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Rundown v01.12.20 – Celtics, Rockets, Lakers, Bucks in Big Blowouts

Jayson Tatum scored 41 points as Boston ended their losing streak, Kyle Kuzma dropped 36 on the Thunder, and James Harden scored 32 to thump the Timberwolves last night in a bevy of blowouts.

Seven games dotted the schedule last night with some blowouts that were expected to happen, and a couple that needed to happen to get teams back on track.

Let’s take a look …

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Minnesota Timberwolves  109
Houston Rockets  139

After using the Oklahoma City game as a team case of load management, the Houston Rockets unloaded on the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves last night, blowing the Wolves out over the second and third quarters, 80-56, to cruise to an easy 30 point victory. James Harden led all scorers with 32 points and surpassed the 20,000 point career mark. Russell Westbrook, who was the only bright spot for Houston in OKC, added 30 and Isaiah Hartenstein is putting up solid performances when he fills in for Clint Capela.

T’WOLVES (15-23) 12th in the WestROCKETS (26-12) 5th in the West
Josh Okogie
16 points – five rebounds – five assists – four steals – one block
James Harden
32 points – 12 rebounds – eight assists – two steals
Jarrett Culver
15 points – eight rebounds – five assists
Russell Westbrook
30 points – six rebounds – 10 assists – two steals
Gorgui Dieng
14 points – six rebounds – three assists – one steal
Isaiah Hartenstein
17 points – 15 rebounds – one assist – two steals – five blocks

NEXT GAMES
Thunder at Timberwolves – Monday
Rockets at Grizzlies – Tuesday

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New Orleans Pelicans  105
Boston Celtics  140

Losing streak? What losing streak? The Boston Celtics put end end to their three game losing streak and made a statement to Danny Ainge and the rest of the league – there’s nothing wrong with the lineup the Boston Celtics currently have. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Jayson Tatum dropped a career high 41 points and powered the Celtics to a 72 point first half, and the C’s had 114 by the end of the third quarter. Nine of the 14 teams that played last night didn’t get to 114 points as a final score.

PELICANS (14-26) 14th in the WestCELTICS (26-11) 3rd in the East
Frank Jackson
22 points – two assists – one block
Jayson Tatum
41 points – six rebounds – four assists – three steals
Jaxson Hayes
20 points – two rebounds – one assist – two blocks
Enes Kanter
22 points – 19 rebounds – one assist
Brandon Ingram
16 points – three rebounds – five assists – one steal – one block
Gordon Hayward
19 points – five rebounds – three assists – one steal – one block

NEXT GAMES
Pelicans at Pistons – Monday
Bulls at Celtics – Monday

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Chicago Bulls  108
Detroit Pistons  99

The Chicago Bulls stampeded out to a 35-20 first quarter performance behind 12 first quarter points from Luke Kornet on the road in Detroit, putting enough distance between themselves and their hosts to steal a win last night. The Bulls shot 64 percent in that first quarter. Detroit had to go without the usual double double machine that is Andre Drummond, after he was ejected after 19 minutes for throwing the ball at Daniel Gafford’s head. 

BULLS (14-26) 10th in the EastPISTONS (14-26) 11th in the East
Zach LaVine
25 points – four rebounds – six assists – one steal – two blocks
Derrick Rose
20 points – two rebounds – seven assists
Luke Kornet
15 points – six rebounds – one assist – two steals – two blocks
Christian Wood
17 points – 14 rebounds – three assists – one steal – three blocks
Daniel Gafford
14 points – seven rebounds – two assists – one steal – one block (fouled out)
Sekou Doumbouya
12 points – three rebounds – one assist

NEXT GAMES
Bulls at Celtics – Monday
Pelicans at Pistons – Monday

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Los Angeles Lakers  125
Oklahoma City Thunder  110

A chest cold. I remember Michael Jordan playing with the flu. I also remember LeBron James talking about playing through anything. No load management. All ribbing aside, to see what impact LeBron James’ leadership and work ethic has on his teammates, you just had to watch Kyle Kuzma, who has been a beneficiary ever since James came to L.A. Kuzma’s play of late is working toward silencing people who say he should be on the trade block for a third star. Ladies and gents, Kuz is your third star. Once L.A. jumped out to a 41-19 first quarter lead without James and Anthony Davis, this one was in the books, no matter what any former Los Angeles Clippers did.

