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Rundown v12.24.19 – Jazz Nab Clarkson, Spurs Drop 145, Denver Wins 7 Straight

Jordan Clarkson and Dante Exum get swapped, LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs have a huge night in Memphis, while #VFL Tobias Harris and D'Angelo Russell lead their teams to big wins.

What does Jordan Clarkson bring to the Utah Jazz?
The Utah Jazz acquired Jordan Clarkson from the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday for former No. 5 pick Dante Exum and two picks.

Dante Exum2.2 ppg1.1 rpg0.6 apg43.5% shooting
Jordan Clarkson14.6 ppg2.4 rpg2.4 apg44.2% shooting

Clarkson certainly gives the Jazz a new look when it comes to second unit play in reserve for Donovan Mitchell and may be able to fill some time while Mike Conley is out, though Conley is rumored to be back any day, though the Jazz certainly don’t seem to be in any hurry to rush things, especially now with Clarkson in the fold.

Both were selected in the 2014 NBA Draft:

  • Exum with the 5th pick
  • Clarkson with the 46th pick

Though the Cavaliers are expected to start shedding excess salary between now and the trading deadline, one thought that Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson might be the first one(s) to go.

They are seventh in the NBA with a team payroll of $131,515,996. Clarkson was about 10 percent of that payroll at $13,437,500. Exum recently signed a $33 million deal with the Jazz, $9,600,000 hitting the cap this season, so the Cavs automatically save almost $4M with the execution of the deal.

With that in mind, the Cavs also have a glut of guards trying to make the roster, with the Cavaliers already putting it out there that all but Darius Garland are available.

Meanwhile, the Jazz are mired in sixth place in the Western Conference, not moving up nor moving down, are looking to be part of the upper echelon of the West, and were my dark horse pick to upset teams in the stretch run for the playoffs this season.

With another shooter in the mix, Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic should have a little pressure relieved from their shoulders and the Jazz become a little more dangerous.

Let’s just hope he brings a little more class to the No. 8 than Deron Williams left it.

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Atlanta Hawks  118
Cleveland Cavaliers  121

A 42-32 first quarter was all the distance the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to fend off the 6-24 Atlanta Hawks last night in Cleveland. Despite moving Jordan Clarkson to the Utah Jazz, the Cavs won the game on the strength of Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Kevin Porter, Jr. Who’s next out of Cleveland?

ATLANTA (6-24)CLEVELAND (8-21)
Trae Young
30 points – six rebounds – 11 assists – four steals
Collin Sexton
25 points – six rebounds – three assists – one steal
John Collins
27 points – 10 rebounds – two steals – two blocks
Darius Garland
21 points – one rebound – one assist
De’Andre Hunter
23 points – three rebounds – one assist – one block
Kevin Love
20 points – eight rebounds – five assists – one steal – one block

NEXT GAMES
Cavaliers at Celtics – Friday
Bucks at Hawks – Friday

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Philadelphia 76ers  125
Detroit Pistons  109

Blake Griffin came back after a two game absence, but it wasn’t enough for the Detroit Pistons to avoid their fifth consecutive loss last night in front of the home crowd. Former Piston and #VFL Tobias Harris dropped 35 points and the Sixers put up 60 in the first half and 65 in the second half to sprint to the win from start to finish. Ben Simmons had a nice 16-13-17 triple double for the 76ers, the 17 assists a career high.

PHILADELPHIA (22-10)DETROIT (11-20)
#VFL Tobias Harris
35 points – seven rebounds – three assists – two steals
Andre Drummond
27 points – nine rebounds – three assists – one steal
Furkan Korkmaz
21 points – four rebounds – three steals
Derrick Rose
16 points – three rebounds – seven assists – two steals – one block
Joel Embiid
20 points – eight rebounds – three assists – one steal – three blocks
Svi Mykhailiuk
13 points – two rebounds – four assists

NEXT GAMES
Bucks at Sixers – Christmas Day
Wizards at Pistons – Thursday

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Toronto Raptors  115
Indiana Pacers  120 (OT)

The Hickory uniforms may have given the Indiana Pacers the edge, mentally, helping them overcome solid performances by Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet, while riding double digit scoring from six of their own.

