NBA DAILY DRIBBLE: Spida’s career-high sinks the Bucks

NBA results: March 3, 2019

Detroit Pistons (129) – Cleveland Cavaliers (93)

Orlando Magic (117) – Indiana Pacers (112)

Brooklyn Nets (88) – Miami Heat (117)

Golden State Warriors (120) – Philadelphia 76ers (117)

Memphis Grizzlies (111) – Dallas Mavericks (81)

OKC Thunder (102) – San Antonio Spurs (116)

New Orleans Pelicans (120) – Denver Nuggets (112)

LA Lakers (109) – Phoenix Suns (118)

Milwaukee Bucks (111) – Utah Jazz (115)

Three things that happened in the NBA today:

1. Mitchell and the Jazz are turning it around once again

This felt like deja vu. But better, if there’s such a thing.

A few days ago, Donovan Mitchell took over late against the second-seeded Nuggets. He nailed ridiculous shot after ridiculous shot to stifle Denver’s comeback bid. Mitchell finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists, leading the Jazz to a big win over the a Playoff contender.

Today, Mitchell one-upped his last performance and powered the Jazz to another win over the best of the East.

Early in the final period, it looked like the Bucks would put their stamp on another win. Pat Connaughton scored on a layup off a Giannis Antetokounmpo pass to put Milwaukee up by 17. The Bucks were in full control of the game and looked like they were going to cruise to the win.

Then the Spida woke up.

Mitchell found Joe Ingles for a jumper to kickstart a 9-0 blast. He followed it up with a three-pointer and then a slam to cut the Bucks’ lead down to single-digits. Mitchell scored on a jumper and found Kyle Korver for another jumper to cut the deficit down to just four points. He nailed back-to-back floaters a few possessions after, to tie the game at 95 and again at 97.

Mitchell then found Jae Crowder for a jumper to give the Jazz a one-point lead. Mitchell’s onslaught continued with a three-pointer to extend the lead to four and another triple to put the Jazz up by six. Mitchell closed his fourth quarter masterpiece with two free throws to extend the Jazz lead to three, enough to pull out the win over the Bucks.

When it was all done, Mitchell dropped 19 points and three assists in the fourth quarter alone. He finished with 46 points and six assists to lead the Jazz to another big win.

The deja vu doesn’t just extend to this game. It goes beyond that. The Jazz are making another stretch run to the top of the West. They’re also doing it with Mitchell leading the way.

Last season, the Jazz were out of the Playoffs with a 17-26 record in January 15. Mitchell was solid at 18.9 points and 3.3 assists per game. When they closed the season with 31 wins in the last 39 games. During that stretch Mitchell upped his average to 22.1 points and 4.1 assists.

This season, the Jazz were 18-20 back in January 1, also out of the Playoffs. Since then they’ve won 18 out of their 24 games. Mitchell is currently averaging 27.6 points and 5.0 assists in the last 24 games, up from 20.1 and 3.4 before 2019.

The Jazz are now in sixth place in the West and only two games away from the fourth seed.

2. Sixers and Warriors are a marquee match-up

The last time the Sixers and the Warriors faced off, it was an exciting, hard fought game that the Sixers won on their home court. That game was pre Philly Four and with Cousins slowly getting into the groove of things.

The Warriors get their rematch on their home court. The Sixers were missing Joel Embiid, literally the biggest piece of their team. But to even things out, Golden State was playing without Klay Thompson, a key component to their offensive attack.

Philly was on fire to start the game. They jumped out to a 12-point lead in the first half as three of the Philly Four carried the offense. Ben Simmons finished the game with a huge triple-double. He had 25 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. Jimmy Butler had 21 and Tobias Harris added 20.

The Warriors woke up in the second half. Their defense limited Philly to just 50 points in the second half. They went on their patented third quarter run, outscoring the Sixers by 15 points to take over the game. Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 34 points, five boards and five assists. Steph Curry added 28 points while Cousins added 25 and eight boards. Draymond Green only had six points but he tallied nine rebounds and 10 assists.

This win snaps a losing streak where the Warriors went 0-2 in their Miami trip.

3. Lakers lose to the tanking Suns

After a fourth quarter collapse that allowed the Bucks to steal a win in LA yesterday, the Lakers started off slow and allowed the Suns to build a comfortable cushion today.

The Suns dropped 66 points on the Lakers and jumped out to a 17-point lead in the third period. They scored 29 points in the third and limited LA to just 19 during a crucial third quarter run. There was even this ugly moment in the period where James just threw the ball away.

The Lakers tried to make a run in the final period but they couldn’t close out the win. James missed two clutch free throws and that was it for the Lakers.

In back-to-back games, LA lost to the best team in the league and the worst team in the league. I guess one thing is consistent with this year’s Lakers team: the disappointment.

Photo from AP