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The Rundown w/T-Money … for October 27, 2019

A ‘Ja’-dropping performance from the Grizzlies, OKC gets their first win, and the Timberwolves are undefeated through last night’s five games.

A ‘Ja’-dropping performance from the Grizzlies, OKC gets their first win, and the Timberwolves are undefeated through last night’s five games.

Schroder Leads Thunder to First Win

Golden State Warriors (0-2)92
Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2)120

The Oklahoma City Thunder traded away nearly all of their valuable assets this summer in return for 17 pick overall, which will certainly not just sit in Sam Presti’s back pockets. That left a gaping void of leadership when it comes to a roster that has had solid leadership for the entire history of the franchise,

Warriors

  • Stephen Curry: 23 points – eight rebounds – five assists
  • Draymond Green: 10 points – five rebounds – two assists
  • Marquese Chriss: 10 points – four rebounds – three assists

Thunder

  • Dennis Schroder: 22 points – eight rebounds – six assists
  • Danilo Gallinari: 21 points – one rebound – 0 assists
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 19 points – nine rebounds – four assists

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the appointed new imagery as franchise leadership, but Dennis Schroder shrugged that off yesterday afternoon and led the rudderless Thunder to their first victory of the season.

The Thunder scored 35 points in each of the first periods to take a commanding 105-68 lead into the fourth quarter, shooting 55 percent to Golden State’s 32 percent.

Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 23 points, but only shot 38.9 percent from the floor, an obvious off night for the sharpshooting guard. 

The Warriors were coming off the opening night loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers. Golden State has had the ‘luxury’ of having Kawhi Leonard beat them in their last game at Oracle Arena and their first game at the Chase Center.

Both teams are looking for answers, and Oklahoma City found one last night.

SIDELINES

  • Oklahoma City led 70-37 at the half.
  • Kevon Looney is still out with a hamstring issue.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein (left foot) is expected back soon
  • After arguing with an official, D’Angelo Russell was ejected from the game.

NEXT UP
Golden State @ New Orleans tonight
Oklahoma City @ Houston tonight

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

Grizz Claw Their Way to Victory

Brooklyn Nets (1-2)133
Memphis Grizzlies (1-2)134 (OT)

It took some digging, scratching, and clawing to get there, but the Memphis Grizzlies finally secured their first win of the season last night, taking the Brooklyn Nets to overtime and coming out with the same record in the end.

Nets

  • Kyrie Irving: 37 points – seven rebounds – seven assists
  • Caris LeVert: 27 points – four rebounds – five assists
  • Spencer Dinwiddie: 16 points – three rebounds – eight assists

Grizzlies

  • Ja Morant: 30 points – four rebounds – nine assists
  • Dillon Brooks: 21 points – two rebounds – two assists
  • Jonas Valanciunas: 16 points – 11 rebounds – four assists

The Grizzlies’ top draft pick, and No. 2 overall – Ja Morant – broke out with a 30 point night, and while it didn’t eclipse Kyrie Irving’s 37 point output, Morant showed an incredible amount of leadership where Irving just has to have the ball in his hands the majority of the time.

It’s about trust, and the Grizzlies showed a trust in Morant and one another that hasn’t been seen much yet, until last night.

Seven Memphis players hit double digit scoring and the team outperformed the Nets in the assist column, 33-29.

Morant scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and blocked Irving’s attempt as the clock expired, sending to two teams into the extra session.

SIDELINES

  • Kyrie Irving has played 11 games versus the Grizzlies and has scored at least 20 points in each.
  • Memphis has led at the half in all three of their games this season.
  • Head coach Taylor Jenkins was given the game ball for his first NBA victory.

NEXT UP
Memphis @ Los Angeles (Lakers) on Tuesday

Indiana @ Brooklyn on Wednesday

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

Strong Start, Strong Finish Keep Wolves Undefeated

Miami Heat (2-1)109
Minnesota Timberwolves (3-0)116

The temperatures outside the Target Center may be dropping due to the natural progression of the calendar; but inside, the Minnesota Timberwolves survived a ‘Heat’wave and proved that at 3-0, they are cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Heat

  • Kendrick Nunn: 25 points – four rebounds – two assists
  • Duncan Robinson: 21 points – two rebounds – one assist
  • Justise Winslow: 20 points – eight rebounds – six assists

Timberwolves

  • Andrew Wiggins: 25 points – six rebounds – 0 assists
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 23 points – 11 rebounds – four assists
  • Jeff Teague: 21 points – one rebound – eight assists

The Heat utilized their big men to try and keep Karl-Anthony Towns subdued, but it was Andrew Wiggins rising to the top and keeping the T’Wolves out of the ‘L’ column.

Jeff Teague shot 62.5 percent to lead Minnesota’s otherwise horrid shooting, but the team won it in rebounding and on the free throw line, where they 33 times – 18 more than Miami.

Miami also turned the ball over 21 times, which didn’t help their cause. Meanwhile, Wiggins scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and hit for four three-pointers.

Lost in the dust is the fact that undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn stepped up big for his Heat for the third straight game, tying Wiggins for game high points.

