The Rundown: Spurs end Jazz’s winning streak, Lillard goes off for 43

Published December 18, 2021, 3:20 PMMiguel Flores

The Spurs stopped the Jazz’s eight-game winning streak, while Damian Lillard scored a season-high 43 for the Blazers.


Heat 115, Magic 105

Nuggets 133, Hawks 115

Warriors 111, Celtics 107

Pelicans 116, Bucks 112

Spurs 128, Jazz 126

Trail Blazers 125, Hornets 116

Grizzlies 124, Kings 105

Timberwolves 110, Lakers 92

What went down

NBA players are down. If you’re like me who has Twitter push notifications on, you probably woke up to another barrage of Woj tweets regarding players entering the NBA's health and safety protocols. Some big names added this morning were Minnesota sophomore guard Anthony Edwards, Boston veteran Al Horford, and Golden State's breakout star Jordan Poole.

The league has to be commended for implementing strict protocols, but this already has to be considered a mini outbreak. Kudos also to the NBA and NBPA for agreeing to stricter protocols in the holidays. As of today, 51 players and coaches are in the league’s protocols – a number the league can’t afford to balloon.

Still, NBA action persisted and we got plenty of great games amid all the player absences.

In Utah, the San Antonio Spurs erased a 17-point third-quarter lead and dueled the Jazz to a frantic end. In the final four minutes of the game, both sides combined for a total of five missed shots with the action peaking in the final minute. Donovan Mitchell, the Spiderman that was at home, answered a crazy Derrick White fadeaway with his own Kobe-esque turnaround jumper to put the Jazz up 126-125 with 33 seconds left.

The Spurs got off a decent set in the following possession, but couldn’t find an open shot. Lonnie Walker took matters into his own hands and whirled a floater over Rudy Gobert for the lead.

Mitchell tried, but couldn’t drain two late shots set up for him. The Spurs’ hot streak continued, breaking Utah’s eight-game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Jazz still looked like one of the best teams in the West.

The Grizzlies, without Ja Morant and several other key players on some games, kept rolling, winning their ninth game of the last 10, stomping the Sacramento Kings on the road.

It’s been heavy doses of Desmond Bane, Dillon Brooks, and Jaren Jackson Jr. Except for JJJ, none of these Grizzlies were expected to perform at All-Star rates. But, Memphis has flexed their depth every single game and has found ways to squeak out wins.

They’re fourth in the West with major leeway to improve once Morant comes back healthy from COVID protocols and knee issues.

Big-time baller

This season has been an overall struggle for Damian Lillard, so it was nice to catch up on some Dame Time today. Lillard dropped a season-high 43 points on 12-for-19 shooting with eight assists and four rebounds to propel Portland past Charlotte.

Lillard had to miss a handful of games to treat an abdominal injury that had bothered him since the start of the season. Hopefully, this sparks a turnaround for him and the struggling Blazers.

What he said

Josh Hart had the best reaction to all the craziness in the last two weeks.

Did you see that?

With seven players in COVID protocols and Kevin Durant’s need to rest, the Brooklyn Nets have reportedly been working on bringing back Kyrie Irving as a “part-time player” so that he can play in games he is eligible in.

In lighter news, Isaiah Thomas is back in the NBA. After an explosive stint in the G League showcase, Thomas was signed by the Los Angeles Lakers – a team also ravaged by injuries and COVID protocols.

He scored 19 points in the Lakers’ loss to the Timberwolves.