NBA Scores: Nikola Jokic building undeniable case for MVP 3-peat

Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images Plus: Knicks, Nets, Magic all building win streaks It seemed impossible just a week or two ago, but *cue announcer voice* the Boston Celtics have been unseated from the “best record in the NBA” throne following back-to-back losses to the Orlando Magic. The only team hotter than Orlando? The New York Knicks, who have now won seven straight after a 2-6 stretch left some calling for jobs and trades. The only entity in basketball hotter than New York? The league’s double-defending MVP, Nikola Jokic, who left jaws on the floor once again on Sunday. He’s accomplishing statistical anomalies that haven’t been sniffed since Wilt Chamberlain and setting himself up well to be this century’s first MVP 3-peat. Orlando upsets Boston, 95-92, for sixth straight win Even without Jayson Tatum, the Celtics shouldn’t have any trouble with the Magic. They shouldn’t have had any trouble with the Magic on Friday either when Orlando won 117-109. The Magic instead went 2-0 in the mini-series between squads as Boston couldn’t bounce back due to struggling mightily from the field without their MVP candidate, shooting just 34.8% from the field and 25.5% from deep. Rookie of the Year candidate Paolo Banchero was the biggest threat for Orlando, finishing with nearly a third of his squad’s points at 31, including 6-7 from three. The Magic as a team shot 41.4% from three (although just 6-22 or 27.2% if you only look at players not named Banchero), which was their biggest statistical advantage. This one had some extra fuel on the fire after Celtics broadcaster and former sharpshooter Eddie House talked a bunch of smack on Orlando after their first win against Boston. The players responded after the win by tweeting a gif of House getting smacked by Magic guard Rafer Alston during a 2009 playoff series. Knicks extend winning streak to seven with 109-106 win over Pacers Back and forth to the very end, this one was decided at the free throw line where New York (23-30) outshot Indiana (15-23) by volume and efficiency. Four of the Knicks starters had big games, including double doubles from Julius Randle (25 points and 14 rebounds) and Mitchell Robinson (10 and 13) while Jalen Brunson led them in scoring (30) and RJ Barrett scored 24 for his fifth straight 20+ point night. Kyrie, Durant too much for Pistons as Nets win, 124-121 Brooklyn gets their sixth straight win, and still, every Nets box score is the same. Kyrie Irving takes a third of the scoring load, Kevin Durant takes a third of the scoring load, and the rest of the team feasts on the final third. In this particular instance, the two stars combined for 81 of Brooklyn’s 124 points: KD and Kyrie showed out in the Nets' comeback win KD: 43 PTS, 6 REB, 3 3PMKyrie: 38 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST, 5 3PM pic.twitter.com/y0BpDIa72J— NBA (@NBA) December 19, 2022 Poole, Warriors beat Raptors 126-110 in first Steph-less win of season Golden State came into this game 0-4 in games without the defending Finals MVP, losing each contest by an average of 16.75 points per game. In those games, however, Jordan Poole did not step up to hang 40+ on the opponent like he did in this one. His 43 points on 14-23 shooting in just 35 minutes smashes his previous career-best of 38 points while he also tied for the team-leading six assists in the game. The Raptors were led – as they seemingly always are – in scoring by Pascal Siakam (27), Fred VanVleet (22), and Scottie Barnes (17), and they have some decisions to be made over the next couple months before the trade deadline. Toronto currently sits just 2.5 games out from the fifth best draft odds, which would mean a 42.1% chance at a top four pick and a 10.5% chance at the top pick, otherwise known as Victor Wembanyama. Wolves hang a crooked number on Bulls in 150-126 win In terms of needing to face the man in the mirror, the Bulls are in an even worse spot than the aforementioned Raptors. Chicago is a game and a half behind Toronto in the standings with some bigger assets to manage, like DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. They account for two of the three 20+ point games from the Bulls on Sunday, but scoring isn’t the biggest issue when you’re totaling 126 points in regulation. Minnesota took advantage of one of the better Anthony Edwards games of his career, finishing with 37 points (13-25 FG), seven rebounds, and 11 assists along with two steals. One of seven Wolves in double figures, Nathan Knight posted a season-high 16 points in his season-high 26 minutes. With the win, the Wolves keep the Warriors out of the play-in picture and maintain their spot at #10 in the West by just half a game. Jokic does his best Wilt impression as Nuggets top Hornets, 119-115 I’ve given up trying to think of reasons to not give Jokic his third MVP in a row. We’ve all heard that it hasn’t been done since Larry Bird in the 80s, but Jokic’s season has a sense of undeniability so far, and Sunday night was no different. Nikola

NBA Scores: Nikola Jokic building undeniable case for MVP 3-peat
Charlotte Hornets v Denver Nuggets
Photo by Justin Tafoya/Getty Images

Plus: Knicks, Nets, Magic all building win streaks

It seemed impossible just a week or two ago, but *cue announcer voice* the Boston Celtics have been unseated from the “best record in the NBA” throne following back-to-back losses to the Orlando Magic.