TORONTO (21-8)INDIANA (20-10)
Kyle Lowry
30 points – six rebounds – nine assists – one steal
T.J. Warren
24 points – eight rebounds – six assists – two blocks
Serge Ibaka
23 points – nine rebounds – two assists – one block
Myles Turner
24 points – seven rebounds – one assist – three blocks
Fred VanVleet
21 points – two rebounds – 11 assists – two steals – two blocks
Aaron Holiday
19 points – one rebound – 10 assists – one steal – one block

NEXT GAMES
Celtics at Raptors – Christmas Day
Pacers at Heat – Friday

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Washington Wizards  121
New York Knicks  115

The New York Knicks started off strong, scoring 37 points in the first quarter, but petered out as the game wore on, handing the Washington Wizards their eighth win on the Madison Square Garden floor last night. Isaiah Thomas was suspended for two games for going into the stands to confront a heckler in Philadelphia, so the Wizards reached down to the G League and utilized Gary Payton II in his stead. Payton 10 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in the Washington win.

WASHINGTON (8-20)NEW YORK (7-23)
Bradley Beal
30 points – four rebounds – three assists – two steals – two blocks
Julius Randle
35 points – five rebounds – two assists – two steals – one block
Troy Brown
26 points – nine rebounds – seven assists – one steal
Damyean Dotson
19 points – two rebounds – three assists
Ish Smith
17 points – four rebounds – four assists – one block
R.J. Barrett
18 points – six rebounds – four assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Knicks at Wizards – Saturday

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Chicago Bulls  95
Orlando Magic  103

Terrence Ross popped for six three pointers to lead the Orlando Magic to their 13th win of the season over the hapless Chicago Bulls, who lost their 20th game last night in the Happiest Place on Earth. The Magic were outrebounded for the ninth consecutive outing, but had seven blocked shots on the terriBulls.

CHICAGO (12-20)ORLANDO (13-17)
Zach LaVine
26 points – eight rebounds – two assists – one steal – one block
Terrence Ross
26 points – four rebounds – one steal
Tomas Satoransky
20 points – six rebounds – three assists – one steal
Nikola Vucevic
21 points – seven rebounds – two assists – two blocks
Lauri Markkanen
10 points – three rebounds – two assists – one block
Aaron Gordon
16 points – 11 rebounds – four assists – one steal – three blocks

NEXT GAMES
Sixers at Magic – Friday
Hawks at Bulls – Saturday

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Utah Jazz  104
Miami Heat  107

Although they nearly played to a statistical dead heat, Bam Adebayo got the best of Rudy Gobert last night in Miami with his youthful athleticism that has to have him in the running for Most Improved (though Dallas’ Luka Doncic will probably run away with that one, too). Miami battled Utah’s scoring numbers with six players in double digits and a consistent attack.

UTAH (18-12)MIAMI (22-8)
Joe Ingles
27 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal
Jimmy Butler
20 points – eight rebounds – two assists – two steals
Bojan Bogdanovic
19 points – four rebounds – three assists
Bam Adebayo
18 points – 12 rebounds – six assists – three steals – three blocks
Rudy Gobert
18 points – 20 rebounds – five blocks
Tyler Herro
17 points – six rebounds – two assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Trailblazers at Jazz – Thursday
Pacers at Heat – Friday

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San Antonio Spurs  145
Memphis Grizzlies  115

The San Antonio Spurs went out and claimed their 12th victory, keeping Memphis from their 12th, with a convincing and resounding 30 point win just off Beale Street last night, leaving the question – where has this team’s performance(s) been all season? Their 72 points first half was one shy of their franchise record, but they matched that with 73 in the second half. The Grizzlies never really had a chance. I’d say Gregg Popovich knows Taylor Jenkins’ playbook/mindset.

