Recapping Week 12 in NBA: G.O.A.T.s, scoring binges and 3-point barrages
Jeff Case, NBA.com
Take a look back at the week that was in the NBA with a collection of some of the best games, videos, photos, features and more from around the NBA world.
* * *
Games of the Week
Rockets 113, Grizzlies 101 — Another day, another 30-point game for the reigning Kia MVP. James Harden torched the Grizzlies for 43 points and racked up his eighth straight game with 35 or more points. In doing so, he added another record to his burgeoning NBA legacy, as he passed Oscar Robertson (who had two seven-game streaks of scoring 35 or more points).
Spurs 120, Celtics 111 — Somewhere, David Robinson, Sean Elliott and others from the 1993 Spurs squad might be feeling wistful. San Antonio made 19 of 25 shots (76 percent) in the third quarter and finished with its best period since 1993 to power a killer comeback win against Boston. With the victory, the Spurs won for the 11th time in their last 13 games.
Thunder 107, Lakers 100 — Boo him all you want, Lakers fans. Paul George didn’t hear much of those jeers on Wednesday night as he returned to L.A. (and the city he spurned in free agency) to put on a show before his hometown squad. George came up big time and again to drop the LeBron-less Lakers and leave them smarting for two separate reasons.
Spurs 125, Raptors 107 — Kawhi Leonard was adored by San Antonio’s faithful as he spent his first seven seasons with the Spurs. In his return to Texas on Thursday, it was a markedly different showing of emotion. Leonard heard chants of “Traitor!” and “Quitter!” at times throughout the game as the Spurs built a big lead and never looked back to drop the Raptors.
Rockets 135, Warriors 134 (OT) — A 44-point game? Check. Back-to-back triple-doubles? Check. Game-winning 3-pointer against a hated Western Conference rival? Check. James Harden nailed all the boxes a Houston fan could hope for in delivering perhaps the season’s most dazzling single-game showing to date. If you somehow missed this classic on Thursday night, fire up your NBA League Pass and give it a second watch (and a third, and a fourth …)
Pacers 119, Bulls 116 (OT) — Chicago guard Zach LaVine has yet to fully realize all his star potential like his Indiana cohort, Victor Oladipo, has. But you couldn’t tell that on Friday night as the pair of two guards showed off their go-to guy wares in the fourth quarter and overtime at United Center. LaVine was magical down the stretch in the fourth quarter, but it was Oladipo who had the last laugh with a banked-in 3-pointer with :00.3 left in overtime.
Raptors 123, Bucks 116 — The Raptors have spent the better part of the season asserting themselves as the best team in the East. They made that much clear again on Saturday — just days after a blowout loss in San Antonio left them smarting. Kawhi Leonard ran wild for 30 points and Toronto overcame an epic game from Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (43 points, 18 rebounds) to grab a key road victory.
Warriors 127, Kings 123 — Here’s a challenge for you: find a 3-point record the Warriors aren’t a part of yet. Golden State and Sacramento combined to nail 41 3-pointers, marking the first game in which both teams made 20 3-pointers. In addition, Stephen Curry passed Utah Jazz guard Kyle Korver for fourth on the all-time 3-pointers made list (and is just three from tying Jason Terry for third place).
Raptors 121, Pacers 105 — Aside from the loss to the Spurs, this week couldn’t have gone much better for the Raptors. Even with Kawhi Leonard taking a rest day, Toronto used its balanced lineup (and the return of Kyle Lowry) to get another key win against another top team in the East.
