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The Rundown w/T-Money

The Rundown 121219: Killing Attendance, Harden Gets 55, Sacramento Making Things Interesting

James Harden goes for 20 in the fourth to get 55, Kawhi Leonard gets his ring, it's happy Holidays for the Pacers, and the Kings do it again.

Has Adam Silver killed attendance?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been a blessing for the evolution of the NBA as a business model and as an entertainment medium.

Fans can access games through nearly every media device available – TVs, laptops, desktops, mobile devices, virtual reality, and beyond. But what has that done to actual attendance at games?

Too often, we can pull up a game on one of these many of our devices and see empty seats in many of these cities, even the largest of markets. New York, Chicago, and even though L.A. is going through a boon of success right now, last year was like Chicago and New York.

Even Orlando, who used to have one of the most humble arenas in the NBA when it was the TD Waterhouse. In 2010, the Rich DeVos family shelled out $480 million of laundry detergent revenues to build the Amway Center and has since rolled out an average or subpar product on the floor and in the front office since. (God, I miss Pat Williams).

Let’s look at last night’s games:

Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
Cleveland, Ohio
Holds
20,562 
Attendance last night
17,122
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Indianapolis, Indiana
Holds
20,000
Attendance last night
15,637
Amway Center
Orlando, Florida
Holds
20,000
Attendance last night
18,846
ScotiaBank Arena
Toronto, Ontario
Holds
19,800
Attendance last night
20,144
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, New York
Holds
19,000
Attendance last night
15,631
United Center
Chicago, Illinois
Holds
23,500
Attendance last night
15,084
Target Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Holds
19,356
Attendance last night
12,369
Talking Stick Resort Arena
Phoenix, Arizona
Holds
18,422
Attendance last night
12,254
Fiserv Forum
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Holds
17,500
Attendance last night
17,385
Golden 1 Center
Sacramento, California
Holds
17,608
Attendance last night
16,723
Chase Center
San Francisco, California
Holds
18,064
Attendance last night
18,064

That’s right – the game between the NBA’s two worst teams drew the third largest crowd last night. Sacramento nearly drew a full house and their opponent was a team that has the same record.

Now we all know that final attendance numbers are somewhat inflated; not all games are sellouts no matter what numbers reflect, but they were last night in San Francisco to the last seat, and we know everyone in Toronto wasn’t going to miss out on Kawhi Leonard’s first return to the city and arena since the team won their championship last June. 

But these are fans (Toronto) who also stand packed outside the arena in what’s affectionately known as Jurassic Park. 

Not all fans are as rabid, however, especially when they can get all the action from the comfort of their home, on a plane on their mobile device, cheaper snacks, dressed down, and no need for a designated driver after Nemanja Bjelica buries their team(s).

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll look at ticket prices, concessions, and the need to cover the salaries of some very middle of the road players.

Houston Rockets  116
Cleveland Cavaliers  110

The fourth quarter lead seemed promising for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After three and a half minutes into the fourth, Cleveland had a comfortable lead that vanished as quickly as I rubbed my eyes in seeing it. James Harden then exploded for 20 points in the fourth quarter alone, saving the Houston Rockets from what would have been an embarrassing defeat.

ROCKETS (16-8)CAVALIERS (5-19)
James Harden
55 points – three rebounds – eight assists – two steals – two blocks
Kevin Porter, Jr.
23 points – two rebounds – three assists – three steals
Russell Westbrook
23 points – seven rebounds – six assists – four steals
Collin Sexton
18 points – one rebound – three assists – one steal
Clint Capela
10 points – 13 rebounds – one assist – one steal – three blocks
Kevin Love
17 points – 11 rebounds – two assists – one steal – one block

NEXT UP
Cavaliers at Spurs – Tonight
Rockets at Magic – Friday

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

Boston Celtics  117
Indiana Pacers  122

It was happy Holidays for brothers Aaron and Justin last night, as they paired up with Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis (15 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists) to upset the visiting Boston Celtics. The second quarter proved to be the pivotal period with a six point advantage for the Pacers. Boston outscored the Pacers by 14 in the third to seemingly run away with the win, but Indiana raced right back in the fourth, outscoring the Celtics by 15 to take the checkered flag.

CELTICS (17-6)PACERS (16-9)
Kemba Walker
44 points – three rebounds – seven assists – two steals
Malcolm Brogdon
29 points – two rebounds – eight assists – two steals
Jaylen Brown
18 points – eight rebounds – eight assists – one steal (fouled out)
Aaron Holiday
18 points – three rebounds – one assist – two steals
Jayson Tatum
16 points – six rebounds – three assists – two steals
Justin Holiday
17 points – six rebounds – three steals

NEXT UP
Sixers at Celtics – Tonight
Pacers at Hawks – Friday

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

Los Angeles Lakers  96
Orlando Magic  87

The Los Angeles Lakers turned to LeBron James to do what it took to get by the Magic in Orlando last night. James turned in another triple double performance as Anthony Davis decompressed from his 50 point night. Jonathan Isaac, the NBA’s leader in blocked shots this season, was limited to one against the Lakers.

