NBA results: December 20, 2018
Cleveland Cavaliers (99) – Charlotte Hornets (110)
San Antonio Spurs (129) – Orlando Magic (90)
New York Knicks (109) – Philadelphia 76ers (131)
Phoenix Suns (111) – Boston Celtics (103)
Indiana Pacers (96) – Toronto Raptors (99)
Brooklyn Nets (96) – Chicago Bulls (93)
Washington Wizards (118) – Houston Rockets (136)
New Orleans Pelicans (115) – Milwaukee Bucks (123)
Detroit Pistons (129) – Minnesota Timberwolves (123)
Golden State Warriors (103) – Utah Jazz (108)
Memphis Grizzlies (92) – Portland Trail Blazers (99)
OKC Thunder (132) – Sacramento Kings (113)
Five things that happened in the NBA today:
1. Houston lives by the three
It took a while, but the Houston Rockets are finally getting back to their high-scoring identity from last season. They’ve racked up five straight wins, averaging 116 points per game. Coming into their match-up against Washington, the Rockets were averaging only 13.9 three-pointers, one of the best numbers in the league.
The Rockets decided to nearly double that number in their blowout win against the Wizards. Houston erupted for a new single-game NBA record of 26 three-pointers made, besting the 25 made by the Cleveland Cavaliers in March of 2017.
James Harden found his range early in the game to keep the score close. They started to pull away in the second quarter behind three treys from Chris Paul. The dam broke in the third period when four different Rocket players dropped a trey each to increase their lead to double digits. The game was over at that point.
An interesting foot not to this achievement is that it was Michael Carter-Williams that nailed the historic 26th three-pointer in garbage time late in the fourth period. It wasn’t Harden or Paul or Eric Gordon that got the record. It was non-shooter MCW that got it.
Noted sharp-shooter Michael Carter-Williams knocks down 3-pointer #26 to break the NBA record
— Adam Spolane (@AdamSpolane) December 20, 2018
2. Van Vleet, Leonard and Anunoby all play crucial roles in Toronto’s latest win
The Raptors were looking to snap a two-game losing streak. But they had a tough opponent in front of them in the Pacers. The game was one of this gritty, back-and-forth, Playoff-level type of games. In the end, the Raptors were able to pull out the win thanks to these three players:
Kawhi Leonard did the heavy lifting with 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
The Raptors tried to go to him in the end, down two, but he was forced to give up the possession. Danny Green missed the go-ahead three-pointer. Fred Van Vleet was able to get the ball off the miss and sink the clutch three-pointer to give Toronto the lead.
The Pacers still had a chance to tie the game in the final moments but OG Anunoby got away with a foul on a shooter. The refs didn’t call the reach in and the Raptors escaped with the win.
Oh, wow. Onunoby with a risky play, he FOULS the shooter, but the refs swallow the whistle. Crazy. ?♀️ pic.twitter.com/KHcMdg2eyq
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) December 20, 2018
Houston moves to 7th place in the West standings with a 16-14 record.
3. Jazz get back at the Warriors
Earlier this season, the Golden State Warriors visited the Utah and got a win off a last-second tip-in by ex-Jazz player, Jonas Jerebko.
Today, the Jazz got some measure of revenge against the Warriors. It was a balanced effort on both ends of the floor for Utah. Six players scored in double figures led by 20 points on four treys from Joe Ingles. Rudy Gobert had big double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds with four blocks. Jae Crowder had an 18-11 double-double off the bench.
Utah weathered a comeback attempt and 62 points combined from Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.
4. Is Phoenix tanking?
The Suns have won four straight games. Those wins weren’t flukes. They won comfortably over teams like the Mavericks, Timberwolves, and their latest win over the Celtics.
Phoenix got big games from their young Kobe and Shaq core. Devin Booker scored 25 points and had eight assists while DeAndre Ayton scored 23 and grabbed 18 boards.
With the game on the line, it was the newest Sun Kelly Oubre that drilled the dagger three-pointer to seal the win.
5. Thunder Equation works again
Remember this equation: Elite Defense + Paul George + Russell Westbrook = Wins
The Thunder limited the rising Kings to only 41% shooting and forced 13 turnovers. Elite defense check.
George? Check and Check. Add another check because this guy has been a two-way monster for the Thunder this season.
Westbrook completes the equation, leading to another big win for the Thunder.
But what puts this win over the top is Steven Adams. He was a beast in the paint with 20 points and 23 rebounds.
The Thunder are currently second out in the West with a 20-10 record. The OKC equation is still working so far this season.
Photo from Getty Images