About Last Night

About Last Night: The NBA's best 1-2 punch

Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry couldn't be stopped, more Luka magic wasn't enough, and some feel-good moments around the league

Matt Petersen, NBA.com

There is a reason the Warriors are deemed the NBA’s greatest cheat code since Jordan or the 1960s Celtics.

It doesn’t matter if, as a team, Golden State underwhelms from beyond the arc. It doesn’t matter if their opponent does the opposite. They can even withstand a return of cold-shooting Klay, Draymond Green’s continued struggles from the field, and a Kevin Durant sprained ankle.

All of those things happened in Golden State’s 129-127 win over the Clippers on Sunday, and it just didn’t matter because of the two guys that account for three of the last five Kia MVP awards.

Stephen Curry (42 points) and Durant (35 points) could not be contained, much less stopped. They outscored the entire Clippers starting lineup by themselves, attempted just one less free throw than their opponents and combined for a single turnover.

The duo’s moments were as big as their numbers, all of them vintage. The absurd Curry 3-pointer plus the foul to put Golden State ahead:

The seeming Durant dagger to put the Warriors up eight with two-plus minutes remaining:

But the Clippers, as they’ve done since disbanding Lob City, refused to go away. Avery Bradley’s all-hustle putback slam tied the game with 19.6 seconds remaining.

So the Warriors called on Curry one last time, and the answer was textbook: Pick-and-roll. Attack the switch. Ball game.

The Warriors aren’t themselves yet, but they have won 8 of their last 10. Cousins is dunking on teammates in practice. A Jan. 15 meeting at West-best Denver looms.

Yet even without relative perfection, Golden State’s pair of aces can — and did — trump their opponents’ best shot.

Clippers go crazy

Facing the best slate of shooters in NBA history, LA gave them a gallon-sized dose of their own medicine.

The Clippers shot a jaw-dropping 18-for-23 from beyond the arc — the most efficient performance to date by any team that attempted at least 20 3-pointers in a game. Here’s their absurd shot chart:

Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari led the 3-point assault, shooting a combined 11-for-12 from distance.

Lukamania

The Mavs’ ultimately lost to the Blazers 121-118 in overtime, but that doesn’t diminish the degree of difficulty or overall awesomeness of the shot Luka Doncic hit at the end of regulation:

Oladipo hands over the keys

As we close out the holiday season, Victor Oladipo snuck a surprise in on gamenight. The Pacers All-Star gifted the car he won last season — as part of being named Kia Most Improved Player — to Renita Hills, a survivor of domestic violence who now works with The Julian Center of Indianapolis.

Special shoutout to Hills and Oladipo for being and rewarding, respectively, the people who make our communities a safer place.

Vince still doing Vince

The Hawks gutted out a 98-95 win at Detroit, and the leading force behind it was 41-year-old Vince Carter. The eight-time All-Star led Atlanta with 18 points, tying the NBA record for oldest player to score at least 18 in a game.

Keep revving that engine, Vince.

Welcome home, sir

The Kings got in on the feel-good holiday moments, surprising a mother-daughter pairing with a high-stakes game of White Elephant.

In this game, however, the signed jersey was only the second-best gift available.

Congratulations, thank you and welcome home to Navy Seaman Austin Kropp.

Tables turning

It was just a year ago that DeMarcus Cousins — then with New Orleans — was burning his former Kings team for triple-doubles. Sacramento, meanwhile, appeared doomed to continue its listless path of playoff-less basketball.

Fast forward to Sunday, and you’ll see the bottom line of that trade leaning in Sacramento’s favor. Buddy Hield — the Kings’ main return for dealing Cousins to the Pelicans — is an established NBA scorer (20.4 PPG, .440 3FG%). Sacramento (18-15) is off to its best start since 2004-05.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, saw Cousins join the Warriors during the summer and are now fending off those who would like to join forces with Anthony Davis elsewhere.

Hield scorched New Orleans — the team that drafted him No. 6 overall in 2016 — for 28 points in the Kings’ 122-117 victory. Sacramento is now seventh in the West, while New Orleans sits 14th.

The dunk that wasn’t

It didn’t count due to an offensive foul, but this Jeff Green poster is still worth an admiring glance.

Link Leftovers

  • Wiggins scores 30 for second time in 2018 after doing so 28 times from 2015 through 2017
  • The hottest team in the East resides in South Beach
  • Lauri Markkanen logs back-to-back 30-point games for the first time in his career
  • Three of 2018’s top four picks balled out on Sunday

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