2019 NBA Playoffs

About Last Night: White's revenge

Derrick White turns tables on Murray; Simmons shines; Durant sends message

My, how the pendulum swings in playoff basketball.

One game after being torched by Jamal Murray, who scored 22 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter in the Nuggets’ Game 2 win over the Spurs, Derrick White showed up for Game 3 like a fire-breathing dragon. The result was a 118-108 home-court victory for the Spurs and a 2-1 series lead.

“Derrick White came out like he hadn’t eaten in two days,” said Nuggets coach Mike Malone, who was critical of his team’s defense. “Derrick White didn’t even feel us,” Malone added, who noted most of White’s points came from drives in the paint.

White poured in a career-high 36 points, added five rebounds and five assists, and attacked Murray and the Nuggets from the beginning. He was 15-of-21 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. How good was White’s night? During the regular season, the second-year point guard averaged 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

“He was obviously spectacular — on both ends of the floor,” said Spurs coach Greg Popovich. White added three steals and a blocked shot and only one turnover.

By contrast, Murray put up only six shots and ended with six points. He also had four turnovers.

If the T-shirt fits …

TNT analyst Charles Barkley ragged Murray on the air for wearing an image of himself (part of an NBA Jam collage) after Game 2, in which he had caught fire late to lift the Nuggets to a 114-105 win. So, Murray showed up for tonight’s game wearing a T-shirt with an image of Barkley emblazoned on the front.

Chuck’s response tonight was to guarantee the Nuggets were going to win Game 3.

The kiss of death: a Charles Barkley guarantee. 😁

Joel who?

If you still doubt Ben Simmons’ ability to impact a big game, you didn’t witness Thursday night’s Game 3. What started with bad news for Philadelphia — All-Star center Joel Embiid couldn’t play after testing his sore knee in warmups — ended with the 76ers winning convincingly 131-115 after Boban Marjanovic fouled out.

Who needs big front-court players when you’ve got 6-foot-10 guard/forward Ben Simmons to drive, and Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick to shoot from the edge?

Simmons finished with a career playoff-high 31 points, including 15 in the fourth, and was excellent both with his jump shot (11-of-13) and from the free-throw line (9-of-11). Take that Jared Dudley! Dudley had called Simmons good in transition but average in the half-court game. That “average” has given the Sixers a 2-1 lead in the first-round series and a chance to take a commanding lead in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon.

With his performance, Simmons joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only 76ers to score 30-plus points with an 80-plus shooting percentage in a playoff game.

Harris added 29 points and 16 rebounds, and Redick drained five 3-pointers and finished with 26 points.

The fourth-quarter spurt from the Sixers overshadowed good performances from D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert, who each scored 26. LeVert poured in 19 points in the second quarter.

Bench cheekiness

The Nets’ Jarrett Allen had a nifty rebound and put-back slam early in Game 3, which elicited quite a bit of excitement on Brooklyn’s bench.

Look closely at the bench in the following tweet. Shabazz Napier, icing his right shoulder, is so worked up that he swung his left elbow into the upper cheek of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Who says basketball isn’t a contact sport — even on the bench? Shaqtin’ A Fool, no doubt.

Warriors back in gear

One game after giving up the largest lead in playoff history to the LA Clippers, Kevin Durant and the Warriors bounced back big-time from their Game 2 debacle.

Durant erupted for 38 points and spent most of the fourth on the bench as the Warriors jumped on top early (the first quarter score was 41-24) and cruised to a 132-105 win over the Clippers in Game 3. Golden State went on a 22-9 opening run and never looked back.

Stephen Curry scored 21 despite getting into foul trouble.

In case there existed any doubt, the message was clear that the Warriors are still in charge and up 2-1 in the first-round series.

Career stat of the night

Durant passed Magic Johnson for 14th place on the all-time postseason scoring list.

Johnson scored 3,701 postseason points during his storied career. Durant passed him with his first 2-pointer of Game 3 and finished with 38.

Playoff whammy!

Everybody’s a coach in the playoffs. “Here’s what you do: If you get covered by two, it leaves another open.” Basketball is simple, no?

Wither the King of the North?

Is Jon Snow among the invaders? A pivotal Game 3 in Orlando tomorrow night between the Raptors and Magic (series tied, 1-1) will determine whether a cold wind starts to blow in sunny Florida.