The only team hotter than Orlando? The New York Knicks, who have now won seven straight after a 2-6 stretch left some calling for jobs and trades.

The only entity in basketball hotter than New York? The league’s double-defending MVP, Nikola Jokic, who left jaws on the floor once again on Sunday. He’s accomplishing statistical anomalies that haven’t been sniffed since Wilt Chamberlain and setting himself up well to be this century’s first MVP 3-peat.


Orlando upsets Boston, 95-92, for sixth straight win

Even without Jayson Tatum, the Celtics shouldn’t have any trouble with the Magic. They shouldn’t have had any trouble with the Magic on Friday either when Orlando won 117-109. The Magic instead went 2-0 in the mini-series between squads as Boston couldn’t bounce back due to struggling mightily from the field without their MVP candidate, shooting just 34.8% from the field and 25.5% from deep.

Rookie of the Year candidate Paolo Banchero was the biggest threat for Orlando, finishing with nearly a third of his squad’s points at 31, including 6-7 from three. The Magic as a team shot 41.4% from three (although just 6-22 or 27.2% if you only look at players not named Banchero), which was their biggest statistical advantage.

This one had some extra fuel on the fire after Celtics broadcaster and former sharpshooter Eddie House talked a bunch of smack on Orlando after their first win against Boston. The players responded after the win by tweeting a gif of House getting smacked by Magic guard Rafer Alston during a 2009 playoff series.

Knicks extend winning streak to seven with 109-106 win over Pacers

Back and forth to the very end, this one was decided at the free throw line where New York (23-30) outshot Indiana (15-23) by volume and efficiency. Four of the Knicks starters had big games, including double doubles from Julius Randle (25 points and 14 rebounds) and Mitchell Robinson (10 and 13) while Jalen Brunson led them in scoring (30) and RJ Barrett scored 24 for his fifth straight 20+ point night.

Kyrie, Durant too much for Pistons as Nets win, 124-121

Brooklyn gets their sixth straight win, and still, every Nets box score is the same. Kyrie Irving takes a third of the scoring load, Kevin Durant takes a third of the scoring load, and the rest of the team feasts on the final third. In this particular instance, the two stars combined for 81 of Brooklyn’s 124 points:

Poole, Warriors beat Raptors 126-110 in first Steph-less win of season

Golden State came into this game 0-4 in games without the defending Finals MVP, losing each contest by an average of 16.75 points per game. In those games, however, Jordan Poole did not step up to hang 40+ on the opponent like he did in this one. His 43 points on 14-23 shooting in just 35 minutes smashes his previous career-best of 38 points while he also tied for the team-leading six assists in the game.

The Raptors were led – as they seemingly always are – in scoring by Pascal Siakam (27), Fred VanVleet (22), and Scottie Barnes (17), and they have some decisions to be made over the next couple months before the trade deadline. Toronto currently sits just 2.5 games out from the fifth best draft odds, which would mean a 42.1% chance at a top four pick and a 10.5% chance at the top pick, otherwise known as Victor Wembanyama.

Wolves hang a crooked number on Bulls in 150-126 win

In terms of needing to face the man in the mirror, the Bulls are in an even worse spot than the aforementioned Raptors. Chicago is a game and a half behind Toronto in the standings with some bigger assets to manage, like DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. They account for two of the three 20+ point games from the Bulls on Sunday, but scoring isn’t the biggest issue when you’re totaling 126 points in regulation.

Minnesota took advantage of one of the better Anthony Edwards games of his career, finishing with 37 points (13-25 FG), seven rebounds, and 11 assists along with two steals. One of seven Wolves in double figures, Nathan Knight posted a season-high 16 points in his season-high 26 minutes. With the win, the Wolves keep the Warriors out of the play-in picture and maintain their spot at #10 in the West by just half a game.

Jokic does his best Wilt impression as Nuggets top Hornets, 119-115

I’ve given up trying to think of reasons to not give Jokic his third MVP in a row. We’ve all heard that it hasn’t been done since Larry Bird in the 80s, but Jokic’s season has a sense of undeniability so far, and Sunday night was no different.

Over this recent tear that the Joker is on, he’s averaging 34.4 points, 14.8 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 2.4 steals over his past five games. By NBA Math’s total points added (TPA) formula, Jokic has been the second-most impactful player in the league behind only Luka Doncic.

Lakers win first game of another Davis absence, 119-117, over Wizards

As LA prepares for another “indefinite absence” from Anthony Davis, his replacement in the starting lineup, Thomas Davis, seems up to the challenge, finishing with a double double at 16 points and 10 rebounds. LeBron played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, accounting for 22 of the Lakers’ 32 points (scoring 13, nine coming via assist) in the frame.

In the losing effort that saw the Wizards fall further from the play-in group (2.5 games from #10), Kyle Kuzma tallied 22 points and 16 rebounds against his old (and maybe future?) team. They’re now 1-13 over their last 14 after starting the season 7-6.