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Rundown v12.30.19 – Weekend Wrap + Could Rubio in NY Be More Than Just a Dream?

There are a lot of people that would like to see Ricky Rubio or Lonzo Ball in New York, with Marcus Morris in Phoenix orange. I like the addition of Morris. Knicks fans? Suns fans? Thoughts? Sound off.

Though there is no verifiable basis for it, zero confirmation, one of the hottest rumors out there right now is Ricky Rubio heading to the New York Knicks along with a 2021 first round pick for Marcus Morris, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith, Jr. and a possible late first rounder.

This notion seems viable, but may be more wishful thinking for Knicks fans who are mired in a glut of forwards for their 9-24 team, and need a player like Rubio to come in, settle things down, and mentor players like R.J. Barrett and Kevin Knox to become the future of this franchise, which has struggled mightily for over two decades now.

Though Rubio seemed to have faded into the twilight of his career after a short stint in Utah and behind Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre, Jr. in Phoenix, look again: Booker, Oubre and Rubio combined for 73 points in the Suns’ win against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night, and is actually averaging some career bests with 14.7 points per game, 4.7 rebounds, 9.2 assists, and shooting 45.5 percent.

Another consideration may be New Orleans’ Lonzo Ball, who broke out with a game high 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to their fourth straight win last night against the Houston Rockets.

However, I take Rubio over Ball simply for his experienced leadership, something Ball has yet to earn.

While most of this is in the fantasy stage at this point, it would be nice to see the Suns land a player of Morris’ caliber in return for Rubio if it happens.

Thoughts? 

Hit me in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter here.

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

WESTERN CONFERENCEEASTERN CONFERENCE
Los Angeles Lakers   (26-7) .788Milwaukee Bucks   (29-5) .893
Denver Nuggets   (23-9) .719Miami Heat   (24-8) .750
Los Angeles Clippers   (23-11) .676Boston Celtics   (22-8) .733
Houston Rockets   (22-11) .667Toronto Raptors   (22-11) .667
Dallas Mavericks   (25-11) .656Philadelphia 76ers   (23-12) .657
Utah Jazz   (20-12) .625Indiana Pacers   (21-12) .636
Oklahoma City Thunder   (17-15) .531Brooklyn Nets   (16-15) .516
Portland Trailblazers   (14-19) .424Orlando Magic   (14-18) .438

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

FRIDAY’S GAMES

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

Cleveland Cavaliers  117
Boston Celtics  129

A 33-22 first quarter put all the distance the Boston Celtics needed between themselves and the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. It was Boston’s fifth consecutive win, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both scored 30+. The Celtics are 3-0 versus Cleveland thi season.

clevelandCAVALIERSbostonCELTICS
Kevin Love
30 points – seven rebounds – four assists
Jaylen Brown
34 points – nine rebounds – two assists
Collin Sexton
21 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal
Jayson Tatum
30 points- five rebounds – two assists – two blocks
Kevin Porter, Jr.
16 points – three rebounds – four assists
Enes Kanter
14 points – nine rebounds – three assists – two steals – two blocks

NEXT GAMES
Cavaliers at Timberwolves – Saturday
Raptors at Celtics – Saturday

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

Philadelphia 76ers  97
Orlando Magic  98

The Orlando Magic won their second straight game at the Philadelphia 76ers’ expense on Friday night, despite losing the fourth quarter and shooting only 60 percent from the free throw line on the night. The Magic were lucky to escape with the home win after going five for 11 from the charity stripe in the final minute and a half, including four misses in the waning seconds of the game.

philadelphia76ERSorlandoMAGIC
#VFL Tobias Harris
24 points – 11 rebounds – three assists
Evan Fournier
20 points – two rebounds – six assists – two steals
Joel Embiid
24 points – 11 rebounds – two assists – one block
Aaron Gordon
19 points – 11 rebounds – three assists – one block
#VFL Josh Richardson
15 points – three rebounds – six assists – three steals – one block
Terrence Ross
17 points – seven rebounds – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Sixers at Heat – Saturday
Magic at Bucks – Saturday

