Recapping Week 16 in NBA: Nuggets notch key wins, a big trade in N.Y. and more
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.
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Games of the Week
Nuggets 95, Grizzlies 92 — Among centers, only Joel Embiid has scored more clutch points than the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. The big man came through on Monday in Memphis, nailing a go-ahead hook shot with 28.9 seconds left that helped Denver cap a 25-point comeback.
Pelicans 121, Rockets 116 — Yes, James Harden kept his 30-point streak rolling (he finished with 37 on Tuesday night). But give credit to the Pelicans, who — in their first game since word of Anthony Davis’ trade request became known — rallied to drop Houston. Jahlil Okafor scored 27 points and Jrue Holiday came up big, too, logging six blocks in New Orleans’ victory.
Sixers 113, Warriors 104 — Philadelphia did something it hadn’t done in nearly six years: win a game at Oracle Arena. In addition, it did something no other team had done to Golden State for 11 games: deal them a loss. Behind Joel Embiid (26 points and 20 rebounds), the Sixers got a big road win on the same night they learned Ben Simmons was tabbed as an All-Star reserve.
Lakers 123, Clippers 120 (OT) — Ahh, the comforts of having LeBron James back in the mix. L.A.’s star returned after a 17-game absence and nearly got a triple-double (24 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists) as the Lakers topped the Clippers after blowing a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead.
Nuggets 136, Rockets 122 — Consider this another confidence-boosting win for Denver in a season full of them. Nikola Jokic got it done (31 points, 13 rebounds) and Malik Beasley ran wild (career-high 35 points) to help the Nuggets end a nine-game losing streak to the Rockets. Harden again hit for 30-plus points (25 straight games and counting), but this one was all about Denver, which is off to its best start in NBA history.
Warriors 115, Lakers 101 — Some storylines that you could discuss from this game: Klay Thompson’s return, Stephen Curry’s shooting struggles, the Lakers showing fight vs. the champs and more. The storyline that will resonate for months to come? DeMarcus Cousins’ poster jam over Kyle Kuzma that sparked Golden State’s comeback win.
Nuggets 107, Wolves 106 — Who knows if Nikola Jokic and Karl Anthony-Towns will be foes or teammates come the NBA All-Star draft this week. But if Saturday’s showdown is a preview of a potential playoff series between these bigs and their teams come April, we’ll take a first-round series there, please. Jokic logged a triple-double (13 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists) while Towns (31 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists) held his own, too, in a fantastic big man matchup.
Celtics 134, Thunder 129 — Behind Kyrie Irving (30 points, 11 assists), the Celtics put an end to OKC’s seven-game win streak … and did so in thrilling fashion. The Thunder kept the game close in the final minute, but Irving stripped Russell Westbrook with 8.1 seconds left. That eventually led to a pair of Jayson Tatum free throws, which helped seal a big win for Boston.
Stat Lines of the Week
CJ McCollum (30 points, 12-17 FG, 3 reb, 2 stl in 30 minutes) & Damian Lillard (36 points, 12-21 FG, 11 reb, 2 stl in 37 minutes) — The Jazz came into Wednesday’s showdown with the Blazers looking solid after logging wins in nine of their last 10 games. Then, McCollum and Lillard happened. The big night got started thanks to McCollum, who went 9-for-9 and had 20 points in the first quarter. | Watch | Video box score
Joel Embiid (26 points, 8-24 FG, 20 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl in 33 mintues) — This was supposed to be DeMarcus Cousins’ first chance to shine before the Oracle Arena crowd. However, Embiid had other plans on Thursday night, pounding away at the Warriors en route to a 20-20 game that put an end to Golden State’s 11-game win streak. | Watch | Video box score
Luka Doncic (35 points, 13-25 FG, 11 reb, 6 ast in 32 minutes) — The Mavs’ rookie sensation will participate in the Rising Stars game at NBA All-Star 2019, but he wasn’t picked as a reserve for the All-Star Game itself. Perhaps this showing he delivered on Saturday — two days after the All-Star reserves were named — was to show he’s got the kind of stuff worthy of the showcase stage? | Watch | Video box score
James Harden (43 points, 12-22 FG, 15-15 FT, 12 reb, 5 ast, 6 stl, 4 blk in 39 minutes) — We’re getting a little more choosy around here for Harden’s weekly barrages. So, this line he put up against Utah on Saturday gets the nod because of it’s overall greatness and the fact he was one block from logging a 5×5 game. Simply amazing stuff. | Watch | Video box score
Buddy Hield (34 points, 12-21 FG, 7-13 3pt FG, 6 reb, 3 ast in 35 minutes) — The Kings continue to hang around in the West playoff picture, thanks to performances like this from Hield. He set a personal high for 3-pointers made and by night’s end had 180 3-pointers made, topping his single-season career high set in 2017-18 (176). | Watch | Video box score
Best plays from Week 16
Quotes of the Week
“I thought that they outplayed us, outcoached us, out-physicaled us, out-executed us. We had no respect for them or for the game. We didn’t play with each other. It was a pathetic performance, and Phoenix got robbed.” — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, after a 126-124 win Tuesday vs. the Suns
“I know there’s a lot of noise on the outside, but in the locker room we’re still all together. We still love A.D. He still loves us. … So we’re all great.” — Pelicans center Jahlil Okafor
“I always enjoyed playing here. If it was my last time it was definitely one of my most favorite places to play.” — Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, after a 114-90 win against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden
“We’ve kind of lost our way here, and we’ve got to find it. Vic [Oladipo] is not coming back. We’ve got to move past that and not look at what we don’t have and focus on what we do have.” — Pacers coach Nate McMillan
“The basketball gods weren’t treating me well, but I stuck with it. I was saying, `All right, they owe me one. The gods owe me one and the next chance I get, I’m going to make it.’ ” — Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, after hitting his game-winner vs. Memphis
“I’ve been teammates with Khris for six years. I’ve never seen a smile on him that bright.” — Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, on Khris Middleton being named an All-Star reserve
“It’s nothing but a distraction at this point.” — Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, on the “We want Kyrie!” chants echoing through Madison Square Garden on Friday
“He’s in a groove, man. He’s been playing phenomenal basketball. I’ve said it plenty of times: That’s my favorite player. I love watching PG play.” — Heat guard Dwyane Wade, on Thunder star Paul George
“I think everybody thinks we were going to stop (winning). Twenty games ago they thought, `Oh they’re going to lose,’ but we’re still winning.” — Nuggets center Nikola Jokic
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VIDEOS FROM WEEK 16
Perfect Player: Who has the best jump shot in the NBA?
Inside The NBA: Shaq shows off his Cirque de Soleli moves
Inside The NBA: Did Knicks make right move trading Porzingis?
Inside The NBA: Who will end up with Pelicans’ Davis?
Storytime with Shaq: Reflecting on final All-Star appearance
Players Only: What should Pelicans do with Davis?
STORIES FROM WEEK 16
* Aschburner: Warriors assistant Adams keeps champs’ defense humming
* Schuhmann: Green becomes glue guy for Raptors
* Kia MVP Ladder: Can LeBron get back in Kia MVP chase?