Irving did his best to keep his basketball life separate from his new foray in thespianism. But it was impossible to keep them entirely apart. He could only chuckle, for example, when pictures of him late last summer began circulating, without his well-known beard. There was speculation that the removal of the beard represented some kind of clean break from the Cavs, celebrating his new life in Boston.
Denver is always tough to beat on their home court. The Nuggets showed that this week with wins over both the Warriors and Thunder. No one dominated against Golden State on Saturday, but the complete team effort was more than enough to win. Will Barton had 25 points and five rebounds.
As for the Jazz, Ricky Rubio was a perfect 9 for 9 from the floor through three quarters and finished the night 11 for 14 with a season-high 34 points. Utah has a way to go before they fully recover from losing Gordon Hayward, but they have shown some good things this season especially with the addition of Rookie of the Year candidate Donovan Mitchell.
It was a night of duels Saturday as Pistons center Andre Drummond won the matchup with Heat guard Goran Dragic in a 111-107 win. Dragic was great with 33 points and six assists, but Drummond was historic with 23 points, 20 rebounds, four steals and four blocks. This was the first 20-20-4-4 performance since 1989 when Hakeem Olajuwon did it for the Rockets.
The midrange jumper in the video below comes from a game against the Warriors in November. Ball shows a lack of confidence in his shot and hesitates in attacking an opening. He doesn’t want to take the open 3-pointer once Andre Iguodala goes under the screen set by Julius Randle and chooses to settle for a shot he knows will not end in two points for his team. That’s why he instantly attacks the offensive glass.
Saturday was a virtual blood-bath as several of the proverbial top teams in both conferences were saddled with losses. The Warriors, who have not played well at all this week, fell to the Nuggets 115-108, the Spurs lost to the Jazz 120-111, and the Cavaliers were outclassed by the Rockets in a 120-88 thumping.
Despite Saturday’s results, one thing is still likely: the Warriors, Cavaliers and Spurs will factor into the NBA Finals this season and there is a good chance they will all be in their prospective conference finals at the end of the season. However, the Rockets are clearly good enough to crash the party and the Nuggets are a formidable opponent who can hand even the best teams big losses.