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The Rundown v123020 – Bucks Ring Up 144, Orlando and Atlanta Undefeated, Cavs and Pacers Fall

Last night, Julius Randle answered the internet meme 'What the hell has gotten into Julius Randle?' by taking down the undefeated Cleveland Cavaliers. Orlando stayed undefeated behind their consistent core, and 4-0 Atlanta plays Brooklyn tonight.

Two more teams fell from the ranks of the undefeated last night as Boston went into Indianapolis and stopped the Pacers, and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell at the hands of the New York Knicks.

Orlando remained undefeated with a win in Oklahoma City, while the 4-0 Atlanta Hawks were idle, but face the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 tonight.

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Boston Celtics  116
Indiana Pacers  111

The Indiana Pacers lost their first game of the season last night as the Boston Celtics got back on the winning track, thanks to a 33-17 fourth quarter to close out the game in Indianapolis.

Boston got inside the Pacers’ heads, as they found their way to the free throw line 37 times last night, while Indiana just got there 16 times. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart all got there 10 times apiece, with Tatum and Smart hitting eight of 10, and Brown shooting at a 50 percent success rate. 

Ironically, that trio led the Celtics in points, with a combined 64 points. Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 10 rebounds, while University of Oregon rookie Payton Pritchard ended the night with 10 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 27 minutes off the bench.

CELTICS (2-2) 8th in the EastPACERS (3-1) 3rd in the East
Jayson Tatum (.529)
27 points – 11 rebounds – four assists – three steals
Victor Oladipo (.556)
24 points – six rebounds – six assists – one block
Jaylen Brown (.538)
20 points – two rebounds – two assists – four steals
Malcolm Brogdon (.467)
19 points – three rebounds – seven assists
Marcus Smart (.300)
17 points – one rebound – five assists – one steal – one block
T.J. Warren (.538)
17 points – two rebounds – one steal – FOULED OUT

Indiana got a team high 24 from Victor Oladipo, who also had six rebounds and six assists. Malcolm Brogdon added 19 points, and T.J. Warren finished with 17 before he fouled out of the game. Myles Turner popped for 16 points, Justin Holiday had a dozen, and Domantas Sabonis had a quiet double double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists in the loss.

The huge Celtics’ fourth quarter rally helped them overcome a 17 point chasm and possibly going 1-3 to start the season. They’ll have another chance to go above .500 with the Memphis Grizzlies visiting tonight, without the services of Ja Morant.

NEXT UP
Grizzlies at Celtics – Tonight, 7:30 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast, NBC Boston
Cavaliers at Pacers – Thursday, 3 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports Ohio

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Golden State Warriors  116
Detroit Pistons  106

One of the main reasons that the Detroit Pistons are winless is because it appears that their ‘stars’ have taken a back seat to whatever it is that head coach Dwane Casey is trying to do.

Certainly, Casey should be getting more out of Derrick Rose (15 points, seven assists) and Blake Griffin (eight points, five rebounds) than he is, and while his young guns have no issue with stepping into the vacuum of leadership apparently vacated by Rose and Griffin, they’re not winning any games and that could end up being costly to Casey.

Meanwhile, Golden State’s veteran guard continues to be one of the best in the league, leading the Warriors to their second win of the season last night as the Warriors shot 50 percent as a team, and had eight steals and eight blocks defensively to seal the victory.

WARRIORS (2-2) 10th in the WestPISTONS (0-4) 14th in the East
Stephen Curry (.529)
31 points – five rebounds – six assists – two steals
Jerami Grant (.429)
27 points – seven rebounds – one assist – three steals – two blocks
Andrew Wiggins (.474)
27 points – seven rebounds – three assists – one steal – three blocks
Josh Jackson (.429)
17 points – six rebounds – three assists – one steal – one block
Kelly Oubre, Jr. (.600)
14 points – five rebounds – two steals – two blocks
Derrick Rose (.333)
15 points – two rebounds – seven assists – two steals

Steph Curry was the game’s high man with 31 points, five rebounds, and six assists. Andrew Wiggins found a career change, stopped laying the bricks he’s laid the previous three games and contributed 27 points and seven rebounds, shooting five of eight from downtown, while Kelly Oubre, Jr. – Wiggins’ bricklaying apprentice – also found a positive rhythm with 14 points. Eric Paschall shot 75 percent off the bench for his 10 points.

