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The Rundown w/T-Money … for November 5, 2019

Atlanta gets Trae Young back but loses John Collins, the Lakers are 6-1, and Gordon Hayward and Devonte' Graham have career nights.

L.A. goes to 6-1, Boston is 5-1, and Trae Young Return for the Atlanta Hawks (but John Collins is suspended 25 games).

Hayward Goes Off, Downs Cavaliers

Boston Celtics (5-1)119
Cleveland Cavaliers (2-5)113

It’s nice to go through the phases of autumn in the Northeast – the leaves fall off, and so do the pretenders and also-rans as the NBA season progresses, and team’s true colors show.

Last night it was the Cavaliers showing who they are and have been since LeBron James departed, and falling off like they do every fall since. 

Celtics

  • Gordon Hayward: 39 points – seven rebounds – eight assists
  • Kemba Walker: 25 points – eight rebounds – three assists
  • Jayson Tatum: 18 points – seven rebounds – one assist

Cavaliers

  • Collin Sexton: 21 points – two rebounds – three assists
  • Tristan Thompson: 19 points – 13 rebounds – four assists
  • Kevin Love: 17 points – nine rebounds – three assists

However, Boston Green shone bright in Cleveland last night, particularly Gordon Hayward, who played his best game since a 39-point effort versus the Minnesota Timberwolves back on April 7, 2017 when he was a member of the Utah Jazz.

He shot 14-of-22 that night, but was a blazing 85 percent from the field last night, shooting 17 of 20 and perfect in his four trips to the free throw line.

Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum combined for 43 points in support, and rookie Carsen Edwards finished with 13, one and one.

Collin Sexton continues his evolution, and Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love should continue to be trade bait – Thompson needs to go to Orlando and Love to Portland. Larry Nance, Jr. had 15, and Cedi Osman and Jordan Clarkson each had a dozen, as Cleveland matched every move with Boston in quarters 2-3-4, but lost the first quarter and could never catch up to net the upset.

SIDELINES

  • Enes Kanter missed his fifth straight game for the Celtics.
  • Boston was 56 percent from the field, shooting 48 of 85.
  • Matthew Dellavedova returned for the Cavs, going 4-2-2 off the bench.

NEXT UP

Celtics @ Hornets – Thursday
Cavaliers @ Wizards – Friday

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

Graham More than Pacers Can Handle

Indiana Pacers (3-4)120
Charlotte Hornets (4-3)122 (OT)

If you look at Devonte’ Graham’s NBA/G League rap sheet, you’ll see how many times he went down to the G League’s Greensboro Swarm. The No. 34 pick of the 2018 NBA Draft was taken by Atlanta, then swapped to Charlotte for a couple of second rounders, and then Graham was sent down to Greensboro at least 10 times during the 2018-19 NBA season.

Looks like his time there served him – and the Charlotte Hornets – well. He came up big last night, and has been solid all season long

Pacers

  • T.J. Warren: 33 points – four rebounds – three assists
  • Malcolm Brogdon: 31 points – five rebounds – eight assists
  • Jeremy Lamb: 18 points – five rebounds – two assists

Hornets

  • Devonte’ Graham: 35 points – four rebounds – six assists
  • Terry Rozier: 22 points – five rebounds – four assists
  • Miles Bridges: 18 points – three rebounds – one assist

Graham and reserve center Bismack Biyombo (15 points, six rebounds)  were the worker bees in the fourth quarter, as the Hornets put together a 35-21 fourth quarter to erase a 14 point Indiana lead and kick the game into overtime for the close win and to pull a game above the .500 mark.

Graham sank two free throws with 1.7 second in the overtime period to seal Charlotte’s fourth win of the season.

The young guard is proving to be the piece missing after Charlotte traded Kemba Walker for Terry Rozier, whose play is improving as he settles into his new role and locale. But Graham leads the team with 17.3 points per game. He also is averaging 3.9 rebounds and 6.7 assists.

Rozier is at 16.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists.

For the Pacers, life has been tough without Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis. T.J. Warren has been a champ and the play off Malcolm Brogdon has Most Improved written all over it. If these guys can maintain their health, they should be a very dangerous team when all are healthy.

Just not last night.

SIDELINES

  • The loss snapped Indiana’s three-game win streak.
  • P.J. Washington suffered a lower leg contusion.
  • Graham, Rozier, and Biyombo scored 40 of the team’s last 42 points.

NEXT UP

Wizards @ Pacers – Tonight
Celtics @ Hornets – Thursday

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

Young Returns, Collins Suspended, Spurs Fall

San Antonio Spurs (4-3)100
Atlanta Hawks (3-3)108

The news of the night didn’t start out good as Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins was suspended 25 games without pay for a violation of the NBA’s anti-drug program. Collins tested positive for growth hormone-releasing peptide-2, which he claims came from a tainted supplement. He will appeal.

