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The Rundown w/T-Money … for November 1, 2019

Sacramento gets its first win of the season, MVP chants for Derrick Rose in Chicago, and the Lakers win in overtime in Big D.

Sacramento gets its first win of the season, MVP chants for Derrick Rose in Chicago, and the Lakers win in overtime in Big D.

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Brogdon Filling Big Shoes in Indiana

Cleveland Cavaliers (2-3)95
Indiana Pacers (2-3)102

Malcolm Brogdon has been a steal of a free agency pick-up coming into the 2019-20 season. A Rookie of the Year in 2016-17, Brogdon was tossed around as a future draft pick by Portland and Sacramento before becoming an actual roster player and pick with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he spent three seasons averaging 12.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists after being drafted at No. 36.

Cavaliers

  • Kevin Love: 22 points – 17 rebounds – four assists
  • Collin Sexton: 21 points – three rebounds – two assists
  • Jordan Clarkson: 20 points – two rebounds – five assists

Pacers

  • Malcolm Brogdon: 25 points – eight rebounds – six assists
  • Jeremy Lamb: 21 points – 10 rebounds – one assist
  • Domantas Sabonis: 18 points – 17 rebounds – four assists

Since landing via free agency in an orchestrated sign and trade this summer, the man they call ‘Humble Moses’ has been ably filling Victor Oladipo’s shoes until Oladipo returns, averaging 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 10.2 assists as an Indiana Pacers, making him the odds-on favorite for NBA’s Most Improved so far.

Last night was no exception as Brogdon led the Pacers to their second win of the season, and he is improving those around him, like Jeremy Lamb, who’s languished in stints with Oklahoma City and Charlotte.

The Pacers lost in Cleveland by 11 last week, but have found themselves since. Of course, it helped that Tristan Thompson went 37.5 percent from the floor for only seven points and 10 rebounds.

Lost in Cleveland’s third loss of the season was another Kevin Love double double. Goga Bitadze, Indiana’s No. 18 pick of the draft, scored 10 points and had nine rebounds in the win.

SIDELINES

  • Indiana’s bench put up 10 points in a 12-3 run in the fourth quarter, led by Bitadze and T.J. McConnell.
  • The Pacers outscored the Cavs by 15 for the time that Bitzade was in the game.
  • Sabonis again started at center in place of Myles Turner, still out with an ankle sprain.

NEXT UP
Mavericks @ Cavaliers – Sunday
Bulls @ Pacers – Sunday

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Harden Has to Shoot a Better Shooting Percentage

Houston Rockets (3-2)116
Brooklyn Nets (2-3)123

There’s a reason that the Houston Rockets look so damned impressive on the hardwood, but not on the stat sheet, or the 3-2 win-loss column. Michael Jordan said ‘you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.’

Pretty sure James Harden took that literally.

Rockets

  • James Harden: 36 points – five rebounds – eight assists
  • Russell Westbrook: 27 points – seven rebounds – eight assists
  • Danuel House, Jr.: 15 points – five rebounds – 0 assists

Nets

  • Taurean Prince: 27 points – 12 rebounds – one assist
  • Caris LeVert: 25 points – four rebounds – four assists
  • Kyrie Irving: 22 points – four rebounds – 10 assists

Through five games this season, Harden has taken 123 shots thus far this season through five games – 31 last night in Brooklyn and 32 in the shootout win over Washington on Wednesday night – so over half in the last two games. Last night’s result was 36 points on 32.3 percent shooting and a loss.

Conversely, Caris LeVert and Taurean Prince combined for just one attempt more, at 32 shots, and ended up with 52 points, 53.1 percent shooting, taking the pressure off Kyrie Irving and netting the win.

He may be averaging 36.6 points per game, but he’s only shooting 36.5 percent from the field, only 20 percent from downtown – but those are 55 percent of the shots that Harden takes.

The majority (42 percent) of those come with the shot clock anywhere between 15 and seven seconds, and 54 percent come after he’s dribbled out seven-plus times while surveying the floor.

Imagine if he worked on his shot to a Stephen Curry level of confidence and ability.

The Houston Rockets might get themselves an NBA Championship.

