🏀 Ja Dropping

Ja Morant's epic return, Warriors-Celtics OT, college hoops, NHL, and more...

Happy Wednesday! Ja Morant played basketball yesterday, and he’s still trigger-happy. While you might be preparing to take a break from your job, Morant returned to his, and despite a lengthy suspension, the gunslinger may have earned a Christmas bonus with a brilliant Quarter 4 performance in his season debut. And Morant wasn’t the only NBA superstar reminding fans of his firepower, as Steph Curry said goodnight to the Celtics with a vintage shooting display. On the campus hardwood, another top-10 team went down, while two premier programs went down to the wire. The guys on skates were also busy with a loaded slate of NHL action, and in a shocking announcement, Aaron Rodgers said he totally would’ve returned this season if the Jets made the playoffs. Blitz-42, set, HUT!

WTF Stat: Trevor Lawrence and Daniel Jones through 48 career NFL starts:

  • Record: Lawrence: 20-29, Jones: 19-29

  • Pass Rating: Lawrence: 85.5, Jones: 85.4

  • Pass TD/INT: Lawrence: 55/35, Jones: 55/33

  • Pass + Rush Yards: Lawrence: 12,204, Jones: 11,992

  • Yards/Attempt: Lawrence: 6.7, Jones: 6.7

Written By: Ian Dardani

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🏈 Jets QB Aaron Rodgers indicated that he will not return this season from his Achilles injury because he’s not 100% healthy - Rodgers said he would be 100% in three or four weeks, in which case he’d push to play if New York wasn’t already eliminated from playoff contention

🏈 Texans QB CJ Stroud remains in concussion protocol and is likely to miss a second straight game this coming Sunday against the Browns - Stroud suffered the concussion in Houston’s Week 14 loss to the Jets, and backup QB Case Keenum will start if he’s not cleared

🏈 Falcons plan to start QB Taylor Heinicke over QB Desmond Ridder on Sunday against the Colts - Ridder was benched in favor of Heinicke earlier this season, but he got the starting job back in Week 12

🏈 Washington HC Kalen DeBoer was named the AP College Football Coach of the Year, becoming the first Huskies coach to earn the honor - in his second season with Washington, DeBoer guided the Huskies to a 13-0 record, the Pac-12 title, and a College Football Playoff berth

Photo: Temetrius Jamel Morant | Source: USA Today

NBA - All Games

  • Memphis Grizzlies 115, New Orleans Pelicans 113: Ja is back. In his return from a 25-game suspension for flashing guns on Instagram, Morant (34 PTS, 11-18 FG, 6 REB, 8 AST) was greeted by a wave of boos from the New Orleans crowd and found his team trailing by 24 in the first half. But the superstar took over in the final two quarters, dropping 27 points to will his team back before spinning through the lane to hit a cold-blooded, game-winning floater at the buzzer, giving the Grizz an epic dub over Brandon Ingram (34 PTS, 6 AST) and the Pelicans - the win snaps Memphis’ five-game skid

  • Golden State Warriors 132, Boston Celtics 126 (OT): In a thriller out West, Derrick White (30 PTS, 7 REB) did that thing where he randomly goes off, and the C’s held a 17-point lead in the 3rd quarter, but Stephen Curry (33 PTS, 6-11 3PT, 6 AST) and Klay Thompson (24 PTS, 6-15 3PT, 4 AST) sparked a huge Warriors run in the 4th to force overtime, where Curry splashed a ridiculous dagger three with 11 ticks left to say goodnight, and Golden State got their third straight win by outlasting the Eastern Conference-best Celtics - the two teams combined for 37 threes (BOS: 17-58, GS: 20-50), and the loss ends a five-game heater for the C’s

  • Milwaukee Bucks 132, San Antonio Spurs 119: Damian Lillard (40 PTS, 7-12 3PT, 4 AST) only needed six points to push his career total to 20,000. He decided to drop 40 instead — a season-high, while Giannis Antetokounmpo (11 PTS, 14 REB, 16 AST) messed around and got a triple-double to lead the Bucks to a near wire-to-wire win over Spurs, who were without Victor Wembanyama due to a sore ankle - Lillard became the 17th-fastest player to reach 20,000 points (794 games), and he’s the 51st person in NBA history to hit the milestone

  • Portland Trail Blazers 109, Phoenix Suns 104: Kevin Durant (40 PTS, 5 AST) and Devin Booker (26 PTS, 7 AST) did their thing, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Anfernee Simons (23 PTS, 7 REB) and a second-half Blazers rally, as Portland overcame a 15-point 3rd-quarter deficit to hand the Suns their fifth L in seven games - Phoenix will once again be without their third All-Star for extended time, as Bradley Beal is expected to miss two weeks after spraining his ankle last Friday against the Knicks

See the full NBA scoreboard here and the current standings here.

Men’s College Basketball - Top Games

  • Providence 72, #6 Marquette 57: In the first Big East game for Providence’s new HC Kim English, guards Devin Carter (22 PTS, 5-9 3PT, 8 REB, 4 AST) and Devonte Gaines (18 PTS, 5-10 3PT) shot the lights out from deep, combining for 10 triples for a resounding victory over Tyler Kolek (21 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST) and the reigning champs in Rhode Island - it’s Providence’s biggest top-10 win since 2011, and Marquette’s second loss in five games after falling to No. 24 Wisconsin on Dec. 2

  • Florida 106, Michigan 101 (2OT): It’s been a tumultuous week for Michigan HC Juwan Howard, and things didn’t get any better last night at the Jumpan Invitational in Charlotte, as Florida’s Zyon Pullin (22 PTS, 6 REB, 5 AST) sunk a game-tying three with eight seconds remaining in overtime to force a second OT, where the Gators pulled away to spoil what would have been a huge win for the 6-6 Wolverines - it was Howard’s second game back since having heart surgery in September

  • #23 Memphis 77, #22 Virginia 54: David Jones (26 PTS, 4 REB) and the Tigers only led by six at the break, but Penny Hardaway’s squad ran the Hoos out of the building in the second half, stamping their third straight ranked victory in style - both teams are now 9-2

See the full men’s scoreboard here and the full women’s scoreboard here.

