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The Rundown w/T-Money … for November 12, 2019

Trae Young soars high in Mile High air, The Knicks can't beat the Bulls, Bogdan Bogdanovic leads Sac to a win, and the Lakers make their own Mercury transition across the Suns.

Thunder Frigid in Indiana

Oklahoma City Thunder (4-7)85
Indiana Pacers (7-4)111

The polar vortex affecting the majority of the country crept into the visitors locker room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse last night and froze the Oklahoma City Thunder, who came out and shot an icy 35 percent from the field to lose their seventh game of the season, while handing Indiana their seventh win.

Thunder

  • Danilo Gallinari: 14 points – four rebounds – 0 assists
  • Deonte Burton: 13 points – three rebounds – one assist
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 11 points – six rebounds – one assist

Pacers

  • T.J. Warren: 23 points – three rebounds – three assists
  • Malcolm Brogdon: 20 points – six rebounds – five assists
  • Domantas Sabonis: 18 points – 16 rebounds – two assists

The only Thunder player shooting above 50 percent was the guy closest to the rim, Steven Adams, who shot 62.5 percent to go just 10 and five on the night; Darius Bazley shot just at 50 percent, finishing with eight points and six rebounds.

Most of the Thunder were in the 20-30 percent range.

Meanwhile, hit 48 percent of the 94 shots they attempted, with T.J. Warren leading the way at 71.4 percent as well as being the leading scorer in the game. (Okay, Alize Johnson hit for 100 percent, with his one shot for three points off the bench, if you want to be technical). Aaron Holiday also came off the bench for 17, three and four.

Warren scored 11 of his 23 points in the third quarter, a 34-20 rout of the Thunder to ice the game for Indiana.

SIDELINES

  • The Pacers have won seven of eight, and four straight.
  • Warren shot five for five in the third quarter run.
  • The Pacers were 10 for 10 from the foul line through the first three quarters and finished 12 for 13 overall. The Thunder were 19 for 20 after three quarters, finishing 21 for 24 from the line. Gallinari shot a perfect 8 for 8 on free throws.

NEXT UP

Sixers at Thunder – Friday
Pacers at Rockets – Friday

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

A Win is a Win is a Win

Cleveland Cavaliers (4-6)97
Philadelphia 76ers (7-3)98

Whether you win by 100 or by one point, it still counts as a win for your team and as a loss for the opponent. Such was the story last night as the Philadelphia 76ers won their second straight, even though the Cleveland Cavaliers almost came into Philadelphia last night and rung the Sixers’ bell.

Cavaliers

  • Kevin Love: 20 points – eight rebounds – one assist
  • Jordan Clarkson: 20 points – four rebounds – two assists
  • Collin Sexton: 18 points – five rebounds – four assists

Sixers

  • Joel Embiid: 27 points – 16 rebounds – four assists
  • #VFL Josh Richardson: 17 points – one rebound – five assists
  • Ben Simmons: 15 points – five rebounds – six assists

Statistically, the game was about as even as the final score dictates. Both teams shot 44 percent from the field, with Philly taking only three more attempts. The rebounding went to Philadelphia by one. Cleveland shot a tad batter from downtown, but both teams were horrid at 23 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

But it was the Sixers’ ability to share the ball that kept them in this, winning the assist battle, 24-13.

Ben Simmons dropped six dimes in his return after missing two games, while #VFL Josh Richardson had five, and #VFL Tobias Harris matched Joel Embiid’s four assists.

Richardson contributed 17 points, one rebound and five assists, while Furkan Korkmaz finished the night with 10, four and one.

Tristan Thompson added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers.

SIDELINES

  • Philadelphia held the Cavaliers without a point in the final 3.5 minutes of the game to preserve the home court win; Cleveland led 97-92 at that point, but would not score again.
  • The final score was Philadelphia’s first lead in the game since the early fourth quarter; it proved to be enough.
  • Harris missed all 11 of his three point attempts.

NEXT UP

Sixers at Magic – Tonight
Heat at Cavaliers – Thursday

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

Pistons Continue to Misfire

Detroit Pistons (4-8)108
Miami Heat (7-3)117

So was bringing Blake Griffin back so soon a mistake? Griffin registered a DNP in last night’s game in Miami, perhaps the only game in the NBA last night that wasn’t played in record low temperatures. Griffin and Derrick Rose were held back in limiting minutes coming off their injuries.

