His team is not destined for the playoffs. His career scoring as a fifth-year player is not nearing the top of any list — except for Wednesday night’s top performers.
But Zach LaVine did his best to grab the spotlight, scoring 39 points, capped by the game-winning layup with 1.6 seconds left, to lift the Chicago Bulls over the playoff-bound Philadephia 76ers 108-107.
Here is the winning drive and layup, which came from a Robin Lopez assist:
LaVine’s drive one-upped Jimmy Butler — for whom LaVine was traded back in 2015, and whose two free throws with 4.8 seconds remaining had given the 76ers a one-point lead in a hotly contested game that saw 20 ties and 19 lead changes.
“I saw the lane and I took it, ” said LaVine in his walk-off interview. He was fouled on the winning layup and purposely missed the free throw to consume time. On the 76ers’ subsequent in-bounds play with only 0.5 seconds left, LaVine broke up the pass from Ben Simmons.
But the game wasn’t over. The clock had started early because Lopez appeared to tip the in-bounds pass, and the horn sounded before anyone caught the ball. But a review determined Lopez had not touched it and the final 0.5 seconds were replayed. The second inbounds pass wasn’t handled by Butler, who finished with 22 points.
Butler apparently wasn’t too happy with his coach’s final-second play calling.
After the presumed loss before the teams had to comeback out Jimmy Butler could be heard yelling “We better draw up a better f****** play if we do”. Brett Brown was close enough to hear it
— Tony Gill (@tonygill670) March 7, 2019
The young bulls are on an upswing since just before the All-Star break, having won six of their last 10.
LaVine, who will be 24 years old on March 10, scored 26 of his 39 points in the second half (13 in both the third and fourth quarters) to lead the Bulls’ rally from eight down with 5:49 left.
This season, he’s averaging a career-best 23.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
The loss had to be a bitter pill to swallow for the 76ers, fighting to keep home-court advantage for the playoffs with 17 games remaining. Joel Embiid missed his seventh straight game with a sore left knee as the 76ers hope to have him healthy for postseason.
— NBA (@NBA) March 7, 2019
Generational player LeBron James moved into fourth in career scoring, surpassing the player many call the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan.
The milestone came on a driving layup in the second quarter, which gave LeBron 32,293 points for his career. He was fouled on the play and hit the free throw.
Can’t even front. This is going to be UNREAL!! Wow man
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 7, 2019
Kick around this graphical look at James’ points milestones through the years.
— NBA KICKS (@NBAKicks) March 7, 2019
The Lakers’ loss, their fourth straight, puts them at 30-35 for the season and 6.5 games behind the Clippers and Spurs for the No. 8 seed in the West with 17 left to play. Now that L.A.’s’ playoff hopes are essentially done, LeBron might be unlikely to play big minutes for the rest of the season.
Big men are coveted in the NBA for their rim-protecting ability. A 7-footer can keep the mere mortal 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 player from driving and slamming a dunk home. Well, in theory.
Here are two instances Wednesday night in which the smaller player gets the best of the big man guarding the basket:
The Wizards’ Bradley Beal (6-foot-5) posterizes the Mavericks’ 7-foot-2 Salah Mejri and stares him down.
The Spurs’ Derrick White (6-foot-4) crushes it over the Hawks’ 7-foot-1 Alex Len and gets fouled hard.
After struggling of late, the Boston Celtics might be gaining a little momentum.
Gordon Hayward hit a game-winner with two seconds left to lift the Celtics over the Sacramento Kings 111-109, and they did it without Kyrie Irving, who sat out with a sore left thigh.
It was the second win in a row for Boston, which is fighting for home-court advantage that the No. 4 seed would confer. They trail the fourth-place 76ers by 1.5 games.
“It’s another one we can build on,” said Hayward, who finished with 12 points.
Monday night, the Celtics pounded the two-time reigning champion Warriors 128-95.
The Washington Wizards showed some love for Dirk Nowitzki as the Wizards hosted the Dallas Mavericks, with a lengthy introduction highlighting his achievements in what is probably his final season.
The Wizards captured the moment in this tweet:
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) March 7, 2019
As for the game, it quickly turned into a duel between the Wizards’ Bradley Beal and the Mavericks rookie guard/forward Luka Doncic, who turned 20 on Feb. 28.
Beal, who had a poster dunk in the first quarter, led the Wizards to a 132-123 victory in an intraconference matchup of two teams unlikely to make the playoffs. Beal finished with 30 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Doncic had a stellar night with 31 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists. He also stood atop the top performers list in steals with four.
Surrounded by reporters after the game, Beal took a little dig at the rookie.
Asked about Luka Doncic’s stepback jumper, Bradley Beal jokes: “My s–‘s better.” 😂
— Howard Fendrich (@HowardFendrich) March 7, 2019
Fans often do a little extra to show their allegiance to a team or player. A favorite numbered jersey, a team sweat-shirt or a representing a players’ line of kicks is usually the extent of it.
A guy in Chicago went the extra mile for the ESPN matchup of 76ers vs. Chicago. Painted upon the shaved back of his head was an image of what looks like Zach LaVine and an image of Joel Embiid (who didn’t play Tuesday night) separated by “ESPN.”
— NBA (@NBA) March 7, 2019