Jerami Grant continues to be the Pistons’ leader game after game, and last night was no different as he proved with 27 points and seven rebounds. Josh Jackson added 17 and six, Rose finished with 15 points and seven assists, while Villanova rookie Saddiq Bey came off the bench for 11 points.

The Warriors are without Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, but have a gem in rookie draft pick James Wiseman, who’s now played more games in the NBA than he did at the University of Memphis last year. Wiseman finished with six points and six rebounds last night, but was part of the Golden State run with Curry on the bench.

NEXT UP
Celtics at Pistons – Friday, 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Detroit, NBC Boston
Blazers at Warriors – Friday. 10 p.m. EST – NBATV

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New York Knicks  95
Cleveland Cavaliers  86

Stop the presses! 

Not only did the New York Knicks win their second consecutive game last night, but they beat what has been a more impressive Cleveland Cavaliers team in Cleveland to do so.

And another undefeated team goes by the wayside.

Julius Randle was a beast last night, scoring a game high 28 points and posting his first triple double with 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Randle was also perfect from downtown in his four shots. Reggie Bullock shook off the moth balls to add 17 and seven, while Elfrid Payton has certainly stepped up of late, adding 14 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists to the cause. R.J. Barrett shot like crap at .267, but managed to put up 12 points and seven rebounds in the win.

KNICKS (2-2) 7th in the EastCAVALIERS (3-1) 5th in the East
Julius Randle (.563)
28 points – 12 rebounds – 11 assists – one steal
Collin Sexton (.353)
20 points – two rebounds – four assists – one steal
Reggie Bullock (.462)
17 points – seven rebounds – one steal – one block
Andre Drummond (.538)
18 points – 17 rebounds – two assists – three steals – six blocks
Elfrid Payton (.400)
14 points – eight rebounds – seven assists
Darius Garland (.333)
17 points – five rebounds – six assists – two steals

The loss was Cleveland’s first this season, after an impressive yet improbable start. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has this team pointed in the right direction, and the occasional loss is inevitable. But last night was reminiscent of more of a Mike Fratello Cavs team than a Bickerstaff team, scoring in the teens two quarters of the game to lead to the loss. The Cavs shot just 36 percent on their home floor.

Collin Sexton led with 20 points on 35.3 percent shooting, Darius Garland was slightly worse at 33.3 percent and 17 points, while Andre Drummond’s double double of 18 and 17 went for naught. JaVale McGee chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds in reserve.

Randle’s performance featured a strong first half that had the Knicks up by as many as 16 points as the visitors outscored the home team 53-46 going into the locker rooms. It was his seventh career triple double.

NEXT UP
Cavaliers at Pacers – Thursday, 3 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports Ohio
Knicks at Raptors – Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST – MSG Network, SportsNet

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Milwaukee Bucks  144
Miami Heat  97

It’s not just the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks dropped 144 points on the reigning Eastern Conference Champions, but that they did it by setting an NBA record with 29 three pointers in a game, by shooting 55 percent as a team on the road, by outrebounding the Miami Heat 45-30, and by capitalizing on Miami’s 21 turnovers.

And without an MVP performance from Giannis Antetokuonmpo.

Khris Middleton took the reins and led the stampede with 76.9 percent shooting en route to his game high 25 points. Jrue Holiday added 24 points by hitting 60 percent of his shots, and Donte DiVincenzo continually improves and adds to this lineup, last night plugging 75 percent of his shots for 17 points. Brook Lopez had 14, Bobby Portis had 11, and D.J. Augustin had 10 points.

Portis (.400), Antetokuonmpo (.333), and Pat Connaughton (.333) were the only ones in the regular rotation who shot below .500 last night. 

BUCKS (2-2) 9th in the EastHEAT (1-2) 10th in the East
Khris Middleton (.769)
25 points – four rebounds – five assists – two steals
Tyler Herro (.563)
23 points – three rebounds – seven assists – one steal
Jrue Holiday (.600)
24 points – three rebounds – seven assists – three steals – one block
Kendrick Nunn (.353)
15 points – three rebounds – six assists – one steal – one block
Donte DiVincenzo (.750)
17 points – one rebound – two assists – two steals
Avery Bradley (.556)
14 points – two rebounds – one assist – one steal

The Heat buckled with the weight of Milwaukee’s hot shooting and the inexperience of Tyler Herro (23 points, seven assists) and Kendrick Nunn (15 points, six assists), who got their feet wet last year in the wading pool of success, often referred to as Miami’s second starting lineup. With Jimmy Butler and Andre Iguodala on the bench, it was up to the young guns to produce and they came up overwhelmed and way short.

Avery Bradley lent some experience last night with his 14 points, while Bam Adebayo was an unusually quiet 12 and six, while University of Memphis rookie Precious Achiuwa came off the bench for 10 points.

The win not only brings the Bucks back to .500, but it puts them ½ game up on the Heat in the Eastern Conference standings to close out 2020. Twelve of the 13 Milwaukee Bucks that played last night hit a three pointer – the only one who didn’t? The MVP, Giannis Antetokuonmpo.

NEXT UP
Bucks at Heat – Tonight, 7:30 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Wisconsin, SunSports

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Orlando Magic  118
Oklahoma City Thunder  107

The Orlando Magic are off to one of their best starts in years, and this is a team that many have called boring, with no headlining superstar names, and even considered a dumping ground for players other teams didn’t want.

I even recently made the suggestion that they get involved in the James Harden sweepstakes, but I need to stay in my lane – the Orlando Magic have everything they need to succeed in Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross, and Nikola Vucevic.

They proved it once again last night in Oklahoma City, taking down the young Thunder by 11 to remain one of two undefeated teams in the NBA.

Vucevic led Orlando – and all scorers – with 28 points and 10 rebounds last night. Dwayne Bacon was sizzling, shooting 90 percent for his 18 points and eight rebounds, while Fournier added 14. Ross matched Fournier, while Gordon had 12 points, and Fultz finished with 11 points and 10 dimes, despite shooting 25 percent on the night. 

MAGIC (4-0) 1st in the EastTHUNDER (1-2) 13th in the West
Nikola Vucevic (.667)
28 points – 10 rebounds – five assists – one steal
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (.800)
23 points – seven rebounds – seven assists
Dwayne Bacon (.900)
18 points – eight rebounds
Isaiah Roby (.750)
19 points – seven rebounds – one steal – two blocks
Evan Fournier (.455)
14 points – one rebound – two assists – two steals
Luguentz Dort (.429)
15 points – four rebounds

Oklahoma City is still trying to mold their team around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who led the Thunder with 23 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Isaiah Roby finished with 19 and seven, while Luguentz Dort – who led the team in scoring the night before against the Utah Jazz – added 15 points. Mike Muscala added 14 off the bench and Hamidou Diallo finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.

The Magic are 4-0 for the first time in the franchise’s history, which includes lineups of Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal. Vucevic is now the franchise leader in field goals with 4,083, having passed Nick Anderson’s 4,075.

NEXT UP
Sixers at Magic – Thursday, 6:30 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Florida, NBC Philadelphia
Pelicans at Thunder – Thursday, 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports Oklahoma

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Toronto Raptors  93
Philadelphia 76ers  100

Despite a 28-17 first quarter deficit, Joel Embiid and #VFL Tobias Harris put on a clinic last night against the Toronto Raptors – a show that the Raptors themselves had been accustomed to putting on in recent memory.

