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The Rundown v122420 – Harden Embarrasses the Rockets, Westbrook and Jokic notch Triple Doubles (in Losses)

On a night when 26 teams were trying to take center stage on Opening Night, Part Deux, James Harden causes a postponement, while Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic notch triple double, Ja Morant gets 44, and Trae Young shoots .833 to get 37 in an Atlanta win.

On the second night of the 2020-21 NBA season – a true Opening Night, Part Deux where the remainder of the league’s 30 teams were set to square off in 13 scheduled games – instead of talking about the 12 exciting games that were, we’re talking about the one game that wasn’t.

A night where Russell Westbrook started his season off with a strong triple double, as did Nikola Jokic, both in losses. A night where seven players in 12 games had leading scorer debuts, but their team(s) lost their game(s).

But a night centered around (self-centered) James Harden, who single-handedly brought down the Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder matchup by defying the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols and taking teammates with him down that dark rabbit hole until the Rockets didn’t have enough players (eight) to play the game against Oklahoma City.

In a day when people were more team-oriented, much less selfish, and men were men, that was called a forfeit … and Oklahoma City should be 1-0.


Miami Heat  107
Orlando Magic  113

I don’t know that the Orlando Magic have ever entertained the thought of trading Evan Fournier, but with his consistency over the last few years, I’d make sure John Hammond never considers it. After last night’s performance, I’d like to think Fournier has fortified his tenure with the Magic.

The ninth year guard scored 15 of his 25 points in the second half to help the Magic to a 34-24 fourth quarter comeback over the reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat last night in Orlando.

Aaron Gordon chipped in 20 points and seven rebounds on the night, Terence Ross had 19 points, and Markelle Fultz went for 15 points – five rebounds, and four assists in the win.

HEAT (0-1)MAGIC (1-0)
Bam Adebayo (.688)
25 points – 11 rebounds – four assists – one block
Evan Fournier (.692)
25 points – four assists – three steals
Goran Dragic (.615)
20 points – four rebounds – seven assists – one steal
Aaron Gordon (.727)
20 points – seven rebounds – four steals
Jimmy Butler (.467)
19 points – three rebounds – seven assists – seven steals
Terence Ross (.429)
19 points – three rebounds – one assist – one steal

Miami’s Bam Adebayo matched Fournier’s 25 point effort and added 11 rebounds for the Heat. Goran Dragic returned to the starting lineup to add 20 points, Jimmy Butler finished with 19 points, seven assists, and seven steals, while Duncan Robinson scored 14 and Tyler Herro had 13.

Pelicans at Heat – Christmas Day, 12 p.m. EST – ESPN
Magic at Wizards – Saturday, 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Florida, NBC-Washington


Charlotte Hornets  114
Cleveland Cavaliers  121

A 41-21 second quarter run by the Cleveland Cavaliers shook the Charlotte Hornets as they sought their first win of the season, despite a 70 point combined output from Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward.

Coming off an injured pinky on his shooting hand, Hayward sat out the final two pre-season games and came out firing last night, hitting 11 of his 18 shots and four of eight from beyond the arc. Rozier was even hotter, shooting 65.2 percent en route to a game high 42 points in the loss. 

Bismack Biyombo shot 100 percent in his 24 minutes, and had 11 points, while it was a 10 point and 10 assist contribution from Devonte’ Graham, but it wasn’t enough to come back after being nearly double in the second quarter. No. 3 pick LaMelo Ball came off the bench for zero points, a rebound, three assists, and two steals. P.J. Washington and Cody Zeller barely combined for 10 points. 

Terry Rozier (.652)
42 points – three rebounds – two assists – two steals – one block
Collin Sexton (.563)
27 points – two rebounds – one block
Gordon Hayward (.611)
28 points – four rebounds – seven assists – one steal
Darius Garland (.538)
22 points – six rebounds – six assists – one steal
Bismack Biyombo (1.000)
11 points – four rebounds – one block
Andre Drummond (.389)
14 points – 14 rebounds – four assists – one steal

For the Cavaliers, it was their guards that heated things up, with Collin Sexton providing 27 points and Darius Garland another 22 points, along with six rebounds and just as many assists. 

Seven Cavaliers got in the fray, with Andre Drummond dropping a double double, looking the most comfortable in a Cavaliers uniform that I’ve seen him so far. Larry Nance, Jr. and JaVale McGee each threw in 13 points, while rookie Isaac Okoro and veteran big man Cedi Osman chalked up 11 points apiece in the win. Nance also had 13 rebounds.

