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The Rundown w/T-Money

The Rundown v11.18.22 – Is It Time to Rename It ‘Loss’ Angeles or ‘Lost’ Angeles?

As the season passes the one month mark, the standings continue to befuddle us, flipping expectations and bringing new blood into the mix.

If you had the Boston Celtics with an undefeated run through their four games this past week, then you’ve been paying attention to the fact that Jayson Tatum and the boys are itching to get back and prove themselves in the NBA Finals. 

After all, they’ve won eight straight.

But if you’re going to tell me you had the Sacramento Kings also running undefeated through four, and your name’s not head coach Mike Brown, then dinner’s on you because you ran the table on Bet MGM, Wynn, Caesar’s, FanDuel and Draft Kings … and all I can say is, teach me Obi-Wan.

And don’t discount the Indiana Pacers’ 2-0 record this week just because they only played two games; so did the Los Angeles Lakers and the Pacers finished with a better record for Week Three than L.A. did.

Other than a slight shift between the Pacers and Chicago Bulls, the entire Eastern Conference maintained where it was a week ago.

The Western Conference – specifically the Pacific Division – seems to be about as stable as the San Andreas fault line, and just as disheveled as the California landscape – geographically and politically. 

Shaken. Stirred. And completely disheveled, as the team at the top thankfully resides in Arizona.

Pacers. Kings. I’m telling you that no one had them as movers and shakers four weeks into the season …

And just a quick question – shouldn’t we be adding an ‘S’ at this point, calling them the Loss Angeles Lakers? And who are they blaming this week? My vote goes to Rob Pelinka.

ATLANTIC 4 WEEKS IN
Celtics 

(56-26)

Celtics 

(12-3)

The Celtics went 4-0 … 8-0 in their last eight … cementing their reputation as the Eastern Conference favorite with resounding wins over the Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, and showing the Atlanta Hawks who’s boss. Jayson Tatum is fifth in the league in scoring at 31.1 per, has 466 total points scored and made 52 from downtown, fourth in the NBA.
Nets 

(54-28)

Raptors
(9-7)
The Raptors started a three game road trip with two losses against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers, but found their way in Detroit, beating the Pistons and came home to T.dot to beat the Miami Heat. Pascal Siakam continues to lead the team in all three major categories at 24.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 7.7 assists.
76ers 

(54-28)

Knicks
(8-7)
The Knicks had a nice week at 3-1, improving to one game over .500 with their only loss coming at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Garden. Julius Randle seems to have put the negative messages of so-called fans behind him at is moving along to lead the Knicks with 21.3 points and 8.9 rebounds. Jalen Brunson has settled into his role quietly, leading the team with 6.9 assists per night.
Raptors 

(44-38)

Sixers 

(7-7)

The Sixers fell to the Atlanta Hawks on the road, before coming home to Wells Fargo Center and returning the favor to the Hawks two nights later, and taking down the Utah Jazz by seven, as Joel Embiid dropped a career high 59 points. Embiid is tied for third in the league in scoring, at 32.3 points per game with Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Knicks 

(42-40)

Nets
(7-9)
Head coach Jacque Vaughn has settled in with the true Brooklyn Nets team, playing up to expectations with a 2-2 week. Despite a nice win to start the week against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Nets managed to give the Los Angeles Lakers their third win of the season the net night, got absolutely crushed by the Sacramento Kings, and then eked one out against the Portland Trailblazers in the Rose City. Kyrie Irving remained out under suspension, though he is expected to come back this week against the Memphis Grizzlies. Kevin Durant’s 490 points leads the NBA, while his 30.6 points per game leads the Nets, but is seventh in the NBA to date.

SOUTHEAST 4 WEEKS IN
Heat 

(56-26)

Hawks
(9-6)
A rough 2-2 showing for the birds this week, splitting with the Philadelphia 76ers, beating the Milwaukee Bucks convincingly, only to get trounced by the visiting Boston Celtics by 25 points. Trae Young has 130 assists so far this season, so the question marks surrounding how well he and Dejounte Murray have seemingly been answered. Now, how to bring back that winning mentality to compete consistently against teams like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Boston.
Hawks 

(51-31)

Wizards
(8-7)
The Wizards showed up at 3-1 this week, soundly defeating the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Memphis Grizzlies, before falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder by a single point on Wednesday night. All four games were at home. Bradley Beal naturally leads the team with 21.9 points per game; but the story may be Kristaps Porzingis finally hitting his groove in his seventh season, at 21 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Wizards 

(47-35)

Heat
(7-8)
The Heat are finally showing signs of life after going 3-1 this week. Wins over the Charlotte Hornets twice and defeating the Phoenix Suns by one – all at home in Miami, before having that run of wins extinguished by the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. Miami starts a three-game road trip tonight at division rival Washington, before heading to Cleveland and then Minnesota on Sunday and Monday.
Hornets 

(46-36)

Magic 

(4-11)

Orlando’s lone win this past week was a 17 point eclipse of the Phoenix Suns, where the Magic led wire to wire, holding the Suns to 40 percent shooting and 31 percent from downtown. Wendell Carter, Jr. led six Magic players with double digit scoring; he had 20 and 10 against the Suns. Cameron Payne was the high scorer for Phoenix with 22 points and Devin Booker was held to just 17. Quality win even if it was their fourth in as many weeks.
Magic 

(38-44)

Hornets 

(4-12)

The Hornets’ lone win over the Orlando Magic this week gave them a 1-3 mark, despite the return of LaMelo Ball. Ball returned scoring in the teens, but had his best game in a loss Wednesday night to the Indiana Pacers, scoring 26 points, but reinjuring his ankle after stepping on a fan’s foot.