The Philadelphia duo combined for over half of the Sixers’ 100 points, with Embiid taking 29 and Harris following up closely with 26 in the win. They also cleaned the glass to the tune of 27 rebounds between the two of them, winning the rebounding battle, 54-47. Seth Curry shot his way to 17 points, while Ben Simmons finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists.

RAPTORS (0-3) 13th in the EastSIXERS (3-1) 4th in the East
Kyle Lowry (.400)
24 points – eight rebounds – nine assists – one steal
Joel Embiid (.412)
29 points – 16 rebounds – four assists – two steals – two blocks
O.G. Anunoby (.636)
20 points – six rebounds – two assists – five steals – one block
Tobias Harris (.550)
26 points – 11 rebounds – three assists – two steals – two blocks
Pascal Siakam (.348)
20 points – six rebounds – two steals – one block – FOULED OUT
Seth Curry (.455)
17 points – six rebounds – four assists – one steal – one block

The Raptors were led by Philadelphia native Kyle Lowry’s 24 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists. But they shot a paltry 35 percent from the field and only 37 percent from downtown. O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam were the only other Raptors in double digits, with 20 points apiece on the night. And Siakam fouled out after 34 minutes of play. Not a good night for the former NBA champs.

Embiid persevered despite being out with back stiffness earlier in the week, and experiencing an issue with his right leg for a time last night. The Raptors lost what was a 14 point advantage in the second half, an opportunity to stay on the neck of the Sixers when their big man was being checked out, but they short-armed the effort.

The Sixers will try and take down the undefeated Orlando Magic in Orlando on New Year’s Eve.

NEXT UP
Knicks at Raptors – Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST – MSG Network, SportsNet
Sixers at Magic – Thursday, 6:30 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Florida, NBC Philadelphia

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

Chicago Bulls  115
Washington Wizards  107

The Chicago Bulls are finally in the win column, after dropping the winless Washington Wizards with three of four quarters over the 30 point mark last night in our nation’s capital. The Bulls scored 31, 31, and 32 in the first, third, and fourth quarters last night to overcome 29 points by Bradley Beal and another triple double performance from Russell Westbrook, who finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists.

It’s Washington’s worst start since the 2012-13 season and while Westbrook is reclaiming the mantle of Mr. Triple Double after having to back burner the title while sharing the rock with James Harden in Houston, it’s still adding fuel to people’s fiery assertions that – for all his talent and athleticism – Westbrook can’t win.

BULLS (1-3) 12th in the EastWIZARDS (0-4) 15th in the East
Zach LaVine (.400)
23 points – five rebounds – six assists – four steals
Bradley Beal (.450)
29 points – four rebounds – three assist – two steals – one block
Coby White (.429)
18 points – five rebounds – six assists
Russell Westbrook (.529)
21 points – 15 rebounds – 11 assists – one steal
Otto Porter, Jr. (.400)
16 points – three rebounds – one assist
Davis Bertans (.400)
20 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal

The record versus the millions of dollars being paid out may end up costing head coach Scott Brooks his job, as the pandemic continues to impact teams’ lost revenues with no fans attending games. That’s a lot of cheese going out with little to no ROI.

For the Bulls, it’s the first win in the books for head coach Billy Donovan, another of Westbrook’s former coaches from Oklahoma City. He got the best out of Zach LaVine (23 points), Coby White (18) and Otto Porter, Jr. (16 points) last night. Seven players scored in double digits for the Bulls, including Garrett Temple and Florida State rookie Patrick Williams dropping 12 points apiece, and 10 points each from Wendell Carter, Jr. and Tomas Satoransky. Carter also had 12 rebounds.