  • SIDELINES
    Brooklyn committed turnovers in the first quarter.
  • After a Harden three was waived off because he was out of bounds, the Rockets launched a 13-point run.
  • Before the game, Harden was at 36.8 points per game, Irving was close behind at 35.3 points.

NEXT UP

Nets @ Detroit – Saturday

Rockets @ Heat – Sunday
 

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Antetokuonmpo Back on Track

Milwaukee Bucks (3-2)123
Orlando Magic (2-3)91

Giannis Antetokuonmpo seemed to be back to his ol’ Most Valuable self last night in Orlando, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 32-point win over the host Orlando Magic.

Bucks

  • Giannis Antetokuonmpo: 29 points – 14 rebounds – six assists
  • Eric Bledsoe: 18 points six rebounds – six assists
  • Khris Middleton: 16 points – six rebounds – 0 assists

Magic

  • Evan Fournier: 19 points – four rebounds – one assist
  • Nikola Vucevic: 14 points – seven rebounds – two assists
  • Jonathan Isaac: 11 points – five rebounds – one assist

The Bucks shot 50.5 percent from the field on Orlando’s court, with Middleton at 77.8 percent, Antetokuonmpo hitting 62.5, and Bledsoe at 53.3 percent. George Hill came off the bench hitting 66.7 and Robin Lopez’s 100 percent for six points didn’t hurt the Bucks’ percentage.

Orlando looked very average, not only in play, but on the stat sheet. Three Magic players went for just 11 points – Isaac, Aaron Gordon, and Terrence Ross. So Vucevic and Fournier didn’t get much help at all.

The Bucks were coming off a loss in the battle of the Green on Wednesday night in Boston. After Orlando opened up a 20-7 lead, the Bucks went on a 40-9 rampage and never looked back.

SIDELINES

  • The Bucks’ bench looked strong, with Donte DiVincenzo scoring 14 points on 45.5 percent shooting, 57.1 percent from downtown Disney.
  • The Magic scored under 100 points for the fifth straight game.
  • Orlando was dead last in the league in shooting at 39.5 percent and it showed last night.

NEXT UP

Raptors @ Bucks – Tonight
Nuggets @ Magic – Tonight

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Tatum Ends Knicks’ Run

New York Knicks (1-5)102
Boston Celtics (4-1)104

The New York Knicks stayed with the Boston Celtics for three, almost four, quarters of basketball last night. Something you might see as impressive, or at least as progress. Almost.

Of course, they say ‘almost’ is only good for horseshoes, hand grenades, and sex. Almost appropriate, because the Knicks got screwed out of what would have been a momentum building win.

Knicks

  • Marcus Morris: 29 points – nine rebounds – three assists
  • R.J. Barrett: 15 points – seven rebounds – five assists
  • Bobby Portis: 13 points – seven rebounds – one assist

Celtics

  • Kemba Walker: 33 points – six rebounds – five assists
  • Jayson Tatum: 24 points – six rebounds – three assists
  • Gordon Hayward: 13 points – nine rebounds – four assists

With 1.3 seconds remaining in last night’s game at TD Garden, Jayson Tatum hit a turnaround jumper to end New York’s hope of an upset win on the road, a win that would have given the Knicks two in a row and a very much needed momentum shift going into their game with Sacramento, which should almost certainly be a ‘W.’

But, dagger.

Before that, it was promising. Since the Celtics went into Madison Square Garden and tore the Knicks up by 23, it seemed the Knicks had learned from their first three losses, and particularly that loss to the Celtics.

They played Boston much better, beating them in the first quarter by one and playing to a 27-27 tie in the second. The third quarter was 26-24 Boston, giving the Celtics their winning margin but needing to win out the fourth, 29-28, including Tatum’s game winner.

Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson settled for average performances last night, while former Tennessee Volunteer swingman Grant Williams chipped in 10 points and grabbed four rebounds for the C’s.

SIDELINES

  • Last night was Walker’s third consecutive 30+ point game, after the first two games as a Celtic were bringing about question marks over the trade.
  • Both the Celtics and the Knicks hit five three-pointers in a teeter-totter third period.
  • The Knicks are still playing without Dennis Smith Jr., Elfrid Payton, and Kadeem Allen.

