• It was a relatively quiet Thursday night, well not if you were at the scorer’s table at the Rockets-Jazz game and were probably treated to an earful from Rudy Gobert as he complained about his quick second foul.

    But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. We’ll get to that game in a bit.

    Al the way with Horford

    The first game of the night was a systematic and steady dismantling of the Knicks by the Celtics 100-128. It was not an absolute slaughter, at least not immediately, as Tim Hardaway Jr. and, yes, Emmanuel Mudiay did their best to keep the game close in the first half. THJ had a Hardaway-esque line with 22 points, six treys and little else, while Mudiay – still struggled from the field with 5-of-15 shooting – finished with 17 points and six dimes. Enes Kanter started for the Knicks and dropped his perfunctory double-double with 14 & 11.

    The Celtics leaned on Kyrie Irving again in this one and he delivered with 22 points (three 3s) and eight dimes. Al Horford had a notably solid performance with 19 points and 12 rebounds with four blocks, that nicely yanked up his season averages. Jason Tatum did Jason Tatum things with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, five boards, three treys and two steals. It was a quiet night for Gordon Hayward who hardly exerted effort in his 25 minutes off the bench with eight points, six rebounds and four assists.

    Comforts of Holmes

    The Phoenix Suns raised a couple of eyebrows when it was reported that Richaun Holmes was getting the start over an available Deandre Ayton. Whether the move was to send the rookie a message or he was feeling under the weather, it did not get its desired result, with Holmes getting subbed out early in the first. Ayton ended up posting a decent line with 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 27 minutes. Holmes, despite his start, recorded just nine points, four rebounds and no defensive stats in 21 minutes.

    Beyond that starting center swap, there was nothing really extraordinary coming out of the Suns’ side of their 86-108 blowout loss to the Blazers.

    On the Blazers side, Jusuf Nurkic struggled with his shot going 4-for-12 from the field to finish with nine points but dominated on the glass with 14 rebounds. Damian Lillard did away with the Suns easily with his 25 points and full line. It was on him to deliver the goods with regular backcourt partner C.J. McCollum out with a sprained ankle. Scoring reinforcements came from an unexpected source. Jake Layman dropped a career-high 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds. While this is a rare outburst from Layman, he can possibly emerge as the third scoring option that the Blazers sorely need.

    One angry Frenchman

    The Rockets were a mess, individually and collectively. As a result, they lost, horribly, to the Jazz, 91-118. James Harden posted a season-low 15 points and Clint Capela uncharacteristically shot poorly from the field with 5-for-14 shooting.

    Rudy Gobert took his frustration out on some cups at the scorer’s table, which resulted in his ejection. It’s unclear whether the Stifle Tower will be slapped with a one-game suspension or a fine. Either way, expect him to be disciplined one way or another. In the wake of his absence, Derrick Favors stepped up and delivered his best offensive output of the season with 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting with 10 rebounds, one steal and one block.  Smokin’ Joe Ingles played well in the win with 18 points, six boards, four triples, three dimes and two steals.

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