NHL - Top Games

  • New York Rangers 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 2: Seven days after getting trounced by Toronto, 7-3 at the Garden, the Rags got their revenge above the border behind a classic Igor Shesterkin (31 SV) performance and a two-goal night from Mika Zibanejad (2 G), snapping the Leafs’ nine-game point streak despite another big effort from the red-hot Auston Matthews (2 G) - New York closed the game on a three-goal run and has won three in a row

  • Minnesota Wild 4, Boston Bruins 3: (OT): Minnesota is now 8-3 under HC John Hynes since Dean Evason was fired on Nov. 27, as Marc-Andre Fleury (40 SV) was in prime form and Kirill Kaprizov (2 G) called game in OT with his second goal of the night, lifting the shorthanded Wild over David Pastrnak (2 G) the B’s in Boston - Minnesota was without Matz Zuccarello and top defensemen Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon due to injuries

  • Carolina Hurricanes 6, Vegas Golden Knights 3: The Knights four-game road trip got off to a rocky start in Carolina, as Michael Bunting (1 G, 2 A), Sebastian Aho (3 A), and the Canes scored five straight to take a 6-1 lead and waltz to victory - Vegas’ Jack Eichel (1 G) stretched his franchise-record points streak to 11 games 

  • Columbus Blue Jackets 9, Buffalo Sabres 4: Rasmus Dahlin (1 G, 1 A) lit the lamp for Buffalo just 30 seconds into the game, but it was all Columbus from there, as Kirill Marchenko (3 G) netted a natural hat trick, including a nasty tweener, and the Blue Jackets rattled off seven straight bingos to blowout the Sabres in the Buffalo

See the full NHL scoreboard here and the current standings here.

College Football - Frisco Bowl

  • UTSA (9-4) 35, Marshall (6-7) 17: In a matchup that will make you feel very old, UTSA QB Owen McCown (22/31, 251 YDS, 2 TDs, 2 INTs), the son of former NFL QB Josh McCown, took on Marshall QB Cole Pennington (15/33, 258 YDS), the son of former NFL QB Chad Pennington. But the Road Runners were the only team to have their espresso before kickoff as they ran away from the Thundering Hurd to win the Scooter’s Coffee Frisco Bowl

See the full box score here and the entire bowl schedule here.

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Including Damian Lillard (who reached the milestone last night), how many active NBA players have scored 20,000 career points?

A. 5

B. 7

C. 8

D. 10

Photo: Dawson City Nuggets, 1905 | Source: Wikipedia

On December 20, 1904, the Dawson City Nuggets began a nine-day walk to board a steamboat to catch a train to play in the Stanley Cup. That's right. Before the Cup came under NHL control in 1926, nearly any Canadian team could compete for the trophy. So, the Dawson City Nuggets, a team from Yukon comprised mostly of gold miners, challenged the defending champion Ottawa Silver Seven for the trophy. But to get to the game in Ottawa, scheduled for January 13, the Nuggets had to trek 4,000 miles in sub-zero temperatures. The team traveled by foot, bicycle, dog sled, boat and, finally, a transcontinental train. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bad idea, as Silver Seven beat them 23-2, and Ottawa star Frank McGee scored 14 goals - the Nuggets played a 23-game road trip after the loss, compiling a respectable 14-9 record, allowing them to return to Yukon with some pride, but not the Cup.


  • Minnesota Timberwolves @ Philadelphia 76ers 7:00pm ET, NBA TV

  • Los Angeles Clippers @ Dallas Mavericks 8:30pm ET, Local

  • Boston Celtics @ Sacramento Kings 10:00pm ET, NBA TV

  • Full Schedule


  • New York Islanders @ Washington Capitals 7:30pm ET, TNT

  • Detroit Red Wings @ Winnipeg Jets 7:30pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • Seattle Kraken @ Los Angeles Kings 10:00pm ET, TNT

College Basketball

  • NCAAM: #10 Baylor @ #21 Duke 7:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAM: #11 North Carolina @ #7 Oklahoma 9:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAM: Alabama @ #4 Arizona 11:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAW: #23 Washington @ #19 Louisville 7:00pm ET, ACCN

  • Men’s: Full Schedule

  • Women’s: Full Schedule

Soccer - Carabao Cup, Quarterfinals

  • West Ham United @ Liverpool 3:00pm ET, ESPN+

Trivia Time Answer

C. 8. With Dame hitting the mark last night, eight active NBA players have now scored 20,000 career points: LeBron James (39,282), Kevin Durant (27,605), James Harden (25,053), Russell Westbrook (24,748), Stephen Curry (22,385), DeMar DeRozan (22,262), Chris Paul (21,951), and Lillard (20,034). The next closest players to reaching the milestone are Rudy Gay (17,642) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (17,076) - Victor Wembanyama is only 19,545 points away.

"Lock" of the Day

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  • Nuggets @ Raptors: Nikola Jokic Over 9.5 Assists (-120)

College football weekend bowl preview coming tomorrow. See ya then!