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Rundown v12.19.19 – Minnesota’s Hyenas Need Something, Heat is for Real, Blazers Back on Track

Brandon Ingram has a great night without Karl-Anthony Towns in the way, Kendrick Nunn and the Heat are for real, Kemba Walker blistered the Mavericks, and it was Dame Time in Portland last night.

Wolves or Hyenas? Either way, there’s laughing going on …

With their loss at home to the New Orleans Pelicans last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves have outed themselves as the average disappointments they have been season after season, despite ‘expert’ analysis that they’re ‘on the verge of something special.’

Last time I checked, 10-16 isn’t special.

Karl-Anthony Towns is locked into a humongous contract and the Wolves’ future is said (and evident) to be predicated on, built around Towns. Granted, Andrew Wiggins is having his best season to date, but there’s not much to howl about with the remainder of the roster. 

Jeff Teague is set to become an unrestricted free agent, so the Wolves are rumored to be turning their sights on Dennis Smith, Jr. of the New York Knicks. Personally, I’d go for more of a DeMar DeRozan type player than Smith, who has underwhelmed in his career, other than a few exciting games after first coming over to the Knicks from the Dallas Mavericks in the Kristaps Porzingis swap.

If the Timberwolves aren’t going to move Wiggins for DeRozan, or a trade along those lines, and they’re simply looking at insurance for Teague’s likely departure this year, then why not look at D’Angelo Russell versus Dennis Smith, Jr.?

Thoughts?

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Charlotte Hornets  98
Cleveland Cavaliers  100

Terry Rozier finally had his breakout game as a Charlotte Hornet last night. All was going well for Scary Terry, scoring a career high 35 points and as the waning seconds of the game ticked away, Rozier had a chance to be the hero and hit the game winning, wide open three pointer to steal a win on the road. He missed. And the Cleveland Cavaliers hung on for their seventh win of the season … just like John Beilein drew it up.

CHARLOTTE (13-18)CLEVELAND (7-21)
Terry Rozier
35 points – three rebounds – two assists – four steals
Collin Sexton
23 points – two rebounds – two assists – three steals
Cody Zeller
15 points – nine rebounds – one assist – two steals
Cedi Osman
18 points – three rebounds – one assist – two steals – one block
Marvin Williams
10 points – four rebounds – four assists
Kevin Love
16 points – 14 rebounds – seven assists – one steal – one block

NEXT UP
Grizzlies at Cavaliers – Friday
Jazz at Hornets – Saturday

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Toronto Raptors  112
Detroit Pistons  99

The Toronto Raptors had to learn to play without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. With those two back, they’ve had to learn to play without Fred VanVleet. After last night, they may now have to learn to play without Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, who left the game with injuries. Nonetheless, the Raptors beat former coach Dwane Casey and the Detroit Pistons behind strong games from Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, and Lowry’s triple double performance.

TORONTO (19-8)DETROIT (11-17)
Pascal Siakam
26 points – five rebounds – three assists – one steal – four blocks
Andre Drummond
22 points – 18 rebounds – two steals – two blocks
Serge Ibaka
25 points – 13 rebounds – two assists – one steal
Derrick Rose
16 points – four rebounds – five assists – one block
Kyle Lowry
20 points – 10 rebounds – 10 assists – two steals – one block
Blake Griffin
15 points – two rebounds – four assists – two blocks

NEXT UP
Wizards at Raptors – Friday
Pistons at Celtics – Friday

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Chicago Bulls  110
Washington Wizards  109 (OT)

Coming down from 18 points last night, the Chicago Bulls arguable played their best game of the forgetful 2019-20 season. Unfortunately it was against the Washington Wizards. Lauri Markkanen is beginning to reassert himself into the Bulls’ offensive and defensive schemes (aka earn his paycheck) and the results speak for themselves. It’s nice to see Zach LaVine get a little help.

CHICAGO (11-19)WASHINGTON (8-18)
Lauri Markkanen
31 points – nine rebounds – one assist – one steal – one block
Davis Bertans
26 points – seven rebounds – one assist – one steal – one block
Zach LaVine
24 points – five rebounds – five assists – three steals
Bradley Beal
22 points – seven rebounds – seven assists – one steal – two blocks
Tomas Satoransky
17 points – seven rebounds – six assists – one steal
Isaiah Thomas
16 points – two rebounds – one assist

NEXT UP
Wizards at Raptors – Friday
Bulls at Pistons – Saturday

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Miami Heat  108
Philadelphia 76ers  104

If anyone had any doubts as to whether or not the Miami Heat were for real, then last night’s game in Philadelphia should have cleared up any misperceptions. Not only did they beat the Sixers in their own home, but it was the young kids that did it, not Jimmy Butler exacting any sort of revenge on his former team (though he did have 14 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and two steals). The energy of Kendrick Nunn and Bam Adebayo fueled the Heat’s 37-19 second quarter, which created all the distance Miami needed to move ahead of Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference.

