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The Rundown w/T-Money … for November 10, 2019

Toronto proves they have championship blood running through their veins, the Blazers' OT may be a catalyst for the rest of the season, and Kenny Atkinson markets a new lip balm.

The Toronto Raptors have proven themselves against the best of the West, Portland may use their overtime period as a catalyst for the rest of the season, and Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is marketing a new lip balm to combat the desert sun … or the scorching shooting of the Phoenix Suns.

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The Jokic is on the Timberwolves

Denver Nuggets (7-2)100
Minnesota Timberwolves (5-4)98 (OT)

The good news is the Minnesota Timberwolves have the same record as the San Antonio Spurs. The bad news is that both their record is 5-4, outside looking in in the Western Conference. What a difference a week makes.

Nuggets

  • Nikola Jokic: 20 points – six rebounds – seven assists
  • Jamal Murray: 15 points – five rebounds – two assists
  • Paul Millsap: 14 points – 10 rebounds – two assists

Timberwolves

  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 25 points – 16 rebounds – six assists
  • Andrew Wiggins: 25 points – four rebounds – five assists
  • Josh Okogie: 17 points – eight rebounds – four assists

Or two seconds.

That’s all it took for Nikola Jokic to hit his second game winner in as many games; hug from head coach Mike Malone optional. He did it for the ‘W,’ not the ‘H.’

Karl-Anthony Towns was the game’s leading scorer with 25 points, including the corner three that sent the affair into the extra period. But the 8-8 tie in overtime was capped by Jokic’s J with 2.4 seconds remaining and the Wolves were sent packing.

Other than Jokic’s shot, both teams shot poorly, with Denver finishing the night with 38 percent from the field to Minnesota’s 35 percent. The Nuggets also outrebounded Minnesota, 57-53.

Will Barton added 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Gary Harris finished with 13 and six. Texas Tech product Jarrett Culver finished with 10 points for the T’Wolves.

The flight home should be nice for the Nuggets as they get a day off before facing Atlanta.

SIDELINES

  • It was Denver’s fourth straight win.
  • It was also Minnesota’s third loss in four games.
  • Minnesota was six of 45 from downtown in their own den; they also shot nine of 36 the other night against Golden State, also an overtime game.

NEXT UP

Timberwolves at Pistons – Tonight
Hawks at Nuggets – Tuesday

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Pacers Pull Away in the Second Half

Indiana Pacers (6-4)109
Orlando Magic (3-7)102

A strong second half propelled the Indiana Pacers two games above the .500 mark last night in Orlando, as the Magic lost what was a 60-51 halftime lead, as the Pacers pulled away with a 58-42 second half.

Pacers

  • Domantas Sabonis: 21 points – 16 rebounds – seven assists
  • Malcolm Brogdon: 19 points – six rebounds – eight assists
  • T.J. Warren: 19 points – two rebounds – two assists

Magic

  • Evan Fournier: 22 points – three rebounds – six assists
  • Nikola Vicevic: 19 points – 18 rebounds – three assists
  • Aaron Gordon: 13 points – two rebounds – three assists

The Indiana offense was not only impressive in the comeback – with runs of 12-0 to start the second half, and an 18-8 later to take the win – but their defense limited Orlando to 35.7 percent shooting in the second half.

Terrence Ross shot well off the bench at 83.3 percent and 12 points, while Jonathan Isaac mustered 10 points. Of the starting lineup, though, only Markelle Fultz and Evan Fournier got above 50 percent from the field.

For the Pacers, six got into double digits. In addition to the top three, Doug McDermott added 18 points and six rebounds, T.J. McConnell had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Aaron Holiday went for 11 points.

Imagine how tough the Pacers could really be once they get Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner back in the fold.

SIDELINES

  • It was the Magic’s fifth loss in six games.
  • Brogdon had six of Indiana’s 12-0 run to start the third quarter.
  • Indiana’s bench outscored Orlando’s, 48-31.

NEXT UP

Thunder at Pacers – Tuesday

Sixers at Magic – Wednesday

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Sixers Right the Ship, Back on Winning Track

Charlotte Hornets (4-6)106
Philadelphia 76ers (6-3)114

The Philadelphia 76es and Charlotte Hornets traded punches throughout the first half of last nights game – not the kind that get anyone suspended – but with the Sixers striking first with a nine point advantage in the first quarter, the Hornets delivering a 14 point welt in the second, to take a 58-53 advantage into the locker room. It looked like the Sixers were headed to their fourth loss of the season.