Thunder at Hornets – Saturday, 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Oklahoma
Cavaliers at Pistons – Saturday, 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Ohio


Washington Wizards  107
Philadelphia 76ers  113

After being swept out the the first round of last season’s playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers made a statement last night in their opening game of the 2020-21 NBA season, even if it was against the Washington Wizards.

Head coach Doc Rivers said over the off-season he was impressed with Shake Milton and was going to give the wiry guard chances to do more within the 76ers offense. He obliged in the pre-season and continued last night, scoring 19 points and helping the Sixers’ offense flow to stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Embiid finished with 29 and 14 on the night, while Simmons – whose name has been dangled in media reports over the past couple of months as trade bait – responded with a solid line of 16 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and three blocks. Seth Curry added 13 points, Furkan Korkmaz had 11, and #VFL Tobias Harris finished with 10.

Bradley Beal (.500)
31 points – two rebounds – three assists – four steals
Joel Embiid (.588)
29 points – 14 rebounds – two assists – one block
Russell Westbrook (.409)
21 points – 11 rebounds – 15 assists 
Shake Milton (.545)
19 points – one rebound – three assists – three steals
Davis Bertans (.571)
14 points – three rebounds – one assist – one block
Ben Simmons (.583)
16 points – nine rebounds – seven assists – two steals – three blocks

The Wizards nearly came up with the upset after Bradley Beal’s 31 points night, and Russell Westbrook jumped back in the triple double conversation from Jump Street, scoring 21, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing 15 dimes in the loss.

Davis Bertans and Thomas Bryant were the only other Wizards in double digits, with 14 and 10, respectively. Rookie Deni Avdija started and shot 100 percent, but didn’t get many touches in his seven point debut.

Magic at Wizards – Saturday, 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Florida, NBC-Washington
Sixers at Knicks – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST – MSG Network, NBC-Philadelphia


New York Knicks  107
Indiana Pacers  121

With the Indiana Pacers struggling through the pre-season, and the New York Knicks going 3-1 in the games that didn’t count, head coach Tom Thibodeau hit the nail on the head when he said “we’re 0-0,” trying to help his guys focus on the games that do count.

Sorry Coach – you’re 0-1 now.

The duo that Indiana has been banking on since acquiring them from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Paul George has been Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo. The pair has been wracked with injuries for at least half of their tenure together in Indianapolis (mostly Oladipo), but looked as one last night in the win over the visiting Knicks.

Sabonis led all scorers with an All Star worthy performance of 32 points (a career high) and 13 rebounds while shooting above 60 percent. Oladipo shot just as impressively, if not a tad more, in his 22 points night, where Malcolm Brogdon also joined the 20+ club with his 21 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists.

Doug McDermott added 13 points and six rebounds, while Myles Turner went for 10 and eight. 

KNICKS (0-1)PACERS (1-0)
R.J. Barrett (.733)
26 points – eight rebounds – five assists
Domantas Sabonis (.611)
32 points – 13 rebounds – five assists – one steal
Alec Burks (.500)
22 points – four rebounds – three assists – one steal – one block
Victor Oladipo (.643)
22 points – four rebounds – four assists – one steal
Julius Randle (.467)
17 points – nine rebounds – nine assists
Malcolm Brogdon (.500)
21 points – seven rebounds – eight assists – two steals

New York, who had success with R.J. Barrett and Immanuel Quickley in the backcourt during the pre-season, elected to go with Barrett (team high 26 points) and Elfrid Payton (seven points) instead. Quickley came off the deep bench for five points in 12 minutes, going a paltry one for three.

Alec Burks also came off the bench, kicking in 22 points for New York, while Julius Randle had 17 and nine, and Reggie Bullock finished with 11.

Sixers at Knicks – Saturday, 7:30 p.m. EST – MSG Network, NBC-Philadelphia
Pacers at Bulls – Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Indiana, NBC-Chicago


Milwaukee Bucks  121
Boston Celtics  122

For much of the night, it looked as if the Milwaukee Bucks had gotten back on track after a rough and inconsistent pre-season. But when you only score 50 points over the second and third quarters to Boston’s 70, there wasn’t enough gas in the tank to overcome the Celtics’ lead and the team that has had the NBA’s best record the last two seasons began the 2020-21 season 0-1.