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

Oklahoma City Thunder  104
Charlotte Hornets  102 (OT)

”I kept telling Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander), ‘All right, it’s the fourth quarter and we will turn it on.’ And that’s the thing that gets your blood flowing, those fourth-quarter situations.” — Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul. Paul scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and in overtime as the Thunder’s guard corps came through once again to keep the team above .500 in the win-loss column on Friday night.

oklahomacityTHUNDERcharlotteHORNETS
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
27 points – four rebounds – one assist – two steals
Terry Rozier
26 points – four rebounds – three assists – one steal
Dennis Schroder
24 points – two rebounds – three assists
Devonte’ Graham
15 points – nine rebounds – 13 assists – one steal
Chris Paul
16 points – seven rebounds – six assists – one steal
P.J. Washington
14 points – five rebounds – one block

NEXT GAMES
Thunder at Raptors – Sunday
Hornets at Grizzlies – Sunday

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

Milwaukee Bucks  112
Atlanta Hawks  86

The Milwaukee Bucks have won the season series with the Atlanta Hawks, 3-0, with a resounding 26 point win on Friday night in a game where Thanasis Antetokuonmpo played, but brother Giannis Antetokuonmpo did not. Without the reigning MVP, the Bucks put the brakes on Trae Young, who only scored 12 points, and the Hawks in general, holding Atlanta to 40 first half points to set up the easy win.

milwaukeeBUCKSatlantaHAWKS
Khris Middleton
23 points – eight rebounds – seven assists
Allen Crabbe
20 points – four rebounds – three steals
Brook Lopez
19 points – two rebounds – five assists – three blocks
Kevin Huerter
12 points – three rebounds – three assists
Ersan Ilyasova
18 points – 17 rebounds – one block
Trae Young
12 points – two assists

NEXT GAMES
Magic at Bucks – Saturday
Hawks at Bulls – Saturday

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

Indiana Pacers  112
Miami Heat  113

The Miami Heat held on to the NBA’s best home record Friday night as they defeated the visiting Indiana Pacers to remain 14-1 at AmericanAirlines Arena. It wasn’t without drama, however, as both Jimmy Butler and Kendrick Nunn missed shots in the waning seconds of the game before Goran Dragic hit the game winning shot to send the Pacers with a loss in their luggage on the way to New Orleans.

indianaPACERSmiamiHEAT
Aaron Holiday
17 points – three rebounds – nine assists
Jimmy Butler
20 points – nine rebounds – six assists – one steal
T.J. Warren
16 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal
Bam Adebayo
18 points – 15 rebounds – six assists
Jeremy Lamb
16 points – four rebounds – one assist – two steals
Duncan Robinson
18 points – three rebounds – two assists

NEXT GAMES
Pacers at Pelicans – Saturday
Sixers at Heat – Saturday

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

Phoenix Suns  96
Golden State Warriors  105

Watch out – the Golden State Warriors have won four straight games. What was once common place in years past, is now welcomed and refreshing in the 2019-20 season. Maybe they weren’t tanking after all. The Warriors eclipsed the Phoenix Suns with an impressive, closeout fourth quarter where they outscored Devin Booker and the Suns, 39-18, to notch their ninth win of the season.

phoenixSUNSgoldenstateWARRIORS
Devin Booker
34 points – three rebounds – four assists – two steals
D’Angelo Russell
31 points – five rebounds – six assists – one steal
Dario Saric
11 points – 10 rebounds – two assists
Damion Lee
16 points – eight rebounds – two assists – three steals
Ricky Rubio
11 points – four rebounds – four assists – one steal
Alec Burks
13 points – five rebounds – one assist – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Suns at Kings – Saturday
Warriors at Mavericks – Saturday