Hornets

  • Cody Zeller: 24 points – seven rebounds – 0 assists
  • Devonte’ Graham: 19 points – 0 rebounds – 10 assists
  • Malik Monk: 15 points – eight rebounds – three assists

Sixers

  • Joel Embiid: 18 points – nine rebounds – three assists
  • Furkan Korkmaz: 17 points – three rebounds – one assist
  • Al Horford: 15 points – seven rebounds – five assists

Instead, Philadelphia came out and swatted right back with a 12 point advantage in the third to put the game away and get back in the ‘W’ column for the first time in four games.

Thank God they’re back in the weaker Eastern Conference, right? 

Six Sixers showed up in double digits, with support in the win coming from #VFL Tobias Harris at 14, seven and five, Trey Burke with 12, five and four, and the other #VFL – Josh Richardson – hitting for 11, seven and six.

Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham was stellar again, as was Cody Zeller. Their support came in the form of P.J. Washington matching Malik Monk’s 15 points, and Terry Rozier raking a baker’s dozen.

Philadelphia outshot the Hornets 54 percent to 45 percent and outrebounded by 18, 39-25 on the defensive glass.

May have simply been nothing more than ‘no place like home.’

SIDELINES

  • Ben Simmons sat out last night’s game with a sore shoulder.
  • The Sixers have won 11 of 16 games versus the Hornets.
  • Philadelphia had 20 turnovers.

NEXT UP

Cavaliers at Sixers – Tuesday
Grizzlies at Hornets – Wednesday

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Bucks Eke One Out in OKC

Milwaukee Bucks (7-3)121
Oklahoma City Thunder (4-6)119

The Milwaukee Bucks have the sitting Most Valuable Player on their roster, but it was the unlikeliest of heroes hitting the game-winning three pointer last night in Oklahoma City.

Bucks

  • Giannis Antetokuonmpo: 35 points – 16 rebounds – three assists
  • Eric Bledsoe: 25 points – three rebounds – nine assists
  • Brook Lopez: 15 points – four rebounds – 0 assists

Thunder

  • Dennis Schroder: 25 points – six rebounds – five assists
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 22 points – six rebounds – six assists
  • Chris Paul: 17 points – five rebounds – five assists

After the Thunder moved ahead with Danilo Gallinari’s three with 32.3 seconds left, all Thunder players locked down on defense, only to have Milwaukee center Brook Lopez take aim and hit a three of his own in response and put the Bucks up with 24.5 left in the game.

George Hill (eight – five – five) salted the game away with his only two free throws of the night to give the Bucks the edge and the game.

The Bucks outscored Oklahoma 71-63 in the second half to ensure victory before they headed back to cold country. Sterling Brown added 12 and Khris Middleton finished with 10 points.

Oklahoma City played small as their guard corps rounded out the top three due to Steven Adams being out with a knee contusion. Gallinari finished up with 14 points, as did Nerlens Noel, who also had six assists. Mike Muscala ended up with 12 points and Hamidou Diallo had 10.

The Bucks next face their I-94 rival Chicago Bulls.

SIDELINES

  • The Bucks have won five of their last six games.
  • Middleton left the game with a thigh contusion; Kyle Korver was out with a head contusion.
  • Muscala made three three pointers in the first half to help Oklahoma City to its 56-50 lead going into the locker room at the half.

NEXT UP

Thunder at Pacers – Tuesday
Bulls at Bucks – Thursday

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Beilein’s Coaching Paying Off, Fizdale’s Not

Cleveland Cavaliers (4-5)108
New York Knicks (2-8)87

You’d like to think the New York Knicks had an opportunity to get their third win of the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers in town … but opening the first two quarters of the game only scoring in the teens doesn’t cut it, even with the advantage of having a home game in Madison Square Garden.

Cavaliers

  • Collin Sexton: 31 points – two rebounds – three assists
  • Kevin Love: 17 points – eight rebounds – two assists
  • Jordan Clarkson: 17 points – three rebounds – one assist

Knicks

  • Julius Randle: 20 points – 16 rebounds – one assist
  • Allonzo Trier: 13 points – one rebound – two assists
  • Damyean Dotson: 10 points – one rebound – one assist

The other difference is that the Cavaliers actually have a knowledgeable coach and not just a bobblehead … I mean, figurehead.

No coach should be satisfied with a 36 point first half output against a 3-5 team, a team that only has one more win than you do. How the fans at MSG weren’t throwing rotten tomatoes and cabbage on the hardwood in the first half is beyond me. Maybe they were using the vegetables to make soup, so they’d at least have something to keep them warm. A Knicks win wasn’t going to do it. 

