In case you missed it, SLAM’s got your back with the things you might’ve missed over Thanksgiving weekend packed with stellar NBA moments. The weekend was filled with some old-fashioned sh*t-talking, a vintage LeBron James performance, some hard fouls, Ja Morant doing what Ja Morant does (but at the Garden), and the resurgence of Klay Thompson.
Most of the fireworks on Friday night happened in Houston in an absolute shoot-out between the Rockets and Atlanta Hawks. Trae Young and Dejounte Murray combined for 83 points, but it wasn’t enough. After leading by as much as 16 points in the third quarter, Atlanta squandered the lead, and the Rockets surged late to capture their fourth win of the season, 128-122.
Despite Murray scoring a career-high 39 points and making a career-high eight threes, the Hawks couldn’t get the job done. A big reason for this was their performance on the boards in the absence of Clint Capela, who was out due to dental pain. Houston outrebounded Atlanta 59-28. This included a 22-6 drubbing on the offensive boards and a 37-22 advantage on the defensive boards.
Most of the headlines after the game were about the aftermath of a third-quarter scrum between each team’s respective backcourt. Young and Murray did plenty of showboating on the way to scoring a combined 83 points, and you get the sense that Green and Kevin Porter Jr. didn’t like it one bit. Green and Porter took to Instagram to mock Young following the game. Green waved goodbye to the Hawks after their 18-point fourth quarter.
Ja Morant messed around and dropped a triple-double in Madison Square Garden, dropping 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 dimes. He’s been highly productive during Desmond Bane, who suffered a sprained big toe injury on Nov. 15 and won’t be back for at least another week.
Postgame, Morant credited New York Knicks point guard and Chicago/Memphis legend Derrick Rose for paving the way for hyper-athletic guards by saying;
“He really made it to where people believe in guys like me,” Morant told the Commercial Appeal. “Coming in, athletic guards, I felt like he was pretty much the one who kind of made it more famous. With how acrobatic his finish is, his touch around the rim, and how explosive he was. Coming in, he was my comparison. It’s crazy to be out there on the floor sharing a court with him.”
Klay Thompson was off to a rough start on the offensive side of the ball to begin the season, but he’s beginning to get on track. He shot 61.5 percent from the field in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Golden State scored 47 points in the first quarter and never really looked back. They had crisp offensive execution the entire game.
The Boston Celtics continued their winning ways. They have won 12 of their last 13 games. They are a League-best 16-4 on the season. Jaylen Brown had 36 points in their most recent win sans Jayson Tatum against the Washington Wizards. The Celtics are poised for a return to the NBA Finals if they keep playing the way they’re playing.
Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and the Brooklyn Nets are now only a single game under .500 following their 111-97 win against the Trail Blazers on Sunday night. Seth Curry was a big factor in the win against his former squad, with 29 points on 11-15 shooting.
Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox has been playing out of his mind and is turning some heads. Fox has been shooting a career-high 53 percent from the field, helping him average 25.1 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game.
Fox has the Kings sitting in sixth place in a jammed Western Conference with a record of 10-8. Fox’s play has been so good that this past weekend, he inked a deal with one of the biggest and most well-known sports agencies in basketball Klutch Sports. For Sacramento, Fox’s recent play and lead role in the Kings’ resurgence could be just what the team needs to end their 16-year playoff drought.
The Kings have the talent and youth to be very disruptive if given a postseason opportunity. The team’s additions of Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk (in addition to Fox’s play) have been a great fit. Hopefully, Fox and the team can continue this momentum.
Over the weekend, the Lakers played the San Antonio Spurs for the third time in their last four games. During the third quarter of Saturday’s game, Russell Westbrook was going up for a layup after previously grabbing a rebound and was fouled on the way up by Spurs center Zach Collins. When Westbrook rose up from the ground heated from the foul, you could see that he had a cut and was visibly bleeding from his forehead.
The two teams got together for what seemed like a couple of seconds after the foul, but everyone was calmly escorted to their respective benches. Westbrook, who was fuming for a good reason, was taken away by LeBron James, who quickly compressed Westbrook’s head wound with a towel and walked him over to the bench to be further examined by the Lakers team doctors.
Once the situation calmed down, a Flagrant 2 foul was given the Collins, and a tech was given to Westbrook. Postgame, James commented on the altercation, saying;
“I saw where the cut was immediately. It was just common sense to put pressure on the cut right away. Don’t let it continue to go. Before we became teammates, we’ve always been like brothers and cool and things of that nature. His health is more important than the game of basketball. We were just trying to stop that and let the training staff do their job after we got him over to the bench.”
Miami center Bam Adebayo has had a quiet yet phenomenal stretch over the Heat’s last six games averaging 25.5 points per game and 10.2 rebounds on 52 percent shooting from the field. However, in Adebayo’s last two games, he has scored over 30 points and has been a key contributor toward the end of games on both the defensive and offensive sides.
The Heat are currently on a three-game win streak led by Adebayo’s diverse and consistent play, and the team looks to carry that momentum into their Wednesday matchup with the 2022 Eastern Conference Champion Celtics.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND:
Ja Morant’s father asked for his son’s jersey for the first time in Morant’s career. Morant stated that it was “special” for him to get a triple-double in the Garden and that it was a place that he always had a special feeling for.
Morant admitted after Sunday’s game that MSG was special for him to have a triple-double since it was a place he watched in so many games on television as a kid — which was why his father made the unusual request for his jersey.
“It’s just the bright lights, man,” Morant told ESPN post-game. “Having a triple-double in the Garden is crazy. Growing up actually watching teams come here and play, watching the Knicks play — everybody loves the Garden. We really called it the bright lights. Everybody is watching. So for me to be able to go out and play like I played tonight was big-time for me.”