Pistons

  • Luke Kennard: 22 points – one rebound – five assists
  • Andre Drummond: 16 points – nine rebounds – 0 assists
  • Christian Wood: 16 points – three rebounds – 0 assists

Heat

  • Jimmy Butler: 20 points – three rebounds – 13 assists
  • Kendrick Nunn: 20 points – three rebounds – five assists
  • Bam Adebayo: 18 points – 14 rebounds – two assists

The Heat continue to flourish this season with their talented rookies and the renewed leadership and vigor of Jimmy Butler, who didn’t lead all scorers last night, but paired with rookie Kendrick Nunn to drop 40, six and 18 on the sputtering Detroit Pistons.

A 59-37 first half performance gave the Heat enough distance to keep the Pistons in the rearview all evening, despite a game high 22 points from Luke Kennard. The Pistons roared back with 71 points in the second half, but could never catch up to the streaking Heat.

The Pistons boasted six players in double figures, with Markieff Morris bringing in 13, Thon Maker with a dozen, and Langston Galloway chipping in 11. 

But Miami’s players – also with six in doubles – were cooking just a little hotter, with Goran Dragic matching Bam Adebayo’s 18 points, Kelly Olynyk hitting for 13, and Duncan Robinson registered 11 points for the win. Dragic also had six assists, and Olynyk five to match the starting back court’s 18 and help the Heat to a 34-27 assist advantage.

SIDELINES

  • Butler scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help Miami win the game.
  • It’s the third best 10 game start in Miami Heat history.
  • The Pistons did not arrive at their hotel in Miami until 5:34 a.m. due to 9.2” of snow in Detroit when they were slated to leave; they did not leave Detroit until 2:40 a.m. 
  • Kennard was actually 0 for 7 in the first half, but ended up being the game’s leading scorer, if anyone wants an example of persistence and determination.

NEXT UP

Heat at Cavaliers – Thursday
Pistons at Hornets – Friday

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

Bulls Take Advantage of Another Struggling Organization

New York Knicks (2-9)102
Chicago Bulls (4-7)120

All three of the NBA’s most dysfunctional front office teams played last night and two of them miraculously came away with wins, while the New York Knicks did what they do best – gave away another freebie.

Knicks

Marcus Morris: 22 points – nine rebounds – one assist

R.J. Barrett: 21 points – six rebounds – nine assists

Julius Randle: 17 points – six rebounds – three assists

Bulls

Coby White: 27 points – three rebounds – one assist

Zach LaVine: 25 points – two rebounds – five assists

Wendell Carter, Jr.: 17 points – 12 rebounds – 0 assists

They can beat the Mavericks in Dallas, but seem to be using some form of total team load management to prepare for the Mavericks’ visit in New York tomorrow night. I’m telling you, the Knicks seem to think their season will be considered a success if they beat Kristaps Porzingis both times they play the former Knick this season.

If that’s the case, on Friday morning, can we get on with the rest of the season with a little more seriousness and urgency?

Then maybe the Knicks could invest in shooting coaches who teach their team to get more than 40 percent from the field, more than 38 rebounds since they have a glut of big men on the roster, more than one blocked shot in 48 minutes, and better than 64 percent from the line.

Chicago seems to have found that in Jim Boylen, while the Knicks have a caricature as their so-called skipper; I picture a Katz’s menu with lox stains on it under David Fizdale’s stat sheet on his clipboard – y’know the stat sheet that’s passed out each quarter and at the end of every game.

New York has to have more reference than that to improve, but that seems to be about all the information and urgency the Knicks are operating on these days, reasons why Knicks president Steve Mills is working more covertly than I am to promote Fizdale to customer.

On the other side of the coin, hey, the Bulls get another win and try to pry themselves out of the quicksand of mediocrity. Sacramento won, too. Maybe two organizations who can give New York some examples of how to not suck so bad in the boardroom and the locker room.  

SIDELINES

  • Coby White’s seven three pointers were a franchise record, despite the rookie missing his first five shots and heading into the fourth quarter with only four points.
  • The Bulls put together a 24-2 run to distance themselves from the New York Knicks.
  • Bobby Portis helped the Knicks beat Chicago back on October 28th, for New York’s first win of the season; Portis had seven points and three rebounds last night in the loss to Chicago.

NEXT UP

Mavericks at Knicks – Thursday

Bulls at Bucks – Thursday

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

Hawks Soar in Mile High Air

Atlanta Hawks (4-6)125
Denver Nuggets (7-3)121

Trae Young took flight and Jabari Parker continued his resurgent play as the Atlanta Hawks dismantled the host Denver Nuggets last night at the Pepsi Center.

