The dust that the trade deadline left in its wake has already settled.
Moves have been made. Teams now feature new faces: playoff-bound teams bolster their lineups while lower-ranked teams get ready for a new season with draft picks and young talent.
While many changes had occurred in just a single day, the NBA continues on with high-octane action, featuring clutch shots, game winners, on and off the court drama, and a whole lot of great basketball.
FEBRUARY 23, Thursday
The Portland Trailblazers defeated by the Orlando Magic, 112 – 103, behind the 33 points – 17 in the fourth - from their star point guard, Damian Lillard. Jusuf Nurkic, who was traded by Denver to Portland for Mason Plumlee, started and played for 34 minutes, racking up 12 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks.
Detroit held on to win over Charlotte, 114 – 108, in an overtime thriller, powered by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 33 points and nine boards which he spiked with seven treys.
Houston made short work of New Orleans, led by new acquisition Lou Williams (traded by the Lakers for Corey Brewer and a 2017 first-round pick) who pumped in 27 points, going for 7/11 on three-point territory.
Lebron James had a triple-double in Cleveland’s (18-13-15) win over New York while the Warriors had a 50-point third quarter in their victory over the Clippers. Stephen Curry had 35 on 63% shooting.
Wrapping it up, Sacramento began their post-Cousins era with a blowout of Denver, 116 – 100. Willie Cauley-Stein produced a double-double off the bench with 29 points and 10 rebounds.
FEBRUARY 24, Friday
Philadelphia hit the ground running after losing its sweet-shooting forward Ersan Ilyasova for the injured Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick. The Sixers won over the Wizards, 120 – 112, courtesy of the double-double outputs by Robert Covington (25 points, 11 boards), Dario Saric (20 points, 11 boards), and Richaun Holmes (12 and 10).
Serge Ibaka debuted for the Raptors with 15 points and seven rebounds, helping DeMar DeRozan (43 points) survive the Celtics, 107 – 97.
Six scored in double digits for Indiana, led by CJ Miles’ 17, as Indiana defeated Memphis.
Chicago inched closer to a .500 record (28-29) as Dwayne Wade and Jimmy Butler combined for 55 points to survive Phoenix in overtime, 128 – 121.
Utah managed to suppress the monstrous performance of Giannis Antetokoumpo (33-12-3-5-1), cruising to a 109 – 95 win behind Gordon Hayward’s 29.
Russell Westbrook continued to increase his triple doubles for the season, churning out 17 points, 18 rebounds, and 17 assists in Oklahoma’s easy win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Minnesota snagged a win from Dallas who, despite 31 points from Seth Curry, fell, 84 – 97.
Tyler Johnson led Miami with 23 in a destruction of Atlanta, 108 – 90, while Denver rode the performances of Gary Harris (25 points) in the 129 – 109 win over Brooklyn.
Capping the day off was San Antonio welcoming Pau Gasol back (hand injury) with a 105 – 97 bout with the Los Angeles Clippers. Gasol had 17 and 11, backstopping Kawhi Leonard’s 21.
FEBRUARY 25, Saturday
Eight games closed the week out, starting with Charlotte using a 19 – 0 run to take control and defeat Sacramento. Frank Kaminsky had 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Orlando outscored Atlanta by 16 in the second half to secure the lead and the win, 105 – 86. Terrence Ross (traded from Toronto for Ibaka) topscored for his new team with 24.
Finally with a close one, the Knicks had to rely on their veteran star, Carmelo Anthony, to bail them out with a basket less than a second to go, overcoming the Sixers, 110 – 109. Anthony finished with 37.
Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, and Goran Dragic teamed up for 65 points to power Miami over Indiana, 113 – 95.
New Orleans pummeled to a back-to-back loss, despite having the strong tandem of Davis and Cousins, losing to Dallas, 83 – 96. Nerlens Noel had nine points and 10 rebounds in his first game as a Maverick.
The Bulls took advantage of the James-less Caveliers, making short work of them, 117 – 99. Butler went for a triple-double (18 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) while Wade almost had one (20 points, nine boards, 10 dimes), no thanks to Cristiano Felicio who took the rebound from him.
Houston didn’t have a problem taking down Minnesota as eight Rockets scored in double figures in the win, 142 – 130.
Golden State banked in on Curry’s 27 and Klay Thompson’s 24 to breeze through Brooklyn, 112 – 95.