NEXT UP

Kings @ Knicks – Sunday
Celtics @ Cavaliers – Tuesday

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Bulls Fans ‘MVP’ for Detroit’s Derrick Rose

Detroit Pistons (2-4)106
Chicago Bulls (2-4)112

Throughout the echoes of the United Center, fans in the arena were chanting ‘M-V-P’ for Detroit’s Derrick Rose … and that may have been all the motivation the Chicago Bulls needed to step into their second win of the season through six games – just like Rose’s Detroit Pistons.

Pistons

  • Andre Drummond: 25 points – 24 rebounds – two assists
  • Derrick Rose: 23 points – one rebound – seven assists
  • Luke Kennard: 15 points – three rebounds – four assists 

Bulls

  • Zach LaVine: 26 points – five rebounds – three assists
  • Otto Porter, Jr.: 22 points – six rebounds – four assists
  • Wendell Carter, Jr.: 16 points – 11 rebounds – two assists

Erasing a legacy like Michael Jordan’s will never be done. Besides, Jordan was never as injury prone as Rose has been, and Jordan never switched teams like today’s players do, including Rose. 

But Rose was to this generation of Chicago fans what Jordan was to Bulls fans in the 1980s and 90s. He was finally an icon they could cling to as their own, and though injury chose a career path for him otherwise, Bulls fans are loyal and they don’t forget how exciting he was in the Windy City during his rookie and MVP campaigns.

However, they need to embrace what they have in front of them in LaVine, Porter, Carter, Coby White and Lauri Markkanen. Forget how inept the front office has been, and embrace the guys who are going out night in and night out to try and be a better team.

Do it quickly, before they become free agents and decide the grass is greener elsewhere.

  • SIDELINES
    For all his high flying abilities, it was LaVine’s three point shooting that saved the Bulls last night; LaVine had back to back threes late in the game.
  • It was Chicago’s first win in four games, and Detroit’s fourth loss in their last five games.
  • Detroit missed their first 14 shots from downtown, contributing to their demise.

NEXT UP

Nets @ Pistons – Tonight
Bulls @ Pacers – Sunday.

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James Takes His Turn in Dallas

Los Angeles Lakers (4-1)119
Dallas Mavericks (3-2)110 (OT)

They may still be debating whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK in 1963, but in 2019 we already know who was doing all the shooting last night in Dallas. There’s no debate. No conspiracy theories. It was LeBron Raymone James, Sr. The motive? Hey, it was his turn to try and get 40 and 20.

Lakers

  • LeBron James: 39 points – 12 rebounds – 16 assists
  • Anthony Davis: 31 points – eight rebounds – 2 assists
  • Danny Green: 14 points – one rebound – one assist

Mavericks

  • Luka Doncic: 31 points – 13 rebounds – 15 assists
  • Kristaps Porzingis: 16 points – nine rebounds – 0 assists
  • Dwight Powell: 14 points – five rebounds – 0 assists

The veteran James took 23 shots to be exact, converting 56.5 percent from the field, 81.8 percent from the line, and 44.4 percent from downtown. In the process, he netted an impressive triple double that was nearly matched by second year Maverick, Luka Doncic, and also won the game in overtime.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year did the palindromic 31 and 13 and added 15 dimes. Kristaps Porzingis only put in half the effort, and the Mavericks saw the return of Dwight Powell in his first game of the season.

Danny Green came back to life, hitting the shot that forced overtime (James with the assist), and Avery Bradley got into the mix with an 11 point night. For the Mavericks, Delon Wright and Tim Hardaway Jr. kicked in 12 and 11, respectively.

SIDELINES

  • The 4-1 start is the Lakers’ best since 2010-11, when they began the season 8-0.
  • James’ performance was a season high; Doncic’s 15 assists were a career high.
  • My guy Kyle Kuzma made his season debut last night – nine points, three rebounds.
  • It was Doncic’s 10th career triple double.

