The NBA restart saw less competitive action on Saturday unlike the two days prior, as only one matchup was closer than a 10-point margin. In that we saw a franchise record 25 3-pointers for the Clippers in a blowout win against New Orleans and a career-high 53-point game for Pacers forward TJ Warren.
Former UK players in the league’s bubble were a part of both sides of the wide margins. Heat center and UK alum Bam Adebayo found himself on the winning side in Miami’s first restart game, as he dominated in a 125-105 victory over Denver. Bam was tied with teammate Jimmy Butler for the highest scoring total for the game with 22 points, shooting 7/12 from the field and 8/10 from the free throw line. He also snagged nine boards and six assists in a great performance.
The Heat were down 57-54 at half, but turned it on in the third and fourth quarters to end up winning by 20. Adebayo did not just contribute that to better shooting, but more effort from the team overall.
“I think we really locked in and got stops in the second,” Bam said after the game. “It always helps to make shots, don’t get me wrong. But we started playing a lot harder in the second.”
A key storyline going into the game was the matchup between the UK alum and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, as both are all-star big men with tons of talent. Jokic scored 19 points on 7/16 shooting from the floor while also contributing seven assists and six rebounds, but struggled especially in the second half getting going as the Heat stayed in his face. The Nuggets were without guards Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton which hurt them greatly, but Adebayo and the Heat did a marvelous job of getting the ball out of Jokic’s hands in the second half.
Miami improves to 42-24 on the season and stands as the fourth seed currently in the Eastern Conference. They continue to pose as a threat to make some noise in the playoffs with Adebayo and Jimmy Butler leading the charge.
For Lakers forward and UK alum Anthony Davis, it was a different story last night. He went from scoring a game-high 34 points in the win against the LA Clippers on Thursday, to only totaling 14 points on 2/7 shooting from the floor in a 107-92 loss against defending champion Toronto. For the first time in his career, Davis did not score a point in the first quarter of a game, and the Lakers overall shot a season-low 35.4% from the field as the Raptors dominated on the defensive end.
Throughout the ball game, Toronto would double team AD and LeBron in the post, forcing kickouts and making other players on the Lakers try to beat them. That philosophy worked, and the Raptors proved to be a championship contender once again.
AD and the Lakers, who still sit first in the Western Conference with a record of 50-15, will look to get back on track on Monday night against the Utah Jazz who are 1-1 in the restart so far. Bam Adebayo and the Heat will next face off against the Toronto Raptors also on Monday in a battle between two teams with 1-0 records now in the bubble.
Plenty of former Cats will once again be on television on Sunday as the NBA continues the restart of its season, including De’Aaron Fox and Devin Booker who look to repeat on great performances in their first bubble appearances on Friday.