Trade deadline moves lead to incredible week of NBA action
Many familiar faces changed uniforms this past week, as the trade deadline passed in the NBA. Teams made their final moves to make their pushes toward the playoffs, which begin in abouttwo months.
On Feb. 5, a few teams were hoping to extend their winning streaks in big matchups.
The addition of Blake Griffin continued to benefit the Detroit Pistons in spectacular ways. The Pistons hosted the Portland Trail Blazers, hoping to get their fourth straight win with Griffin. He impressed greatly as he finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, leading his team to a 111-91 win over the Trail Blazers.
The Washington Wizards hoped to keep their winning streak going, even after they lost their leader John Wall to injury. They played the Indiana Pacers, who are trying to show that they should not be taken lightly in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. The Wizards held a lead for the majority of the game with All-Star Bradley Beal scoring 21 points. They were able to win 111-102, extending their winning streak to five games.
The Utah Jazz were the third team looking to extend its winning streak. In the game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Rodney Hood, who recently returned from injury, impressed, finishing the game with 30 points. They beat the DeMarcus Cousins-less Pelicans 133-109, extending their streak to six games.
On Tuesday, things could not have gotten worse for the New York Knicks when All-Star Kristaps Porzingis’ season ended short due to a torn ACL suffered in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He suffered the injury when landing after a dunk in the second quarter. The Knicks went on to lose the game 103-89, and ultimately will now look to tank for the rest of the season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers continued to show that they need to make serious changes at the draft deadline after their game against the Orlando Magic. The Cavs were up by 21 points late in the second quarter, but that lead was soon gone. With three minutes left in the third quarter, the Magic took the lead and did not look back. They destroyed the Cavs 116-98 with Jonathon Simmons leading the way with 34 points.
The night was capped off by another exhilarating game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder lost Carmelo Anthony early in the game to an ankle injury, so it was up to Russell Westbrook and Paul George to lead the way, and they did just that. George finished with 38 points, while Westbrook finished with 34 points, nine assists, and nine rebounds. They embarrassed the Warriors in Golden State 125-105.
On Wednesday, LeBron James finally said enough is enough and led the Cavaliers once again. They had a tough matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the strong triple-double by LeBron led them to a nail-biting victory. With just over a second left in overtime and the score 138-138, T-Wolves’ Jimmy Butler thought that he had an easy game-winning layup, but LeBron had other plans as he swatted the ball away.
With only one second on the clock, the Cavs turned to LeBron to close the game for them. With a great inbound pass by Jeff Green, LeBron was able to put up a fade-away jumper and hit the buzzer beater shot to give the Cavs a 140-138 win. LeBron finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists.
On Thursday, the Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Charlotte Hornets, the day that the Hornets acquired Guillermo “Willy” Hernangómez from the Knicks. The Hornets were down by 17 points but came all the way back to force the game into overtime. They ultimately lost 109-103 as the Blazers continue to win at home. Jusuf Nurkic had 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers.
In a game where the Thunder was two-thirds short of its big three, as Westbrook and Anthony were both out due to injury, the team was hoping George would lead them to victory.
Earlier that day, the Los Angeles Lakers lost Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavs via trade and were hoping that they could get the win at home. With little help by his supporting cast, George was not able to help his team win. He finished with 29 in the 106-81 road loss.
On Friday, the Heat, in the midst of a five-game losing streak, hosted the Bucks. They were looking for a spark to help get their season back on track. In the Heats’ 91-85 win, Wade finished with only three points, but the Heat hope he will be their spark in the remaining two months of the season.
Butler was also returning to a familiar place as his Timberwolves returned to Chicago to play the Chicago Bulls for the first time since he was traded there during the previous offseason.
In his return, Butler put on a show for his old fans by finishing with 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. Even though the crowd saw a show by their old star, Bulls’ Zach LaVine spoiled Butler’s return as he impressed to give the Bulls a narrow 114-113 win over the T-Wolves. LaVine finished with 35 points.
On Saturday, the Philadelphia 76ers played against the Los Angeles Clippers, who were on a three-game winning streak.
The Clips trailed for the entirety of the game, and with six minutes left in the game, the team decreased the deficit to just two points. The 76ers were able to storm ahead and win 112-98. 76ers’ Joel Embiid had 29 points and 16 rebounds in the win.
The Lakers acquired Isaiah Thomas at the deadline from the Cavs, and he made his debut against the Dallas Mavericks. Thomas came off the bench for the Lakers and had an impressive debut finishing with 22 points and six assists. Although Isiah impressed, the Mavericks were able to pull off the win, 130-123. The always reliable Dirk Nowitzki put up a season high 22 points in the win.
One team that has taken the NBA East by storm and has been very unnoticed is the Toronto Raptors, who currently sit in the one seed.
On Sunday, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry continue to lead the charge with the help from Jonas Valanciunas. This strong play led the Raptors to a 123-103 win over the Hornets. Dwight Howard continues to dominate as he finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds.