (1554-55) according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Embiid has been absolutely unstoppable lately, and in January he is now averaging 32.7 points on 55.6% shooting from the floor with 10.1 rebounds per game, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. He is putting up video game numbers, and there is no sign of him slowing down any time soon.
Nikola Jokic can’t stop being a cheat code
Nikola Jokic must have seen what Joel Embiid did in his 7 pm slot against Orlando and said “Anything you can do, I can do better.” Jokic didn’t quite get 50, and he had an overtime period, but nevertheless, his performance on Wednesday was simply ridiculous. The Joker played 41 minutes and scored 49 points on 16-of-25 shooting (3-of-5 3-pointers) to go with 14 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, and one block to lead the Nuggets to a 130-128 victory over the Clippers. This marked the fourth-most points scored in a triple-double by a center in NBA History, trailing Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 53 & 51 in triple doubles, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who scored 50 points in a triple-double.
Jokic found Aaron Gordon, who drilled the game-winning three-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining in overtime. Gordon finished with 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting (4-of-7 3-pointers) to go with four rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 44 minutes. Gordon has now scored at least 20 in three of his last five games. What gets lost in all of this is that Ivica Zubac scored a career-high 32 points on 15-of-19 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block in 37 minutes for the Clippers. Don’t worry Big Zu, I didn’t forget about you today!
Luka Doncic sets another Mavericks record in win
It will be a tall task to pass Dirk Nowitzki as the greatest player in franchise history, and it might be insurmountable unless Luka delivers a championship to Dallas. But he is knocking down franchise records by the day, and he added another one to the list on Wednesday night. In 42 minutes, Doncic scored 41 points on 13-of-24 shooting from the floor (4-of-10 3-pointers) and added 14 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and four turnovers as the Mavericks beat the Raptors 102-98. This was Luka’s third career game with 40 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in a game, which is the most in Mavericks franchise history.
Dallas held Toronto to 38.5% shooting from the floor, marking their 21st straight game holding an opponent under 50% shooting. They have quietly won 10 of their last 11 games, and they have the fourth-best defensive rating in the NBA this season.
I had the opportunity to be in the building for this one, and let me tell you, if you have not gotten the chance to see Kyrie Irving play basketball in person, that is something that I highly recommend because it is truly something to behold. The Nets beat the Wizards 119-118 in DC on Wednesday, but there was no shortage of drama, as Nets assistant coach David Vanderpool tipped a pass that Spencer Dinwiddie was throwing to Kyle Kuzma in front of the Nets bench with 5:45 remaining in the ballgame. That play will certainly be talked about a good deal for the next 24 hours or so, but the rest of the ballgame was pretty intriguing as well.
In his fifth game of the season, Kyrie Irving poured in 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the floor (2-of-8 3-pointers) and added seven assists, three rebounds, and one steal in 38 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge played in his second game after missing six straight games with a foot injury, and he played his best game of the season on Wednesday. Aldridge came off the bench and scored 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting (5-of-5 free throws) to go along with six rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in 32 minutes. The Nets will travel to San Antonio on Friday, and Minnesota on Sunday, and they will continue to be without Kevin Durant, who will be out for the next 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. So expect some more big nights for Irving and Aldridge coming soon.
Trae Young torches Minnesota in win
It’s hard to put up a quiet 37, 14 & 5, but that is essentially what Trae Young did on Wednesday. Young shot 10-of-17 from the floor (11-of-11 free throws) and added 14 assists, six triples, five rebounds, one steal, and five turnovers in 36 minutes as the Hawks beat the Timberwolves 134-122. Since coming out of the league’s health and safety protocols on December 27th, he has been on an absolute tear with averages of 29.5 points, 10.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 triples, and 4.2 turnovers per game. This also makes two straight games with at least 30 points and 10 assists, and the Hawks have won both of these games and will look to make it three straight on Friday against Miami.
D’Angelo Russell had a big night for the Timberwolves, scoring 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the floor (5-of-13 3-pointers) to go with five assists, two rebounds, two steals, and one block in 35 minutes. This was a good bounce-back game for Russell after a two-game stretch where he averaged 12 points on 35.0% shooting from the floor. Minnesota has now lost three of their last five games, and they have a date at home against Brooklyn on Sunday.
Alex Caruso Returns to help Bulls get a win
Alex Caruso played his first game since December 20th on Wednesday, and he helped the Bulls to stop a four-game losing streak as the Bulls beat the Cavaliers 117-104. Caruso played 23 minutes off the bench and scored nine points on 2-of-8 shooting (1-of-4 3-pointers) to go with three rebounds, two assists, and one block. There was certainly some rust from a shooting perspective, but Caruso did make all four of his foul shots on the evening, and most importantly he was a +18 in his 23 minutes on the floor, which was the highest plus/minus of any player in the game. The fact of the matter is that Caruso’s presence on the floor just makes the Bulls better, and as he begins to get his legs back under him, and once he is off of his minute restriction, he will be able to get you some decent fantasy value as well.
