Around the Association: Canada edition (March 10th-March 14th)
In another shortened week of NBA action which only began on Wednesday night when players and staff alike rejoined their groups after the All-Star break, there was certainly no shortage of impactful Canadian influence around the Association.
Let’s begin with a very exciting, history-making new prospect in Nate Darling. Indeed, the Halifax native was called up by the Charlotte Hornets from their G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, on March 6th. He made his NBA debut against none other than the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night, becoming the first ever Nova Scotian to play at the highest level of basketball in the world. A trailblazer, and hopefully the first of many.
Nonetheless, before Darling was in the picture, we had some fruitful action across the league for some of his fellow Canadians. On Wednesday night, Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies was able to rack up 10 points while his compatriot Brandon Clarke came off the bench to tally 6 points and 10 rebounds in a strong 127–112 W over Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook’s Washington Wizards.
On Thursday evening, the Raptors suffered a soul-crushing loss at the buzzer on a Tony Snell three-pointer as the clock expired in the ultimate act. Chris Boucher, as it seems he always does, came up strong off the bench and continued his incredible form in dropping 29 points on a clinical 10/15 shooting. He has become the first player this season to total 60 or more made buckets from 3-point land along with 60 or more blocks.
Kelly Olynyk put in a strong shift for the Miami Heat on Thursday night as well in an all-Florida derby against the Orlando Magic. He finished with 20 points, shooting 50% from the hardwood in the Heat’s 111–103 dub. Despite a blowout 134–101 loss by the New York Knicks to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks that same evening, RJ Barrett finished with a team-high 22 points.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Canadian duo continues to impress. On Thursday they went up against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks and came up big to win it 116-108. Luguentz Dort had a 14-point outing while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a team-high 32 points on 50% FG and 100% from the charity stripe (9/9). Once again, the future is bright in OKC. Cory Joseph also had a great game that evening during Sacramento’s 125–105 win against a struggling Houston squad. Joseph came off the bench to play almost 35 minutes and racked up 13 points and 5 steals.
On Friday night, we had some glorious Canadians matchup in the NBA. Jamal Murray’s Denver Nuggets managed to narrowly beat the Grizzlies 103-102, despite Clarke and Brooks both pouring in Memphis’ team-best 20 points each. On another note, Nickeil Alexander-Walker helped out NOLA’s squad blowout the Cleveland Cavaliers 116–82 by tallying 15 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists off of the bench for the Pelicans.
On Saturday, in an early afternoon tip-off against Shai and Dort’s OKC Thunder, RJ Barrett turned into an absolute sniper, dropping 32 points, a career high. The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, dropped a fourth straight game despite 14 points and 3 blocks from Boucher.
Last but certainly not least, we had an absolutely jam-packed Sunday across the board. The usual Thunderous culprits of Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort were up against Memphis’ Brooks and Clarke. The two Grizzlies dropped 19 and 10 points respectively, but it was not enough to see off OKC, behind Shai’s game-high 30-piece.
The Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz played a must-see TV game on Sunday afternoon. The Dubs were able to beat the team with the best record in the NBA at the moment, behind a triple-double from Draymond Green and most importantly, a stellar 28-point performance by Andrew Wiggins, on a clinical 12/16 shooting. (Also a noteworthy but unrelated stat in this blockbuster of a battle was Rudy Gobert’s incredible 24 points and 28 rebounds!) Mychal Mulder did not play.
Don’t forget to swing back around next week, same place, same time, to discover what numbers Canadians have been able to put up most recently around the Association.
Written by Thomas Debost