SIDELINES

  • The Wolves went 6-0 to start both the 2001-02 and 2013-14 campaigns. They’re halfway there.
  • Wiggins was 0-for-13 from downtown until last night.
  • The Heat were once again without Jimmy Butler (wife had a baby).

NEXT UP

Atlanta @ Miami on Tuesday

Minnesota @ Philadelphia on Wednesday

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

Dallas Starts Strong, Wilts in the End

Portland Trailblazers (2-1)121
Dallas Mavericks (2-1)119

The Dallas Mavericks jumped out to a 40-25 first quarter against the visiting Portland Trailblazers, lost that lead to end up tied at the end of three, and handed the Western Conference Finalists a road win that should have been Dallas’.

Blazers

  • C.J. McCollum: 35 points – six rebounds – four assists
  • Damian Lillard: 28 points – three rebounds – five assists
  • Rodney Hood: 20 points – six rebounds – 0 assists

Mavericks

  • Kristaps Porzingis: 32 points – nine rebounds – five assists
  • Luka Doncic: 29 points – 12 rebounds – nine assists
  • Maxi Kleber: 14 points – six rebounds – three assists

The win saw the re-emergence of C.J. McCollum, who led the Blazers with a strong 35 point game reminiscent of his play throughout the Western Conference playoff run at the end of last season.

It also negated what were arguably spectacular performances by Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic – which again begs the question, who else on the Mavericks roster is going to step up? With consistency?

Last night, it was Maxi Kleber. Tim Hardaway, Jr. netting 11 really doesn’t jibe with the millions he’s making, while Jalen Brunson and Delon Wright didn’t even crack double digit scoring.

Portland, however, is integrating their newcomers nicely, while still managing to sate the players it had in regular rotation last year. Hassan Whiteside had 14 rebounds and Kent Bazemore finished with 11 and five last night.

SIDELINES

  • McCollum’s 35 last night were his most since December 12th of last year, when he dropped 40.
  • Last night was the 15th time Porzingis has scored 30 points or more since December 2017.
  • Happy Birthday to head coach Rick Carlisle, who turned 60 on game day.

NEXT UP

Portland @ San Antonio tonight

Dallas @ Denver on Tuesday

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

Lakers Beat Hornets, Now Tied with Clippers

Charlotte Hornets (1-2)101
Los Angeles Lakers (2-1)120

A few days after falling at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers are suddenly tied with their Staples Center roomies, thanks to fortuitous scheduling and the Phoenix Suns.

Hornets

  • Miles Bridges: 23 points – six rebounds – three assists
  • Cody Zeller: 19 points – 14 rebounds – one assist
  • Terry Rozier: 19 points – six rebounds – four assists

Lakers

  • Anthony Davis: 29 points – 14 rebounds – three assists
  • LeBron James: 20 points – six rebounds – 12 assists
  • Dwight Howard: 16 points – 10 rebounds – one assist

It was a great night for big in L.A. – past and present. With Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard locking down the frontcourt, it took the pressure off of LeBron James and had me seeing, at least for a little while, why Laker believers think this team could make the NBA Finals.

Three games in, I’m still doubtful, but then again I see things objectively. There are better teams out there and saying a team with Davis, James, Howard and Kyle Kuzma on it has areas of opportunity makes it almost sound like an absurd statement.

But it’s true, and the Lakers showed as much last night, with Davis playing his role comfortably for the first game that I’ve seen. He looked established, not lost, Howard is beginning to look like the Dwight Howard of Orlando, and Kuzma hasn’t even come back into the fold yet.

The Hornets played the second half like the Lakers had sprayed water on them, scoring only 39 points combined in the final two stanzas.

The news doesn’t get any better for Charlotte, either. Though they got to stay in town and play in the same arena tonight, it’s against the Los Angeles Clippers, who’ll try to stay one step ahead of the Lakers.

SIDELINES

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope started the season 0-for-11 but ended that drought last night with 10 points.
  • Devontae’ Graham finished in single digits after hitting for 23 and 24 in the Hornets’ first two games.
  • Howard’s performance had him going from boos in the first game to cheers last night – had to feel good.

NEXT UP

Charlotte @ Los Angeles (Clippers) tonight
Memphis @ Los Angeles (Lakers) Tuesday

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

TONIGHT’S GAMES

Indiana Pacers @ Detroit Pistons – 7 p.m. EDT – Fox Sports Detroit
Chicago Bulls @ New York Knicks – 7 p.m. EDT – NBA Sports Chicago
Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks – 7:30 p.m. EDT – NBA Sports Philadelphia
Orlando Magic @ Toronto Raptors – 7:30 p.m. EDT – Fox Sports Florida
Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans – 8 p.m. EDT – NBATV
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets – 8 p.m. EDT – AT&T SportsNet Southwest
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Milwaukee Bucks – 8 p.m. EDT – Fox Sports Ohio
Portland Trailblazers @ San Antonio Spurs – 8:30 p.m. EDT – Fox Sports Southwest
Utah Jazz @ Phoenix Suns – 10 p.m. EDT – Fox Sports Arizona
Denver Nuggets @ Sacramento Kings – 10 p.m. EDT – Altitude
Charlotte Hornets @ Los Angeles Clippers – 10:30 p.m. EDT – NBATV

*** 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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