A day after two centers made the list, point guards got redemption and did so with gusto.
3Kyrie Irving – 31 Points, 13 Assists, 6 Rebounds
In classic Uncle Drew fashion, Kyrie was dancing and prancing all around the Milwaukee Bucks‘ defense. A barrage of dazzling handles and crisp eurosteps allowed Irving to get into the heart of the paint, and he seemingly did whatever he wanted to.
His 13 assists marked a career-high, and the Cleveland Cavaliers improved to 19-5 when Irving drops double-digit dimes — yes, that includes the years when the Cavs were the laughing stock of the NBA. When Kyrie enters duel-threat point guard mode, it’s hard to stop him. Furthermore, it’s even harder to stop him when he’s not shooting threes.
Irving was actively looking for teammates while exploiting mismatches, and just two of his 17 shot attempts came from beyond the arc. None of the Bucks’ defenders could routinely keep him out of the paint, and they were reluctant to switch Giannis Antetokounmpo off of LeBron James.
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2Marc Gasol – 38 Points, 5 Rebounds, 14-of-17 FG
The Detroit Pistons aren’t the best team in the Eastern Conference, but they’re respectable despite their sub-.500 record. Gasol on Wednesday, however, wholly disrespected the Pistons’ defense.
His shooting numbers are confounding enough, but he was entirely unstoppable in the post. Andre Drummond, his primary defender, couldn’t do anything to disrupt Gasol while he was on the block, and Drummond was then blocked twice by Gasol on the defensive end. It wasn’t just Dre who was dismantled on the block, but any Piston who guarded him. From the post to mid-range, and even off the dribble, all of Detroit’s bigs had issues with him.
Simply put, it was one of those nights. the Pistons’ defense on everyone else was outstanding, but Gasol had it working from everywhere, and he’s slowly turning into a quiet MVP candidate.
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1Russell Westbrook – 42 Points, 10 Rebounds, 7 Assists
Fresh off a 46-point explosion against the Atlanta Hawks, Westbrook continued his super-human antics. The New Orleans Pelicans were the recipients of a cyborg-like performance, and they couldn’t slow down Westbrook — this is becoming a broken record and Westbrook’s outburst have been so tantalizing that he’s desensitized us to it. And it’s amazing.
He shot a relatively decent percentage, 12-of-26, but even more impressive is how he was 16-of-18 from the free throw line. It was one of those nights where Westbrook seldom settled for an outside jumper, and he absolutely abused his defenders in the process. He was wild and may have gotten a few superstar calls, but almost no one can stay in front of him when he bullies his way to the basket.
I’d love for it to get to a point where his stat line are so continuously inflated to where I need to exclude him from the list.
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