About Last Night

About Last Night: Poster party

It was an evening of monster slams and standout performances on a packed pre-Super Bowl slate

Dan McCarney, NBA.com

With 24 teams playing on the eve before Super Bowl Sunday, it should come as no surprise that Saturday’s NBA slate was loaded with great highlights and memorable performances, the latter of which we’ll get to in just a bit.

For now, allow us to wade through an uncommonly impressive assortment of poster dunks. So many, in fact, that we dare not embed them all lest your WiFi disconnect under the strain.

Ben Simmons punished Nemanja Bjelica. Brandon Ingram muscled one down over DeMarcus Cousins. Andre Iguodala victimized former teammate JaVale McGee, and enjoyed every bit of it. Nikola Vucevic challenged a pair of Brooklyn Nets, and won. Donovan Mitchell nearly got Nene, but had to settle for an acrobatic three-point play instead. Willie Cauley-Stein gave Joel Embiid a taste of his own medicine.

On a different date, any one could have been the play of the night. But on Saturday, there could be only one. OK, three:

Tomas Satoransky over Brook Lopez

Tough call as to which was better, Satoransky’s enormous finish …

… or his matter-of-fact explanation.

“I didn’t think I would dunk, but I saw the opportunity and I just took flight,” Satoransky said with a literal shrug.

Almost as good: Bucks forward Christian Wood’s concern for the well-being of his posterized teammate.

Karl-Anthony Towns over Mason Plumlee

Towns might be a little awkward at times. But as Plumlee found out the hard way, his combination of size, strength and fluidity is a rare — and in this instance, devastating — gift.

DeMarcus Cousins over Kyle Kuzma

And finally, the pièce de résistance: Boogie absolutely ends Kuzma. In true Cousins fashion, he drew a technical foul for staring Kuzma down after the finish. But, seriously, how do you NOT gloat a little bit after a dunk like this?

Cousins lamented the tech afterward — “I wish I could have that back,” he said — but the Warriors weren’t complaining too much. Including the slam and ensuing free throw, they outscored the scrappy Lakers by 22 from that point to claim a 115-101 victory that wasn’t quite as easy as it appeared.

“It brought the arena to life, and it brought the team to life,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

Monster performances

As if all those posters weren’t enough, Saturday also saw no shortage of outstanding individual outings:

  • James Harden, Houston Rockets

    Not only did Harden extend his historic 30-point streak to 26 games — now the third longest in NBA history, trailing only 31- and 65-game runs by Wilt Chamberlain — but the Rockets guard also came up just one blocked shot short of a 5×5. As it was, nobody had ever put up 43 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, six steals and four blocks in an NBA game before Harden’s conquest of the Utah Jazz.

  • John Collins and Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

    OK, so it came against the Phoenix Suns. But Atlanta’s young duo was exemplary, with Collins scoring 35 points to match his career-high while pulling down 16 rebounds, and Young scoring 17 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter. Young also dished out eight assists, allowing him to join some rare company:

  • Lou Williams, LA Clippers

    Williams has been lighting up NBA defenses for years. But Saturday was special even by his standards as he erupted for 39 points off the bench, and outscored the Detroit Pistons by himself in the fourth quarter, 18-14, to help the Clippers rally from 25 down. The game was tied at 91 before Williams scored every point in a 16-5 run that put his team ahead for good.

  • Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

    Dirk Nowitzki has seen a lot during his 21-year career. But after watching Luka Doncic torch the Cleveland Cavaliers for 35 points (28 in the first half), 11 rebounds and six assists, he put the rookie sensation in a class of his own. “For a 19-year-old,” Nowitzki said, “he’s got as good an all-around game as I’ve ever seen.” Reminder: Dirk also played against teenage LeBron James. Let the debate begin.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

    Last but never, ever least, the Greek Freak brought his usual blend of efficiency and monster production to bear against the Washington Wizards with 37 points and 10 rebounds. While his 3-point shot has yet to come around — and heaven help the NBA if it ever does — he’s in good shape at the line, where he made all 17 attempts to set the team record for most free throws without a miss.

Magic Jokic

Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic got a head start on Super Bowl festivities with this majestic full-court touchdown to Malik Beasley. Bill Walton, eat your heart out:

Batman

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A bat invaded the AT&T Center court, sending Spurs and Pelicans players scrambling. But with Manu Ginobili retired from the pest removal business (and also basketball), a new hero stood and delivered in San Antonio. If you watch closely, even Gregg Popovich is amused!

Despite playing half way across the country, somebody decided to ask Brook Lopez what he thought about the recent spate of bat invasions. It was worth it.

Tale of two coaches

With four straight Finals appearances (and very likely counting), the Warriors have played the equivalent of nearly a full extra regular season over that span.

As such, Kerr was just a little psyched at the prospect of a Nuggets victory, which would give him and his staff the week off instead of forcing them to serve in this year’s All-Star Game.

The Nuggets, meanwhile, were just a bit more enthused for their coach, Michael Malone, who secured the honor of coaching Team LeBron thanks to the Nuggets’ 37th victory of the season.

Fro-lar eclipse

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the 70s-inspired splendor of Jarrett Allen’s afro.

Quote of the night

“Keep runnin’, gunnin’, having fun and playing together,” — Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield on his team’s philosophy.

Well said, Mr. Hield. Well said.

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