Spurs

  • DeMar DeRozan: 22 points – four rebounds – four assists
  • Bryn Forbes: 17 points – two rebounds – one assist
  • Patty Mills: 16 points – two rebounds – 0 assists

Hawks

  • Trae Young: 29 points – two rebounds – 13 assists
  • Jabari Parker: 19 points – eight rebounds – two assists
  • De’Andre Hunter: 16 points – eight rebounds – one assist

The good news was that Trae Young is back, and led the Hawks back to their winning ways that came to a halt when he got injured against the first of a back to back set with the Miami Heat last week.

Though he facilitated in the first half, it was the second half where Young soared, dropping 28 of his 29 points on the Spurs in the final two periods to give the Hawks a 64 point second half after the Hawks put up a very average 22 points apiece in the first two quarters.

Cam Reddish shot 66.7 percent and went 12, three and one starting alongside Young, while Jabari Parker and De’Andre Hunter kept the Hawks in the game. Vince Carter, Deandre Bembry, and Kevin Huerter added seven each to the effort.

San Antonio had a tough time getting LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White going; the trio combined for just 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists as San Antonio fell to their third loss of the season, losing three of their last four games.

SIDELINES

  • Young was 0-of-eight in the first half, but had eight of his 13 assists in the first two quarters.
  • The Spurs are the third best team in the NBA in the rebounding department; they got outrebounded last night, 48-41.
  • San Antonio led 45-44 at halftime.

NEXT UP

Bulls @ Hawks – Tonight
Thunder @ Spurs – Thursday

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

LeBron, Lakers Too Much for Bulls

Los Angeles Lakers (6-1)118
Chicago Bulls (2-6)112

Give the Chicago Bulls credit, they forced LeBron James into his third straight triple double to beat them last night at the United Center. Nah, I’m just bullsh***ing … it’s LeBron James and the Lakers, man. Anthony Davis and Quinn Cook are hitting, and Kyle Kuzma is back. 

You thought the Lakers were dangerous before? It’s just getting started.

Lakers

  • LeBron James: 30 points – 10 rebounds – 11 assists
  • Quinn Cook: 17 points – four rebounds – two assists
  • Anthony Davis: 15 points – seven rebounds – three assists

Bulls

  • Zach LaVine: 26 points – seven rebounds – seven assists
  • Otto Porter, Jr.: 18 points – one rebound – 0 assists
  • Coby White: 18 points – five rebounds – four assists

In all seriousness, though, the Bulls themselves are looking better and better with each game. While Wendell Carter, Jr. has been the consistency that this team needs (and Otto Porter, Jr. should be), Zach LaVine is its star and Coby White and his super afro have the opportunity to be Co-Rookie of the Year.

Carter had 11 and 11 last night as the Bulls raced out to a 65-48 first half advantage, giving folks in the United Center something to cheer about; and false hope.

James and the Lakers would explode in the second half with a 70-47 response, with James netting his third triple double in a row and leading the Lakers to the expected win. 

Kyle Kuzma is rounding back into form – Kuz had 15 and four on 43.8 shooting last night, scored 11 of his points in the fourth quarter. And JaVale McGee, who made it look oh so easy with the first alley-oop bucket of the game, added 10, six and three.

L.A. is off until Friday, but the Bulls swing back into action tonight in the ATL.

SIDELINES

  • It was Chicago’s fifth loss in six games.
  • James was on the bench for most of the 16-0 run the Lakers put on to start the fourth quarter.
  • Chandler Hutchison played for the first time this season after sitting out the first seven games with a hamstring issue; he had five points and three rebounds in 15 minutes of play.

NEXT UP

Bulls @ Hawks – Tonight
Heat @ Lakers – Friday

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

Casper Not Enough in OKC

Orlando Magic (2-5)94
Oklahoma City Thunder (3-4)102

It’s good to finally see Aaron Gordon stepping up into the limelight that honestly should be his in Orlando; unfortunately, last night’s team-leading effort of 15 points wasn’t enough as the Oklahoma City Thunder put Orlando three games under .500 while increasing their own percentage(s).

Magic

  • Aaron Gordon: 15 points – eight rebounds – three assists
  • Jonathan Isaac: 13 points – 10 rebounds – 0 assists
  • Al-Farouq Aminu: 13 points – five rebounds – one assist

Thunder

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 24 points – three rebounds – two assists
  • Chris Paul: 20 points – two rebounds – six assists
  • Danilo Gallinari: 16 points – three rebounds – two assists

Not only was Gordon’s effort right around average for NBA standards, but four other players took it upon themselves to only score 13 points apiece – maybe an homage to the departed Paul George? Who knows.

Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, D.J. Augustin, and Al-Farouq Aminu all dropped 13 points apiece on the Thunder, who don’t know that they’re supposed to be the team three games below .500 given their depleted roster and rebuilding process after the departures of George and Russell Westbrook.

Isaac added 10 rebounds and Fultz is slowly but surely becoming an NBA point guard; he had three rebounds and four assists.

But it’s the mentorship of Chris Paul that’s got the Thunder winning games they thought they wouldn’t. With Paul’s leadership in the OKC locker room, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is molding into the team face the Thunder see in him, Darius Bazley is poised to have a break out rookie season, and Dennis Schroder has already stepped up and led this Thunder team in a couple of games.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that CP3 dropped eight of his points in the final two minutes to underscore that leadership. Actions speak louder than words most times.

Steven Adams returned to pst an 11 and 11 night, while Bazley went for 10 and six in the win.

SIDELINES

  • The Thunder have now held their opponent under 100 points for the fourth time in seven games.
  • The Magic have yet to score 100 points in any game this season.
  • Orlando was able to tie it up at 83-83, and got within 88-87 a few minutes later, but the Thunder put on a 9-2 run to sock things away.

NEXT UP

Magic @ Mavericks – Tonight
Thunder @ Spurs – Thursday

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

It’s November in Colorado; No Heat Allowed

Miami Heat (5-2)89
Denver Nuggets (5-2)109

Two of the NBA’s best producing teams went at each other in the Mile High City in last night’s nightcap, with the Denver Nuggets rolling out the welcome mat to the Miami Heat and then beating them by a 20 point margin that was put together in the second and third quarters. Both teams came out 5-2 in the end.

Heat

  • Jimmy Butler: 16 points – seven rebounds – four assists
  • Kelly Olynyk: 13 points – seven rebounds – one assist
  • Kendrick Nunn: 11 points – two rebounds – four assists

Nuggets

  • Jamal Murray: 21 points – five rebounds – four assists
  • Will Barton: 15 points – 10 rebounds – four assists
  • Jerami Grant: 15 points – five rebounds – three assists

The Nuggets and Heat played to a 29-28 first quarter, with Denver taking the edge into the second, where they outscored Miami by nine points. They came out from the locker rooms after halftime and laid another two by four on the Heat, outscoring Miami 31-21 to salt the game away. Both teams hit 20 in the final period.

Miami was led by Jimmy Butler, but they should go ahead and let their rookies lead like they have the past three games, all wins. Not saying Butler isn’t worth it (I may have arguments from Chicago, Minnesota, and Philadelphia that say he isn’t worth it), but what a nice back pocket option to have. After all, Butler treated the Heat as a back pocket option the first week of the season.

Just goes to my infinitesimal point that while he may be an All-Star in the weaker Eastern Conference, Butler is not the leader he thinks he is.

If you want to see leadership, look down to the other bench. Jamal Murray. Nikola Jokic. Hell, even Will Barton and Gary Harris. They are the reason(s) that the Denver Nuggets have gone from laughing stock to one of the best teams in the NBA.

Miami has that potential with Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, Chris Silva, and Duncan Robinson.

Jimmy Butler and Kelly Olynyk (who should have stayed in Boston) aren’t going to get it done for Miami. Obviously. 

SIDELINES

  • Butler shot three of 12 on the night; he was guarded by Barton most of the night.
  • Denver took an 89-68 lead into the fourth quarter, then ripped off nine in a ro; they also closed the second quarter on a 16-5 run.
  • Justise Winslow returned after missing two games to lower back stiffness; he had 10 points, six rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

NEXT UP

Heat @ Suns – Thursday
Sixers @ Nuggets – Friday

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

TONIGHT’S LINEUP

New York Knicks @ Detroit Pistons – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Detroit
Washington Wizards @ Indiana Pacers – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Midwest-Indiana
Chicago Bulls @ Atlanta Hawks – 7:30 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Chicago
Golden State Warriors @ Houston Rockets – 7:30 p.m. EST – ESPN
Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 7:30 p.m. – NBC Sports California
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies – 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
Orlando Magic @ Dallas Mavericks – 8:30 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southwest
Philadelphia 76ers @ Utah Jazz – 9 p.m. EST – AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
*** GAME OF THE NIGHT ***
Milwaukee Bucks @ Los Angeles Clippers – 10 p.m. EST – ESPN

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

*** 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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