NBA Round Up: 10/28/21

New York at Chicago: Knicks win—104-103

Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan’s shot at the buzzer fell short to secure the Knicks win in Chicago on Thursday night.

New York led 104-91 with less than three minutes to play and opened the door wide for the Bulls  when Julius Randle missed a pair of free throws in the final seconds to set up DeRozan’s opportunity.

An entertaining contest—a rarity in the NBA—saw the Knicks take control of the game late in the first. Using a ten-deep bench, New York led the rest of the way. New York controlled the boards and points in the paint.

Game Highs:
Knicks—Kemba Walker: 21
Bulls—Zach LaVine: 25

Records:
Knicks—4-1
Bulls—4-1

Best Watch: Chicago guard Alex Caruso (10-points/6-assists) was first off the bench for the Bulls and played well at both ends. It will be interesting to see how long he comes off the bench and how long Lonzo Ball remains a starter.

Around the NBA: The Washington Wizards improved to 4-1. Bradley Beal (27/8/8) led way in a 122-111 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks were led by John Collins (28/12//3).

Games Seen: 7
Lakers:2
Warriors:2
Suns:2
Knicks:2
Nuggets:1
Clippers:1
76ers:1
Bulls:1
Hawks:1
Pelicans:1

***

October 27, 2021

Atlanta at New Orleans: Hawks win—102-99

Pelicans led by as much as 16 in the first half and six, 59-53, at the break before falling to the Hawks.

Atlanta used 31-points by Trae Young and a 21-9 advantage on the offensive boards to secure the win. 

New Orleans played without Zion Williamson—hurt again—and they are still playing like a college team in the pros. In the last two years of watching the NBA, Pelican forward Brandon Ingram is the most dependable player to disappear down the stretch.

Game Highs:
Hawks—Young: 31/5/7
Pelicans—Devonte’ Graham: 21/5/6

Records:
Hawks—3-1
Pelicans—1-4

Best Watch: Atlanta forward John “The Baptist” Collins (16/12/4) works the glass, runs the floor and plays defense. He’s in his fifth year after being the 19th overall pick in 2017 by the Hawks out of Wake Forest.

Around the NBA: The Lakers blew a 26 point lead and lost to Oklahoma City. LeBron did not play. Anthony Davis scored 30…don’t know if he went to the floor in agony with another season ending injury. The Clippers lost at home to Cleveland, 92-79. They were outworked on the boards, 57-36, they only shot 13 free-throws, which means they were jacking up threes (41 total) and hitting only (9) 22%. Gross.

***

October 26, 2021

Philly at New York: Knicks win—112-99

The 76ers led by three at the end of one, and they weren’t missing Ben Simmons. In the second quarter, the Knicks went en fuego, made everything they put up, and Sixers began to remember how good Simmons is.

Philly struggled so much that Joel Embiid didn’t make a field goal in the first half. They shot 41 treys and hit only on 12. The Knicks went 16-of-37, making most of them when it counted and played with more energy.

Kemba Walker looks good in blue & orange, and when you think of the Knicks going forward, the oldest cliche in sports will decide the season…well, actually the second oldest cliche. The first oldest cliche is “We can’t turn the ball over,” but the second oldest cliche in sports (and frighteningly unavoidable) is, “If they can stay healthy.”

Game Highs:
76ers—Tobias Harris: 23/9/9
Knicks—Walker: 19/3/5

Records:
76ers—2-2
Knicks—3-1

Best Watch: Knicks center Mitchell “Block Ness Monster” Robinson (7-points/7-boards) is a rim protector, glass cleaner, who gives depth defensively in the pivot.  Great value for a 2nd. Rd. 36th overall selection in 2018 out of Western Kentucky.

Around the NBA: The Lakers won in OT on Tuesday night without LeBron James. James recovering from a tweaked ankle sat, and like clockwork Anthony Davis went down with an “apparent” catastrophic knee injury…Something AD does every time he’s between the lines. Other than that, Davis was great, and Russell Westbrook went 33/10/8. Both play 40+ minutes.