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

SATURDAY’S GAMES

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

Memphis Grizzlies  110
Denver Nuggets  119

After watching the Memphis Grizzlies lumbering through the first quarter on Saturday night, the Denver Nuggets followed Nikola Jokic’s lead and poked the bear … but the bear was soft. Jokic, however, was stellar with his seventh triple double this season and a season high 31 points in the Nuggets’ 22nd win of the season.

memphisGRIZZLIESdenverNUGGETS
Jaren Jackson, Jr.
20 points – four rebounds – one assist – one block
Nikola Jokic
31 points – 10 rebounds – 10 assists – one steal (fouled out)
Ja Morant
16 points – three rebounds – eight assists – one block
Will Barton
20 points – six rebounds – seven assists – two steals – one block
Brandon Clarke
15 points – two rebounds – five assists – one block
Mason Plumlee
15 points – seven rebounds – one assist – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Hornets at Grizzlies – Sunday
Kings at Nuggets – Sunday

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

Toronto Raptors  113
Boston Celtics  97

Patrick McCaw has been on two championship teams – the Golden State Warriors and last year with the Toronto Raptors. Always on the cusp of being dealt, McCaw showed his championship chops on Saturday night, stepping up in the place that Pascal Siakam would normally step up. The champs came into Beantown and opened up a can of whoop ass on the Celtics in the first quarter and then watched Boston wilt in the fourth to take the rare win on the parquet. Fred VanVleet chipped in 18 points as well to match McCaw, also adding three rebounds, five assists, five steals and a blocked shot.

torontoRAPTORSbostonCELTICS
Kyle Lowry
30 points – four rebounds – seven assists – two steals
Kemba Walker
30 points – two rebounds – two assists – two steals
Serge Ibaka
20 points – 10 rebounds
Jaylen Brown
17 points – five rebounds – one assist – three steals
Patrick McCaw
18 points – seven rebounds – eight assists – one steal – one block
Gordon Hayward
13 points – six rebounds – three assists – one steal – two vlocks

NEXT GAMES
Thunder at Raptors – Sunday
Celtics at Hornets – Tuesday

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

Indiana Pacers  98
New Orleans Pelicans  120

As if it wasn’t enough that the Golden State Warriors were having a good week, the New Orleans Pelicans have the feel goods as well, winning their third consecutive on Saturday night, defeating the Indiana Pacers by 22 points to net their 10th win of the season in the Happy Holidays Brothers Reunion. Jrue Holiday is still leading the Pelicans’ offensive schemes, though may be traded sometime in the next couple of months, while his brothers Aaron and Justin lace ‘em up for the Indiana Pacers. Aaron Holiday has led the Pacers last two games – losses both – while Justin Holiday plays a more reserve role. But it was Jrue and Brandon Ingram who dictated Saturday night’s win and Pelicans fans hope there are more to come.

indianaPACERSneworleansPELICANS
Aaron Holiday
25 points – two rebounds – two assists – one steal
Brandon Ingram
24 points – five rebounds – seven assists – two steals
T.J. Warren
20 points – three rebounds – one assist – one steal
Jrue Holiday
20 points – three rebounds – seven assists – two steals – one block
Domantas Sabonis
15 points – 16 rebounds – four assists – one steal
J.J. Redick
15 points – two rebounds – two assists

NEXT GAMES
Rockets at Pelicans – Sunday
Sixers at Pacers – Tuesday

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

Atlanta Hawks  81
Chicago Bulls  116

You know things are bad when you’re losing to the Chicago Bulls by 25 points and you’ve been stuck on six wins while Golden State, New Orleans and New York pass you like you’re standing still in the slow lane. Because you are, Atlanta. Chicago ran out to a 35-16 first quarter, then almost did it again in the fourth quarter, winning it 33-16 to embarrass the Hawks, who were without Trae Young, and seemingly everyone else. Lloyd Pierce, better polish that resume.

atlantaHAWKSchicagoBULLS
John Collins
34 points – eight rebounds – two assists – one steal – three blocks
Lauri Markkanen
25 points – four rebounds – one assist
Alex Len
10 points – five rebounds – two assists
Zach LaVine
19 points – seven rebounds – four assists – two steals
Trae Young
DNP (sprained right ankle, did not travel)
Coby White
18 points – five assists

