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The Rundown w/T-Money … for November 8, 2019

R.J. Barrett didn't get to posterize Porzingis, but Dame got 60, Dloading got 52, Pascal Siakam had 44, and Andrew Wiggins hit for 40 all last night. Did you catch any of it?

Seven straight in L.A., The Knicks beat Kristaps Porzingis, Dame drops 60, the Warriors take Minny to overtime, and Stephen Curry may sit out the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Can you say LaMelo Ball, Golden State Warrior?

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Pacers Race Past Pistons, Over .500

Detroit Pistons (4-6)106
Indiana Pacers (5-4)112

The Indiana Pacers shot above the .500 mark from the field to get above the .500 mark in NBA standings last night in Indianapolis.

Pistons

Luke Kennard: 29 points – six rebounds – five assists

Langston Galloway: 19 points – three rebounds – three assists

Andre Drummond: 15 points – 13 rebounds – eight assists

Pacers

Domantas Sabonis: 17 points – 14 rebounds – six assists

T.J. McConnell: 17 points – nine rebounds – five assists

T.J. Warren: 17 points – four rebounds – 0 assists

T.J. Leaf shot 100 percent from the field, T.J. McConnell and Jakarr Sampson hit from 80 percent, while Doug McDermott and Justin Holiday also rang in number above 50 percent to give Indiana its fifth win of the season, avenging a 96-94 loss in Detroit on October 28th.

Seven Pacers hit in double figures. The top three each scored 17 points apiece, while Holiday added 16, McDermott 14, Malcolm Brogdon finished 11, six and two, and Sampson chalked up 10.

The Pistons were led by Luke Kennard, who shot 52.4 percent on the way to a game high 29 points. Markieff Morris added 13, Tony Snell 11, and Bruce Brown, Jr. kicked in 10 on the night.

SIDELINES

  • The Pacers were playing without Victor Oldaipo, Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb, and Goga Bitadze.
  • Detroit is still without Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, and Derrick Rose.
  • The Pacers kicked off the third quarter with an 11-2 run that stretched to 17, and they never looked back.

NEXT UP

Pacers at Magic – Sunday

Timberwolves at Pistons – Monday

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Grizzlies Gunned Down by Orlando’s Big Four

Memphis Grizzlies (2-6)86
Orlando Magic (3-6)118

A 27-15 first quarter didn’t help the Memphis Grizzlies last night in Orlando; the 34-8 ass kicking in the fourth nearly put them on the NBA’s Endangered Species list by the end of the evening.

Grizzlies

Jonas Valanciunas: 15 points – nine rebounds – 0 assists

Jaren Jackson Jr.: 14 points – five rebounds – one assist

Brandon Clarke: 13 points – six rebounds – one assist

Magic

Nikola Vucevic: 23 points – 16 rebounds – six assists

Jonathan Isaac: 22 points – eight rebounds – 0 assists

Evan Fournier: 19 points – seven rebounds – six assists

Orlando shot 47 percent to Memphis’ horrible 37 percent, with Jonathan Isaac leading the way at a net-scorching 81.8 percent pace, while teammates Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic all came to life and shot above 50 percent for the win.

Ja Morant had a woeful night, only hitting 23.1 percent of his 13 shots, and the highest shooting Grizzlies player was Jonas ‘At the Rim’ Valanciunas, who hit for 54.5 percent from the field. Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Marko Guduric hit right at 50 percent. 

The Grizzlies struggled mightily in the fourth, after bringing the game to as close as 84-78 after three, turning the ball over four times, and shooting only 13 percent in the final period.

SIDELINES

  • Memphis scored 137 points in their win over Minnesota on Wednesday night; last night was the second time this season that the Grizzlies have failed to reach the century mark.
  • Orlando began the final period on a 13-0 run.
  • Memphis also shot five-of-19 in the first quarter for 26.3 percent.