CENTRAL 4 WEEKS IN
Cavaliers 

(55-27)

Bucks 

(11-3)

When you build the record the Bucks have, a 1-2 week is seemingly disastrous when compared to what you’ve done; but it’s an acceptable hiccup when the losses come at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks, but the win is against the upstart Cleveland Cavaliers. The two losses are just a measuring stick. Giannis Antetokuonmpo is second in the NBA in rebounds at 11.8 per night, while his 29.9 point scoring pace is eighth in the league.
Bucks 

(54-28)

Cavaliers
(8-6)
The Cavaliers had their roughest week to date, going winless in three games. Opportunities to beat the struggling Golden State Warriors, the inconsistent Minnesota Timberwolves, and the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks all came and went. That’s five consecutive losses for the Cavs, who have the chance to right the ship against Charlotte, Miami, Atlanta, and Portland in a four-game home stand that begins tonight against the Hornets. Jarrett Allen can work on improving his 11.5 rebounds a night, and pass a couple of notable names.
Pistons 

(43-39)

Pacers 

(7-6)

Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield led the Pacers to a 2-0 week with quality wins over the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets by 14 and 12, respectively. Hield had 22 against the Raptors, while Myles Turner finished the night with 19 and 10. Might just have to consider keeping these two. Haliburton finished with 22 points and 11 assists in the win against Charlotte.
Bulls 

(42-40)

Bulls
(6-9)
The Bulls lost fitting with an 0-2 showing this past week, losing to playoff-bound teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets. It was Chicago’s second loss to the Pelicans in the same week, and third game of their current three-game skid. They can fix that when they welcome the Orlando Magic later tonight. 
Pacers 

(30-52)

Pistons
(3-13)
Losses to the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Los Angeles Clippers led to an 0-4 week and contributed to the Pistons’ current five-game losing streak. Patience is key as this group assimilates, but Bojan Bogdanovic being the scoring leader at 20.5 ppg isn’t the direction I thought the Pistons had envisioned when they drafted Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren, and Jaden Ivey. He was the stop gap option when Detroit traded for him – at least he’s stopped them from being winless.

NORTHWEST 4 WEEKS IN
Timberwolves 

(56-26)

Blazers
(10-5)
The Blazers put together a 2-2 showing last week – average by most standards, but enough to vault them over the Utah Jazz, who have dominated the Northwest Division and the NBA conversation since Day One. Portland dropped the New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs, but succumbed to the Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets. Damian Lillard leads the team with 27.6 points a night, but Anfernee Simons continues his growth at 22.5 an outing, while Jerami Grant is fitting in nicely at 20.1 points and 4.9 rebounds.
Nuggets 

(55-27)

Nuggets
(9-5)
The Nuggets only logged one win in three games – beating the Chicago Bulls on the road last Sunday – finishing the week 1-2. Jamal Murray is averaging 16.5 points and 4.5 assists since returning to the lineup. 
Trailblazers 

(44-38)

Jazz
(10-6)
Utah finally fell to the earth this past week, going 0-3 against the likes of the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers on the road, and dropping to the New York Knicks at home. It is their first official losing streak of the season, and one I’m sure they are ready to put behind them as they prepare for the Phoenix Suns tonight before heading back on the road to Portland and L.A.
Jazz 

(36-46)

Timberwolves
(7-8)
Wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic on the road this week have the Timberwolves at 2-1 for the week, but still a game under .500 overall. They lost against the Memphis Grizzlies, which would have been a great confidence-building win for head coach Chris Finch and the boys.
Thunder 

(36-46)

Thunder
(7-8)
Normally, a 3-1 run for the Thunder would be a celebration, but when you’re still in last and still under .500, it’s hard to break out the confetti. While a win over the visiting Boston Celtics would have won the week for Oklahoma City, it’s hard to beat a team on an eight-game tear, especially when former Oklahoma State baller Marcus Smart comes home and torches you for 20 of his 22 in the second half to steal the win in the fourth quarter. But let’s at least celebrate wins over the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, and Washington Wizards. Progress is progress, no matter how slow.