NEXT GAMES
Hawks at Magic – Monday
Bucks at Bulls – Monday

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

Brooklyn Nets  98
Houston Rockets  108

The Brooklyn Nets made a valiant effort on Saturday night to come back and down the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center, but a 42-20 first quarter liftoff was too difficult for the flagging Nets to overcome. Houston has won five of their last six games, the lone exception being the game they gifted the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. Brooklyn outscored Houston in the second quarter, 34-21, to try and get back in it, but only played to a near draw in the second half to lose their 15th game of the season. 

brooklynNETShoustonROCKETS
Spencer Dinwiddie
17 points – two rebounds – 11 assists
James Harden
44 points – 10 rebounds – six assists – one steal – three blocks
Jarrett Allen
16 points – 10 rebounds – one steal – two blocks
Russell Westbrook
23 points – nine rebounds – seven assists – one steal – one block
Taurean Prince
16 points – six rebounds – two assists – one steal
Austin Rivers
14 points – one rebound – one assist

NEXT GAMES
Rockets at Pelicans – Sunday
Nets at Timberwolves – Monday

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

Philadelphia 76ers  116
Miami Heat  117 (OT)

The Philadelphia 76ers lost their second one-point game of the weekend, while the Miami Heat utilized an overtime period to beat another Eastern Conference contender at AmericanAirlines Arena, making their NBA best home record 15-1. The win gives Jimmy Butler a win over his former team that he couldn’t get earlier in the month at Philadelphia.

philadelphia76ERSmiamiHEAT
Joel Embiid
35 points – 11 rebounds – two assists – one block
Jimmy Butler
25 points – nine rebounds – nine assists – two steals – one block
#VFL Josh Richardson
17 points – five rebounds – two assists – one block
Goran Dragic
19 points – two rebounds – seven assists – one steal – one block
Ben Simmons
15 points – seven rebounds – 11 assists – three steals – one block
Tyler Herro
16 points – five rebounds

NEXT GAMES
Heat at Wizards – Monday
Sixers at Pacers – Tuesday

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

Cleveland Cavaliers  94
Minnesota Timberwolves  88

The timetable for Karl-Anthony Towns’ return is infinite at this point. That’s a shame, because the Minnesota Timberwolves truly miss their franchise player. Saturday night saw Towns miss his sixth game for the T’Wolves, who have gone 1-5 in his absence, losing to teams like the Pelicans, Nuggets, Blazers, and Warriors, while taking two overtimes to beat the Sacramento Kings. Losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been the toughest, because they lost to a team who’s all but given up on their coach. The win is likely a fluke by Cavaliers players’ standards. Towns is progressing, but that’s about as much of an update as you’re going to get out of Minnesota. 

clevelandCAVALIERSminnesotaTIMBERWOLVES
Collin Sexton
18 points – seven rebounds – one assist – one steal
Jeff Teague
18 points – four rebounds – one steal
Darius Garland
18 points – two rebounds – three assists – two steals
Kelen Martin
17 points – six rebounds – one steal
Tristan Thompson
12 points – 15 rebounds – three assists = one block
Robert Covington
14 points – seven rebounds – three assists – four steals – one block

NEXT GAMES
Nets at Timberwolves – Monday
Cavaliers at Raptors – Tuesday

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

New York Knicks  107
Washington Wizards  100

With flurries of trade rumors swirling that Marcus Morris may be heading to Phoenix along with Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith, Jr. so that Ricky Rubio can come to New York and develop R.J. Barrett, Morris took the court and helped the Knicks to their fifth win of the season under interim head coach Mike Miller. The Knicks only won four under former head coach David Fizdale. The Knicks have now won two in a row, while Washington languished without leading scorer Bradley Beal, who was out with right leg soreness. Isaiah Thomas returned from his suspension to lead the Wizards with 20 points along with Jordan McRae in the loss.

