There were seven games dotting the NBA landscape on New Years Eve, and while it was shocking to see the Philadelphia 76ers down by as many as 36 points yesterday afternoon, nothing was more exciting than the Oklahoma City Thunder gaining ground in the Western Conference by beating the Dallas Mavericks to close out the game, night, year, and decade.
Hope for many teams in 2020. If Oklahoma City can ‘rebuild’ like this, anyone can do it.
Anything less is all hot air and excuses.
Philadelphia 76ers 97
Indiana Pacers 115
If it was only as close as the final score indicates. The Indiana Pacers led the Philadelphia 76ers by as many as 36 in yesterday afternoon’s game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, finishing with an 18 point victory and leading the Sixers by .08 points in the Eastern Conference standings. The Pacers had seven players hit double digit scoring, three of them off the bench, while the Joel Embiid-less Sixers only had #VFL Josh Richardson and Ben Simmons venture into that territory. Richardson led the Sixers with 20 points, which was his total at the end of the third quarter. The Sixers have lost three straight and six of their last nine.
|SIXERS (23-13) 6th in the East||PACERS (22-12) 5th in the East|
|#VFL Josh Richardson|
20 points – two rebounds – five assists – two steals – one rebound
23 points – 10 rebounds – five assists – one steal – one block
18 points – 10 rebounds – three assists – one block
21 points – four rebounds – two assists
|#VFL Tobias Harris|
Nine points – two rebounds – two assists
14 points – five rebounds – one block
Nuggets at Pacers – Thursday
Sixers at Rockets – Friday
Boston Celtics 109
Charlotte Hornets 92
Talk about your polar opposites – the Boston Celtics have won six of their last seven games while the Charlotte Hornets have lost six straight. The Celtics swarmed the swarm in the first half last night, outscoring the host Hornets, 50-43. It happened again in the fourth quarter, as Boston closed out the win with a 29-19 fourth quarter. The Celtics shot 45 percent on the road in Kemba Walker’s second return to The Hive this season, and outrebounded Charlotte, 54-41.
|CELTICS (23-8) 2nd in the East||HORNETS (13-23) 10th in the East|
24 points – seven rebounds – one assist – three steals – one block
15 points – five rebounds – three assists – three steals – one block
22 points – four rebounds – seven assists – three steals – one
14 points – 10 rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block
21 points – 10 rebounds – six assists
11 points – four rebounds – seven assists – one steal – one block
Cavaliers at Hornets – Thursday
Hawks at Celtics – Friday
Los Angeles Clippers 105
Sacramento Kings 87
How tight are things in the Western Conference? With their loss to the visiting Los Angeles Clippers last night, the Sacramento Kings tumbled from ninth in the West to 13th. 2019-20 doesn’t appear to be much better than Dave Joerger’s 2018-19. Then there’s that whole Dewayne-Dedmon-giving-up-minutes-to-a-much-improved-Richaun-Holmes-so-I-want-a-trade-thing. The Kings are a mess, and not just in the front office. When the Clippers can come to town and only have four scorers in double digits to Sacramento’s two, it’s an easy bet that it won’t work out for the Kings. Again.
|CLIPPERS (24-11) 3rd in the West||KINGS (12-22) 13th in the West|
24 points – two rebounds – seven assists – two steals
22 points – 10 rebounds – one steal – three blocks
21 points – 11 rebounds – nine assists – three steals
20 points – six rebounds – five assists
12 points – seven rebounds – one assist – one steal
Nine points – four rebounds – six assists – two steals
Pistons at Clippers – Thursday
Grizzlies at Kings – Thursday
Denver Nuggets 104
Houston Rockets 130
If you thought the 36-28 opening quarter lashing the Houston Rockets put on the Denver Nuggets was impressive, you hopefully stuck around for the 38-15 fourth quarter ass whooping. The Nuggets may have had six double digit scorers, but when the Rockets’ five double digit scorers score more points, then you have the massacre you had last night. Denver’s six combined for 84 points – three more than James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Isaiah Hartenstein (or Clint Capela – you pick).
