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The Rundown w/T-Money

Rundown v01.17.20 – Pelicans Improving Prior to Zion, Knicks Must Fix Roster Issues, Kawhi: Man or Machine?

The Bucks win fifth straight and remain the NBA's best, Kawhi Leonard hits 30+ for fourth straight time, Malik Beasley boosts the Nuggets, Brandon Ingram hits a career high 49, and Deandre Ayton and the Suns play their best game yet.

A couple of tight overtime games last night saw the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans rise to the occasion, the Phoenix Suns got their best game of the season out of their boys, and Milwaukee continued its streak of being the NBA’s best team.

Last night also showed New York’s flaws front and center, how critical Jaylen Brown is to Boston’s success, and what a machine Kawhi Leonard is … is he even human? That would explain the laugh.


Phoenix Suns  121
New York Knicks  98

Last night’s game against the New York Knicks was the kind of game(s) that Phoenix head coach Monty Williams likely envisioned when he accepted the job as head coach last summer. Devin Booker had already established himself as a well rounded scorer, Deandre Ayton was entering his second season, and Ricky Rubio had a chance to resurrect himself as he began the journey into the twilight of his career. Ayton’s suspension at the beginning of the season threw a kink into that vision, but with Ayton back and the team jelling, the Suns may have a nice run in the second half of the season. I optimistically (yet foolishly) gave the Knicks a 40 win season in my predictions, so they’d better step on the gas before I end up wrong. A glut of forwards isn’t getting the job done. Trade deadline is less than three weeks away.

SUNS (17-24) 11th in the WestKNICKS (11-31) 14th in the East
Devin Booker
29 points – four rebounds – four assists – one steal
Julius Randle
28 points – six rebounds – three assists – three steals
Deandre Ayton
26 points – 21 rebounds – two assists – two blocks
Marcus Morris
17 points – three rebounds – one assist – one steal
Ricky Rubio
25 points – eight rebounds – 13 assists – four steals – one block
Mitchell Robinson
12 points – eight rebounds – three steals – two blocks 

Suns at Celtics – Saturday
Sixers at Knicks – Saturday


Utah Jazz  132
New Orleans Pelicans  138 (OT)

The 10 game win streak is over. The thing about being close to the top? People want you to fall. They work to make you fall. Earlier in the week, the Utah Jazz had displaced the Denver Nuggets at the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. What a difference a couple of days make. And a hungry New Orleans Pelicans team facing a squad that stole their nickname in a move to Salt Lake City 40 years ago. Brandon Ingram notched a career high 49 points, including five in the overtime period, and the Jazz were cornered by an old friend in Derrick Favors (21 and 11), who the Pelicans seemed to have shelved and dusted off, just for this game. New Orleans didn’t need Zion Williamson, who will now reportedly debut against San Antonio on January 22nd. Could you imagine how this might have ended if they had Zion? No overtime, likely.

JAZZ (28-13) 4th in the WestPELICANS (16-26) 12th in the West
Donovan Mitchell
46 points – six rebounds – two assists – two steals
Brandon Ingram
49 points – eight rebounds – six assists – one block
Bojan Bogdanovic
26 points – three rebounds – four assists
Derrick Favors
21 points – 11 rebounds – three assists – two steals – three blocks
Rudy Gobert
17 points – 14 rebounds – four assists – three blocks
E’Twaun Moore
16 points – two rebounds – one assist – one steal

Kings at Jazz – Saturday
Clippers at Pelicans – Saturday


Boston Celtics  123
Milwaukee Bucks  128

A 76-58 jump in the first half meant the Milwaukee Bucks could cruise right past Kemba Walker’s 40 points night and win their fifth consecutive game and third in a row over the Boston Celtics last night in Milwaukee. Once Giannis Antetokuonmpo scored the first basket of the game, the Bucks never trailed. Gordon Hayward also scored one bucket – overall. The loss is Boston’s second straight.

CELTICS (27-13) 3rd in the EastBUCKS (37-6) 1st in the East, NBA
Kemba Walker
40 points – 11 rebounds – three assists – one block
Giannis Antetokuonmpo
32 points – 17 rebounds – seven assists – two blocks
Marcus Smart
24 points – four rebounds – two assists – two steals – one block
Khris Middleton
23 points – six rebounds – four assists – two steals
Jayson Tatum
17 points – seven rebounds – three assists – one block
Donte DiVincenzo
19 points – three rebounds – one assist – two steals

Suns at Celtics – Saturday
Bucks at Nets – Saturday


Denver Nuggets  134
Golden State Warriors  131 (OT)

The Golden State Warriors surprisingly jumped out to a 34-19 first quarter and the Denver Nuggets scratched and clawed their way back the rest of the game to even things up at 113-113 by the end of regulation, finishing with a 40-28 fourth quarter. Missing Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, and Gary Harris left a lot of sneakers to be filled, and Will Barton and Malik Beasley rose to the occasion last night. Barton finished with a game high 31, and Beasley hit the game winning free throws in overtime with 8.9 seconds remaining to send Golden State to their 10th consecutive loss and keep the Jazz and Clippers at bay in the suddenly contested second spot in the West.

NUGGETS (29-12) 2nd in the WestWARRIORS (9-34) 15th in the West
Will Barton
31 points – five rebounds – seven assists – one steal – one block
Alec Burks
25 points – four rebounds – one assist – one steal
Malik Beasley
27 points – four rebounds – one assist – three steals
Damion Lee
21 points – four rebounds – six assists – one steal – one block
Nikola Jokic
23 points – 12 rebounds – eight assists – two blocks
D’Angelo Russell
19 points – three rebounds – one assist – three steals

Magic at Warriors – Saturday
Pacers at Nuggets – Sunday


Orlando Magic  95
Los Angeles Clippers  122

Last night’s win versus the Orlando Magic was Kawhi Leonard’s fourth consecutive game of 30+ points, proving his worth when he’s playing and justifying his load management whenever he requests it. The man is a machine, especially with Paul George sitting out with the hamstring issue. The Los Angeles Clippers are 11-1 when Kawhi scores 30+ points and they took full advantage of the ennui and fatigue of the Orlando Magic’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers the night before. The Clippers will need Leonard as they embark on a six game roadie beginning this weekend at New Orleans.

MAGIC (20-22) 7th in the EastCLIPPERS (29-13) 3rd in the West
Nikola Vucevic
22 points – nine rebounds – four assists – one steal
Kawhi Leonard
32 points – five rebounds – five assists – one steal – one block
Aaron Gordon
20 points – five assists
Montrezl Harrell
21 points – five rebounds – two assists – one block
Terrence Ross
16 points – five rebounds – three assists – one steal – one block
Landry Shamet
13 points – three rebounds – two assists

Magic at Warriors – Saturday
Clippers at Pelicans – Saturday


(All Times Eastern)

7 p.m.
Minnesota Timberwolves
Indiana Pacers
Fox Sports Midwest – Indiana
7 p.m.
Chicago Bulls
Philadelphia 76ers
7 p.m.
Washington Wizards
Toronto Raptors
NBC Sports Washington
8 p.m.
Miami Heat
Oklahoma City Thunder
Fox SportsNet Oklahoma
8 p.m.
Cleveland Cavaliers
Memphis Grizzlies
Fox Sports Southeast
8:30 p.m.
Atlanta Hawks
San Antonio Spurs
KENS (San Antonio)
9:30 p.m.
Portland Trailblazers
Dallas Mavericks


Tracy Graven is a Senior NBA Analyst for
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, 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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