Hawks

  • Trae Young: 42 points – four rebounds – 11 assists
  • Jabari Parker: 20 points – nine rebounds – four assists
  • Alex Len: 17 points – seven rebounds – one assist

Nuggets

  • Will Barton: 21 points – nine rebounds – four assists
  • Nikola Jokic: 20 points – six rebounds – seven assists
  • Paul Millsap: 19 points – six rebounds – two assists

Parker, playing more minutes in the absence of the suspended John Collins, is playing by far his best season of NBA basketball. Originally a No. 2 draft pick back in 2014, Parker was expected to be a God-send to the Milwaukee Bucks, who had drafted the unknown in Giannis Antetokuonmpo at No. 15 a year earlier.

Four years and several assignments to the G League’s Wisconsin Herd went by and Parker would sign in 2018 with the Chicago Bulls. Eight months later, the Bulls would trade him to Washington and five months after that, Parker is a free agent pickup for the Atlanta Hawks.

His 17.8 points per game, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists are well above his career line, numbers the Bucks had hoped to pair with Antetokuonmpo’s athleticism.

Their loss is Atlanta’s gain, as Parker has slid up to become the No. 2 guy behind Young.

He’s not the only one who played well; rookie DeAndre Hunter added 12 points and six rebounds, while Kevin Huerter remained consistent off the bench with 11, four and three on the night.

No last second shots, no hugs for Nikola Jokic last night; just their third loss of the season, but still in the Top Four in the Western Conference, which is no easy task given the company and competition in the Wild, Wild West.

SIDELINES

  • Atlanta fell behind 34-25 in the first quarter, but would come out and outdo Denver by 18 in the second quarter, and 100-87 over the final three periods to take the win.
  • Young has scored 30+ in three straight games; his 42 last night was seven shy of his personal best.
  • Young went 8 for 11 from the charity stripe; head coach Lloyd Pierce thought “he should go 11 of 11.”

NEXT UP

Hawks at Suns – Thursday
Nets at Nuggets – Thursday

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

Lakers Coming into Form

Los Angeles Lakers (8-2)123
Phoenix Suns (6-4)115

With Kyle Kuzma back and rounding into form after missing the first half dozen games of the season, you know the Lakers are going to be good when they can win with LeBron James being the third scorer on the team and beating one of the hotter shooting teams in the league.

Lakers

  • Anthony Davis: 24 points – 12 rebounds – four assists
  • Kyle Kuzma: 23 points – four rebounds – 0 assists
  • LeBron James: 19 points – seven rebounds – 11 assists

Suns

  • Ricky Rubio: 21 points – four rebounds – 10 assists
  • Devin Booker: 21 points – three rebounds – nine assists
  • Aron Baynes: 20 points – six rebounds – three assists

The Lakers upped their win percent to .800, just a shade behind the NBA best Boston Celtics, who are at .889 through last night.

L.A. shot 53 percent of their 95 attempts in the valley of the sun last night, outdoing their hot-shooting counterparts by four shots and six percent. They also outworked Phoenix on the boards at Talking Stick Resort Arena, despite a nice game from Aron Baynes, who seemed more focused on the offensive end than on defense of the paint.

The Lakers also got 14 from Danny Green, who shot 62.5 percent from the field, a solid 12 and nine form a resurgent Dwight Howard, and 11 points from JaVale McGee.

Phoenix fought back with the usual suspects in Devin Booker and Baynes, but got a surprise performance from Ricky Rubio, who put on his Minnesota Timbwerwolves persona with his 21 points and 10 dimes. Dario Saric had 18 and seven, but M.I.A. was Kelly Oubre, Jr., who only scored one point and shot 0 for five.

Kuz is averaging 12.3 points and four rebounds through six games, so it was nice to see him play well above average and help the Lakers further solidify this version of their dynasty in the baby steps it takes to get there.

SIDELINES

  • This is the Lakers’ best 10 game start since 2010.
  • Booker came into the game shooting 54.5 percent from the field, 53.2 percent on three-pointers and 92.3 percent on free throws. He’s still on his 50/50/90 pace after shooting nine of 18 from the field against the Lakers.
  • Frank Kaminsky had 16 points and nine rebounds.

NEXT UP

Warriors at Lakers – Tonight
Hawks at Suns – Thursday

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

All That Money for a Sub-.500 Record After 10

Brooklyn Nets (4-6)114
Utah Jazz (8-3)119

Thirty seven million, one hundred ninety nine thousand … and Kevin Durant has yet to play a game. (Selling the shit out of some sneakers, though).
Thirty one million, seven hundred forty two thousand … and Kyrie Irving has yet to play well consistently. At least not $31,742,000 well.
Almost $70,000,000 between two players – one playing, one rehabilitating the entire season – and you’ve got four wins?
No wonder David Levy and the Nets are parting ways. 