SAN ANTONIO (12-17)MEMPHIS (11-20)
LaMarcus Aldridge
40 points – nine rebounds – five assists – three blocks
Jaren Jackson, Jr.
22 points – two rebounds – two assists
DeMar DeRozan
26 points – three rebounds – 10 assists – three steals
Ja Morant
19 points – three rebounds – four assists – one steal
Trey Lyles
17 points – eight rebounds – four assists – one block
Jonas Valanciunas
18 points – 12 rebounds – three assists

NEXT GAMES
Spurs at Mavericks – Thursday
Grizzlies at Thunder – Thursday

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Denver Nuggets  113
Phoenix Suns  111

Seven up, seven down. I haven’t seen a climb this fearlessly persistent since watching Alex Hannold scale El Cap in ‘Free Solo.’ But the Denver Nuggets have won their seventh straight game as they scale the peaks of the Western Conference, with only purple and gold in their way. Meanwhile, when did the Phoenix Suns cease to be Devin Booker’s team? Ricky Rubio has taken the lead in Phoenix while Booker appears to have taken a back seat. The results haven’t been favorable for Monty Williams’ squad.

DENVER (21-8)PHOENIX (11-19)
Jamal Murray
28 points – three rebounds – seven assists – two steals
Ricky Rubio
21 points – seven rebounds – nine assists – one steal
Nikola Jokic
22 points – 12 rebounds – 10 assists – one steal
Kelly Oubre, Jr.
14 points – three rebounds – three assists – two steals
Will Barton
13 points – six rebounds – five assists – two steals
Dario Saric
13 points – six rebounds – two assists

NEXT GAMES
Pelicans at Nuggets – Christmas Day
Suns at Warriors – Friday

********************

New Orleans Pelicans  102
Portland Trailblazers  94

Carmelo Anthony may have had a good night, but the Portland Trailblazers did not, unless you think scoring 38 points in the second half is the taste you want to leave in Trailblazer fans’ mouths as you break for Christmas. As a result, the Pelicans still own the Blazers mentally, going back to two seasons ago when the Pelicans blanked the Blazers in the first round of the playoffs.

NEW ORLEANS (8-23)PORTLAND (14-17)
Jrue Holiday
21 points – six rebounds – five assists – one steal
Carmelo Anthony
23 points – nine rebounds – two assists – one steal
Brandon Ingram
19 points – 11 rebounds – five assists – two steals
C.J. McCollum
20 points – three rebounds – four assists – one steal
J.J. Redick
16 points – two rebounds – one assist
Damian Lillard
18 points – three rebounds – seven assists – two steals

NEXT GAMES
Pelicans at Nuggets – Christmas Day
Trailblazers at Jazz – Thursday

********************

Houston Rockets  113
Sacramento Kings  104

The more James Harden and Russell Westbrook rack up the points, the more convinced that not many will be able to beat this duo. As each game wroughts confidence in the duo, the more teams have to worry in the second two thirds of the season and the playoffs. Like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the only thing that can stop them is injury at this point.

HOUSTON (21-9)SACRAMENTO (12-18)
James Harden
34 points – five rebounds – five assists – two steals – one block
De’Aaron Fox
31 points – nine rebounds – six assists – one steal
Russell Westbrook
28 points – seven rebounds – six assists – one steal
Richaun Holmes
12 points – 13 rebounds – three assists – two steals – one block
Clint Capela
15 points – 14 rebounds – two assists – two blocks
Trevor Ariza
12 points – six rebounds – two assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Rockets at Warriors – Christmas Day
Timberwolves at Kings – Thursday

********************

Minnesota Timberwolves  104
Golden State Warriors  113

Golden State got another win last night behind D’Angelo Russell, while Minnesota continues to flag without Karl-Anthony Towns in the lineup. Ironically, it is my firm belief that Russell being traded to the Timberwolves is the answer to their woes. His 30 point night last night is worth noting, if you’re the T’Wolves.

MINNESOTA (10-19)GOLDEN STATE (7-24)
Andrew Wiggins
22 points – seven rebounds – two assists – one block
D’Angelo Russell
30 points – four rebounds – four assists
Jordan McLaughlin
19 points – two rebounds – four assists – three steals
Alec Burks
25 points – two rebounds – eight assists – three steals – one block
Jeff Teague
12 points – one rebound – four assists – one block
Damion Lee
14 points – seven rebounds – three assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Rockets at Warriors – Christmas Day
Timberwolves at Kings – Thursday

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NO GAMES ON CHRISTMAS EVE

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CHRISTMAS DAY GAMES
Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors – 12 p.m. EST – ESPN
Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers – 2:30 p.m. EST – ABC
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors – 5 p.m. EST – ABC
Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers – 8 p.m. EST – ABC
New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets – 10:30 p.m. EST – ESPN

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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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