Recapping Week 19 in NBA: Back to work after All-Star break
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
Bucks 98, Celtics 97 — Superstars and Kia MVP types tend to step it up in the fourth quarter and down the stretch, and that’s exactly what Giannis Antetokounmpo did on Thursday night. As one of the favorites for Kia MVP honors this season, Antetokounmpo scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to help Milwaukee hold off Boston in a key post-All-Star break game.
Warriors 125, Kings 123 — Perhaps in a year or two from now, Sacramento will look at this game as a key turning point in its growth. Although the Kings fell, they gave Golden State all it could handle and likely would have prevailed were it not for an outstanding all-around effort by the Warriors’ Kevin Durant (28 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks).
Lakers 111, Rockets 106 — LeBron James came to L.A. to get the Lakers into the playoffs and, ultimately, back to The Finals at some point. The Lakers are a long way from the latter goal, but the former looked a little more possible after James keyed a second-half surge to rally L.A. from a 19-point deficit in the win.
Raptors 120, Spurs 117 — In what was effectively (and unofficially) “DeMar DeRozan Night” at Air Canada Centre, its namesake was upstaged by the Raptors’ new star. Kawhi Leonard stole the ball from DeRozan to score the go-ahead dunk with 15 seconds left in a thrilling game before a sellout crowd.
Thunder 148, Jazz 147 (2 OT) — If you didn’t stay up to watch this one on Friday night, consider that a loss on your part. A thrilling, back-and-forth game in the fourth quarter and both overtimes was decided when Paul George lofted a must-see floater over the outstretched arm of Utah’s Rudy Gobert to clinch the win.
Blazers 130, Sixers 115 — Portland has gotten off to an impressive start since the All-Star break, racking up a pair of blowout wins against Eastern Conference playoff teams. Their win against Brooklyn on Thursday was impressive, but this victory on Saturday served notice, perhaps, that the Blazers aren’t a team to be taken lightly as the season winds down.
Kings 119, Thunder 116 — Sacramento showed it is not about to let one loss to a Finals contender derail its hopes for the season. After Thursday’s narrow defeat in Oakland, the Kings picked themselves up and squeezed out a win Saturday night in Oklahoma City behind a monstrous performance from Buddy Hield.
Stat Lines of the Week
Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 points, 11-19 FG, 13 reb, 6 ast, 2 blk in 36 minutes) — He was a monster in the fourth quarter, notching 12 of his points in that frame to help power the victory on Thursday night. In addition, the Bucks won the season series 2-1, their first over the Celtics since 2014-15. Milwaukee has designs on a big playoff run in a few months and if Antetokoumpo can channel this regularly, who knows how far they can go. | Watch | Video box score
LeBron James (29 points, 11-23 FG, 12 reb, 6 ast in 40 minutes) — James scored 16 of his 29 points in the second half as the Lakers racked up their biggest comeback win of the season. It was James who gave L.A. a 99-97 lead with 4:15 left in the game as he set to tone to help the Lakers craft a much-needed victory in the Western Conference playoff chase. | Watch | Video box score
Kevin Durant (28 points, 10-20 FG, 9 reb, 4 ast, 7 blk in 36 minutes) — A 28-point night from Durant is hardly the kind of performance that garners a spot in this space. But a closer look at his stats — in particular those seven blocks — shows just how valuable of a contributor he is. Without that defensive showing on Thursday night, there’s little reason to think the Warriors would have beaten the Kings. | Watch | Video box score
Paul George (45 points, 17-31 FG, 9 reb, 7 ast in 50 minutes) — When the candidacies for Kia MVP are laid before the public in the days and weeks to come, George’s backers can point to this gem of a game on Friday as one of the top reasons he deserves the award. Racking up that kind of stat line is immense in and of itself. Crafting it against a top-flight defensive team like the Jazz and sinking the game-winner with 0.8 seconds left only adds to the weight of it all. | Watch | Video box score
Chris Paul (23 points, 7-18 FG, 5 reb, 17 ast, 2 stl in 36 minutes) — No James Harden. A two-game losing streak. And a date with the two-time defending champs. All those facts seemed to spell doom for the Rockets on Saturday night. Yet Paul wouldn’t allow that to take shape, guiding the Houston offense all night while also sinking a pair of key free throws with 1:08 left to seal the victory. | Watch | Video box score
Zach LaVine (42 points, 17-29 FG, 5-11 3pt FG, 6 reb, 4 ast in 38 minutes) & Lauri Markkanen (35 points, 12-20 FG, 15 reb, 2 ast in 37 minutes) — Forgive Bulls fans if visions of the future were dancing in their heads on Saturday night. Seeing their two young stars go for career-best nights against the Eastern Conference-contending Boston Celtics will do that for a fan base. Watch | Video box score
Quotes of the Week
”You can come in here and win on a Monday night in February or a Tuesday night in November or December. But in the playoffs is when you have to beat a team four out of seven times. It’s great tonight that we won this but in two days y’all will forget this. We all will.” — Rockets guard Chris Paul, after Saturday’s win vs. Golden State
“Paul found the fountain of youth or something. He’s playing like a young Paul Millsap. He’s flying around. We chart everything, Paul Millsap by himself, he contested 18 shots tonight. Eighteen shots, 21 points, 16 rebounds and just impacting the game. His energy is infectious for all the other guys.” — Nuggets coach Michael Malone, on Paul Millsap
“It’s major. We’ve been having our fans come out and support every night and haven’t won here since Dec. 1. I wasn’t part of that one, so I’m glad that we could get it tonight and just give the fans something to see.” — Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr., after New York snapped its 18-game home losing streak
“You have to change something where we’re at the point we’re at. We have to hold people accountable. You can’t take things personally when a guy calls you out. We need to start not being scared to step on people’s toes when something is wrong.” — Suns guard Devin Booker, after Phoenix lost its 16th straight game
“To come back here and get a reception like that is definitely humbling, beyond gratifying. I appreciate it.” — Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, on the tribute the Raptors paid to him during Friday’s game
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VIDEOS FROM WEEK 19
GameTime: Who will take the No. 8 spot in West?
NBA All-Star 2019: All-Access look back at an epic weekend
Inside The NBA: Ballmer sees bright future on horizon for Clippers
Inside The NBA: Barkley sounds off on NCAA basketball, NBA Draft
STORIES FROM WEEK 19
* Aschburner: Mirotic makes great first impression with Bucks
* Aschburner: Who will claim Cleveland’s crown in East now?
* Schuhmann: Breaking down season’s stretch-run schedules
* Kia MVP Ladder: Fellow stars delight in Antetokounmpo’s award chase
* Powell: Who can contend with Warriors in West?