LAST NIGHT IN THE ASSOCIATION: Two title favorites made major statements in their wins.
🦌 In what was rightfully billed as one of the biggest games of the year, the Milwaukee Bucks took down the Los Angeles Lakers by a final score of 111-104. Giannis Antetokoinmpo led the way for Milwaukee with a monster performance, scoring 34 points, securing 11 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. He hit a career-high five three-pointers in the contest, too, making the Lakers pay for trying to defend him with Anthony Davis. Oh, and he also became the first player since Shaq to score 25-plus points on 50 percent shooting or better for 13 straight games. Decent. To be fair, though, Davis was also great last night, putting up a 36/10/5 stat line and helping keep the Lakers in it on a night LeBron James went 8-for-19. (LeBron did have a triple-double, to his credit.) These two teams face off again on March 6, in what will be another potential Finals preview.
🚀 The Rockets took down the Clippers in Los Angeles thanks to the superhuman efforts of one Russell Westbrook, who dropped 40 points, 10 boards and five assists (to go with eight turnovers). It was needed, too, because James Harden wasn’t his usual self (mostly thanks to Patrick Beverley); Harden had just 28 points on the night, a far-cry from his nearly 39-point-per-game average. It might be time we start paying attention to the Rockets as actual contenders.
GET YOUR MONEY: Zach Lowe has heard from league sources that Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris could double his current salary when hits free agency this summer. Harris has hit an absurd 44.5 percent of his threes over the past three seasons.
💰 Harris is making $7.7 million in 2019-20, and is the 160th highest-paid player in the league. That figure projects go way up next season.
TALKING TO AN ALL-STAR: We talked to Victor Oladipo about how his injury recovery is going, when he might come back and what he thinks of the Pacers’ season so far.
NO MAX FOR YOU: Andre Drummond likely won’t receive a max contract from the Pistons this summer, according to The Athletic, and if Detroit doesn’t turn things around soon, the team could even look into trading their All-Star big man.
BLAKE ON THE MOVE? Blake Griffin, on the other hand, probably won’t get dealt this season, which makes sense since his value is at an all-time low due to his age, recent (and long-term) injury history and poor production thus far in 2019-20.
HALL OF FAME NOMINATIONS: The NBA announced yesterday the 2020 class of potential Hall-of-Fame inductees, and boy, is it a loaded group. Headlining the batch are Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh, who have 13 combined titles and four league MVP trophies to their illustrious names. Besides that awesome foursome are Shawn Marion, Michael Finley, Chauncey Billups and Tim Hardaway (among others), the latter two of whom have been nominated multiple times.
🏆 Previously, we’ve ranked the Top 10 greatest Hall of Fame classes ever, but after next year’s inductees are announced, we might have to revise that list, because this group could eclipse most of the other ones we ranked.
ROTATION PLAYER OUT: Nets guard David Nwaba, who had carved out a nice role as a tough defensive-minded wing, tore his achilles last night and will almost certainly miss the rest of the season.
🤔 Tough loss for Brooklyn, but maybe they can look into bringing back Iman Shumpert, who they recently cut.
MORE INJURIES: Toronto announced Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell – three of their starters, one of whom is their best player – will be out indefinitely with different injuries. That’s not great.
OVER IT: Jaylen Brown says he was misquoted when he said Kyrie Irving got too much of the blame for the Celtics’ terrible 2018-19 campaign, and that he’s done with talking about his former teammate.
WADE ON WAITERS: Dwyane Wade joined Matt Barnes’ new podcast and talked about the whole Dion Waiters situation this season. Wade feels bad for his former teammate, and hopes Waiters is able to bounce back before it’s too late and he’s out of the league.
GIVE MAGIC CREDIT: Despite the back-to-back losses, this season has been fantastic thus far for the Lakers. One person who has noticed is their former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who says he deserves credit for Los Angeles’ success this year. He seriously said that.
WHO IS MIKE MILLER? (NOT THAT ONE): When the Knicks announced Mike Miller was going to be their interim head coach, many thought – for some reason – they meant the former Heat, Grizzlies and Wizards guard. Well, they didn’t.
🛣️ The path the actual Knicks-coaching Mike Miller took to get that gig is actually really interesting, and you can read about it here.
DRAFT WATCH: Potential No. 1 pick James Wiseman, who our aggregate mock draft has as the No. 3 player on the board for the 2020 draft, will leave Memphis and start preparing for the draft. Not a great return on investment there for the Tigers.