Beaten in their last five games, the Lakers stopped the bleeding by beating the Bulls (123-107) under a more sharp LeBron than in their last games. If qualifying for the playoffs seems impossible, the Angelenos at least want to make a good showing at the end of the season.
Big game as LeBron James relaunches Los Angeles
The Laker leaders have resigned themselves. By limiting LeBron James' playing time every night and announcing the end of the season for young Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, they are already looking forward to next season. But even if the playoffs seem out of reach, the King wants to "finish strong", in his own words. He linked actions to words by setting the tone for his team's victory over Chicago that night (123-107).
He scored 36 points and was in every good move. And absent from the bad ones. Indeed, it was when he first rested on the bench that the Bulls passed the Lakers 11-1. The bulls then took off in the first quarter (16-34). They even scored up to 20 points ahead. But James quickly took control of things. Especially in the second half, when he scored his team's first six points in the third quarter. That's when Los Angeles made the difference. Kyle Kuzma scored 12 of his 21 points over the period and the Californians followed up with a 16-0 to take the lead (98-84).
This 14-point gap has evaporated. Los Angeles had only a four-point lead with eight minutes to go. LeBron James then got in tune again. He scored nine points in just three minutes to knock out the Bulls (115-101). 36 points in total (+10 rebounds and 4 passes), his best performance in scoring since last December 18. Typically the kind of performance that was expected when he announced that he had set the "playoff mode" in motion. On the other hand, it's a little late. The Lakers are 11th in the West with six wins less than Jazz, eighth, and only fifteen games to play.
Aldridge and DeRozan no longer stop
This is not the first time that the two Spurs buddies have been seen as the best duo in recent weeks. Because we have to admit that LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are really in good shape right now. Their tandem is working better and better. They have created automatisms and you can feel it in the field. Above all, it benefits San Antonio, which is doing much better after a serious slackening. The spurs even won their sixth straight victory in the Texas derby against the Mavericks (112-105).
Aldridge and DeRozan converted 11 of their 19 attempts. With 28 points for the first and 33 for the second. And a perfect 17 out of 17 on the line of throws in total. Together, they took over Dallas. For once, it was not Luka Doncic (12 points, 5 out of 18 by shooting) but another rookie who led the Mavericks. Jalen Brunson, the franchise's great find, scored 34 points. His career record.
40 assists for Denver
We know that in the Nuggets, the game is based first and foremost on the team, centred around the passing skills of the genius Nikola Jokic. Danger can come from anywhere.
Five players with more than 12 points in Denver's crushing victory over Minnesota (133-107) tonight. 30 of them for Jamal Murray. But the number that caught our attention was the number of decisive passes. 40 in total including 8 for the pivot replacing Miles Plumlee. If this team continues to circulate the swelling well, it will only be good for them. Even in playoffs.
Ben Simmons avoids an embarrassing defeat for the Sixers
Raptors' fallers in their last game, the Cavaliers almost reoffended again by knocking down another Eastern Conference leader. But the Sixers recovered in time and finally won over the line last night (106-99).
They can thank Ben Simmons, author of a very nice performance overall. The Australian prodigy nearly triple-doubled by scoring 26 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
Full results from last night :
Pacers – Knicks: 103-98
Sixers – Riders: 106-99
Bulls – Lakers: 107-123
Pelicans – Bucks: 113-130
Mavericks – Spurs: 105-112
Nuggets – Timberwolves: 133-107
Clippers – Trail Blazers: 104-125.