I know, sounds archaic, but have you watched the New York Knicks play lately? Unmotivated. Their only motivation lately was beating Kristaps Porzingis’ Dallas Mavericks, which they did.

Why can’t they tap into that? Because they don’t have a coach, any more than the Memphis Grizzlies did when David Fizdale was there.

I want to give the guy every chance possible, because he’s a nice guy. But nice guys finish last and the New York Knicks have the record to prove it. 

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt rookie Darius Garland continues his evolution, putting out a 12 points, three rebound and six assist evening, while Tristan Thompson fell flat at nine and nine (damn you, Khloe Kardashian).

The Knicks’ bigger names fell as flat as Thompson, with Marcus Morris only netting nine points, as did R.J. Barrett and Kevin Knox.

Anyone have Larry Brown’s phone number?

SIDELINES

  • It’s official: The Cavaliers are on a win streak – two games.
  • The Knicks only shot 16 of 43 in the first half.
  • Knicks management and ownership may be just as bad as Bulls’ ownership and management, citing that they “still believe in the coaching staff.” We’ll see how long that lasts when they start watching Knicks games objectively, especially when the league’s worst two teams tip off Tuesday night.

NEXT UP

Cavaliers at Sixers – Tuesday
Knicks at Bulls – Tuesday

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Suns’ Shooting Scorches the Nets

Brooklyn Nets (4-5)112
Phoenix Suns (6-3)138

The Brooklyn Nets apparently thought that featuring DeAndre Jordan was going to push them past the Phoenix Suns, who were without Deandre Ayton, who’s serving a 25 game suspension for diuretics.

That kind of decision making, Kenny Atkinson, is why you don’t use your ear wax as lip balm, no matter how hot the desert sun can be.

Nets

  • Spencer Dinwiddie: 18 points – three rebounds – six assists
  • DeAndre Jordan: 16 points – 12 rebounds – three assists
  • Kyrie Irving: 15 points – four rebounds – five assists

Suns

  • Devin Booker: 27 points – two rebounds – nine assists
  • Ricky Rubio: 22 points – four rebounds – 12 assists
  • Kelly Oubre, Jr.: 18 points – five rebounds – 0 assists

Jordan clogged the middle against a team that shoots from the perimeter most nights. Even Jarrett Allen can make the conclusion that that’s not the smartest of ideas. We get it – you’re big, but the Suns play smaller, especially with Ayton out.

You’re talking about a team that shot 45 percent from beyond the arc, to Brooklyn’s 23 – nearly 200 percent better than the Nets.  Also a team that dished out 10 more assists, four more steals, and 10 fewer turnovers.

Great job having DeAndre Jordan clog the lane – you won the rebounding battle, 43-42, and committed seven more fouls than Phoenix. Congrats.

Maybe you should have gotten more than 15 from Kyrie Irving, better than 40 percent shooting and eight points from Caris LeVert, or better than the goose egg you got from the reigning Three Point Champion, Joe Harris.

That would have been coaching.

I’m sticking with Carmex.

SIDELINES

  • Ricky Rubio’s 22 were a season high in points.
  • Phoenix has won for the fourth time in five games.
  • The Suns were hot with a 102-73 lead with two minutes left in the game.

NEXT UP

Nets at Jazz – Tuesday
Lakers at Suns – Tuesday

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‘Dame Time’ Trumps Young, Hawks

Atlanta Hawks (3-6)113
Portland Trailblazers (4-6)124 (OT)

When you see the final score, you wonder aloud why an overtime period was even need in Portland last night. After all, the 17-6 extra period in the Blazers’ favor makes it look like the Atlanta Hawks weren’t even in last night’s game. Truth is, they simply ran out of gas.

Hawks

  • Trae Young: 35 points – eight rebounds – 10 assists
  • Jabari Parker: 27 points – 11 rebounds – two assists
  • Kevin Huerter: 15 points – five rebounds – two assists

Blazers

  • Damian Lillard: 30 points – seven rebounds – six assists
  • C.J. McCollum: 23 points – eight rebounds – four assists
  • Hassan Whiteside: 21 points – 12 rebounds – one assist

In the end, not only did Portland snap a four game losing streak, but they gave Moda Center fans their first home win of the season. Atlanta has lost its last three games in a row and six of its last seven.

Kent Bazemore opened the overtime period with two three pointers against his former teammates, and the Blazers would turn up the heat, outscoring the Hawks by a near triple amount – 17 to Atlanta’s six.

