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Rundown v12.31.19 – Towns Ain’t Happy, ‘This is the Place’ for Clarkson, and Hawks Get a ‘Good Win’

It seems Jordan Clarkson is fitting in nicely in Utah, Jordan McRae's performance was trending on Twitter last night, the Hawks and Suns win, and Shabazz Napier has a nice night in Minnesota.

Six games on the books last night as we head into the final games of the season with a seven game schedule for New Years Eve. 

A lot of memories for the five New Years Eves I spent at Chesapeake Energy Arena watching the Oklahoma City Thunder entertain teams. Tonight’s game, while just one of 82, could be pivotal if the Thunder can find a way past Luka Doncic and the resurgent Dallas Mavericks.

Wish I could be there …

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Atlanta Hawks  101
Orlando Magic  93

Without Trae Young, the Atlanta Hawks’ 10 game losing streak is a thing of the past and they got a good win for lucky number seven last night in Orlando behind a kid from Florida Gulf Coast. Brandon Goodwin came off the bench to supplant Cam Reddish’s woeful start (two points off of two free throws) and led the Hawks to the rare victory. John Collins added 10 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.

ATLANTA (7-27) 15th EasternORLANDO (14-19) 8th Eastern
Brandon Goodwin
21 points – three rebounds – six assists – two steals – one block
Nikola Vucevic
27 points – six rebounds – one assist – two steals
Kevin Huerter
19 points – six rebounds – four assists – two steals – two blocks
Evan Fournier
22 points – three rebounds – two assists – one steal
Alex Len
18 points – 12 rebounds – two assists
D.J. Augustin
17 points – five rebounds – six assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Magic at Wizards – Wednesday
Hawks at Celtics – Friday

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Miami Heat  105
Washington Wizards  123

The Washington Wizards used a 42-24 second quarter performance as a springboard to upset one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference last night, as #VFL Jordan McRae was trending on Twitter throughout much of the evening. The young man from Tennessee lit up the Miami Heat, snapping the Heat’s five game win streak and giving Washington Wizards fans something to cheer about, at least for a night.

MIAMI (24-9) 3rd EasternWASHINGTON (10-22) 13th Eastern
Jimmy Butler
27 points – six rebounds – four assists
Jordan McRae
29 points – four rebounds – eight assists – two steals – one block
Duncan Robinson
16 points – four rebounds – one assist – one steal
Garrison Mathews
28 points – four rebounds
Bam Adebayo
14 points – 14 rebounds – five assists
Ian Mahinmi
25 points – five rebounds – one assist – two steals – two blocks

NEXT GAMES
Magic at Wizards – Wednesday
Raptors at Heat – Thursday

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Milwaukee Bucks  123
Chicago Bulls  102

Giannis Antetokuonmpo returned after two games rest for his sore back, and Eric Bledsoe came back from an eight game absence to lend Khris Middleton a hand or two in keeping the Chicago Bulls at arm’s length, and becoming the first team this season to reach 30 wins. Middleton has carried this team the past few games with key players out or resting. The Bucks still maintain the best record in the league at 30-5 to the Los Angeles Lakers’ 26-7. The Bucks are already halfway to their total win count from last season (60).

MILWAUKEE (30-5) 1st EasternCHICAGO (13-21) 9th Eastern
Khris Middleton
25 points – six rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block
Zach LaVine
19 points – four rebounds – five assists
Giannis Antetokuonmpo
23 points – 10 rebounds – six assists
Lauri Markkanen
18 points – six rebounds – one steal
Eric Bledsoe
15 points – three rebounds – three assists – four steals
Coby White
18 points – four rebounds – one assist – four steals

NEXT GAMES
Timberwolves at Bucks – Wednesday
Jazz at Bulls – Thursday

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Brooklyn Nets  115
Minnesota Timberwolves  122 (OT)

A little lineup shake up, and suddenly the Minnesota Timberwolves are off the NBA’s endangered species list for another night. Without Karl-Anthony Towns for another night, and a reportedly unhappy Karl-Anthony Towns at that, head coach Ryan Saunders shook up the starting lineup and cut down the Brooklyn Nets in overtime last night net their first win at the Target Center since November 13th. Shabazz Napier’s team leading 24 points were a season high. The Nets have lost three straight games and been without Kyrie Irving for 21 games and Caris LeVert for 22 games.

BROOKLYN (16-16) 7th EasternMINNESOTA (12-20) 12th Western
Spencer Dinwiddie
36 points – five rebounds – eight assists – one steal
Shabazz Napier
24 points – three rebounds – eight assists – two steals
Joe Harris
19 points – seven rebounds – one assist
Jarrett Culver
21 points – five rebounds – three assists – three steals – one block
Wilson Chandler
13 points – five rebounds
Keita Bates-Diop
15 points – seven rebounds – one assists – two steals – two blocks

NEXT GAMES
Timberwolves at Bucks – Wednesday
Nets at Mavericks – Thursday

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Detroit Pistons  81
Utah Jazz  104

Perhaps it was just that Jordan Clarkson wasn’t in the right situation for him. Utah appears to be that right situation, two games in. Clarkson chucked in 20 points last night in Salt Lake City to help power the Utah Jazz to their 21st win of the season. Since arriving in Salt Lake, Clarkson is averaging 14 points, two rebounds and an assist, just a shade under his 2019-20 number, but with upside as he learns the Jazz offensive and defensive schemes.

DETROIT (12-22) 11th EasternUTAH (21-12) 6th Western
Derrick Rose
20 points – four assists – one steal – one block
Donovan Mitchell
23 points – three rebounds – three assists – one steal
Andre Drummond
15 points – 13 rebounds – three assists – five steals – three blocks
Jordan Clarkson
20 points – one rebound – two assists – one steal
Svi Mykhailiuk
15 points – three rebounds – one steal
Bojan Bogdanovic
17 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal

NEXT GAMES
Jazz at Bulls – Thursday
Pistons at Clippers – Thursday

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Phoenix Suns  122
Portland Trailblazers  116

The Portland Trailblazers jumped out to a commanding 38-19 first quarter lead last night at the Moda Center, but then let the Phoenix Suns have the remaining three quarters to end the night knotted with the Suns at 20 losses apiece. The Blazers only lost 29 games all of last season as they finished at 53-29 before being embarrassed in the Western Conference Finals, 4-0. It was Phoenix’s second straight win and Portland’s fourth straight loss. Carmelo Anthony shot four of 16 for 10 points on the night. The Blazers head out on a five game road trip next. Can we work a deal for Kevin Love yet?

PHOENIX (13-20) 10th WesternPORTLAND (14-20) 9th Western
Devin Booker
33 points – six rebounds – seven assists
Damian Lillard
33 points – five rebounds – seven assists – one steal
Kelly Oubre, Jr.
29 points – five rebounds – three assists – two steals – one block
C.J. McCollum
25 points – two rebounds – six assists – one steal
Ricky Rubio
18 points – five rebounds – 13 assists – one steal
Hassan Whiteside
16 points – 22 rebounds – three assists – three blocks

NEXT GAMES
Trailblazers at Knicks – Wednesday
Suns at Lakers – Wednesday

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NEW YEARS EVE LINEUP
Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers – 3 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Midwest-Indiana
Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets – 3 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Boston
Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings – 5 p.m. EST – NBC Sports California
Denver Nuggets at Houston Rockets – 7 p.m. EST – NBATV
Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs – 7 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Bay Area
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Ohio
Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder – 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southwest

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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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