Giannis Antetokuonmpo scored a game high 35, but missed free throws when it counted, failing to answer Jayson Tatum’s game-winning three pointer to give the Bucks a shot at a win in an otherwise competitive game.

Khris Middleton added 27 and 14, while Jrue Holiday’s Milwaukee debut was a solid showing of 25 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Donte DiVincenzo and Payton Pritchard pestered each other most of the night, with DiVincenzo getting 15 points to Pritchard’s three, but Pritchard and the Celtics getting the last laugh in the end.

BUCKS (0-1)CELTICS (1-0)
Giannis Antetokuonmpo (.500)
35 points – 13 rebounds – two assists – two blocks
Jaylen Brown (.542)
33 points – five rebounds – four assists – two steals – one block
Khris Middleton (.500)
27 points – 14 rebounds – eight assists
Jayson Tatum (.429)
30 points – seven rebounds – two assists – two steals – one block
Jrue Holiday (.625)
25 points – six rebounds – three assists – two steals – one block
Jeff Teague (.467)
19 points – three rebounds – four assists – two steals – one block

Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 63 points and Jeff Teague dropped 19 in his debut as a Boston Celtic, and temporary substitute for Kemba Walker, who is slated to return in January 2021. Tristan Thompson also made his debut for the Celtics with 12 and eight on the night, while Daniel Thies finished with 10.

Warriors at Bucks – Christmas Day, 2:30 p.m. EST – ABC
Nets at Celtics – Christmas Day, 5 p.m. EST – ABC


New Orleans Pelicans  113
Toronto Raptors  99

Even without Zion Williamson headlining the stat sheet, the New Orleans Pelicans looked like the dark horse team to beat, both last night against the Toronto Raptors, and this season as the NBA’s most improved, in front of a reported 3,000 last night in Tampa, Florida.

Brandon Ingram led the way in an all-too-familiar role last night, scoring a game high 24 points to go along with nine rebounds and 11 assists in the Pelicans’ season opening win. J.J. Redick shot 57.1 percent for 23 points, Eric Bledsoe dropped 18 in his New Orleans debut, while Lonzo Ball hit for 16 points and five rebounds, and Williamson finished with 15 points in 29 minutes, shooting a nice 77.8 percent.

Brandon Ingram (.526)
24 points – nine rebounds – 11 assists – three steals – one block
Pascal Siakam (.427)
20 points – six rebounds – six assists
J.J. Redick (.571)
23 points – three rebounds – one assist
Kyle Lowry (.467)
18 points – one rebound – 10 assists – one steal
Eric Bledsoe (.500)
18 points – two rebounds – six assists – one steal – one block
Chris Boucher (.750)
12 points – five rebounds – two blocks

The Pelicans came from 11 down to take the win from the scrappy Raptors, who only got 20 points from Pascal Siakam and 18 from Kyle Lowry. Newly extended multi-millionaire Fred VanVleet struggled to his nine points on 25 percent shooting, and O.G. Anunoby, also recently extended, finished with eight and eight.

Chris Boucher and Norman Powell scored 12 points apiece, while Aron Baynes ended the night at 11 and nine in his Raptors debut. 

Raptors at Spurs – Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST – KENS, SportsNet
Spurs at Pelicans – Sunday, 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports New Orleans


Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets

(AP) Houston’s home opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night was scrapped after coronavirus cases and James Harden’s violation of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols left the Rockets without the league-mandated eight players available. The NBA announced the postponement in a release that said three Rockets players had returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive and that four other players were quarantined because of contract tracing.

The release also said that Harden was unavailable for the game because of a violation of health and safety protocols after video of the disgruntled star surfaced on social media where he was without a mask at a crowded party in a private event space Tuesday night. Already a distraction to the team amid months of rumors that he wants to be traded. Harden’s latest move potentially threatened the health and safety of his team and kept the Rockets from beginning their season.

The NBA’s announcement indicated that Harden being found in violation of the protocols was the determining factor in the Rockets not having the eight necessary players to play; it would have been known before the team and league probed the Harden situation that one player was hurt, three others positive and four others would be in quarantine. Houston has 16 players on its roster; with seven dealing with tests or quarantine and one hurt, that would have left eight eligible players, which is the league minimum to start a game. Harden’s unavailability lowered Houston’s total of available players to seven.