Stat Lines of the Week
James Harden (43 points, 8-19 FG, 10 reb, 13 ast in 38 minutes) — Since Dec. 1, Harden has been held under 30 points three times in 17 games. That’s an amazing run in and of itself. Yet, he topped that on Monday with his showing vs. Memphis, which allowed him to set an NBA record for most consecutive 35-point games (eight) that was up to double-digits by week’s end. | Watch | Video box score
Jusuf Nurkic (24 points, 23 rebounds, 7 ast, 5 stl, 5 blk in 38 minutes) — Each category in this stat line Nurkic notched is nothing out of the ordinary for him. But, him putting it all together for a monster 20-20 “5×5” game was — and it was historic, too. Per Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the only player to log a 20-20 “5×5” on the Kings and the first to notch such a game since Anthony Davis on Nov. 21. | Watch | Video box score
Paul George (37 points, 15-29 FG, 4 reb, 2 ast, 4 stl in 37 minutes) — OKC’s versatile swingman is making a serious push not only for an All-Star spot, but a place in the Kia MVP conversation. That much was made clear with the go-to-guy goodness he showed all game long on Wednesday night at Staples Center. | Watch | Video box score
DeMar DeRozan (21 points, 7-15 FG, 14 reb, 11 ast, 2 stl in 33 minutes) — Much of the talk on Thursday centered on Kawhi Leonard’s return to face his old team. But DeRozan had an ax to grind, too, with his old squad for trading him last summer. His all-around play powered San Antonio’s rout from the opening tip as he logged the first triple-double of his standout career Thursday. | Watch | Video box score
James Harden (44 points, 13-32 FG, 10 reb, 15 ast, 2 blk in 44 minutes) — Scoring a point-per-minute with the defense totally keyed in on you — as Golden State’s was on Thursday — is crazy. Doing that and nailing the game-winning 3-pointer over a pair of defenders? That’s what makes Harden one of the must-watch scorers in the NBA today. | Watch | Video box score
Giannis Antetokounmpo (43 points, 16-25 FG, 18 reb, 4 ast in 40 minutes) — Games like this show why Antetokounmpo shouldn’t be discounted in the Kia MVP chase. Yes, Harden’s run of late has been dazzling. But Antetokounmpo’s play Saturday was the only thing keeping Milwaukee in a game it would eventually lose to the East-leading Toronto Raptors. Watch | Video box score
Golden State Warriors (21-47 3pt FG) and Sacramento Kings (20-36 3pt FG) — We could spotlight Stephen Curry from this game (10-20 3pt FG). Or we could focus on the night Buddy Hield had from deep (8-13 3pt FG). But instead, let’s accentuate the amazing shooting from deep both teams turned in Saturday night in Sacramento. Watch | Video box score
Best plays from Week 12
Quotes of the Week
“I don’t know how you get any better than what he’s playing. Defensively, too. He comes up with steals, triple-doubles like it’s nothing. So yeah, he’s playing at a different level.” — Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, on James Harden after win Monday vs. Grizzlies
“I’ve learned that he’s going to make some of them. ‘There are times when I’m like `What is he doing?’ Then they go in and I sit back down.” — Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, on Brook Lopez
“I think we played with them too much. We were playing around with them too much. The energy wasn’t there. Guys were ready to go home.” — Sixers guard Ben Simmons, after a close win vs. Phoenix on Wednesday
The whole first half, they did whatever they wanted … we weren’t physical, weren’t talking. They got a lot of layups, a lot of open 3s. They shot the ball extremely well in the first half due to our lazy defense.” — Pelicans center Anthony Davis
“The booing wasn’t going to throw me off my game. I’ve been playing basketball for a really long time. A little booing and a little noise wasn’t going to make me forget how to play basketball.” — Thunder forward Paul George, after a road win vs. the Lakers
“Kawhi’s a high-character guy. We all make decisions in our lives about what we’re going to do with our futures and he has that same right as any of us. So, I felt badly, honestly.” — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, after San Antonio fans booed Leonard often on Thursday
“It’s a fun way to play, especially when you’re shooting a high percentage. You can shoot as many 3s as you want to but shooting a high percentage the way it was tonight on both ends was pretty crazy.” — Warriors guard Stephen Curry, after Saturday’s 3-point bonanza
“(Oladipo) is our star. Before overtime started, I pulled him aside and said, `It’s time to take us to the promised land.’ ” — Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, after Friday’s win vs. Chicago
“I always said Kemba is one of the most underrated players in the league, even with making a couple of All-Stars. He’s just a handful and a guy like that, once he gets it going, he’s pretty much unstoppable.” — Suns guard Jamal Crawford, on Kemba Walker
Hey, click on this stuff …
We’re all busy. But there’s lots of great content on NBA.com that you might have missed in the hubbub of your life. Take a moment, slow down and soak up some of our best stories, videos and more.
VIDEOS FROM WEEK 12
GameTime: What led to Thibodeau’s firing?
GameTime: Some bold predictions for 2019 in NBA
GameTime: Doncic showing veteran poise at point
Inside The NBA: How long can Harden keep up this scoring pace?
Inside The NBA: Making some NBA New Year’s resolutions
Inside The NBA: Relive Kawhi’s return to San Antonio
The Starters: Surprising early All-Star balloting returns
Players Only: Remembering legends lost in 2018
Players Only: Should LeBron crown himself the G.O.A.T.?
Shooter’s Paradise: Secret to Wade’s trademark move
Storytime with Shaq: On matching up with Yao
STORIES FROM WEEK 12
* Powell: George more than fine in Year 2 with OKC
* Aschburner: Towns emerges as leader for changed Wolves
* Aschburner: NBA standouts learn new (broadcasting) game
* Schuhmann: Rockets bench is thin … but effective
* Kia MVP Ladder: Myriad of changes mark start of 2019