The Bulls are about to embark on a three-game road trip that starts on Friday in Milwaukee, and neither Lonzo Ball (left knee contusion) nor Zach LaVine (left knee soreness) will be on the trip, so Caruso should be starting everywhere.
Giannis gets the best of Ja in epic matchup
Two of the best players in the NBA matched up in Milwaukee on Wednesday as Ja Morant brought his streaking Memphis Grizzlies into Fiserv Forum to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The Grizzlies entered Wednesday having won 12 of their last 13 games and Morant, as well as Jaren Jackson Jr. did everything they could to pick up win number 13. Morant finished with 33 points on 12-of-27 shooting from the floor (4-of-10 3-pointers) to go with 14 assists, eight rebounds, and just one turnover in 39 minutes. JJJ put up 29 points on 9-of-20 shooting (9-of-10 free throws) with nine rebounds, four blocks, two triples, and one assist in 31 minutes. He now has tallied 29 blocks in his last seven games, good for 4.14 per game over that stretch which is simply insane.
Unfortunately for Memphis, all that wasn’t enough to get the win on Wednesday, because Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 33 points on 12-of-25 shooting from the floor (7-of-8 free throws) to go with fifteen rebounds, seven assists, two triples, two steals, one block, and five turnovers as the Bucks beat the Grizzlies 126-114 on Wednesday. Khris Middleton chipped in 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting (6-of-6 free throws) to go with seven rebounds, seven assists, one block, one triple, and one turnover in 36 minutes. Jrue Holiday returned from a two-week hiatus due to an ankle injury on Wednesday and scored nine points on 2-of-8 shooting (1-of-3 3-pointers) and added five rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 22 minutes off the bench. The win moved the Bucks to 17-3 when Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Holiday are all in the lineup.
Dejounte Murray triple-doubles again in win
Dejounte Murray has been awesome of late, and on Wednesday, he tallied his eighth triple-double of the season against Oklahoma City. The former Washington standout scored 23 points on 11-of-20 shooting (1-of-6 3-pointers) and added 14 assists, 10 rebounds, and three steals with just one turnover as the Spurs beat the Thunder 118-96. This marked his second triple-double in the last five games, and his third with at least three steals in the same span. Murray is making his case to be an NBA All-Star this season, and though he likely won’t make it because the west is loaded, and the Spurs aren’t very good, he is having a career year in San Antonio.
Terence Davis scores 35 in start
Tyrese Haliburton (health and safety protocols) missed his second straight game on Wednesday, and Terence Davis got another start in his place. In Sunday’s game, Davis set a career-high with four steals to go with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists. He set a different career-high on Wednesday, as his 35 points on 11-of-23 shooting (6-of-7 free throws) set a new mark, to go with seven triples, six rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal in 38 minutes. Unfortunately, the Kings lost for the second-straight game on Sunday, and they will be traveling to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Saturday. Haliburton could be eligible to clear quarantine for that game, but that does not mean that he will play if he can. Terence Davis is only rostered in 7% of Yahoo! Leagues, but that number is climbing by the hour, so if you want him, now is the time to grab him.
LeVert scores 30, Sabonis triple-doubles & hurts ankle in win over Lakers
Just when it looked like the Lakers were going to turn a corner, they snapped back into reality and went back into mediocrity. The Lakers hosted a Pacers squad that had lost 10 of their last eleven games, including four straight, entering Wednesday night. As you can likely tell, none of that mattered on Wednesday as the Pacers went into L.A. and beat the Lakers 111-104. They got 30 points out of Caris LeVert, who shot 12-of-16 from the floor (3-of-4 3-pointers) and added eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three turnovers in just 27 minutes.
Domantas Sabonis scored 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting (2-of-2 3-pointers) and added 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and one block in 35 minutes. But more importantly, he came down on Russell Westbrook’s ankle late in the fourth quarter, and though he finished the game, it seems like the injury could cause him to miss some time. After the game, Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said that the ankle sprain “is probably going to be significant,” so it is probably a safe bet that Sabonis will be on the sidelines for Thursday’s game in Golden State on night two of the back-to-back. With Myles Turner (left foot) out for an extended period of time, Indiana is suddenly extremely thin upfront. Expect Goga Bitadze and Isaiah Jackson to see big minutes on Thursday, and however long Turner and Sabonis remain out.