NEXT UP

Lakers @ Spurs – Sunday
Mavericks @ Cavaliers – Sunday

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It’s Game Giveaway Night in Sacramento

Utah Jazz (4-2)101
Sacramento Kings (1-5)102

The monkey is off the back of Luke Walton and the Sacramento Kings. No longer are they the NBA’s only winless team, thanks to a concerted team effort and a front rim miss by Utah’s Donovan Mitchell at the buzzer last night in the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

Jazz

  • Donovan Mitchell: 24 points – four rebounds – two assists
  • Mike Conley: 19 points – four rebounds – four assists
  • Bojan Bogdanovic: 17 points – six rebounds – two assists

Kings

  • De’Aaron Fox: 25 points – five rebounds – four assists
  • Buddy Hield: 18 points – five rebounds – one assist
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic: 14 points – two rebounds – one assist

The Jazz knocked the Kings out with a 32 point win last week in Salt Lake, but was a different Kings team than that night; that being said, they nearly blew a large lead late in the game, allowing the Jazz to run off 13 points to their five.

Harrison Barnes scored the game winner, ending with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists. Nemanja Bjelica added 11 and Dewayne Dedmon finished with 10 for the Kings.

Rudy Gobert patrolled the paint for Utah and finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds in a losing cause.

SIDELINES

  • The Kings were 12 of 17 from the charity stripe and committed 17 turnovers, seven in the first quarter.
  • Utah’s Ed Davis suffered a lower leg contusion and left the game.
  • Sacramento shot 48 percent, Utah shot 47 percent.

NEXT UP

Jazz @ Clippers – Sunday
Kings @ Knicks – Sunday

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Spurs Add to Insult to Injury

San Antonio Spurs (4-1)127
Golden State Warriors (1-4)110

San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich is one of the best people in the NBA, perhaps all of sports. But he’s not going to roll over and give the Golden State Warriors an empathy win because they lost Stephen Curry for the next three (plus?) months.

Spurs

  • Patty Mills: 31 points – three rebounds – two assists
  • LaMarcus Aldridge: 22 points – eight rebounds – 0 assists
  • Rudy Gay: 16 points – six rebounds – one assist

Warriors

  • D’Angelo Russell: 30 points – three rebounds – eight assists
  • Jordan Poole: 20 points – 0 rebounds – one assist
  • Damion Lee: 16 points – four rebounds – two assists

Instead, he unleashed a load of Patty Cakes, the Wonder from Down Under, 10th year guard Patty Mills on them, for a 31 point Tasmanian blitz.

LaMarcus Aldridge’s load management also seemed to work out, as he rested through the game against L.A. only to come out strong in San Francisco. Bryn Forbes (14 points), DeMar DeRozan (13 points, 11 assists), and Derrick White (10 points) added to Golden State’s woes.

With only one tried and true star remaining, head coach Steve Kerr noted that he was going to try and limit Draymond Green’s minutes. Green finished 6-8-7 in 34 minutes last night in the loss, another at the Chase Center.

Alec Burks chipped in 14 points on 55.6 percent shooting.

SIDELINES

  • Kerr has dubbed Green the “lone survivor.”
  • Aldridge is the first player to break the 8,000 rebound and 18,000 point milestones since he was drafted in 2006.
  • DeMarre Carroll made his debut for the Spurs last night – he scored two points; Trey Lyles had no points, but 14 rebounds.

NEXT UP

Hornets @ Warriors – Tonight
Lakers @ Spurs – Sunday

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TONIGHT’S GAMES

New Orleans Pelicans @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 5 p.m. EDT – Fox Sports New Orleans
Brooklyn Nets @ Detroit Pistons – 7 p.m. EDT – YES
Denver Nuggets @ Orlando Magic – 7 p.m. EDT – NBATV
***GAME OF THE NIGHT***
Toronto Raptors @ Milwaukee Bucks – 8 p.m. EDT – Fox Sports North-Wisconsin
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Washington Wizards – 8 p.m. EDT – NBC Sports Washington
Phoenix Suns @ Memphis Grizzlies – 8 p.m. EDT – Fox Sports Southeast
Charlotte Hornets @ Golden State Warriors – 8:30 p.m. EDT – NBC Sports Bay Area
Philadelphia 76ers @ Portland Trailblazers – 10 p.m. EDT – NBATV

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*** 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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