|NUGGETS (23-10) 2nd in the West||ROCKETS (23-11) 4th in the West|
21 points – eight rebounds – four assists
35 points – three rebounds – six assists – one steal – two blocks
18 points – three rebounds – four assists – three steals
28 points – three rebounds – seven assists – one steal – one block
13 points – nine rebounds – three assists – one steal – two blocks
18 points – 12 rebounds – one steal – one block
Nuggets at Pacers – Friday
Sixers at Rockets – Friday
Golden State Warriors 113
San Antonio Spurs 117 (OT)
In recent conversation with a colleague in the industry why the San Antonio Spurs seem like such a boring team to watch. He replied, “Because they have no leadership.” The Golden State Warriors have the same issue, leadership is differently nightly because their leaders of the recent ‘Golden’ years are sitting on the sidelines with injury. Perhaps the fact that both teams are rudderless is why they played to a 100-100 tie before the Spurs won out in overtime last night. Golden State’s persevering rudder – Draymond Green – nearly had a triple double with 10, 10, and nine in the game. But what’s San Antonio’s excuse? LaMarcus Aldridge hasn’t been the same player since he quit in Portland, and DeMar DeRozan isn’t the guy he was in Toronto, either. To be continued …
|WARRIORS (9-26) 15th in the West||SPURS (14-18) 8th in the West|
28 points – four rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block
24 points – five rebounds – four assists – three steals
|Glenn Robinson III|
25 points – three rebounds – three assists – one block
18 points – four rebounds – four assists – one steal
20 points – seven rebounds – two assists
17 points – 12 rebounds – four assists – three blocks
Warriors at Timberwolves – Thursday
Thunder at Spurs – Thursday
Cleveland Cavaliers 97
Toronto Raptors 117
A 32-18 second quarter performance from the Toronto Raptors put enough distance for the team to post a 20 point win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers. The season seems like two mini-seasons so far for Toronto, with Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka out with injury early on while Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet held things together. Now, with VanVleet having been out right after Lowry and Ibaka came back, and then Siakam going down (and still out), it is Lowry and Ibaka holding down the fort until all are healthy and playing together as one unit. Through all the adversity, they Raptors are fourth in the Eastern Conference, only 6.5 games out of first with 48 games remaining. Can’t wait for the day when the champs are all healthy once again for the stretch run.
|CAVALIERS (10-23) 13th in the East||RAPTORS (23-11) 4th in the East|
22 points – one rebound – one assist – one steal
24 points – one rebound – eight assists – one block
14 points – 11 rebounds
20 points – 10 rebounds – two assists – one steal – one block
14 points – four rebounds – four assists – one block
19 points – four rebounds – one assist
Hornets at Cavaliers – Thursday
Raptors at Heat – Thursday
Dallas Mavericks 101
Oklahoma City Thunder 106
I said yesterday that I missed being at Chesapeake Energy Arena on New Years Eve. I’d spent five years there from 2009-14, watching the game, interviewing the players, then heading out for chilly New Years Eve celebrations after the game. Something tells me last night’s was one for the books after the Oklahoma City Thunder once again defied the odds this season, and put down the Dallas Mavericks. For as great a season as Dallas has had, only three games and .91 percentage points separate the Mavericks and Thunder. Since starting the season 6-11, the Thunder have gone 12-4 since November 29th. Oklahoma City finished 2019 with six players in double digits and a run to end the game, evening, year, and decade.
|MAVERICKS (21-12) 5th in the West||THUNDER (18-15) 7th in the West|
35 points – 10 rebounds – seven assists – one steal
20 points – seven rebounds – four assists
14 points – four rebounds – two assists
20 points – three rebounds – two assists – one steal
11 points – four rebounds – two assists – two steals – one block
19 points – 10 rebounds – three assists – two steals – one block
Nets at Mavericks – Thursday
Thunder at Spurs – Thursday
NEW YEAR’S DAY GAMES
Orlando Magic at Washington Wizards – 6 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Washington
Portland Trailblazers at New York Knicks – 7:30 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Northwest
Minnesota Timberwolves at Milwaukee Bucks – 8 p.m. EST – NBATV
Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers – 10:30 p.m. EST – Spectrum SportsNet
Tracy Graven is a Senior NBA Analyst for BackSportsPage.com.
He has written the NBA, and done NBA radio, for the last two decades for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, and HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show and NBARadioShow.com, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 20 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, and Oklahoma City.
A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia
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