Houston’s injury report released Wednesday morning that Ben McLemore and rookie K.J. Martin were not with the team and were self-isolating and that DeMarcus Cousins was questionable because of a sprained right ankle. The NBA’s health and safety protocols for this season make it very clear: players are not allowed to attend large indoor social gatherings (meaning 15 or more people); bars, lounges, clubs and similar establishments; live performance venues and other such places. Harden’s since-deleted Instagram post explaining why he attended the event in question would certainly suggest that he was in violation of those rules.

“One thing after another. I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in a position of success and now it’s a problem. Everyday it’s something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t. The real people always end up on top.” — James Harden post

Harden, according to the protocols, may now be ordered into quarantine. And it will likely cost him a good sum of money; players “also may be subject to a proportionate adjustment to pay for any games missed during the period that the player is in quarantine and undergoing testing due to engaging in such activities and/or conduct,” the NBA said. Harden could lose about $280,000 for each game missed. Houston’s next scheduled game is Saturday at Portland.

Thunder at Hornets – Saturday, 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Oklahoma
Rockets at Blazers – Saturday, 10 p.m. EST – AT&T Southeast, NBC-Northwest


Atlanta Hawks  124
Chicago Bulls  104

On a night when Trae Young is blistering the nets at an 83.3 percent clip, it’s going to be very difficult to bring down the Atlanta Hawks, and the Chicago Bulls found that out at the United Center last night.

Young scored a game high 37 points on 10 of 12 from the field and five of six from downtown to lead the Atlanta Hawks to an Opening Night win on the Bulls’ home floor, where Chicago shot 41 percent as a team.

Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen were on point, combining for 57.1 percent shooting and 43 combined points to lead the Bulls. Florida State rookie Patrick Williams figures to be a significant part of the rotation as he rounded out the top three with 16 points in his debut. 

Otto Porter, Jr. finished with 14, but it wasn’t enough to ground the Hawks, who shot 53 percent as a team. Coby White only finished with nine points, while Wendell Carter, Jr. wound up with only six and six.

HAWKS (1-0)BULLS (0-1)
Trae Young (.833)
37 points – six rebounds – seven assists
Zach LaVine (.474)
22 points – two rebounds – one assist – one steal
Bogdan Bogdanovic (.417)
15 points – seven rebounds – two assists – one steal
Lauri Markkanen (.667)
21 points – seven rebounds – four assists – one steal
John Collins (.600)
14 points – four rebounds – two assists – two blocks
Patrick Williams (.455)
16 points – four rebounds – one assist – one steal – one block

Aside from Young’s 37, newcomers Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari finished the night with 15 points and 13 points, respectively. Cam Reddish also had 15, while John Collins had 14, and it was 11 points apiece for both De’Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter

Fellow newcomers Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn did not play last night, nor did Clint Capela or rookie draft pick Onyeka Okongwu.

Hawks at Grizzlies – Saturday, 5 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
Pacers at Bulls – Saturday, 8 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Indiana, NBC-Chicago


San Antonio Spurs  131
Memphis Grizzlies  119

The San Antonio Spurs had no intentions of starting off 2020-21 the same way they began last season, or even the rough shod pre-season they just wrapped earlier in the week.

Instead, they came out like a Gregg Popovich-coached team and pounded the Memphis Grizzlies with a 36-20 second quarter and a lesson that former Popovich-coaching-family protege Taylor Jenkins won’t soon forget.

Though Ja Morant would lead all scorers in the game – and even all scorers in the league last night – Popovich would let Morant get his and shut the rest of the Grizzlies down defensively, even fouling Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks out of the game.

Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray, and LaMarcus Aldridge would put on the hurt, combining for 69 points on 54.3 percent shooting collectively to counter Morant. Lonnie Walker IV and Keldon Johnson added 16 points apiece, and Rudy Gay finished the night with 10 and seven.

DeMar DeRozan (.500)
28 points – nine rebounds – nine assists – one steal – one block
Ja Morant (.667)
44 points – two rebounds – nine assists – two steals – one block
Dejounte Murray (.600)
21 points – six rebounds – nine assists – two steals
Dillon Brooks (.500)
16 points – four rebounds – six assists – two steals – FOULED OUT
LaMarcus Aldridge (.529)
20 points – three rebounds – one assist – one block
Jonas Valanciunas (.545)
15 points – 13 rebounds – two assists – one steal – one block

Morant shot a streaking 18 of 27 to get to his 44 points, and also had nine assists, despite the loss. Brooks finished with 16, and Jonas Valanciunas added 15 points and 13 rebounds in a classic double double performance. Brandon Clarke was the only other player in double figures for the Grizzlies at 10 points.