Nets

  • Kyrie Irving: 27 points – three rebounds – five assists
  • Spencer Dinwiddie: 21 points – one rebound – four assists
  • DeAndre Jordan: 15 points – 17 rebounds – four assists

Jazz

  • Donovan Mitchell: 30 points – six rebounds – two assists
  • Rudy Gobert: 18 points – 15 rebounds – two assists
  • Mike Conley: 18 points – four rebounds – five assists

To be fair, Levy oversaw all business, revenue, strategy, and operations for the Nets and Barclays Center and had nothing to do with those contracts or the coaching of the Brooklyn Nets, nor their players’ performances or lack thereof.

But other than the band, everyone knew when it was time to jump from the Titanic. Levy may just be the first.

The Nets are 4-6, every bit as much as they were one year ago when it was D’Angelo Russell, et al. This year, sub Kyrie Irving for Russell and .. voila … same result. All that money for the same result? You could have kept Russell.

He left for a chance to win, playing with an organization that had multiple rings and banners. His season went south with all the injuries at Golden State. By comparison, he’s only won two less games and is basically in the same position he was in with Brooklyn a year ago.

The more things change the more they stay the same, huh?

Not with the Utah Jazz. After a rocky start, Mike Conley is assimilating well in hisa 13th season, and after 11 games, is already nearing his career averages. Oh yeah, and the Jazz are 8-3 and back in the dark horse consideration as the Western Conference’s representative in the NBA Finals (assuming they get past the Lakers and Clippers).

The Jazz are also getting nearly 20 points a night from Bojan Bogdanovic, another smart off season pickup.

The Nets could take some cues from teams like the Jazz; or they could just wait for Kevin Durant, who we don’t know if he will come back the same.

SIDELINES

  • Utah only allowed one Brooklyn basket over the final three minutes.
  • DeAndre Jordan’s 17 rebounds were a season high.
  • The Jazz finished with a 66 point second half after coming out with a 68-53 disadvantage in the first half.

NEXT UP

Nets at Nuggets – Thursday
Jazz at Grizzlies – Friday

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

Kings Crown the Blazers

Portland Trailblazers (4-7)99
Sacramento Kings (4-6)107

Dare I say it? The Sacramento Kings, who struggled and failed to make the 2019 playoffs last spring, have a better record than the Portland Trailblazers, who went to the Western Conference Finals after marching through the playoffs in the West at the same time.

Blazers

  • Damian Lillard: 27 points – four rebounds – five assists
  • C.J. McCollum: 24 points – five rebounds – one assist
  • Hassan Whiteside: 17 points – seven rebounds – one assist

Kings

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic: 25 points – three rebounds – 10 assists
  • Buddy Hield: 20 points – four rebounds – one assist
  • Nemanja Bjelica: 19 points – 12 rebounds – four assists

A 35-21 third quarter blowout is what allowed the Kings to move up to the 10th spot in the West, ahead of the 11th place Blazers. 

The Kings were playing without De’Aaron Fox, out with an ankle injury, but rallied together to earn the victory over Portland. The win ended a two-game losing streak to the Blazers.

Nemanja Bjelica, who former head coach Dave Joerger leaned on heavily last season over Marvin Bagley III, was solid last night with 19 and 12 … and was Sacramento’s third leading scorer on the night. Bagley has played one game this season – a 14 and 10 affair.

Bogdan Bogdanovic ran the show for Sacramento and got people involved with his 10 assist night. Harrison Barnes added 16 and four, and Richaun Holmes finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds.

Portland struggled with their premier players having to shoulder much of the load. Only Kent Bazemore stepped up with 12 and five on the night – everyone else was single digits at best.

SIDELINES

  • Portland had 17 turnovers.
  • Fox sprained his ankle in practice on Monday; it is a Grade III sprain. I’ve had one of those when I played – they suck.
  • The Blazers have lost five of their last six games.

NEXT UP

Raptors at Blazers – Tonight
Kings at Lakers – Friday

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

TONIGHT’S LINEUP
Philadelphia 76ers at Orlando Magic – 7 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Philadelphia
Memphis Grizzlies at Charlotte Hornets – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics – 7:30 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Boston
*** GAME OF THE NIGHT ***
Los Angeles Clippers at Houston Rockets – 7:30 p.m. EST – ESPN
San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves – 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southwest
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers – 10 p.m. EST – ESPN
Toronto Raptors at Portland Trailblazers – 10 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Northwest

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

*** 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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