Los Angeles Clippers 122, Portland Trail Blazers 117 — There’s no other way to say this: Portland blew this game. With Kawhi Leonard sitting out and Paul George only playing 28 minutes, the Trail Blazers had a 10 point lead midway through the first quarter.... and then let the Clips tie the game repeatedly during the quarter and then even take a lead in the second. Then Portland built another 10 point lead in the second quarter and nearly got there again in the third before letting the Clippers back in to tie it up.
Noted Marquette guy Doc Rivers got his squad to keep on pushing and LA took a brief lead early in the fourth quarter before Portland got their ducks in a row to lead by five, 108-103, with 5:50 to go. A 12-7 Clippers push capped by an and-1 from Patterson tied the whole thing up at 115 with exactly a minute left to go.
Damian Lillard looked like he was going to lead the Blazers to glory, getting this layup to answer.
Dame puts the Blazers up by 2 with 41 seconds left pic.twitter.com/3nMx4aGNR1— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 8, 2020
Rodney McGruder answered with a three on the other end, and then McGruder ended up sending Lillard to the free throw line with 18.6 to play....... and Lillard missed them both. His only two attempts from the stripe in the game. Blah blah free throws, a missed Lillard triple, blah blah, Clips win.
Is Lillard going to take some heat for the missed freebies? Sure. Did Portland have their chances to put LA into the ground in the previous 47 minutes? YOU BET, and they did not.
With Leonard sitting out, six different Clippers scored in double figures to spread the scoring load out. George ended up leading the way with 21 on 8-for-16 shooting, including 3-for-6 from long range. Ivica Zubac was a big factor for Doc’s guys, getting just nine points, but grabbing 12 rebounds (six on each end) and dishing four assists, too.
Phoenix Suns 119, Miami Heat 112 — No Jimmy Butler, lots of problems for the Heat. In a game that Miami kind of needed relative to their position in the Eastern Conference standings, the Heat let an early 11 point lead slip through their hands as Phoenix ran away with the game in the fourth quarter. Assessing how the game went through NBA.com’s Matchup page is wild, because it’s mostly just a big ol’ red splotch for three quarters, and then it’s all Suns orange in the fourth quarter. Heat lead, Heat lead, Heat lead, ehhhhh, not so much any more.
Devin Booker was getting wild with it here, scoring 35 points for the Suns on 15-for-26 shooting. Imagine what kind of night he would have had if he had hit any of his seven long range attempts! It’s not exactly a secret that Booker can do these kinds of things, as he just went for 35 the other day against the Raptors. It does feel like one of those situations where having Jimmy Butler available on defense might have done the Heat a world of good.
Miami is now in a tie for fourth place in the East with Indiana, as both teams have a record of 43-27 on the year. They’re both three and a half games back of Boston in the standings with three games to play, but just a half game in front of Philadelphia. The Sixers have an extra game left to play, so this seeding issue is far from over. Jae Crowder had 17 points, two rebounds, and an assist for Miami. The former Big East Player of the Year hit four of his five long range attempts in the game. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro both hit for 25 to lead the Heat in the losing effort.
I’m still trying to figure out how Luka Doncic did this.
In overtime, with a little over a minute left to go while up just two, on the move, between his own legs, past the absurd arms of Giannis Antetokounmpo, nearly perfectly placed into the hands of a cutting teammate who was free down the lane for a dunk. What.
That’s the kind of stuff you have to expect from a guy who is throwing together a 36/14/19, I guess, huh??
Okay. So, coming into this one, I wasn’t sure how much the Bucks were going to care about this game. They already clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference, and with every game happening at Disney World, it doesn’t really matter if they have “home court advantage” on everybody in the West. Well, the answer, based on playing time, is that the Bucks did actually care about this one. Antetokounmpo played 33 minutes and Khris Middleton saw 36 minutes of action. Sure, that’s not thaaaat much time in a 53 minute game, but remember that Milwaukee doesn’t usually play anyone much past 30 minutes in a regulation game.
We should also address the fact that Milwaukee had a seven point lead, 119-112, with 2:28 to go and then went to overtime. The Mavs closed regulation on a 7-0 run, and Milwaukee couldn’t convert three chances at the rim in the final three seconds to end up going to the extra session. It turned into a 16-0 run for Dallas, as Tim Hardaway and Dorian Finney-Smith (x2) hit threes for the first three baskets of overtime. That made it a 128-119 game with 3:05 to go in overtime, so from a certain point of view, the Bucks getting it to 133-130 with 31 seconds left is some kind of accomplishment.
We’re here for Wesley Matthews related content, and he scored six points in 28 minutes here. He was 2-for-4 from long range, and chipped in three rebounds and an assist, too.
Chicago Sky 100, Connecticut Sun 93 — Well, so much for a winning streak.
The Sun got on the board last time out, but they were not as fortunate here as Chicago handed Connecticut their sixth loss of the season, the most in the WNBA in 2020.
It’s one of those games that you end up at something of a loss to explain what happened. From Alexa Philippou of the Hartford Courant:
The good: The Sun had six players in double figures, shot 56%, outscored the Sky in the paint.
The bad: The Sky scored 29 points off CT’s 19 turnovers and another 29 from the FT line.
Ugh. It feels like the big moment in the game was towards the end of the third quarter, as Bria Holmes tied the game at 66 on back-to-back buckets. However, when the quarter ended, it was 79-71 Chicago, and the Sky broke the ice on the fourth quarter to take an 81-71 lead. Not great! The Sun never got it together to make a run after that.
Natisha Hiedeman got the start again for Connecticut, which is great news for our interests. She finished with just three points on a made long range shot, but she had a rebound and four assists to go with that.
Up Next: We get to snap our streak of every Marquette Golden Eagles-centric team playing on the same day! The Clippers will be back in action on Sunday night with an NBA TV game against Brooklyn at 8pm Central.
Milwaukee and Miami are back at it on Monday. The Bucks will take aim at Toronto with a 5:30pm CT start on ESPN, while the Heat and Pacers play one that you’ll have to catch on League pass at 7pm CT.
Connecticut gets their first crack at Atlanta this season on Monday evening. It’s a 5pm CT start for Hiedeman et. al. that you’ll have to fire up League Pass to watch.