While one might be the loneliest number according to “Three Dog Night”, four was the most exciting number in the NBA last night, as in fourth quarter.
11 games were on the NBA docket for Wednesday night. The Lakers honored Dr. Jerry Buss while a current legend passed a former legend, the Knicks were flattened by Indiana, the Heat was turned on in the fourth quarter in Atlanta and Kyrie Irving pulled victory from defeat in Cleveland.
As we head into Thursday, the NBA trade deadline is upon us. Two trades occurred on Wednesday, both concerning the Rockets. Check out our blog for the latest information. Meanwhile, prepare yourselves for our latest edition of Five Fast Facts.
- In the Lakers first game since the death of Dr. Jerry Buss, they honored his memory with a double-digit win over storied rival Celtics. In the win, Steve Nash passed Magic Johnson for 4th place on the all-time assist list. The loss dropped the Celtics to 0-7 on the road against Western Conference foes. Dwight Howard scored 24 points, shooting 10-for-13 from the field, and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Lakers’ 113-99 home win over the Celtics. It was Howard’s 82nd career game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting at least 70% from the floor. That’s more than twice as many as any other player since 2004-05, his first season in the NBA. Carlos Boozer is a distant second with 30. And as disappointing as Howard’s Lakers tenure has been so far, his five such games are still the most by any player this season. Despite the win, the Lakers still are unsure what to do with Dwight Howard.
- LeBron James didn’t score 30 points but instead showed off his passing skills as his eight 4th-quarter assists sparked a double-digit comeback against the Hawks. The Heat trailed the Hawks 73-63 at the end of the third quarter, but outscored Atlanta 40-17 over the final 12 minutes to post a 103-90 victory at Philips Arena. The last team to win by 13+ points after trailing by double digits after three quarters was the Lakers on December 20, 2006. Los Angeles was also down by 10 points at the end of the third, but outscored the Timberwolves 34-7 in the fourth to post a 17-point win at Minnesota.
- James Harden scored 46 points (16 came in the fourth quarter) on 14-for-19 shooting (74%), while also contributing eight rebounds and six assists in the Rockets’ 122-119 home win over the Thunder. In the last 40 years, the only other starting guards to score more than 45 points, shoot better than 70% and record more than five rebounds and five assists in a game are Michael Jordan (twice in 1988-89), Clyde Drexler (January 1989), Dana Barros (March 1995) and Dwyane Wade (December 2007 and March 2009). James Harden led all scorers with 46 points, while fellow starting guard Jeremy Lin scored 29. Meanwhile, both members of Oklahoma City’s starting backcourt, Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook, each scored 28 points in defeat. It was the first NBA game in which all four starting guards scored at least 28 points since December 29, 1989. In that game, Derek Harper scored 42 and Rolando Blackmon added 35 for the Mavericks, while Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter put up 32 and 28, respectively, for the Trail Blazers. Jeremy Lin was impressed by their fans, but is going to miss his teammates who were traded, in the tweet of the night.
- Kyrie Irving put on a one-man show in the fourth quarter scoring 20 of his 35 points over the final 7:08 to lead the Cavaliers to a 105-100 win over the New Orleans Hornets. The last NBA player to score that many points in the fourth quarter of a victory was Dirk Nowitzki, who put up 21 against the Rockets on April 18, 2012. Kyrie Irving scored 11 points on isolation plays on Wednesday against the Hornets, six of which came in the fourth quarter, including the go-ahead basket with 4:23 left in the game. Irving leads the NBA in isolation points per game this season.
- In Indiana, the Knicks continued their poor recent play, getting run out of the building, 125-91. All five Pacers starters made more than half of their field-goal attempts, while each of the Knicks’ starting five shot under 50% in Indiana’s 125-91 home win. The last NBA game in which that happened (all starters on one team over 50%, all on the other team under 50%) was a Mavericks win over the Kings on February 10, 2009. The Pacers had only been on the positive side of such a contest once in their NBA history, a win over the Nuggets on December 12, 1995. And the Knicks hadn’t suffered through such a game since March 24, 1972, in a loss to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Bucks. New York has now lost three straight and four of five while seeing their division lead drop to just one game over the Nets.
Stat Mann is the nom de guerre of our research statistician, who spends a lot of time watching basketball in central Connecticut. Someone would be angry if they discovered he was moonlighting here.