newyorkKNICKSwashingtonWIZARDS
Julius Randle
30 points – 16 rebounds – six assists – one steal
Jordan McRae
20 points – five rebounds – two assists – one steal
Bobby Portis
17 points – three rebounds – one steal
Isaiah Thomas
20 points – four rebounds – four assists – one steal
R.J. Barrett
14 points – five rebounds – one assist
Gary Payton II
15 points – six rebounds – two assists – six steals

NEXT GAMES
Heat at Wizards – Monday
Blazers at Knicks – Wednesday

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

Dallas Mavericks  141
Golden State Warriors  121

The Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors each inadvertently paid tribute to retired forward Dirk Nowitzki by scoring 41 points apiece in the opening quarter of Saturday night’s game at the Chase Center in San Francisco. In the third quarter, enough was enough and the Mavericks broke out a 45-24 third quarter to separate themselves from the Warriors behind Luka Doncic’s ninth triple double of the season.

dallasMAVERICKSgoldenstateWARRIORS
Luka Doncic
31 points – 12 rebounds – 15 assists – two steals
D’Angelo Russell
35 points – four rebounds – six assists
Tim Hardaway, Jr.
25 points – one assist
Damion Lee
18 points – 12 rebounds – two assists
Kristaps Porzingis
18 points – seven rebounds – three assists – four blocks
Marquese Chriss
16 points – five rebounds – two assists – two blocks

NEXT GAMES
Mavericks at Lakers – Sunday
Warriors at Spurs – Tuesday

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

Orlando Magic  100
Milwaukee Bucks  111

Apparently it does take a village. At least that is the teamwork mentality for the Milwaukee Bucks, playing their second consecutive game (and second win in as many games) without Giannis Antetokuonmpo, who is resting due to back soreness. The Milwaukee bench outscored Orlando’s, 51-28, to help the Bucks cruise to win No. 29. Robin Lopez also had 17 points, as well as three rebounds and an assist in the victory.

orlandoMAGICmilwaukeeBUCKS
Evan Fournier
23 points – three rebounds – two assists – one steal
Khris Middleton
21 points – five rebounds – seven assists – two steals
Nikola Vucevic
21 points – eight rebounds – four assist – three steals – two blocks
Ersan Ilyasova
17 points – 14 rebounds – five assists – one block
Jonathan Isaac
19 points – nine rebounds – two assists – seven steals – one block
George Hill
17 points – five rebounds – three assists

NEXT GAMES
Hawks at Magic – Monday
Bucks at Bulls – Monday

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

Detroit Pistons  109
San Antonio Spurs  136

All season long, the San Antonio Spurs have lulled us and the rest of the NBA to sleep with their slow start and atypical losses in the Gregg Popovich Era. Maybe that was the game plan, at least for the rest of the NBA and not the fans. Pop is a Jedi Master, as he and the Spurs have shown of late – hitting 145 points last Monday night and 136 last night, winning three of their last five games to be within spitting distance of the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference all of a sudden, after downing Detroit on Saturday night.

detroitPISTONSsanantonioSPURS
Derrick Rose
24 points – three rebounds – four assists – four steals
DeMar DeRozan
29 points – five rebounds – eight assists
Andre Drummond
21 points – 18 rebounds – three assists – one steal – four blocks
LaMarcus Aldridge
25 points – 12 rebounds – one assist – one steal – two blocks
Langston Galloway
15 points – three rebounds – one assist
Bryn Forbes
18 points – three rebounds – three assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Pistons at Jazz – Monday
Warriors at Spurs – Tuesday

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

Phoenix Suns  112
Sacramento Kings  110

Devin Booker is back, y’all. And just in time. The sharpshooter led the Phoenix Suns with 32 points Saturday night in Sacramento to slip out of town with a steal of a win to stop the Suns’ eight game losing streak. And if Ricky Rubio is indeed being dealt to the New York Knicks, he’s going out with a bang, having led the Suns in Booker’s absence, despite the losses.

