In 10 years, not a sole will remember that LeBron broke the NBA’s all-time scoring record in a midseason loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They will, of course, remember it as it happened: epically, almost frozen in time. James rose and fired a midrange fadeaway over Thunder forward Kenrich Williams, and as the ball exited his hands, it seemed as though everything came to a halt.
You know those sorts of moments, when everything around you is suddenly quiet and still before an eruption comes in a blitz. That’s how it unfolded from my end, at least. It sounds dramatic; it is dramatic; it was dramatic. Far be it from me to experience an extraordinary moment in basketball history as though it was some ordinary midrange jumper.
What followed was a necessary stoppage, despite there being 10.9 seconds remaining in the third quarter when the shot went down. It’s not every day you get to see history. The idea that an accomplishment of this magnitude should be brushed aside for the remaining 10 seconds of a quarter to play out fails to understand that magnitude. A moment frozen in time deserves to spot time for a few minutes.
The game eventually carried on, and yeah, the Lakers were on the wrong end of things when the final buzzer sounded. But everyone will remember Feb. 7, 2023, for something that was altogether remarkable. Something that was previously thought to be unattainable, now proven to be within reach. It only took being the greatest athlete of a generation to get there.
Congrats, LeBron. Onto the scores.
Thunder spoil LeBron’s historic night, beat Lakers 133-130
Much like LeBron himself, my ode to his big night had to stand alone in regards to the game in which it occurred, because naturally, the Lakers couldn’t manage to nab a win to match the moment (as if anything ever could). Shai Gilgeous Alexander (30 points and eight assists), Jalen Williams (25 points, seven rebounds, and six steals), and Josh Giddey (20-5-6) led the way for the Thunder, who handed L.A. its second straight loss and its fourth out of the last six games. LeBron made history on Tuesday, and will continue to make it as this season rolls along. But at the end of the day, his team may have nothing to show for it if it continues to churn out losses like this.
Knicks come back to drop Magic, 102-98
One wishes he had a more exciting ending to tell you about, but the fact of the matter is that the conclusion to this one unfolded in a flurry of — you guessed it — free throws. The Knicks, having played a majority of the game from behind, took a 94-93 lead with just over a minute remaining and never looked back. The teams combined to shoot 10 free throws in the final 7.7 seconds. Basketball is, indeed, beautiful.
Jalen Brunson led all scorers with 25 points in the win, New York’s second in a row and third in its last four tries. Julius Randle (22 points and 14 rebounds) and Immanuel Quickley (18 points off the bench) were huge factors as well.
Nuggets thump T-Wolves, 146-112
Ho-hum, just Nikola Jokic recording his 19th triple-double of the season with 1:42 left in the second quarter.
If Denver isn’t your favorite to win the West, wake up and smell the roses.
Grizzlies handle Bulls, 104-89
Despite having gone 2-8 in their last 10 games, the Grizzlies are still a threat to beat anyone on any given night, and sometimes, they might even hold you to sub-90. Of course, it took a fourth-quarter comeback to do it, but hey, a win is a win. Especially when you haven’t been winning lately.
Ja Morant led all scorers with 34 points to lead Memphis, while Jaren Jackson Jr. added 24 points and five blocks; Desmond Bane poured in 17 of his own, and Brandon Clarke’s 13-and-13 double-double played a big part in the fourth. He had seven of Memphis’ 11 rebounds in the final frame, where the Grizzlies outscored the Demar DeRozan-less Bulls 32-14.
Pelicans ground Hawks, 116-107
I, too, would agree with Pelicans coach Willie Green that Brandon Ingram makes a big difference. The star forward dropped 30 points on Tuesday to lead New Orleans over Atlanta. In his five games back from a toe injury that kept him sidelined for two months, Ingram is scoring 23.7 points per contest, and over his last two, has combined to score 65. Not coincidentally, both of those were wins for the Pelicans. They’ve won three straight now; I can only imagine the damage they’ll do once Zion returns to action.
Suns hold off Nets, 116-112
Speaking of streaks: Phoenix is one of its own after Tuesday’s tight win over the Nets. Following Kyrie Irving’s departure and given Kevin Durant’s continued injury-related absence from the lineup, it’s been the Cam Thomas show — he’s scored 40-plus in each of Brooklyn’s last three games, a combined total of 134 points. But not even SuperCam was enough to stop the red-hot Suns, who have now won three in a row and eight of their last 10. Last night, it was Deandre Ayton leading the way with 35 points and 15 rebounds; tomorrow, it could be Devin Booker, who is finally back after missing extended periods of time with a groin strain he suffered on Christmas. He scored 19 in his return.
In Ayton’s words, ‘’We’re going to have this thing rolling now… Suns basketball on the way for sure.’’