DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside are top-five centers in the league for a reason, and they showed why Tuesday night.
3Hassan Whiteside – 32 Points, 15 Rebounds, 5 Blocks
There was nothing the Orlando Magic could do yesterday to contain Whiteside. Instead, they made everyone else try to beat them. It was his first game this year with 30 points and 15 boards, and Whiteside had his shots falling from everywhere.
He’s truly made leaps expanding his offensive game to support his heavier load, and Bismack Biyombo had to deal with him on the block, on the perimeter and the boards. Whiteside had the height advantage (about three inches), and mixed up his attempts early, just to keep the Magic on their toes. Just as Biyombo had issues in the post, Vucevic struggled to defend his mid-range shot, and the Magic’s guards had to worry about him protecting the rim.
Of course, that’s a part of the scouting report. Tuesday marked Whiteside’s third game this year with five blocked shots, and he’s had more than ten boards in each of those games.
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2Isaiah Thomas – 44 Points, 6 Assists, 17-of-17 FT
John Wall is the best point guard in the East, but Isaiah Thomas is rising the ladder quickly. When he goes out and puts on these incredible performances, they’re a little more impressive because he’s doing it in a tall man’s game.
Thomas, who stands at 5-9 according to NBA.com, is an elite scorer and gets to the line as well as anyone, evidenced by what he did to the Memphis Grizzlies. He was a perfect 17-of-17 at the line and was unrelenting in his attack of the basket. Moreover, his three-ball was falling (7-of-10), and that opened up the floor even more for him.
An often underrated part of Thomas’ game is his passing. While he wasn’t handing out assists like free samples at BJ’s, he was making the smart play when the defense collapsed on him, and he had one turnover to six assists.
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1DeMarcus Cousins – 55 Points, 13 Rebounds
Before getting his second technical, getting ejected and having his tech rescinded, Cousins was absolutely feasting against the Portland Trail Blazers. Terry Stots employed a rotation against Cousins consisting of Mason Plumlee, Meyers Leonard and Noah Vonleh, and it didn’t work.
DMC did everything offense — and I mean everything. His post game was impeccable, and he added a flurry of outside shots to make him just a bit harder to guard. Whether they were spot-up threes or mid-range jumpers off of a step back, Portland was at Cousins’ mercy.
Not known for his shot blocking, Cousins had a potentially game-saving block on Damian Lillard with 32 seconds left that would’ve trimmed the Sacramento Kings‘ lead to one. He’s now joined Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook as the only players with a 50-point, ten rebound game this year, according to Basketball-Reference.
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