phoenixSUNSsacramentoKINGS
Devin Booker
32 points – three rebounds – 10 assists – two steals
Buddy Hield
23 points – five rebounds – two assists – one block
Ricky Rubio
21 points – three rebounds – eight assists – two steals – two blocks
Bogdan Bogdanovic
22 points – four rebounds – three assists
Kelly Oubre, Jr.
20 points – 16 rebounds – five assists – two steals
Harrison Barnes
21 points – 10 rebounds – one assist – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Kings at Nuggets – Sunday
Suns at Blazers – Monday

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

Los Angeles Lakers  128
Portland Trailblazers  120

What groin injury? Oh, that was just a precaution. Ohio State is out of the BCS Championship picture thanks to the Clemson Tigers, and L.A. fans should be grateful. That means LeBron James’ annual groin injury is miraculously healed and the Lakers are back to business as usual. However, it is Kyle Kuzma and the Laker bench that fans of the purple and gold should be thankful for, as they outscored Portland’s bench 72-39, the reason for the win Saturday night.

losangelesLAKERSportlandTRAILBLAZERS
Kyle Kuzma
24 points – four rebounds – one assist
Damian Lillard
31 points – two rebounds – nine assists – one steal – one block
LeBron James
21 points – seven rebounds – 16 assists – two steals – one block
Hassan Whiteside
19 points – 16 rebounds – four blocks
Anthony Davis
20 points – nine rebounds – five assists – two steals
C.J. McCollum
18 points – two rebounds – four assists

NEXT GAMES
Mavericks at Lakers – Sunday
Suns at Trailblazers – Monday

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

Utah Jazz  120
Los Angeles Clippers  107

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 28: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Los Angeles Clippers guards Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz as he drives to the basket in the second half of the game at Staples Center on December 28, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

For those who thought the Utah Jazz’s acquisition of Jordan Clarkson was a busted move, think again. Clarkson combined with Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic to form an inimitable front in L.A. versus the home town Clippers and crashed the party with a 13 point win that made it look like the whole Clippers organization was utilizing load management. The Jazz outscored L.A. 71-60 in the second and third quarters to pull away for their 20th win of the season.

utahJAZZlosangelesCLIPPERS
Donovan Mitchell
30 points – seven rebounds – nine assists – one steal
Paul George
20 points – 10 rebounds – two assists – one steal
Jordan Clarkson
19 points – four rebounds – two assists 
Kawhi Leonard
19 points – four rebounds – six assists – two steals
Bojan Bogdanovic
17 points – five rebounds – three assists – two steals
Lou Williams
16 points – four rebounds – nine assists – two steals – one assist

NEXT GAMES
Pistons at Jazz – Monday
Clippers at Kings – Tuesday

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

SUNDAY’S GAMES

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

Oklahoma City Thunder  98
Toronto Raptors  97

Every statistical category was as close as the final score of last night’s game in Toronto, where the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled in and stole their 17th win of the season behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who dropped 32 points for the third time in his last five games, and dropped the Raptors to their third loss in four games. Oklahoma City has won five straight in Toronto, six out of their last seven games, and 11 of their last 15. They weren’t supposed to do this. No one told them that.

oklahomacityTHUNDERtorontoRAPTORS
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
32 points – seven rebounds – two assists – three steals
Fred VanVleet
20 points – three rebounds – eight assists – one block
Chris Paul
25 points – 11 rebounds – eight assists
Kyle Lowry
20 points – three rebounds – five assists – one steal – one block
Nerlens Noel
13 points – four rebounds – one assists – three steals – three blocks
Patrick McCaw
13 points – two rebounds – two assists – two steals

NEXT GAMES
Mavericks at Thunder – Tuesday
Cavaliers at Raptors – Tuesday

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

Houston Rockets  112
New Orleans Pelicans  127

Did anyone tell the New Orleans Pelicans that they were playing the Houston Rockets, third place seed in the Western Conference last night? James Harden and Russell Westbrook take a well-deserved break, and suddenly the Rockets are down-to-earth, human. The Pelicans were on a mission, however, to take down anyone who stands in the way of their current win streak, which grew to four with the takedown of the Rockets. In good news for Houston, Eric Gordon returned to the lineup and shot 50 percent in his first game back.