LAKERS (22-3)MAGIC (11-13)
LeBron James
25 points – 11 rebounds – 10 assists – two steals
Jonathan Isaac
19 points – eight rebounds – one steal – one block
Anthony Davis
16 points – 12 rebounds – six assists – two steals – two blocks
Evan Fournier
18 points – two rebounds – five assists
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
15 points – two steals
Aaron Gordon
14 points – 14 rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block

NEXT UP
Lakers at Heat – Friday
Rockets at Magic – Friday

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

Los Angeles Clippers  112
Toronto Raptors  92

One minute, Kawhi Leonard was hugging his former teammates, coaches, general manager and ownership team and receiving his championship ring, getting the applause and love from the 20,144 in attendance at Scotiabank Arena. Shortly after that, he was showing the Raptors the kind of play that helped him and Toronto celebrate the city’s first championship last June. Pascal Siakam actually bested Leonard’s effort, but the Raptors are certainly missing the energy of Fred VanVleet. Paul George shot 21.4 percent for 13 points.

CLIPPERS (19-7)RAPTORS (16-8)
Kawhi Leonard
23 points – five rebounds – six assists – two steals
Pascal Siakam
24 points – four rebounds – three assists – one steal – three blocks
Lou Williams
18 points – six rebounds – eight assists – one steal
Norman Powell
22 points – three rebounds – one assist – one steal
Moe Harkless
14 points – seven rebounds – one assist – one steal
O.G. Anunoby
13 points – seven rebounds – one steal – two blocks

NEXT UP
Clippers at Timberwolves – Thursday
Nets at Raptors – Saturday

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

Charlotte Hornets  113
Brooklyn Nets  108

Attendance is flagging at the Barclays Center, with only 15,631 showing for the game versus the Charlotte Hornets last night. Of course, it’s understandable since neither Kevin Durant nor Kyrie Irving is playing. And the team is just barely two games above the .500 mark. Irving has now missed 13 straight games while Caris LeVert has been out 15. What they are missing is how Spencer Dinwiddie has become a star on his own as has Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham, as he led the Hornets to a win last night. A 60-44 second half swarm gave Charlotte the win.

HORNETS (11-16)NETS (13-11)
Devonte’ Graham
40 points – five rebounds – five assists
Spencer Dinwiddie
24 points – five rebounds – six assists – one steal
Miles Bridges
14 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal – one block
Jarrett Allen
21 points – 10 rebounds – two assists – one steal
Terry Rozier
13 points – seven rebounds – four assists
Theo Pinson
12 points – three rebounds – two assists – one block

NEXT UP
Hornets at Bulls – Friday
Nets at Raptors – Saturday

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

Atlanta Hawks  102
Chicago Bulls  136

Zach LaVine helped the Chicago Bulls end a three game losing streak last night at home by scoring seven of seven from downtown and leading the Bulls to a 34 point win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks. Already having the prognosis that Otto Porter, Jr. would be out at least another four weeks, LaVine put the team on his back and carried them to the comfortable win. Chicago outscored Atlanta 70-50 in the second half, held the Hawks to the teens in the second and fourth quarters, and held Trae Young to 28.6 percent shooting and 15 points.

HAWKS (6-19)BULLS (9-17)
Alex Len
17 points – five rebounds – three assists
Zach LaVine
35 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal – one block
Cam Reddish
16 points – six rebounds – one assist – one block
Lauri Markkanen
22 points – four rebounds – two assists – one block
Trae Young
15 points – two rebounds – 13 assists – two steals
Coby White
19 points – two rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block

NEXT UP
Pacers at Hawks – Friday
Hornets at Bulls – Friday

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

Utah Jazz  127
Minnesota Timberwolves  116

The Utah Jazz put together a 68-47 second half to pull away from the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose November put forth the perception that this team was a serious contender. However, as mirages will do, those of the Timberwolves have faded into a reality as harsh as the northern temps. The Timberwolves need another piece – DeMar DeRozan? – to compete in the Western Conference, where they’re sitting at 10th as of today.

JAZZ (14-11)TIMBERWOLVES (10-14)
Donovan Mitchell
30 points – five rebounds – six assists – one steal
Jeff Teague
32 points – four rebounds – six assists – one steal – one block
Joe Ingles
23 points – five rebounds – five assists – one steal
Andrew Wiggins
26 points – six rebounds – three assists – three steals
Rudy Gobert
20 points – 16 rebounds – three assists – two steals – two blocks
Karl-Anthony Towns
21 points – 11 rebounds – three assists – one steal 

NEXT UP
Warriors at Jazz – Friday
Clippers at Timberwolves – Friday

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

Memphis Grizzlies  115
Phoenix Suns  108

Just takes a little heat in the desert to wake a hibernating Grizzly and that was all Dillon Brooks and the Memphis Grizzlies bigs needed to get to .333 on the season last night in Phoenix. The Grizzlies shot 48 percent on the Suns’ floor while holding Phoenix to a cold 39 percent night. Brandon Clarke shot 83.3 percent, while Brooks and Jaren Jackson, Jr. both hit for 55.6 percent. Memphis also outrebounded Phoenix, 55-44.

