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Big Tree Shoot Hard

Jonas Valanciunas body swaps with Steph Curry, goes 7-7 from downtown while scoring 29 in first-half explosion

November 30, 2021

Jonas Valančiūnas is a big man, both literally and in basketball parlance. The Pelicans center just cracks the seven-foot barrier and tips the scales at 265 pounds. He’s not a shooter. He’s not a dribbler. He has some offense to his game, averaging over 13 points a game during his NBA tenure, but mostly he’s a paint presence. He’s there to pull down boards and draw fouls. You know it. I know it. He knows it.

On Monday night, however, in some sort of Freaky Friday body swap arrived four days early, Valančiūnas became Steph Curry, going 7-7 from beyond the arc for 29 points in what has to be the most incredible, unlikely explosion of jump shooting from a big man in NBA history. Take a gander at this towering, majestic oak.

If this isn’t the look of a man having an out-of-body experience, we really don’t know what is:

As you can probably guess, Valančiūnas’ performance—a career-best 39 points and 15 rebounds on 7-8 shooting from downtown when all was said and done—was something of an aberration. In fact, as Ballislife points out, Valančiūnas had made exactly one three-pointer in five years of NBA action before draining seven in the span of 15 first-half minutes on Monday. The outburst also put him in some pretty heady company, including that of the aforementioned Curry.

That’s one of ESPN’s patented “choose a completely arbitrary threshold and call it a stat” stats, but still, one of those men makes sense and the other very much does not. We have no idea what happened. Maybe Valančiūnas picked up an old lamp antiquing over the weekend that just so happened to house a genie. Maybe he pounded down a nice cold glass of Bugs Bunny’s Secret Stuff just before tip. Tough to say. But no matter the cause—extraterrestrial intervention, some sort of basketball version of angels in the outfield—we have to give credit where credit is due:

Congrats, Jonas. You just had yourself a night.