houstonROCKETSneworleansPELICANS
Danuel House, Jr.
22 points – six rebounds – three assists
Lonzo Ball
27 points – 10 rebounds – eight assists – two steals
Eric Gordon
20 points – one rebound – three assists – one steal
Brandon Ingram
27 points – six rebounds – four assists – two steals – one block
Isaiah Hartenstein
19 points – nine rebounds – four assists – two blocks
E’Twaun Moore
25 points – three rebounds – four assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Nuggets at Rockets – Tuesday
Pelicans at Lakers – Friday

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

Sacramento Kings  115
Denver Nuggets  120

The Denver Nuggets have now won nine of their last 10 games, the lone loss coming as a gift to the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas. The Sacramento Kings are trending the other direction, losing their seventh in a row despite a valiant effort by Nemanja Bjelica (27 points) and the return of De’Aaron Fox, who scored 18 points and dished out 13 assists. The game was Michael Porter, Jr.’s debut in the Denver starting lineup.

sacramentoKINGSdenverNUGGETS
Nemanja Bjelica
27 points – six rebounds – two assists – one block
Michael Porter, Jr.
19 points – six rebounds – one assist
Buddy Hield
20 points – five rebounds – eight assists – two steals – one block
Will Barton
19 points – three rebounds – five assists – one steal
Richaun Holmes
18 points – six rebounds – two assists – one steal
Jerami Grant
18 points – two rebounds – one steal – one block

NEXT GAMES
Clippers at Kings – Tuesday
Nuggets at Rockets – Tuesday

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

Charlotte Hornets  104
Memphis Grizzlies  117

The Charlotte Hornets didn’t seem to pester the Memphis Grizzlies last night as Memphis handed Charlotte its fifth straight loss by swatting the Hornets away early with a 31-20 first quarter performance. Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham struggled from the field, while the Grizzlies seem to be coming together, with both teams walking away with 13 wins and sitting in the 10th position in their respective conference. 

charlotteHORNETSmemphisGRIZZLIES
Malik Monk
18 points – five rebounds – one steal – one block
Dillon Brooks
20 points – two assists (fouled out)
Devonte’ Graham
16 points – four rebounds – 10 assists – two steals
Brandon Clarke
18 points – four rebounds – three assists – one steal – three blocks
P.J. Washington
16 points – four rebounds – one assist – one block
Jonas Valanciunas
16 points – nine rebounds – five assists

NEXT GAMES
Celtics at Hornets – Tuesday
Grizzlies at Kings – Thursday

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

Dallas Mavericks  95
Los Angeles Lakers  108

The Dallas Mavericks shot a season low 30.4 percent last night in L.A. and lost the game without a dominance from LeBron James as a result, with James’ support staff stepping up and beating the player set to take over James’ spot as arguably the presumptive G.O.A.T. of the next generation of NBA basketball, Luka Doncic. L.A.’s defense held Doncic to 35.7 percent shooting, including 0 for six from downtown and Kristaps Porzingis to 40 percent. James was the Lakers’ fourth leading scorer in last night’s game at 13 points, six rebounds, 13 assists and two steals. James crossed the 9,000 assist plateau with his performance, only the ninth player in NBA history to do so.

dallasMAVERICKSlosangelesLAKERS
Luka Doncic
19 points – four rebounds – seven assists – two steals
Anthony Davis
23 points – nine rebounds – four assists – two steals – one block
Delon Wright
14 points – four rebounds – three assists – three steals
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
19 points – three rebounds – two assists – one steal – one block
Dorian Finney-Smith
12 points – six rebounds – three assists – one steal – one block
Dwight Howard
15 points – three rebounds – one steal – one block

NEXT GAMES
Mavericks at Thunder – Tuesday
Suns at Lakers – Wednesday

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

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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