NEXT UP

Mavericks at Grizzlies – Tonight
Pacers at Magic – Sunday

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Wizards; Inconsistencies Costing Them; Shed Brooks

Cleveland Cavaliers (3-5)113
Washington Wizards (2-6)100

The Cleveland Cavaliers notched their third win of the season at the expense of the Washington Wizards’ inability to play with any consistency – which is political correctness for being unable to get their crap together.

Cavaliers

  • Tristan Thompson: 21 points – 12 rebounds – three assists
  • Kevin Love: 16 points – 12 rebounds – two assists
  • Collin Sexton: 16 points – two rebounds – one assist

Wizards

  • Thomas Bryant: 23 points – eight rebounds – four assists
  • Rui Hachimura: 21 points – seven rebounds – three assists
  • Bradley Beal: 20 points – five rebounds – nine assists

Cleveland used a strong second quarter to take a 67-52 lead into the locker room at the half. Another nice run in the fourth quarter, had Washington on its heels and suffering their sixth loss of the season, inconsistency that could spell the end of the Scott Brooks era in D.C. before the end of the year.

Cavaliers head coach John Beilein is bringing his brand from the NCAA to the NBA, and though their playing 3-5 basketball, things are improving in the Mistake by the Lake under Beilein’s tutelage.

Tristan Thompson was inconsistent at best, playing second, third and fourth fiddle behind LeBron James and the Patchwork Co. for four years. Now that James has moved on to L.A. and Thompson shed the burden/curse/weight of dating Khloe Kardashian, he’s focused on basketball and has become one of the Cavaliers’ best players or pieces of trade bait.

Shit, he and Khloe are dating again? Talking reconciliation? Trade him while you can, Koby Altman. To Orlando. For Aaron Gordon.

Washington has talent abound in Bradley Beal, Thomas Bryant, and rookie Rui Hachimura. Not to mention that Isaiah Thomas, under the right leadership, can move from back shelf blacklisting to front page again. He has the talent.

But face it, Scott Brooks was hired to lure Kevin Durant back to his home town, a la LeBron James and Cleveland. KD has moved twice since his Oklahoma City days – neither time to D.C.

Time to move on, Ted Leonsis.

SIDELINES

  • Vanderbilt rookie Darius Garland shook off his struggles and had 15 points; USC product Kevin Porter, Jr. finished with 13.
  • Cleveland went to the line 29 times; Washington went six.
  • #VFL Admiral Schofield was recalled from the G League.

NEXT UP

Cavaliers at Knicks – Sunday
Wizards at Celtics – Wednesday

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Hawks are Officially Roadkill

Sacramento Kings (3-6)121
Atlanta Hawks (3-5)109

The Atlanta Hawks have gone from a young team with early realized potential to a team with a slightly better record than the hapless team they played last night. And lost to. In their own nest.

Kings

  • Buddy Hield: 22 points – five rebounds – one assist
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic: 20 points – four rebounds – five assists
  • De’Aaron Fox: 17 points – four rebounds – nine assists

Hawks

  • Trae Young: 30 points – two rebounds – 12 assists
  • Jabari Parker: 25 points – eight rebounds – two assists
  • Kevin Huerter: 17 points – three rebounds – four assists

Just as Trae Young came back from an ankle injury, John Collins was excused for 25 games for violating the league’s anti-drug policy for peptides in his nutritional supplements.

Yeah, and Miami’s Dion Waiters overdosed on gummy bears.

The Hawks also had an ample opportunity to stow away some wins for winter with a three-game homestand featuring the visiting Spurs, Bulls, and Kings. Should have been a 2-1 homestand, with easy wins over sub-.500 teams like the Bulls and Kings. Instead, turned into a 1-2 homestand with the impressive win over San Antonio, and then the collapses against Chicago and Sac.

The Kings are starting to get to know themselves a little bit better on this road trip, pushing Toronto to the brink and the coming into Atlanta and drubbing the Hawks by a dozen.

They shot 55 percent at State Farm, and outrebounded and outassisted the Hawks, also got to the line more than Atlanta did.