***

October 23, 2021

Phoenix at Lakers: Suns win—115-105

The Lakers spruced up the final score with a late run, but after falling behind 32 in the third quarter, this contest was never in doubt.

It will be cliche to say this season, but the Lakers looked old and slow and the Suns young and fast. Phoenix passed the ball, won in transition, and outscored the Lakers 52-26. Before garbage time, the paint advantage was 48-8.

New season, new players getting to know one another, so you can understand a lack of cohesion…but defense doesn’t require cohesion as much as it requires effort. The Lakers played without effort, and if there was effort, they will be too slow to compete in the NBA’s Western Conference.

Game Highs:
Suns—Chris Paul: 23/5/14
Lakers—LeBron 25, Anthony Davis 22/14, Russell Westbrook 15/11/9, Carmelo Anthony 16. 29/11/6

Records:
Suns—1-1
Lakers—0-2

Best Watch: Suns forward Mikal Bridges (21/5/3) plays at both ends, and gave LeBron fits.

***

October 22, 2021

Clippers at Golden State: Warriors win—115-113

The Warriors started quick, I thought the Clippers were missing Pat Beverly, and then LA turned it around. They wiped out a 19-point deficit to lead by one, 67-66, at the break.

It may be old school (I don’t know), but I’m not a fan of the Warriors red-lettering on their blue jerseys. And the gold trim may be a 70s fashionistas delight—but in 2021? Fright night!

Golden State led most of the third, but LA passed them again to lead 93-90 at the start of the fourth. The Clippers used an 11-0 run to make it 98-90 to open the final quarter. The Warriors then used a 12-0 run to take a 102-98 lead.

Clippers clanked away this game down the stretch with a series of lazy three-point attempts. The Warriors shot a lot of treys too, but it was Steph Curry who was shooting them.

Game Highs:
Warriors—Steph Curry: 45/10/1
Clippers—Paul George: 29/11/6

Records:
Warriors—2-0
Clippers—1-0

Best Watch: Clippers swingman Terance Mann. Dude is blossoming on both ends of the court.
Lamar Mundane Award: Golden State’s Steph Curry two plus bombs from 30-foot range in final two minutes.

***

October 20, 2021

Denver at Phoenix: Nuggets win—110-98

The Nuggets took control early, survived several runs, and shut the Suns down in the fourth for an easy victory.

In terms of making things look easy, Denver center Nikola Jokić scored 27 and grabbed 13-boards. Six Nuggets scored in double-figures, and the team shot 53% from the field—including 43.6% beyond the arc.

Phoenix put six players in double-figures, but Mikal Bridges was the leading scorer with just 16. Bridges is a good player, fun to watch, but he cannot be their top scorer for the Suns to win. Chris Paul (15) and Devin Booker (12) combined for 27. That’s how you lose at home.

Best Watch: Phoenix backup center, JaVale McGee. McGee’s not a starting center but an elite rim protector. The Lakers haven’t been the same at that spot since letting McGee go.

***

October 19, 2021

Golden State at Los Angeles: Warriors win—121-114

The Lakers were in control of this game until midway through the third quarter. Then the Warriors stopped turning the ball over and hitting the open looks they were getting. The victory spoiled the debut of LA’s new Big Three.

Golden State was impressive with all the winds of the NBA working against them. Steph Curry on a lousy shooting night produced a triple-double, and the roster went 10-deep without Klay Thompson or James Wiseman.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis each scored over 30. Each had 11 rebounds. Each played for close to 40 minutes. And the final part of Los Tres Amigos—Russell Westbrook added just 8. No other Laker was in double-figures.

The Warriors had six players score in double-figures.

Best Watch: Golden State forward, Nemanja Bjelica—15/11/4

TNT, the announcers, the NBA kept trying to convince us we were seeing great basketball. But it was really great athletes only playing really bad basketball.

Does it hurt anybody else to see this?

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