The last time the Bulls began 0-4 was back in 2007-08. They avoided that with the win last night, but the Wizards sit in the basement of the Eastern Conference with the Detroit Pistons with that mark.

NEXT UP
Bulls at Wizards – Thursday, 5 p.m. EST – NBC Chicago, NBC Washington

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New Orleans Pelicans  86
Phoenix Suns  111

As my friend and colleague Michael Sanchez assured me earlier last week, the Phoenix Suns ‘are going to be just fine.’ His words never rang truer than they did last night, as they defeated the visiting New Orleans Pelicans by 25 points without groundbreaking performances by Devin Booker or Chris Paul.

It’s nice to see some of these other guys stepping up for head coach Monty Williams when the opportunities arise. And it’s a testament to the type of coach Williams is, getting everyone involved versus relying on the same guy or two night in and night out.

It’s also jumped the Suns up to the top of the Western Conference for the time being, with the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings hot on their heels. 

But let’s let the Suns enjoy their time in the sun.

Last night’s win featured Jae Crowder leading the game with 21 points on .545 shooting, with Cam Johnson hitting for 18 points, and DeAndre Ayton shooting the same for his 13 points, while grabbing 12 rebounds. Mikal Bridges and Cameron Payne also popped for 13 points apiece, while Dario Saric came off the bench to add 10 in the win.

Booker finished with eight points and six rebounds, while CP3 had nine points and nine dimes on the books.

PELICANS (2-2) 9th in the WestSUNS (3-1) 1st in the West
Zion Williamson (.692)
20 points – two rebounds – one steal
Jae Crowder (.545)
21 points – two rebounds – one assist – one steal
Brandon Ingram (.545)
13 points – six rebounds – six assists – one steal
Cameron Johnson (.462)
18 points – two rebounds – one steal – two blocks
Steven Adams (100.0)
11 points – eight rebounds – one assist – one block
DeAndre Ayton (.545)
13 points – 12 rebounds – one block

Zion Williamson had 20 for the Pelicans. Brandon Ingram finished with 13 points,six rebounds, and six assists, while Steven Adams had his first significant impact for New Orleans with 11 points and eight rebounds. Nickeal Alexander-Walker also finished with 11 points. Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe only had seven points apiece.

The Suns used a 35-17 second quarter to take a 66-44 lead into the locker room at the half. 

NEXT UP
Pelicans at Thunder – Thursday, 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports Oklahoma
Suns at Jazz – Thursday, 9 p.m. EST – AT&T Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Arizona

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

Minnesota Timberwolves  101
Los Angeles Clippers  124

After taking the previous game off versus the Dallas Mavericks in a 51 point loss, the Los Angeles Clippers decided to play some basketball last night as they nipped the Minnesota Timberwolves, dropping Minny to the .500 mark with a 23 point win led by Lou Williams and a host of other Clippers players that showed up at Staples.

Williams led L.A. with 20 points off the bench. Paul George started and shot 50 percent to get his 18 points, but was without backcourt teammate Kawhi Leonard for the second consecutive game, nursing eight stitches in his lacerated lip. The perp – Serge Ibaka – finished the night with 16 points, eight rebounds, and no more injuring of teammates.

Luke Kennard – starting in Leonard’s place – added 15 points, Ivica Zubac finished with 12 as did Patrick Beverley, while it was 11 points from Reggie Jackson, who also had four rebounds, four assists, and four steals in his 26 minutes off the bench.

TIMBERWOLVES (2-2) 8th in the WestCLIPPERS (3-1) 2nd in the West
D’Angelo Russell (.474)
22 points – three rebounds – four assists – two steals
Lou Williams (.636)
20 points – three rebounds – five assists
Malik Beasley (.313)
19 points – four rebounds
Paul George (.500)
18 points – six rebounds – five assists – two blocks
Ricky Rubio (.750)
17 points – five assists – one steal
Serge Ibaka (.583)
16 points – eight rebounds – four assists – two blocks

D’Angelo Russell led all scorers and the Timberwolves – who are still without Karl-Anthony Towns due to a dislocated left wrist – with 22 points. Malik Beasley added 19, and Ricky Rubio – back home with the Timberwolves – added 17 points and five assists. University of Georgia rookie Anthony Edwards finished with 12 points, while Naz Reid added 11.

