At 18-6, the Miami Heat’s dominance to begin the season has been one of the biggest surprises of the early NBA season.
However, their comeback performance on Tuesday night was arguably even more surprising than their hot start to the year.
After being down six points with less than a minute to go, the Heat cameback to beat the Atlanta Hawks 135-121 in overtime thanks to Jimmy Butler’s heroics and superb effort from his supporting cast.
After Hawks point guard Trae Young claimed the game was “over,” Butler followed a Duncan Robinson three-point with a trifecta of his own, tying the game up with less than 30 seconds to go.
From there, the Heat scored the first 16 points of OT, capping off a 22-0 run after Young’s false prophecy that sealed Atlanta’s fate.
After the game, Butler went on social media to say that Young might not have been wrong after all…
Butler would finish with a triple-double of 20 points, a career-high 18 rebounds, and 10 assists, but wouldn’t be the only Heat player to record a new career-high. In fact, he wasn’t even the only Miami player to record a triple-double.
Miami forward Bam Adebayo also recorded his first career triple-double with career-high in points (30) and assists (11) to go with his 10 rebounds.
The Heat’s sharpshooter Duncan Robinson was absolutely on fire from deep, knocking down a career-high and Heat franchise record 10 three-pointers on 14 attempts, finishing with a career-high of 34 points.
Upstart undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn continued to shock the league, scoring a career-high 36 points to lead the Heat squad and add another fantastic performance to his NBA Rookie Of The Year campaign.
However, the new career-highs were not just limited to the Heat players, as Hawks rookie forward De’Andre Hunter put up a career-high 28 points on the night.
Young also added 21 points and nine assists, while long-time veteran Vince Carter made history by becoming only the fifth player in NBA history to play in 1,500th games.
Tuesday’s contest is a perfect example of why Miami will be a force to reckon with in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, as with their resiliency and young talent, the Heat will be a tough team to beat in April.
Toronto Raptors Defeat The Atlanta Hawks Despite Trae Young’s Big Performance
Simply put, Trae Young needs more help in Atlanta.
The star point guard put together another stellar performance with 42 points, 6 rebounds, and a season-high 15 assists, but his Atlanta Hawks still fell to the Toronto Raptors 122-117.
Young was unbelievable yet again, but his heroics and flashy plays couldn’t make up from the lack of production from his other Hawks teammates.
Atlanta was winning for most of the contest, but the Raptors took back control in the second half with Norman Powell leading the comeback effort with 27 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter alone.
Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet rounded out Toronto’s scoring efforts with 20 points, and forward Pascal Siakam contributed 18 points, with the duo also both making plays on the defensive end.
With Atlanta currently having the second-worst record in the NBA at 10-34, the victory was expected for Toronto, who has now moved to third place in the Eastern Conference standings.
However, the biggest takeaway from the game is another alarming example that the Hawks must give Young reinforcements.
In only his second year in the NBA, the Oklahoma product has repeatedly taken over games with his incredible shooting stroke and passing ability, just to have his efforts go to waste due to the lack of veteran talent on Atlanta’s roster.
If the Hawks want to get serious about their future, big moves will have to be made so the franchise doesn’t waste Young’s All-Star caliber talent.
Houston Rockets Waste Russell Westbrook’s Historic Triple-Double, Blowing Lead Late to the Thunder
Russell Westbrook made history on Monday night, putting together a great performance against his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Westbrook recorded his eighth triple-double of the season, scoring 32 points with 11 rebounds and 12 assists.
In doing so, Westbrook joined LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to ever record a triple-double against every team in the league.
Behind Westbrook’s great play, the Rockets appeared to be cruising towards another victory at home.
Going into the fourth quarter, Houston held a 87-71 lead over the Thunder. But OKC is one of the best fourth quarter teams in the NBA and they showed it by stunning the Rockets in the game’s final period.
Oklahoma City outscored Houston 41-20 in the fourth quarter, with Dennis Schroder and Danilo Gallinari leading the charge.
Gallinari scored 12 points, draining three three-point shots, meanwhile Schroder led the team with 15 fourth quarter points.
In the first half of the game, it was Chris Paul that carried the Thunder, keeping them afloat when the rest of their offense was stagnant.
Paul led the team in scoring with 28 points, but 27 of those points came in the first half.
As the game progressed, the Thunder were able to creep back into it because of some really bad shooting by James Harden.
Harden scored 29 points, but struggled mightily behind the three-point line, as he shot an atrocious 1-17 from beyond the arc.
Houston has now lost four-straight games, dropping the last three of those contests at home.
The losing streak has dropped the Rockets to the sixth seed in the Western Conference, where they currently sit just two games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Trail Blazers Trade Kent Bazemore to the Kings in Exchange for a Package Headlined By Trevor Ariza
The Portland Trail Blazers have gone through a very disappointing season after reaching the Western Conference Finals last year.
Halfway through the season, Portland is just as close to being in the lottery as they are to being in the playoffs.
Now in a move that helps them not only shake up their roster, but also save money, the Trail Blazers have traded a few key pieces of their rotation to the Sacramento Kings.
Portland traded Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento, in a move that saves them $12.3 million on their tax sheet.
Bazemore and Tolliver make a combined $21.8 million, whereas Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan make just $15.7 million. When factoring in the luxury tax costs, this is a huge money-saver for the Blazers.
They also receive a solid defensive wing in the process, as Ariza remains a solid defender, even at 34 years old.
While Ariza is playing good defense, the rest of his numbers are down across the board, as he is averaging just six points per game. He is also averaging less than 25 minutes per game for the first time in a decade.
Still, Ariza is the type of prototypical 3-and-D wing that the Trail Blazers need. Despite his diminished scoring stats, Ariza is shooting 35% from three-point range.
Ariza is also just a year removed from averaging 14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game for the Washington Wizards.
Meanwhile the Kings probably landed the best player that is involved in this trade, as Kent Bazemore is closer to his prime than Ariza and is a more effective scorer.
Still, Sacramento is looking like they are heading to the lottery yet again and adding the two second round picks was likely the primary motivator for the rebuilding Kings.
Another benefit of this deal for Sacramento is that they clear Ariza’s near $13 million contract off the books next year and pick up two expiring contracts in Bazemore and Tolliver.
It would not be surprising to see more deals made by both of these teams ahead of the deadline, as neither looks to be making a legitimate run at a title this year.
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