The playoff races are tightening up, as each game starts to matter a little more for those in contention. Devin Booker and the Suns are leading the charge out West, and Julius Randle’s Knicks are fighting for glory in the East, among other teams. Here are the best BBNBA moments from Tuesday’s games, starting with a huge night from an unexpected star.
Diallo drops career-high 35 in loss to Hornets
I’ve been talking about Hamidou Diallo‘s breakout performance all season. He got off to a terrific start to the season with Oklahoma City, highlighted by a stretch of 12 straight games scoring in double figures in late January to early February. Then he was traded to Detroit at the deadline, and he struggled to find his footing with one of the league’s worst teams. Through his first 14 games in Detroit, the third-year forward averaged just 8.2 points and shot 42% from the floor, including a six-game stretch where he shot 6-34 (18%) and made just one three-pointer.
However, over his last four games, those numbers have risen to 57% FG and 50% (7-14) from deep. On Tuesday, with scoring leaders Jerami Grant, Wayne Ellington and Josh Jackson all sitting for the Pistons, Diallo seized the opportunity. He played 40 minutes for the first time since February, dropping a cool 35 on 14-22 shooting along with seven rebounds and four made treys.
He looked pretty much locked-in all night, blowing by the defense with that electric first step and finishing with ease. He even pulled up in transition once or twice, flashing his much-improved stroke from deep:
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) May 4, 2021
On the other end, he gave all of the BBN something to smile about by recovering to shove this Terry Rozier attempt out of bounds with force:
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) May 5, 2021
Perhaps most impressively, he *almost* led the shorthanded Pistons to an upset win over Charlotte, who just got LaMelo Ball back and are in the thick of the playoff hunt. Diallo scored 14 of his 35 in the fourth quarter, and cut the Hornet lead to two on a clutch three with 30 seconds left, but it wasn’t quite enough. Charlotte ended up winning 102-99 despite getting nothing from P.J. Washington, who was sitting out for personal reasons, and Malik Monk, who missed all eight shots he took in 19 minutes. They remain solidly entrenched in the Eastern eight-seed, while the Pistons are 15th out of 15.
Still, what a night for Hami!
Booker, Suns take over in overtime for fifth straight W
Another night, another winning performance under pressure for Devin Booker and the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns. With the Jazz winning on Monday, the Suns needed a victory over the Cavaliers on Tuesday to regain the tiniest of edges in the race for the no. 1 seed in the Western Conference. They did so, but not without a little drama first.
Phoenix looked sluggish for much of the game, letting the Cavs keep it within single digits even without several key players. Two former SEC studs, Collin Sexton and rookie Isaac Okoro, combined for 61 as Cleveland fought back again from down seven in the fourth quarter to force overtime on an Okoro runner with 20 seconds left. The Suns had a chance to win it at the buzzer in regulation, but Booker missed a corner three while caught in a triple-team.
They ran away with it in the extra period, however, outscoring the gassed Cavs 20-4 in the final five minutes. Booker finished with 31 points on 14-27 shooting along with six rebounds and five assists. Chris Paul had 23 points and 16 assists, while Mikal Bridges chipped in everywhere with 23 points, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
With the win, Phoenix moved back into a tie with Utah atop the league at 47-18, but the Suns still hold the tiebreaker with seven games remaining. They play the Hawks tonight in Atlanta, while the Jazz is set to face the Spurs for the second time this week.
News & Notes
– Eric Bledsoe posted 14 points, five rebounds and four assists as the Pelicans got revenge on Steph Curry and the Warriors for Monday night’s loss. New Orleans is currently two games behind San Antonio for the last play-in spot in the West.
– Bam Adebayo had a quiet night offensively in Miami’s 14-point loss to Luka and the Mavericks and still nearly tallied a triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. The Heat remains in sixth place in the East, one game behind the Hawks and half a game ahead of Boston for the last play-in bye.
– Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said last night that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has a “significant tear” in his plantar fascia, likely ending any chance he had at returning before the season’s end. Not too surprising given OKC’s tanking ambitions, but a bummer nonetheless.
|Hamidou Diallo (DET)||99-102 L vs. CHA||35||14-22 (4-6)||7||0||0||1||1||-4||40|
|Devin Booker (PHX)||134-118 OT W @ CLE||31||14-27 (1-6)||6||5||1||0||0||+12||40|
|Eric Bledsoe (NOP)||108-103 W vs. GSW||14||5-11 (2-5)||5||4||0||0||1||+11||34|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||113-127 L vs. DAL||11||4-10 (0-0)||9||11||2||0||3||-22||30|
|Mychal Mulder (GSW)||103-108 L @ NOP||8||3-9 (2-6)||4||0||2||0||1||+4||27|
|DeMarcus Cousins (LAC)||105-100 W vs. TOR||7||3-4 (1-1)||6||1||0||1||2||-11||14|
|Malik Monk (CHA)||102-99 W @ DET||2||0-8 (0-5)||3||2||0||0||0||-6||19|
|Willie Cauley-Stein (DAL)||127-113 W @ MIA||2||1-2 (0-0)||3||1||0||0||0||+5||18|
|Rajon Rondo (LAC)||105-100 W vs. TOR||0||0-4 (0-3)||3||5||3||0||6||-12||19|
|P.J. Washington (CHA)||102-99 W @ DET||DNP – Personal reasons||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Tyler Herro (MIA)||113-127 L vs. DAL||DNP – Foot injury||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|De’Aaron Fox (SAC)||103-99 W @ OKC||DNP – COVID-19 Protocols||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)||99-103 L vs. SAC||DNP – Foot injury||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Nick Richards (CHA)||102-99 W @ DET||DNP – Coach’s decision||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Wenyen Gabriel (NOP)||108-103 W vs. GSW||DNP – Coach’s decision||—||—||—||—||—||–||—||—|
|Patrick Patterson (LAC)||105-100 W vs. TOR||DNP – Coach’s decision||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
TODAY IN THE NBA
7:00: Celtics @ Magic
7:30: Blazers (Kanter) @ Cavs
8:00: Grizzlies @ Timberwolves (KAT, Vanderbilt)
8:00: Wizards @ Bucks
8:00: Suns (Booker) @ Hawks
8:00: Kings (Fox) @ Pacers
8:00: Sixers (Maxey) @ Rockets (Wall*)
9:00: Knicks (Randle, Noel, Quickley, Knox) @ Nuggets (Murray*)
9:00 (NBATV): Spurs (Johnson, Lyles*) @ Jazz
* – inactive