There were a few in the media talking about how the Los Angeles Lakers needed to win four of their next five games to stay in playoff contention. After a loss on Friday to the Milwaukee Bucks and an inexplicable loss on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns, they are now four and a half games behind the Clippers for the playoff spot. The 118-109 loss in Phoenix comes at the hands of the league’s worst team currently as well, leaving many a head scratching. It’s never easy to play back-to-back games and these are all professionals, but it speaks to just how poorly the Lakers are playing right now that they have lost to the 13-51 Suns. They were behind from the get-go, and they just never got that momentum that was necessary to take them past a Suns team that continues to battle as they seek to improve. LeBron James put up 27 points, but the Suns held them off thanks to great showings from Deandre Ayton (26 points) and Rookie of the Year candidate Devin Booker (25).
In a game that saw the Philadelphia 76ers host the Golden State Warriors, it was the experience of the latter that won out, getting them a 120-117 win on the road over the younger Sixers. With just seconds left on the clock and a chance to score, Tobias Harris caught the ball and began to get into a shooting motion. The only problem was that he was on the line, forcing the officials to point the other way, ending all hopes they had of tying it up. But there was more before that. They chose to foul at the wrong time, and they also unwisely missed a free throw, too. The Sixers are young, no doubt about it, but it’s tough when you have a defending champion on the ropes like that and let them off. You don’t get many chances to beat them, and they definitely let one slip here. Kevin Durant had 24 and Steph Curry added 28 points despite being in foul trouble throughout. Ben Simmons had 25 for the Sixers, a team with a comparably strong starting five to the Warriors, but it was his decision to miss a free throw that was perhaps the most pivotal moment in the game for him.
Two weeks ago, the Tennessee Volunteers were smacked in the face by the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington. On Saturday afternoon, it was their turn to do the smacking as they gained a measure of revenge in a dominant 71-52 win in Knoxville. Guard Jordan Bone led the #7 Vols with 27 points, a career high for him, as they rolled past the #4 Cats. It speaks very loudly that PJ Washington only had 13 points, yet led the way for the visitors. The Vols’ win puts both teams level at the top of the SEC at 14-2 with LSU. Kentucky are now one game off the pace at 13-3. There are only two games left for each team, however, and as long as LSU wins both, they will take top seed in the SEC Tournament due to their head-to-head win over the Vols in their only match up.