Sacramento keeps netting wins like this, their season might turn around.

Atlanta keeps playing like they have, well, they’ll just be … Atlanta … again … I guess.

Lost in all this 3-5 disappointment is how well Jabari Parker is playing. Maybe that’s God’s plan.

SIDELINES

  • The Kings went off with five three-pointers in a row after the Hawks had cut it to 94-93, Sacramento.
  • Sacramento was 18 of 31 from downtown for the game.
  • Trevor Ariza checked into this NBA season finally with 14 points courtesy of four three pointers.

NEXT UP

Hawks at Blazers – Sunday
Blazers at Kings – Tuesday

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Big, Easy Game for the Defending Champs in New Orleans

Toronto Raptors (6-2)122
New Orleans Pelicans (1-7)109

The defending champion Toronto Raptors blew up on the New Orleans Pelicans with a 45-23 second quarter to cruise to a 13 point win in New Orleans last night, easily handling what I’ve been calling the ‘best 1-7 team in the NBA.’

Raptors

  • Pascal Siakam: 44 points – 10 rebounds – four assists
  • O.G. Anunoby: 21 points – seven rebounds – four assists
  • Norman Powell: 18 points – four rebounds – 0 assists

Pelicans

  • Brandon Ingram: 27 points – seven rebounds – one assist
  • Jrue Holiday: 16 points – six rebounds – six assists
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker: 13 points – two rebounds – four assists

Despite their lone win in eight games, I am excited for the team that Zion Williamson has to come back to once he’s healed from the torn meniscus. Worst case scenario, this team plays to a 30 win season and competes with Chicago, Golden State, and Sacramento for the ping pong ball bounce and Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, or LaMelo Ball.

Best case scenario, the Pelicans go from worst to first in a timely fashion and linger around the No. 8 spot that was supposed to be Golden State’s.

But for last night, the champs still were the champs, and are playing like champs. Pascal Siakam dumped 44 in a rim so wide you’d swear it was the mouth of the Mississippi River. Siakam hit 60.7 of his 28 shots last night.

This a team that also lost Kyle Lowry to a fractured thumb and Serge Ibaka to a sprained ankle.

New Orleans remains healthy and intact as is, but continues to build confidence in its core of Brandon Ingram, J.J. Redick, and Nicolo Melli. Lest we forget, the Pelicans added former Jazz forward Derrick Favors and Jahlil Okafor has been playing decently. Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball simply had an off night last night.

SIDELINES

  • Siakam’s 44 matches his career high, set against the Washington Wizards back on February 13th of this year (last NBA season).
  • Siakam attempted a career high 10 three pointers; he made five.
  • The Raptors led 75-53 at halftime. 

NEXT UP

Pelicans at Hornets – Tonight
Raptors at Lakers – Sunday

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Warriors No Longer Cooking with the Chef

Golden State Warriors (2-7)119
Minnesota Timberwolves (5-3)125 (OT)

D’Angelo Russell almost willed the Golden State Warriors to a win over the overachieving Minnesota Timberwolves in the Twin Cities last night.

Warriors

  • D’Angelo Russell: 52 points – nine rebounds – five assists
  • Alec Burks: 18 points – nine rebounds – one assist
  • Eric Paschall: 12 points – one rebound – one assist

Timberwolves

  • Andrew Wiggins: 40 points – five rebounds – seven assists
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 20 points – 14 rebounds – four assists
  • Robert Covington: 17 points – 11 rebounds – 0 assists

Pushing the five-win Timberwolves to an overtime period should be able to be counted as moral victory, but the fact that Stephen Curry may now likely sit out the entire remainder of the 2019-20 season should be the better victory, because it gives Golden State a shot at Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, or LaMelo Ball come next spring.

That may be better than another run at the playoffs – which seemed questionable at best – or even the NBA Finals – which are near impossible unless you have 60+ wins in the West or incredible connections at StubHub.