Jaren Jackson, Jr. and Justise Winslow still haven’t played a lick this season/pre-season, while rookie Desmond Bane finished with six points and four rebounds in garbage time.

Hawks at Grizzlies – Saturday, 5 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Southeast
Raptors at Spurs – Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST – KENS, SportsNet


Detroit Pistons  101
Minnesota Timberwolves  111

A double digit deficit doesn’t mean a thing when you have Karl-Anthony Towns and No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards in your frontcourt if you’re the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Towns scored 22 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists while former Georgia Bulldog Edwards added 15 points in his NBA debut, and the Timberwolves came back to scratch and claw their way to a 10 point win last night in Minneapolis.

Malik Beasley put his legal woes behind him and focused on the prize, leading all scorers with 23 points on the night, while D’Angelo Russell, Josh Okogie, and Jarrett Culver all finished with 18, 12, and 10, respectively. The Timberwolves came back from double digits behind a 31-16 fourth quarter as they finished strong and respectably.

Josh Jackson (.571)
19 points – six rebounds – two assists – one steal
Malik Beasley (.556)
23 points – four rebounds – two assists – one steal
Blake Griffin (.462)
15 points – seven rebounds – two assists – one block
Karl-Anthony Towns (.600)
22 points – 11 rebounds – seven assists – one steal – two blocks
Derrick Rose (.538)
15 points – one rebound – six assists – two steals – one block
D’Angelo Russell (.438)
18 points – five rebounds – four assists – one steal

Most of Detroit’s production came from the bench, as Josh Jackson and Derrick Rose popped for 19 and 15, respectively. Blake Griffin and Mason Plumlee were the only starters in double digits; Griffin had 15 and Plumlee had 14.

Rookie Saddiq Bey did not play, and newcomer Jahlil Okafor – on his fourth team in six seasons – finished with eight and seven in 15 minutes off the deep bench.

Cavaliers at Pistons – Saturday, 7 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Ohio
Timberwolves at Jazz – Saturday, 9 p.m. EST – AT&T Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports North


Sacramento Kings  124
Denver Nuggets  122 (OT)

The Denver Nuggets like to think of themselves as the cardiac comeback kids, but this is no way to start an NBA season, any more than it was the way to start their NBA pre-season.

For the Sacramento Kings, it’s something to build upon, and a moral – and literal – victory for head coach Luke Walton … you can win with Buddy Hield as your go-to guy.

The Kings put together a 59-52 second half to knot the game at 112-112 by the final buzzer, earning the overtime period, where they put the Nuggets away despite a fantastic triple double performance from Nikola Jokic.

Hield, who led the Kings with 22 points, was the hero after tipping in a blocked dunk attempt for the game winner. Harrison Barnes and De’Aaron Fox added 21 points apiece in the tight affair, while Marvin Bagley III had 13 and nine, rookie Tyrese Haliburton added 12 in his NBA debut, and Nemanja Bjelica hit for 10 in the Kings opening night win.

KINGS (1-0)NUGGETS (0-1)
Buddy Hield (.467)
22 points – four rebounds – three assists – one steal
Nikola Jokic (.611)
29 points – 15 rebounds – 14 assists – three blocks
Harrison Barnes (.533)
21 points – nine rebounds – five assists – two steals
Michael Porter, Jr. (.600)
24 points – five rebounds – two assists – two steals – three blocks
De’Aaron Fox (.400)
21 points – four rebounds – seven assists – one steal – one block
Paul Millsap (.538)
16 points – seven rebounds – three assists

Jokic and Michael Porter, Jr. both had a solid night, and Paul Millsap finished with a respectable 16 and seven; but Jamal Murray fouled out of the game with only nine points in 34 minutes. Will Barton also added 16, while Gary Harris finished with 10 points. Seven players didn’t see any action, including rookie R.J. Hampton, JaMychael Green, and Bol Bol.

I feel sorry for the Los Angeles Clippers come Christmas Day, though they will have revenge on their minds.

Suns at Kings – Saturday, 10 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Arizona, NBC-California
Clippers at Nuggets – Christmas Day, 10:30 p.m. EST – ESPN


Utah Jazz  120
Portland Trailblazers  100

Whether or not anyone wants to admit it, there’s something amiss with the Portland Trailblazers ever since their fall from grace against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference two seasons ago.

