Kyle Soppe also writes about the NBA for Pickin’ Splinters. Follow him on Twitter.
There are some nights were the players who are largely responsible for a victory simply go unnoticed. Maybe they didn’t score 30+ or record any highlight dunks, but their impact on the game goes far beyond what the casual fan may notice. We’ve got a pair of underrated stat lines, as well as a few monster games by the usual suspects.
Player: Chris Paul
Standout Stats: 31 points, 66.7 TS%, 6 rebounds, GW layup
- CP3 was brought in for this game. He was brought in for this situation. He was brought in to defend the elite point guards in the NBA and to lead the Clippers over the top teams. The Clippers are devastating team when Paul is looking for his shot, and they improved to 7-0 when he attempts at least 20 shots.
- Los Angeles moved to 17-7 when CP3 goes for at least 20 points, but more importantly, he frustrated Russell Westbrook. With a decided deficit of athleticism, Paul held Westbrook to pitiful 3/14 shooting and forced him into four turnovers. There isn’t a PG who can beat you in more ways than Chris Paul.
Player: Anthony Randolph
Standout Stats: 28 points, 70.8 TS%, 6 rebounds, 5 blocked shots
-Without Kevin Love out for most of the game, Minnesota could have mailed this game in and boarded the plane early. But Randolph sparked a great effort, and while it came up short for the T-wolves, they competed. Randolph (who averages 5.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, and less than 18 minutes per game) was the team’s go-to option in his 32 minutes of action. He attempted 16 shots, his month total for February and March. He was asked to do more than usual, which resulted in a DQ, but when he was on the court, the T-wolves were 6 points better than Denver. Not every night is going to feature a workload like this, but it is good to see than Randolph is ready when called upon.
Player: Gordon Hayward
Standout Stats: 29 points, 76.2 TS%, 4 3PM, 6 assists,
-The Butler star dominated a hot Houston Rockets team, as his size and shot making ability baffled Houston’s defense. They didn’t respect the forward’s jump shot, so he buried all three of his first half three pointers. As Houston chased him off the three point line, Hayward attacked the rim (something we haven’t seen a ton of by him as a pro) with great efficiency.
- His second half play opened things up for the Utah bigs, and Hayward doubled his average per game assist total. Not strictly a catch an shoot player, Hawyard’s aggression served as a catalyst for the Jazz, who went on to win the battle in the paint by 18 points.
- The 29 points were a season best for Hayward, but it shouldn’t be all that shocking. His point production has increased every month this season, and is currently averaging 18.5 points per game this month. He’s scored at least 19 points in six of his last 11 games, and should be viewed as a legitimate scoring threat.
Player: Roy Hibbert
Standout Stats: 11 rebounds (4 offensive), +15 +/-, 5 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocked shots
- Hibbert was the Most Valuable Pacer, as Indiana won a back and forth affair in Cleveland. His four blocked shots and four offensive rebounds allowed the Pacers to win the battle of second chance points, 19-14. That may seem like a slight edge, but in a game decided by six points in overtime, it’s a huge difference.
- He led all players with his +15 plus/minus ratio and his five dimes were a team high. Hibbert can be a scoring threat, but his ability to thread the needle is rare for a seven footer. This Pacers team doesn’t need Hibbert to score 20 points per game, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable. They don’t win this game without Hibbert, and they won’t advance in the postseason without him playing at a high level like he did last night.
Lineups Of The Night
Philadelphia 76ers super subs: Thad Young, Evan Turner, and Lou Williams
- It’s nights like this that make you think the 76ers can hang with any team out there. With the possible exception of the Pacers, this group most exemplifies what it means to be a “team”. Their offensive strategy of “find the best open shot” sounds simple, but is much more consistent that the popular “find the best shot for your best player” game we usually see today. Against the Raptors, it was the reserves who stole the show. The trio scored 33 points, only two fewer than the starting five of Toronto. They combined for a +43 plus/minus ratio, meaning that Philly was outscored by 25 points when none of these players were in the game. For the majority of the game, that was the starting five that was beaten by Toronto. Young, Turner, and Williams shot a combined 57.7% from the field and handed out 10 assists without recording a single turnover. They recorded 13 rebounds and controlled the paint more than usual, as the 76ers outscored the Raptors 58-20 on the interior.
- Both players put up stat lines worthy of our top spot, as the Lakers didn’t look lost with Kobe Bryant spectating. Let these totals marinate for a minute …
42 points, 34 rebounds, 5 three pointers and 1 turnover
- World Peace will have open jumpers every single game, so the fact that he showed that he can knock them down is huge for the Lakers. But let’s not beat around the bush, Andrew Bynum recorded 30 rebounds. 30! That is even more impressive in a game that had Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan, and DeJuan Blair in the paint battling with him. Bynum has been playing well of late, and this was still more rebounds than he had grabbed in his last two games combined. Bynum recorded half of his teams total rebounds, but maybe more importantly, he prevented the Spurs from getting second chances. He snagged 22 defensive rebounds while San Antonio managed a single offensive rebound (and even that was Tony Parker, not exactly Bynum’s responsibility). Devin Banks filled in for Kobe and did next to nothing, proving how dominating this front line can be.