SOUTHWEST 4 WEEKS IN
Grizzlies 

(60-22)

Pelicans
(9-6)
I’d like to say I’m surprised by the Pelicans’ play this first month of the season … but I’m not. There’s too much talent on this roster, and head coach Willie Green has molded it perfectly. A 3-1 run this week through teams like the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, and Chicago Bulls was impressive, because Zion Williamson was a spectator in most of those outings. New Orleans’ only loss this week was to CJ McCollum’s old buddy Damian Lillard and old team, the Portland Trailblazers. Keep swoopin’ New Orleans.
Mavericks 

(58-24)

Grizzlies
(9-6)
Though the Grizzlies and the New Orleans Pelicans both have 9-6 records, the Grizzlies’ 1-2 run this week is a big reason why they sit behind the Pelicans in the division. First and foremost, the Grizzlies lost to the Pelicans, despite 36, eight, and four from Ja Morant. They have been without Desmond Bane for two games due to a Grade II toe sprain. Bane will be re-evaluated in toe-to-three weeks – I mean, two-to-three weeks. Bane was averaging 18.2 points and was shooting 43.6 percent from beyond the arc. The team sorely misses him.
Pelicans 

(48-34)

Mavericks
(8-6)
A 2-2 split is raising questions about the Dallas Mavericks, who may be a move away from stepping up to the next level. Losing Jalen Brunson hurt, but he wasn’t the guy to get Dallas to the NBA Finals. Wins against the Portland Trailblazers and Los Angeles Clippers were nice, but to lose to the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards is unacceptable for a team that bounced the NBA’s best record out of the playoffs a season ago. The Mavericks need more than what Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Christian Wood are able to provide. They need a Draymond Green-type player – specifically Draymond Green. And the Golden State Warriors may fare better with Wood, if I’m being honest.
Spurs 

(40-42)

Spurs
(6-10)
San Antonio’s lone win this week came when the Milwaukee Bucks visited and got shot down in unfamiliar territory. Keldon Johnson took aim that day and dropped the Bucks with 29 points. It helped that Giannis Antetokuonmpo (left knee soreness), Khris Middleton (left wrist surgery recovery), and Jrue Holiday (right ankle sprain) didn’t play for Milwaukee.
Rockets 

(39-43)

Rockets
(3-12)
Houston’s one win this week happened upstate, where they beat the Dallas Mavericks by nine points, behind 17 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists from Kevin Porter, Jr. It helped that none of Dallas’ starting five could hit double digits – the only scoring coming off the bench from Tim Hardaway, Jr. (28) and Christian Wood (26). Seven Houston players scored in double digits at the Mavericks’ expense.

PACIFIC 4 WEEKS IN
Warriors 

(64-18)

Suns
(9-5)
A rough week for Phoenix, as the Suns lost both games in Florida (to the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat) before coming home and heating back up with their second win over the Golden State Warriors – no Klay Thompson-Devin Booker verbal jousting in this game, though, which made it less fun to watch other than the win. Chris Paul lost his NBA lead in assists per game with the emergence of Tyrese Haliburton’s play, while Booker is maintaining a 26.6 point click for 11th in NBA scoring.
Suns 

(59-23)

Kings
(8-6)
Y’all remember that encouragement by example by head coach Mike Brown early on in the season? It’s apparently infectious, as the typically-last-place Kings jousted their way to second in the division – over the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, and Los Angeles Lakers, no less – by going 4-0 this past week. The win streak is up to five going into last week’s games, with wins over the Warriors, Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Brooklyn Nets, and San Antonio Spurs.
Clippers 

(56-26)

Clippers
(9-7)
L.A. split their four games this week with expected wins over the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons, while falling unceremoniously to the Brooklyn Nets and getting pinched by the Dallas Mavericks. Question is, where is Kawhi Leonard, who’s only played in three of 16 games this season. That’s a lot of load management, even for Kawhi. 
Lakers 

(55-27)

Warriors
(6-9)
A 2-2 split this week is a step in the right direction for the Warriors, after going 3-7 in their last 10 games – atypical of the Warriors. Stephen Curry has put the team on his back, scoring 50 points in the loss at Phoenix, 47 in a win at home versus Sacramento (and then 37 n a loss to the Kings on the road), and 40 against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers in a win. Curry is averaging 33.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.8 dimes through the last 10 games for Golden State, while Klay Thompson works to get his groove back.
Kings 

(41-41)

Lakers
(3-10)
The Lakers only played two games in the last seven days – which is good new for LeBron James’ groin. But they only one one of them so in a two-game, eight-day stretch, they’re still a .500 team at best. The win was against the just-as-struggling Brooklyn Nets where Anthony Davis went off for 37 and 18 in James’ absence; the loss came at the hands of the Sacramento Kings where Davis led with 24 and 14, but Sacramento had six players in double figures with two of those from the bench. De’Aaron Fox had 32 points and 12 assists, while Domantas Sabonis added 21 and 10. Yes, Anthony Davis could not contain Domantas Sabonis. The Lakers haven’t played since last Sunday. No excuses this week as they welcome the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs at home – with or with LeBron James.

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

Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for BackSportsPage.com.
He has written the NBA, done NBA Radio, and appeared as a guest for the last 21+ years for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show, NBARadioShow.com, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 21 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (CBA, G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Atlanta.
He also enjoys covering G League and The Basketball League, and provides content for the Owensboro (Ky.) Thoroughbreds.

A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in SEC Country near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia  

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