Imagine a lineup next season of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, LaMelo Ball, and (insert your favorite plug and play center here – let’s say Clint Capela). And Russell as 2020-21’s Sixth Man of the Year. Give me a minute – I need a cigarette.

Until then, Russell will have to struggle through 73 more games with people he barely even knows their names, with lives not juicy enough to record.

It’s almost like he’s a Brooklyn Net again …

Lost in this one, is Andrew Wiggins finally starting to become worthy of his No. 1 pick status? In his sixth season? At 24.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.9 assists, he’s ahead of his career averages, but let’s not start calling him Mr. Fantastic just yet. It’s barely November.

SIDELINES

  • Wiggins tied the game at 110-110 in regulation; he hit the game winning three with 23 seconds to go in the extra period.
  • The 6’7” Wiggins had zero turnovers playing point guard most of the night.
  • The Warriors are officially the third youngest team in the league.

NEXT UP

Warriors at Thunder – Tonight
Nuggets at Timberwolves – Sunday

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Barrett Fails to Posterize Porzingis, but Knicks Win in Dallas

New York Knicks (2-7)106
Dallas Mavericks (5-3)102

R.J. Barrett may not have gotten the opportunity to posterize Kristaps Porzingis for the New York Knicks and their fans, but they figured out how to shut down the Dallas Mavericks in their own corral, and that’s good enough for rabid Knicks fans.

Knicks

  • Marcus Morris: 29 points – nine rebounds – three assists
  • Julius Randle: 21 points – eight rebounds – four assists
  • Bobby Portis: 14 points – 12 rebounds – one assist

Mavericks

  • Luka Doncic: 38 points – 14 rebounds – 10 assists
  • Kristaps Porzingis: 28 points – nine rebounds – 0 assists
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.: 14 points – two rebounds – one assist

It’s easy enough to figure out that head coach David Fizdale and the Knicks did it, as have two other teams – let Luka Doncic and Porzingis get theirs and shut everyone else down. Or let the Mavs shut themselves down.

Dallas’ top three scorers netted 80 of the Mavericks’ 102 points, while the Knicks used a more balanced attack, featuring their glut of big men. Their top three from last night’s game were all forwards, who combined for only 64 of New York’s 106.

They were supported by a 14, six and four performance from Frank Ntilikina (who Knicks fans are back in love with) and Taj Gibson resurfaced from his travels through the NBA’s journeyman graveyards to hit for 12 and eight.

Dallas played 11 players in all, with eight combining for 22 points, 22 rebounds, and eight assists in a very underwhelming performance for the Mavericks.

SIDELINES

  • It was Doncic’s NBA-leading fourth triple double, and his 38 points were a career high.
  • The Knicks broke a 92-92 tie with a 9-0 run.
  • Porzingis last played with the Knicks on February 6, 2018; this was also Hardaway’s first game against his former team.
  • Barrett scored a season low three points on one of nine shooting; he also went one of six from the free throw line. Far cry from posterizing Porzingis … maybe next time, kid. In New York. Next Week. November 14th.

NEXT UP

Mavericks at Grizzlies – Tonight
Cavaliers at Knicks – Sunday

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Sixers Skid to Third Straight

Philadelphia 76ers (5-3)97
Denver Nuggets (6-2)100

Philadelphia lost its third game of the season.
Third consecutive game.
Or should we say turd game in a row?
Because, let’s be honest – when you’re playing in the East, it’s easy to be King of the Mountain on a barnyard pile.
But in the West, you’re playing against real teams.
And losing

Sixers

  • Joel Embiid: 19 points – 15 rebounds – two assists
  • #VFL Tobias Harris: 13 points – 10 rebounds – four assists
  • Raul Neto: 13 points – two rebounds – six assists

Nuggets

  • Nikola Jokic: 26 points – 10 rebounds – six assists
  • Jamal Murray: 22 points – six rebounds – 11 assists
  • Will Barton: 20 points – seven rebounds – one assist

A team that started out as the odds-on favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals, is suddenly another also-ran that’s only two games above the .500 mark.

