About Last Night

About Last Night: Kyrie's MSG Mania

Irving earns warm reception, George knocks down 10 3s, Jokic and Gobert go big

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving opened up all the cans during Friday’s morning shootaround. Worms everywhere. Per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

“… at the end of the day, I’m going to do what I feel is best for my career,” he said. “And that’s just where it stands.

“My focus this season is winning a championship with the Boston Celtics. Obviously, we had goals coming into this season, and the primary goal is to win a championship. So that’s where my focus is.”

He was then asked whether his plan to re-sign with Boston had shifted.

“Ask me July 1,” he said.

He might as well have lit a firecracker under the free-agency boardwalk. With the trade deadline buzz already at peak vibrato, Irving injected further chaos, and were the fans at Madison Square Garden ever ready by gametime:

Irving heard ’em. (Of course he heard. They all hear. It’s the blocking out that makes them pros.)

“At this point, it’s nothing but a distraction honestly.” Irving said to ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth after a 113-99 Celtics victory. “I appreciate the fans, I appreciate the support, but it’s really about our team now and what we want to accomplish this season – and that’s a championship, so my focus is stuck on that.”

Irving’s acknowledgement that the Celtics season hasn’t quite come together as expected isn’t news, given the back-and-forth with the young bucks a few weeks back. But paired with the renewed focus on his future, it felt more than a little revealing, the tremor that either passes or ends up an earthquake.

Only five months to find out!

Joker’s wild

Man, if it weren’t for ridiculousness happening on such a regular basis in this high-octane season, we might fully appreciate exactly what we’re witnessing through Nikola Jokic’s ascendant campaign.

The Nuggets center, recently named to his first All-Star team, put up 31 points (12-15 FGs, 6-6 FTs), 13 rebounds and nine assists to lead a rousing victory over the Houston Rockets. When the big man is posting up this fluidly and then delivering passes like this one:

… what’s anyone supposed to do except watch? Lovely.

PG13, unrated

Can we talk about Paul George for a minute? This dude is balling OUT this year. Newest reason to elevate George into your next MVP conversation: These career- and franchise-best 10 3-pointers.

George finished with 43 points (14-23 FGs, 10-16 3FGs), seven rebounds, five assists and two steals as Oklahoma City hammered the Miami Heat. He’s averaging a nightly 27-8-4 while shooting 45 percent overall, 41 percent on 3s and 83 percent at the line. Good grief.

Also for the Thunder, Russell Westbrook put up his fifth straight triple-double: 14 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists. The record for consecutive triple-doubles is eight by (surprise!) Wilt Chamberlain.

Russ is currently tied with two others for second place on that list with seven straight games, which he’s done twice – Nov.-Dec. 2016 and March-April 2017. Can you guess the other players? Probably, but the answer is below either way.

Gobert’s game cries for attention

After a much-publicized moment of emotion earlier in the day, Rudy Gobert went out and reminded everyone exactly why this particular All-Star snub has created such controversy.

His final line against the Atlanta Hawks: 25 points (7-7 FGs, 11-15 FTs), 13 rebounds and two blocks, including this textbook rejection of Kevin Huerter:

Trae taking hold

That draft-night trade between the Hawks and Mavericks hasn’t quite gotten as far from Atlanta as it seemed during that early #HalleLuka run for the 19-year-old Slovenian sensation.

Hawks rookie Trae Young, who’s now ripped off 20-plus in seven of his last nine games is even producing productive clunkers. When he shot 1-for-12 against the Bulls on January 23, Young still dished 12 assists and pulled down seven rebounds in a 20-point victory.

With his current run of 20-point, 8-assist showings, Young has become the first rookie since Damon Stoudemire in 1996 to log four straight. Either way, I’m here for Young-to-Collins:

TRIVIA ANSWER: Michael Jordan (March 25-April 6, 1989) was most recent. Oscar Robertson holds the other run.