LAKERS (32-7) 1st in the WestTHUNDER (22-17) 7th in the West
Kyle Kuzma
36 points – seven rebounds
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
24 points – eight rebounds – one steal – one block
Rajon Rondo
21 points – 12 rebounds – eight assists – one steal
Danilo Gallinari
24 points – two rebounds – three assists
Quinn Cook
13 points – one rebound – three assists – one steal
Chris Paul
16 points – five rebounds – eight assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Cavaliers at Lakers – Monday
Thunder at Timberwolves – Monday

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Philadelphia 76ers  91
Dallas Mavericks  109

Just as you thought that the Philadelphia 76ers might be built to win without Joel Embiid, along come the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks won in Philadelphia last month without Luka Doncic, who scored 19 last night, and swept the season series by winning again last night in Big D by an 18 point margin, despite the best efforts of two former Tennessee Volunteers. Try as they may, they couldn’t match what Embiid brings to the game on a night when Ben Simmons was only about average.

SIXERS (25-15) 5th in the EastMAVERICKS (24-15) 6th in the West
#VFL Tobias Harris
20 points – 10 rebounds – one assist
Dwight Powell
19 points – 12 rebounds – one assist – one steal
Al Horford
16 points – six rebounds – five assists – two steals – one block
Luka Doncic
19 points – eight rebounds – 12 assists
#VFL Josh Richardson
16 points – two rebounds
Dorian Finney-Smith
16 points – six rebounds – one assist – one block

NEXT GAMES
Sixers at Pacers – Monday
Mavericks at Warriors – Tuesday

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Cleveland Cavaliers  111
Denver Nuggets  103

What is going on with the Denver Nuggets? The team that shot to second place in the Western Conference in the month of December is now 5-4 since Christmas Day, including an embarrassing loss at home in the Pepsi Center last night to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team who has nearly the opposite record. Many may have had an issue with head coach John Beilein crawling in the Cavaliers’ behinds like he did, but it seems to have lit a fire under them. Good for you, Coach. Maybe Mike Malone needs to do the same to the Nuggets … or should I call them Thuggets?

CAVALIERS (12-27) 13th in the EastNUGGETS (26-12) 3rd in the West
Collin Sexton
25 points – three rebounds – one assist
Jamal Murray
24 points – five rebounds – three assists – three steals
Kevin Love
19 points – 15 rebounds – two assists – one steal
Nikola Jokic
19 points – 12 rebounds – five assists
Tristan Thompson
18 points – 13 rebounds – two assists – one block
Will Barton
18 points – nine rebounds – three assists – one steal – two blocks

NEXT GAMES
Clippers at Nuggets – Tonight
Cavaliers at Lakers – Monday

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Milwaukee Bucks  122
Portland Trailblazers  101

Through all their trevails in the early 90’s, and the weed filled, Pepsi-can lighting, fake drivers license era that followed Portland, 2019-20 seems to have more question marks than ever for a team that made the Western Conference Finals and got blanked. Granted, the Milwaukee Bucks came to town last night and lit up 14 three pointers, Giannis Antetokuonmpo had 13 points and seven rebounds in the first 12 minutes, and the league’s best team cruised to a 21 point win in the Moda Center … that’s expected of the best team in the NBA. But Portland needs to figure out if they’re a team that’s going to compete to get back into playoff contention or toss the season completely. Right now, Antifa is more organized in Portland than the Blazers. 

BUCKS (35-6) 1st in the EastBLAZERS (16-24) 10th in the West
Giannis Antetokuonmpo
32 points – 17 rebounds – six assists
Damian Lillard
26 points – three rebounds – five assists
Khris Middleton
30 points – four rebounds – two assists
C.J. McCollum
20 points – three rebounds – five assists – one steal – one block
Eric Bledsoe
29 points – four rebounds – three assists – two blocks
Carmelo Anthony
19 points – 11 rebounds – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Hornets at Blazers – Monday
Knicks at Bucks – Tuesday

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SUNDAY’S LINEUP
(All times Eastern)

3:30 p.m.
Miami Heat
New York Knicks
SUN Sports
3:30 p.m.
Utah Jazz
Washington Wizards
AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
6 p.m.
Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets
YES
6 p.m.
San Antonio Spurs
Toronto Raptors
Fox Sports Southwest
6 p.m.
Golden State Warriors
Memphis Grizzlies
Fox Sports Southeast
8 p.m.
Los Angeles Clippers
Denver Nuggets
Altitude
8 p.m.
Charlotte Hornets
Phoenix Suns
Fox Sports Arizona

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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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