Weird … because a week ago, that team was the undefeated Philadelphia 76ers.

But losses to the Phoenix Suns (114-109), Utah Jazz (106-104), and now the Denver Nuggets (100-97) means the Sixers need to look in the mirror and measure how good or tough they really are (or aren’t). After all, Phoenix is also 5-3 and sixth in the West, Utah is 6-3 and fourth in the West, and Denver is 6-2 and second in the West. 

Philadelphia is now fifth in the East, behind Boston, Toronto, Miami and Milwaukee.

To allow a 35-13 fourth quarter comeback is not championship material. It’s like allowing a Kawhi Leonard shot to bounce six times off your rim before it falls in and creates Crying Embiid memes.

SIDELINES

  • Both teams shot 44 percent from the field.
  • Nicola Jokic hit the game winner from 20 feet out with 1.2 seconds to play to get the big hug from head coach Mike Malone.
  • The Nuggets have won three straight games.

NEXT UP

Hornets at Sixers – Sunday
Nuggets at Timberwolves – Sunday

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Bucks Get Bogged Down in Salt Lake City

Milwaukee Bucks (6-3)100
Utah Jazz (6-3)103

The upside is that both teams walked away from this one with 6-3 records, Utah fourth in the Western Conference as a result, and Milwaukee in the same position in the Eastern Conference.

Bucks

  • Giannis Antetokuonmpo: 30 points – 13 rebounds – four assists
  • Khris Middleton: 26 points – 11 rebounds – 0 assists
  • Eric Bledsoe: 22 points – eight rebounds – five assists

Jazz

  • Bojan Bogdanovic: 33 points – five rebounds – 0 assists
  • Mike Conley: 20 points – three rebounds – three assists
  • Donovan Mitchell: 19 points – five rebounds – six assists

However, when your top three are hitting 78 points collectively and Utah’s top three go for only 72 and beat you, there’s more to be looked at than similarities in records and positioning.

How about shutting down Utah’s best free agent pickup, Bojan Bogdanovic, who shot very well from the field, perfect from the free throw line, and 50 percent from downtown to push the Bucks from elite to average last night?

Of course, with Utah being a red state and having so many hunters, Milwaukee was like a bunch of deer caught in the headlights throughout the first half, where they scored a meager 18 and 19 points (37 total, for you math nerds out there), respectively. Utah scored 55 in the same time frame.

Milwaukee would come alive after halftime, outscoring the Jazz 65-48, but it wasn’t enough, especially when your strongest shooting performances (50 percent) came from Wesley Matthews (three points) and Robin ‘Im Not Brook’ Lopez (five points).

This game aside, both teams are on the right track to open some eyes in their respective conference runs this season.

SIDELINES

  • Prior to last night, the Bucks had won four in a row.
  • The Bucks got back into the game with a 21-5 run in the third quarter.
  • Despite the win, the Jazz committed 20 turnovers.

NEXT UP

Bucks at Thunder – Sunday
Jazz at Warriors – Monday

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Dame Drops 60 – for Naught

Brooklyn Nets (4-4)119
Portland Trailblazers (3-6)115

Without Damian Lillard on the roster, the Portland Trailblazers failed to show for their game against the visiting Brooklyn Nets last night in the Moda Center.

Nets

Spencer Dinwiddie: 34 points – five rebounds – four assists

Kyrie Irving: 33 points – three rebounds – six assists

Joe Harris: 14 points – five rebounds – one assist

Blazers

Damian Lillard: 60 points – four rebounds – five assists

Anfernee Simons: 15 points – four rebounds – two assists

Hassan Whiteside: 10 points – 15 rebounds – one assist

It was almost like watching D’Angelo Russell drop 52 on the Timberwolves, but Lillard is more exciting to watch; and Russell’s effort was just as fruitless and pointless.

