The second weekend of the 2018-19 season didn’t disappoint, featuring multiple milestones, unbeatens getting beaten and the second dramatic edition of Lakers-Spurs in less than a week.
We cover all that and more in the latest edition of About Last Night.
Five days after a high-scoring, overtime thriller in Los Angeles, the Spurs and Lakers were back in action at San Antonio. The outcome was the same: a narrow Spurs victory behind DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge despite valiant efforts from LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma.
How each duo scored those points, however, differed greatly. The Spurs tandem stuck to its mid-range specialty, while James and Kuzma attacked from the extremes of beyond the arc or inside the paint.
The last play of the game garnered the most talk. Down four, L.A. faced a classic question: get the guaranteed two points now or a chance at three with only seconds remaining in a two-possession game?
Rajon Rondo opted for the latter, passing on a blatantly wide-open layup in favor of finding a teammate beyond the arc. James’ contested attempt was off the mark, ultimately sealing the Spurs’ win.
LeBron has been good at basketball for a long time, hence his rise to sixth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list on Saturday night. For a guy who came into the league with an extremely questionable jump shot, it was only fitting that a smooth 17-footer saw James further ascend basketball’s ultimate ladder of immortality.
James wasn’t the only guy making his mark on Saturday. Miami’s Goran Dragic surpassed 10,000 career points during Miami’s 120-111 win over Portland. Not bad for a former 45th overall pick.
It's an honor to play this sport for a living, and to play it long enough to surpass 10,000 points. A great team win tonight! @MiamiHEAT @NBA #TheDragon 🐉
— Goran Dragić (@Goran_Dragic) October 28, 2018
Speaking of the Blazers, Lillard’s 42-point performance was the 18th such 40-point game of his career, pushing him past Clyde “The Glide” Drexler for most 40-point games in franchise history.
In case you don’t remember how good Drexler was…
Gregg Popovich has won a lot of games. Exactly 1,200 after Saturday’s win over the Lakers.
Congrats to Coach Gregg Popovich of the @spurs on becoming the 5th coach to surpass 1,200 wins! #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/AlPLr0YPo9
— NBA (@NBA) October 28, 2018
Finally, if you’re a Joel Embiid fan, you’ll love the Hall of Fame arc his career numbers are already taking.
Joel Embiid is the 7th player in @NBAHistory with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 200 blocks in the first 100 games of his career… joining Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Ralph Sampson. pic.twitter.com/RU7t22MWYS
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) October 28, 2018
Fall Of The Undefeated
Only four teams entered Saturday with a spotless record. That number was halved before the night was over.
New Orleans found itself on the second night of a back-to-back without Anthony Davis (elbow injury) and facing a rejuvenated Jazz team. Without Davis, Utah big man Rudy Gobert (25 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks) wreaked havoc inside. Combined with Ricky Rubio’s unlikely offensive outburst (28 points, 12 assists), it was more than enough to snap the Pelicans’ four-game win streak with a 132-111 victory.
Up in Detroit, meanwhile, the Pistons encountered the kind of overwhelming Boston depth many expected to see from day one. It didn’t matter that Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford shot a combined 5-for-22. The Celtics won by 20 anyway.
Bucks Battle For Board
One of the more surprising stats from the opening 10-plus days of the season: Milwaukee leads the league in rebounding.
Then again, maybe it’s not as surprising when they have teammates battling to this degree.
Tell Ersan he owes you one, Brook.
Without Devin Booker (hamstring), the Suns were easy prey for the veteran Grizzlies in a 117-96 defeat.
Deandre Ayton, however, provided a big silver lining with 24 points (12-for-13 FG), eight rebounds, five assists and zero turnovers in 33 minutes of action.
That combination of production and efficiency puts Ayton in the same breath as… Adam Keefe?
Deandre Ayton (24 PTS, 12-13 FGM) joins Adam Keefe (1993) as the only rookies in the last 40 seasons to make at least 12 field goals in a game with a FG% of 90% or higher. #NBARooks #TimeToRise pic.twitter.com/CyTttHUsR5
— NBA (@NBA) October 28, 2018
- Zach LaVine lighting it up to start the season
- Kemba still contending in the scoring leaderboard
- The Cavs still haven’t won a game
- The last two undefeated teams reside in the East
- Don’t forget, Saturday was the anniversary of Hakeem Olajuwon’s NBA debut