The Clippers led by 20 at the half and 31 after three. Certainly a lot better feeling than a 77-27 halftime deficit. That game is still steaming in the compost pile of Clippers’ history. They get the red hot and rollin’ Rip City Blazers tonight, who’ve been in L.A. for a couple of days now.

NEXT UP
Blazers at Clippers – Tonight, 10 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Prime Ticket, NBC Northwest
Wizards at Timberwolves – Friday, 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports North, NBC Washington

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

Denver Nuggets  115
Sacramento Kings  125

Must be the drop in elevation from Mile High to 30’ above sea level. Sacramento, California is so close to sea level that any flooding may cause parts of the city to go underwater.

But even if they were to begin drowning from a deluge of shots (54 percent on the night) from the Denver Nuggets, their Sacramento Kings were the lifeline last night, taking the Nuggets down by 10 points and giving Vivek Ranadive’s team a 3-1 record to begin the 2020-21 season. 

It was the second time in a week that the Kings defeated the Nuggets, but no last second, missed dunk tip in was necessary last night. The win came as a result of a 29-15 smothering of the Nuggets in the fourth quarter and a smart draft pick in last month’s NBA Draft, where the Kings selected Tyrese Haliburton of Iowa State with the 12th pick.

NUGGETS (1-3) 14th in the WestKINGS (3-1) 3rd in the West
Michael Porter, Jr. (.667)
30 points – 10 rebounds – one assist – two steals
De’Aaron Fox (.533)
24 points – three rebounds – nine assists – two steals – one block
Nikola Jokic (.643)
26 points – 11 rebounds – 12 assists – two steals
Richaun Holmes (.769)
20 points – five rebounds – three assists – two steals – one block
Monte Morris (.667)
24 points – one rebound – four assists – two steals – one block
Marvin Bagley III (.500)
18 points – two rebounds – one assist – one steal

Haliburton may not have been in the top three in scoring and stats last night, but he was key in the Kings’ suffocation run, with eight of his 13 points scored in that stretch. De’Aaron Fox led the way with 24 points, Richaun Holmes hit at a 76.9 percent clip for 20 points, and Marvin Bagley III added 18 points. Harrison Barnes matched Haliburton’s 13, while Nemanja Bjelica and Buddy Hield finished the night with 12 points apiece.

Denver was without Jamal Murray as a precautionary measure, after Murray suffered a blow to the head against the Houston Rockets’ Jae-Sean Tate in the Nuggets’ previous outing. It cost them, as Murray has been averaging 17.7 points and 4.7 rebounds this season.

Michael Porter, Jr. stepped up in his stead and rang up 30 points and 10 rebounds to lead all scorers. Nikola Jokic dropped another triple double on his resume with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists, for his 44th career triple double. He also had 10 turnovers, not the kind of stat you want to include in a game like last night’s. Monte Morris added 24 points in Murray’s slot, while Gary Harris finished with 11 on the night.

Denver doesn’t play again until next year, while the Kings travel to Houston for New Year’s Eve and what should be a hell of a fireworks show. How many points will James Harden score against the Kings?

NEXT UP
Kings at Rockets – Thursday, 8 p.m. EST – AT&T Southwest, NBC California
Suns at Nuggets – Friday, 9 p.m. EST – Altitude, Fox Sports Arizona

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Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for BackSportsPage.com.
He has written the NBA, and done NBA radio, for the last two-plus 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
  • Denver
  • Oklahoma City
  • Atlanta 

A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in SEC Country near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia

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