High point outputs like Lillard’s, Russell’s, and those that come from James Harden may be fun for fans of individual players to watch and chat about on social media, but when that happens, rarely is it because their team in synchronous or winning.

Case in point was Pascal Siakam’s 44 last night; his team won because he got supporting play from his teammates, they didn’t just sit back and watch like the Blazers or Warriors did.

Portland relies far too much on the (capable) shoulders of Damian Lillard, and hasn’t built a team chemistry that has one another’s back. Neither has Houston with Harden and every other guy who has to have ‘x’ amount of touches. Might as well have kept Carmelo Anthony (who hasn’t played in the NBA for over a year now). And Golden State, it’s not even their fault.

As I bandied about with a colleague last night (he brought it up), there needs to be a culture. (See: Lakers).

Portland doesn’t have it yet, even with bringing a viable center into the fold. It’s just Dame and C.J. (McCollum). And if one or both of those guys doesn’t show, the other has to carry the load.

It’s why Portland got swept by Golden State last spring – it’s why they’re three games underwater right now, 10 percent of the way through the season.

SIDELINES

  • The Trailblazers still have not won a game at home this season.
  • Kyrie Irving is the league’s second leading scorer behind Harden.
  • McCollum missed 14 of his first 16 shots in his own crib.

NEXT UP

Nets at Suns – Sunday
Hawks at Blazers – Sunday

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Lakers Cruise to Seventh Straight

Miami Heat (6-3)80
Los Angeles Lakers (7-1)95

My name is Tracy Graven. I’m a bandwagon Laker fan. And I approve this message

Heat

  • Jimmy Butler: 22 points – six rebounds – three assists
  • Goran Dragic: 19 points – six rebounds – seven assists
  • Bam Adebayo: 11 points – nine rebounds – four assists

Lakers

  • Anthony Davis: 26 points – eight rebounds – seven assists
  • LeBron James: 25 points – four rebounds – six assists
  • JaVale McGee: Nine points – 10 rebounds – one assist

Honestly, I’ve always been a Laker fan, just not a LeBron James fan. 

But since his return to Cleveland, his move to L.A., all the philanthropic things he’s brought quietly to the table, and the leader he’s grown into in the last 5+ seasons is making me a fan.

Bandwagon, or otherwise. But what a great bandwagon to jump on, right?

Intention is one of James’ best attributes – he says he’s going to do something, and he does it.

It’s easier than ever to say ‘yes’ to everything without realistically gauging your ability to deliver. Do you want to stand out from the next person? Make it a goal to always, always, always follow up on your commitments.

James does this with everything he does in the league and in his side projects.

He’s become a winner, and he teaches others to become winners.

I’m not fully on the bandwagon theory that the Los Angeles Lakers are you 2020 NBA Champions just yet; there are 73 games left to play, not counting the playoffs. The man is in his 17th NBA season. He’s 34 years old. Time eventually catches up. 

But the Lakers are, right now, an NBA best .875 winning percentage, and that’s good enough for many to have a purple and gold beaming emoji about their persona at this time in life.

And that starts and continues with LeBron James.

SIDELINES

  • In the era where throwback is cool, it’s L.A. and Boston right now as the top two teams in the NBA at .875 and .857 winning percentages, respectively. Has a familiar ‘ring’ to it from the 80s, doesn’t it NBA fans? James’ former team, the Miami Heat, is in the Top Five.
  • L.A. held the Heat to one field goal and six points in the final 8:54 of the game.
  • James’ bestie Dwyane Wade and Chargers running back Melvin Gordon were courtside.

NEXT UP

Raptors at Lakers – Sunday
Pistons at Heat – Tuesday

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TONIGHT’S LINEUP

*** GAME OF THE NIGHT ***
Boston Celtics at San Antonio Spurs – 5 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Boston
New Orleans Pelicans at Charlotte Hornets – 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls – 8 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Chicago
Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder – 8 p.m. EST – NBC Sports Bay Area
Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies – 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast

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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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