Trae Young had a game high 35, despite shooting a paltry 30 percent on 30 shots taken. Rookie DeAndre Hunter shot a smidge better at 35.7 percent to net 14 points for the Hawks.

Damian Lillard has 90 points over two games. The Blazers got help from Anfernee Simons’ 20 point night on 66.7 percent shooting, and 13 and eight from Bazemore.

Both teams are sub-.500 after 10 percent of the season, nowhere near expectation for either team, especially the Blazers.

Maybe this performance can be the necessary catalyst. That overtime performance certainly was.

SIDELINES

  • Lillard was coming off a 60 point performance in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets; the 60 was a personal best and a season high for Lillard.
  • Zach Collins is out four months with shoulder surgery; Rodney Hood was out with back spasms. Hassan Whiteside is putting up solid numbers despite playing with a right ankle sprain.
  • This was the first of a five game road trip for the Hawks.

NEXT UP

Hawks at Nuggets – Tuesday
Blazers at Kings – Tuesday

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Which Team is for Real? Toronto Answers …

Toronto Raptors (7-2)113
Los Angeles Lakers (7-2)104

They are the reigning NBA Champions. But how real is that 6-2 record coming into the Staples Center? They are expected to be the Western Conference representative in the 2020 NBA Finals and are 7-1. But when will that bubble be burst? Last night, apparently.

Raptors

  • Pascal Siakam: 24 points – 11 rebounds – four assists
  • Fred VanVleet: 23 points – seven rebounds – 10 assists
  • Chris Boucher: 15 points – two rebounds – one assist

Lakers

  • Anthony Davis: 27 points – eight rebounds – three assists
  • Kyle Kuzma: 15 points – five rebounds – 0 assists
  • LeBron James: 13 points – 13 rebounds – 15 assists

Did the Los Angeles Lakers not watch any game tape of Fred VanVleet? The former Wichita State guard ‘shocked’ the Lakers with a near triple double while exploiting the Lakers’ defensive weak spots.

The Lakers also had a difficult time containing who they knew would be Toronto’s force offensively, in Pascal Siakam. Nevermind that the champs were playing without Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka.

What happened?

Quite simply, the Raptors shot better from both the field and the free throw line, while going neck and neck from downtown at 33 percent for each team. Also, the Raptors went after L.A.’s jugular in the second half, after being outscored 60-52 in the first half. Toronto responded with 612 in the second half while the Lakers only scored 18 in the third quarter and 26 in the fourth.

The bench filled in admirably for Toronto’s wounded warriors: Norman Powell had 14 and five as a starter, Terence Davis had 13 and five, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 10 points on 66.7 percent shooting.

L.A.’s Kyle Kuzma is rounding back into form. He had 15 points in 24 minutes off the Laker bench. The Lakers also got 11 and four from Troy Daniels, and 10 and four from JaVale McGee in the loss.

The Raptors will obviously use momentum from this win when they face their championship teammate Kawhi Leonard and his L.A. Clippers tonight after another night’s stay in their hotel rooms. 

SIDELINES

  • The Lakers’ seven game win streak was snapped; the Raptors have won three straight and six of seven.
  • It was LeBron James’ 85th career triple double.
  • Danny Green was 0 for five against his former teammates.
  • The Lakers loss means Boston is the top team in the league.

NEXT UP

Raptors at Clippers – Tonight
Lakers at Suns – Tuesday

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TONIGHT’S LINEUP

Minnesota Timberwolves at Detroit Pistons – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Detroit
Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics – 7:30 p.m. EST – NBA Sports Boston
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs – 7:30 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
Houston Rockets at New Orleans Pelicans – 8 p.m. EST – NBATV
Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors – 10:30 p.m. EST – AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain

*** GAME OF THE NIGHT ***
Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Clippers – 10:30 p.m. EST – NBATV

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WESTERN CONFERENCEEASTERN CONFERENCE
Los Angeles Lakers   (7-2) .778Boston Celtics   (7-1) .875
Denver Nuggets   (7-2) .778Toronto Raptors   (7-2) .778
Houston Rockets   (6-3) .667 Milwaukee Bucks   (7-3) .700
Utah Jazz   (6-3) .667Miami Heat   (6-3) .667
Phoenix Suns   (6-3) .667Philadelphia 76ers   (6-3) .667
Los Angeles Clippers   (6-3) .667Indiana Pacers   (6-4) .600
Dallas Mavericks   (6-3) .667Cleveland Cavaliers   (4-5) .444
San Antonio Spurs   (5-4) .556Brooklyn Nets   (4-5) .444

*** 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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