GRIZZLIES (8-16)SUNS (11-13)
Dillon Brooks
27 points – three rebounds – one assist – two steals
Frank Kaminsky
24 points – five rebounds – three assists – one steal
Jaren Jackson, Jr.
24 points – six rebounds – four assists – one block
Ricky Rubio
22 points – one rebound – eight assists – one steal
Brandon Clarke
15 points – seven rebounds – two blocks
Devin Booker
15 points – four rebounds – 10 assists – one steal

NEXT UP
Bucks at Grizzlies – Friday
Spurs at Suns – Saturday

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

New Orleans Pelicans  112
Milwaukee Bucks  127

With the New Orleans Pelicans in town, Giannis Antetokuonmpo left the onus of getting the Milwaukee Bucks’ 16th consecutive win in the hands of his able teammates. Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton took the lead in Antetokuonmpo’s absence, with Ersan Ilyasova taking care of the paint. The win overshadowed a nice night by J.J. Redick and Jrue Holiday who both had a 72.7 percent shooting night. It’s the second longest win streak in Milwaukee’s franchise history. The Bucks won 20 straight back in the 1970-71 season. They also won the NBA Championship that season. Good omen?

PELICANS (6-19)BUCKS (22-3)
J.J. Redick
31 points – one rebound – two assists
Eric Bledsoe
29 points – three rebounds – six assists – two steals
Brandon Ingram
25 points – 10 rebounds – one assist
Khris Middleton
24 points – five rebounds – four assists – two steals
Jrue Holiday
21 points – six rebounds – six assists – two blocks
Ersan Ilyasova
18 points – nine rebounds – three assists – one steal

NEXT UP
Pelicans at Sixers – Friday
Bucks at Grizzlies – Friday

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

Oklahoma City Thunder  93
Sacramento Kings  94

It wasn’t a stellar performance nor a non-contestable dagger from Nemanja Bjelica this time, but the Sacramento Kings carved out another big win with some last minute heroics from Bogdan Bogdanovic this time, who hit the game winner with 13.4 seconds remaining. The opponent wasn’t the Dallas Mavericks or Houston Rockets, but the win was just as big. Going into the night, Oklahoma City had the seventh position in the Western Conference and Sacramento was on the outside looking in; now we have a logjam of teams at 11-13 and the Kings have taken OKC’s place, followed by Phoenix at eight and the Thunder now on the outside looking in.  

THUNDER (11-13)KINGS (11-13)
Dennis Schroder
17 points – two rebounds – two steals – one block
Buddy Hield
23 points – six rebounds – six assists – two steals
Abdel Nader
15 points – four rebounds – one steal
Bogdan Bogdanovic
17 points – three rebounds – one steal
Danilo Gallinari
14 points – eight rebounds – three assists – one steal
Marvin Bagley III
11 points – six rebounds – one block

NEXT UP
Knicks at Kings – Friday
Thunder at Nuggets – Saturday

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

New York Knicks  124
Golden State Warriors  122 (OT)

Who would have thought that the bargain basement special of the NBA would be the most competitive game of the night? This game should have been as ugly and disgusting as San Francisco’s financial district has become, yet it was one of the night’s best. Interim coach Mike Miller gets his first win and is .333 as the Knicks coach in what may be the best part of the Knicks season thus far. Certainly, beating Dallas (and Kristaps Porzingis) twice may be the highlight of New York’s tumultuous year, but they actually resembled a competitive team last night. They shot 47 percent on the road, outrebounded the wounded Warriors, 58-46, and overcame 18 turnovers to nail down the win. 

KNICKS (5-20)WARRIORS (5-21)
Marcus Morris
36 points – 10 rebounds – three assists – three steals
D’Angelo Russell
32 points – three rebounds – six assists – two steals
Julius Randle
24 points – 13 rebounds – five assists
Alec Burks
18 points – five rebounds – two assists – two steals
R.J. Barrett
22 points – 10 rebounds – three assists – one steal – one block
Glenn Robinson III
17 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal

NEXT UP
Knicks at Kings – Friday
Warriors at Jazz – Friday

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

THURSDAY’S GAMES / MY PICK ‘EMS
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics – 8 p.m. EST – TNT
Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs – 8:30 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southwest
Dallas Mavericks at Detroit Pistons (in Mexico City) – 9 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Detroit
Portland Trailblazers at Denver Nuggets – 10:30 p.m. EST – TNT

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

The Rundown w/T-Money is a daily column “all things NBA” that will run through the entirety of the season, and the playoffs through the NBA Finals
Tracy Graven is a Senior Analyst for BackSportsPage.com.
He has written the NBA for the last two decades and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and 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.
He currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with his wife and five children.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia 

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