Lakers vs. Cavaliers (8pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
Kobe Bryant dug deep again on Monday, hitting three straight 3-pointers in the span of 72 seconds to put the Lakers up 82-79 over the Pacers with 2:30 to play, but Paul George wasn’t havin’ it: George scored 7 points on 5 free throws and a layup in the final 1:10 to topple the Lakers 89-87. The Lakers are now a miserable 11-43 and trail the 76ers by just 2 games for first place in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes. This will be Kobe’s last stop in Cleveland, which has to come as a huge relief.
The jury’s still out on the Tyronn Lue Era in Cleveland, as the Cavs have gone 7-3 since the firing of David Blatt, who had led the team to a 30-11 record – essentially the same winning percentage. But the Cavaliers won big on Monday, beating Boogie Cousins and the Sacramento Kings, 120-100. LeBron James posted his first triple-double of the season, going 21-10-10, while Kyrie Irving chipped in with a double-double, scoring 32 points with 12 assists and the Cavs’ D held Cousins to just 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting and 8 boards. At 37-14, the Cavs are now holding onto a slim 2-game lead over the Raptors for the top seed in the East.
Rockets vs. Trail Blazers (10:30pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
The Rockets on Tuesday staked the Warriors to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, but fought their way into a 93-93 tie at the end of three, only to surrender 8 points in a row on their way to a 123-110 defeat. James Harden led the way for the Rockets with 37 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, but it wasn’t enough to neutralize Steph Curry’s 35-5-9 effort. The Rockets are now 27-27 and barely hanging onto the 8th spot in the West, just a half game ahead of…
The Trail Blazers held off the Grizzlies for a 106-100 overtime victory on Monday, as Damian Lillard led all scorers with 33 points. But it was Lillard’s backcourt mate CJ McCollum who got it done when it mattered most, scoring the first 6 points – for either side – in OT, to build a lead Portland would never relinquish. The Blazers have now won 7 of their last 8, clawing their way into the 9th seed, just a half game behind the Rockets for the final playoff spot.