They added Carmelo Anthony last season and he re-upped with the Blazers this past off-season. They also have Jusuf Nurkic back and healthy. But something still doesn’t feel right with my hometown team.

The Utah Jazz, however, are hitting all the right notes at the right times, and did so last night in Portland, dismantling the Blazers by 20 points with a 65-44 first half that made for a smooth ride for the Jazz through the scenic Sunday drive of a second half.

Recently re-inked Rudy Gobert made good on his extension with am 80 percent shooting performance that gave him 20 points on the night, matching the teammate everyone said wanted him out of Dodge (Donovan Mitchell), after last season’s COVID-19 tomfoolery (e.g. mics, teammates, not taking the virus seriously).

Together, Mitchell and Gobert also combined for 20 rebounds in the win. Mike Conley added 18 points, while Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson hit for 15 points apiece, Joe Ingles finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and Derrick Favors added 10 and seven in his return to Utah.

Rudy Gobert (.800)
20 points – 17 rebounds – two assists – one steal
C.J. McCollum (.368)
23 points – four rebounds – three assists – one block
Donovan Mitchell (.375)
20 points – three rebounds – five assists – one steal
Carmelo Anthony (.417)
15 points – four rebounds – one steal
Mike Conley (.400)
18 points – three rebounds – two assists
Enes Kanter (1.000)
14 points – eight rebounds

Portland was led by game high scorer C.J. McCollum’s 23 point performance, while Anthony finished with 15 and Enes Kanter returned to Portland, shooting 100 percent for 14 points. Nurkic finished with 13 and Gary Trent, Jr. added 11, while the Blazers only got nine points apiece from Damian Lillard and Derrick Jones, Jr.

Harry Giles, who had a couple of solid games in the pre-season, finished with four points, Robert Covington had only a tick in the scoring column with a free throw, while Rodney Hood got the goose egg. 

Timberwolves at Jazz – Saturday, 9 p.m. EST – AT&T Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports North
Rockets at Blazers – Saturday, 10 p.m. EST – AT&T Southeast, NBC-Northwest


Dallas Mavericks  102
Phoenix Suns  106

The Dallas Mavericks had better put this one to rest quickly – they have a game against the 0-1 Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow evening and they were the last ones to bed last night after a late nighter against the Phoenix Suns.

With Kristaps Porzingis sidelined yet again (as previously well-predicted and well-documented by yours truly), the onus was on Luka Doncic to carry this Mavericks team to a win over the Suns, who went winless in pre-season after an impressive 8-0 run in the bubble at Orlando in August.

Doncic would score a game high 32 points, but got little help beyond the 12 points apiece from #VFL Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. Dorian Finney-Smith would finish with 11 points and eight rebounds, while the Mavs would get 10 more from Maxi Kleber, but it wouldn’t be enough against a Suns team that refused to set.

Luka Doncic (.423)
32 points – eight rebounds – five assists
Devin Booker (.533)
22 points – five rebounds – three assists – two steals
Josh Richardson (.455)
12 points – seven rebounds – one assist – one steal
Mikal Bridges (.455)
18 points – seven rebounds – two blocks
Tim Hardaway, Jr. (.300)
12 points – four rebounds – one steal
Cameron Johnson (.556)
15 points – five rebounds – one assist – one steal

In an all-too-familiar refrain, Devin Booker would lead the Suns with a 22 point performance on 53.3 percent shooting. Mikal Bridges added 18 and seven on the night, Cam Johnson shot 55.6 percent en route to 15 points, while DeAndre Ayton added 13 and eight, and Phoenix got 11 points apiece from Cameron Payne and Langston Galloway off the bench in the win.

Chris Paul mustered just eight points, four rebounds, and five assists in his Phoenix debut.

Porzingis is cleared and actively participating in practice after rehabilitating a surgically repaired torn meniscus. He injured the knee in last season’s playoff opener and continued to play through it, causing the damage that required surgery. He is targeted for a January return.

Mavericks at Lakers – Christmas Day, 8 p.m. EST – ESPN
Suns at Kings – Saturday, 10 p.m. EST – Fox Sports Arizona, NBC-California


Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for
He has written the NBA, and done NBA radio, for the last two-plus decades for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, and HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show and, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be 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
  • Denver
  • Oklahoma City
  • Atlanta 

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

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