MIAMI (20-8)PHILADELPHIA (20-9)
Kendrick Nunn
26 points – four rebounds – five assists – one steal
Joel Embiid
22 points – 19 rebounds – three assists – one steal – two blocks
Bam Adebayo
23 points – nine rebounds – five assists – two steals – two blocks
#VFL Tobias Harris
20 points – four rebounds – two assists
Duncan Robinson
15 points – five rebounds – one assist – one block
Ben Simmons
17 points – six rebounds – six assists – two steals – one block

NEXT UP
Knicks at Heat – Friday
Mavericks at Sixers – Friday

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New Orleans Pelicans  107
Minnesota Timberwolves  99

The 13 game losing streak is over. Without Karl-Anthony Towns in the paint, Brandon Ingram went ham and led the New Orleans Pelicans to the eight point win in Minneapolis last night, with the possibility of starting a new streak the other way as they visit Golden State on Friday night.

NEW ORLEANS (7-22)MINNESOTA (10-16)
Brandon Ingram
34 points – six rebounds – five assists – three steals – one block
Andrew Wiggins
27 points – seven rebounds – two steals
Jrue Holiday
18 points – three rebounds – three assists – two steals
Robert Covington
15 points – seven rebounds – two assists – three steals – one block
J.J. Redick
12 points – two rebounds – one assist
Gorgui Dieng
13 points – eight rebounds – one assist

NEXT UP
Pelicans at Warriors – Friday
Timberwolves at Nuggets – Friday

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Memphis Grizzlies  122
Oklahoma City Thunder  126

Can I start pronouncing it Dennis “Shredder” instead of Dennis Schröder? The young gun from Braunschweig, Germany is having arguably his best season – or at least best improvement – of his young career with the Oklahoma City Thunder, learning from one of the best in Chris Paul and exhibiting what he’s learned night after night as the Thunder downed the Grizzlies last night with a 24 point comeback. They are in seventh place in the West and a game under .500 – no one expected this from the Thunder, except the players themselves.

MEMPHIS (10-18)OKLAHOMA CITY (13-14)
Brandon Clarke
27 points – seven rebounds – one assist
Dennis Schroder
31 points – three rebounds – seven assists – one steal
Jonas Valanciunas
24 points – nine rebounds – three assists
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
20 points – nine rebounds – one assist – two steals – two blocks
Ja Morant
22 points – five rebounds – seven assists
Danilo Gallinari
20 points – three rebounds – three assists

NEXT UP
Grizzlies at Cavaliers – Friday
Suns at Thunder – Friday

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Orlando Magic  104
Denver Nuggets  113

If you thought Oklahoma City’s 24 point comeback over the Memphis Grizzlies was nice, then you didn’t see Denver’s 24-0 hit and run in the third quarter last night at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The Nuggets went on the run in a pivotal 39-16 third quarter that started with the Nuggets down 60-45 after the first half. Paul Millsap had 14 points in the third quarter and Jamal Murray had 13 during the run to seal the win for Denver.

ORLANDO (12-16)DENVER (18-8)
Nikola Vucevic
20 points – seven rebounds – five assists – one block
Jamal Murray
33 points – five rebounds – one assist – one steal
D.J. Augustin
18 points – three rebounds – seven assists
Nikola Jokic
18 points – nine rebounds – 12 assists – one steal – one block
Evan Fournier
13 points – one rebound – three assists – one steal – one block
Paul Millsap
15 points – 12 rebounds – two assists

NEXT UP
Magic at Blazers – Friday
Timberwolves at Nuggets – Friday

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Boston Celtics  109
Dallas Mavericks  103

Still without Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis did all he could to push the Dallas Mavericks to a win. But a 26-18 third quarter in the Boston Celtics’ favor proved to be too much for the Mavericks in front of their home crowd and the boys from Beantown stole a win, their 18th of the season, in a game that was really uglier than the final score infers. Boston was without Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart, as well.

BOSTON (18-7)DALLAS (18-9)
Kemba Walker
32 points – five rebounds – three assists – one block
Kristaps Porzingis
23 points – 13 rebounds – two assists – one steal – three blocks
Jaylen Brown
26 points – nine rebounds – one steal – one block
Seth Curry
20 points – four rebounds – two assists
Jayson Tatum
24 points – eight rebounds – one assist – one block
Tim Hardaway, Jr.
13 points – three rebounds – two assists – one steal

NEXT UP
Pistons at Celtics – Friday
Mavericks at Sixers – Friday

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Golden State Warriors  112
Portland Trailblazers  122

Last night’s game in Portland wasn’t played on standard time – it was played on Dame Time, and as such, the Trailblazers got their 12th win of the season after starting the 2019-20 campaign with a woeful 4-8 record. They can smell the eighth seed in the Western Conference at this point. And if they continue to play with the continuity that Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside (16 points, 23 rebounds) did last night, then things will right themselves for the Blazers and their fans.

GOLDEN STATE (5-24)PORTLAND (12-16)
D’Angelo Russell
26 points – one rebound – seven assists – one steal – two blocks
Damian Lillard
31 points – five rebounds – 13 assists – one steal – one block
Glenn Robinson III
17 points – four rebounds – one block
C.J. McCollum
30 points – five rebounds – three assists – one steal
Alec Burks
16 points – six rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block
Carmelo Anthony
17 points – eight rebounds – two assists – two steals

NEXT UP
Pelicans at Warriors – Friday
Magic at Trailblazers – Friday

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THURSDAY’S LINEUP / MY PICK ‘EMS
Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks – 7:30 p.m. EST – AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks – 8 p.m. EST – TNT
Brooklyn Nets at San Antonio Spurs – 8:30 p.m. EST – YES
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers – 10:30 p.m. EST – TNT

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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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