Good morning everybody happy Monday and welcome back to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we bring you up to speed on everything that went down from the night before in the Association. It was another jam packed day of hoops on Sunday that gave us a little bit of everything from game winners and late game drama to upsets and surprising blowouts. Knowing there's a strong chance you were watching football and missed most of the action that's OK, just keep reading because here's what happened.
Denver Nuggets (7-2) 100 vs Minnesota Timberwolves (5-4) 98 F/OT
I'm not sure what it is with these two teams, but they always seem to have own to the wire games that come down to the final possession. If you're a Nuggets fan you are loving the fact that Nikola Jokic can't stop making game winners, first on Friday against the Sixers and then again yesterday
While he continues to be extremely clutch for DEN, they had to scratch and claw for this win because it's not as if they had an offensive explosion with 38/39% splits and 20 TOs. Numbers like that on the road in the West usually get you beat, and frankly they shouldn't have even gone to OT after they built their 12 point lead heading into the fourth. Guys like Will Barton provided some legit secondary scoring
as did Millsap
but am absolutely brutal fourth quarter in which they scored just 14 points allowed MIN to crawl back in and force OT. That's not ideal. Fortunately though they were able to pull this out, are now 4-1 on the road and are tied for the top spot in the conference. That has to be nice for Nuggets fans considering they haven't even played all that great to start the year, here they are at 7-2.
For MIN, much like the Nuggets they shot like shit at 35/13% and didn't get much production outside of KAT and Wiggins who combined for over half their points
If we're being honest with ourselves Andrew Wiggins actually hasn't had that bad of a start to his season, and in fact is a big reason why they've been able to be competitive so far. It may not seem great, but 5-4 for this team is better than most people thought they would start and they've been for the most part competitive even against the elite teams in the conference. You don't love losing in OT at home, but at least you aren't getting blown out so that's something!
Indiana Pacers (6-4) 109 vs Orlando Magic (3-7) 102
I'm going to keep talking about it every time they play as long as it continues to be true. The offseason trade for TJ Warren and signing of Malcolm Brogdon for the Pacers has been lights out for IND. They've been their two best and most consistent players while the team deals with injuries and they were once again a huge reason why the Pacers snagged this road win
It was good to see the Pacers get back to playing any sort of respectable defense, and IND fans must love the fact that Sabonis is back in the lineup healthy and doing shit like throwing up 21/16/7
Give them credit, they faced a 9 point deficit at the break and came out with a beastly 30-17 third to take control and they never looked back. Efficient shooting and taking care of the ball is what got them back in the game and they continue to find a way to just stay afloat while their two best players are still out with injury. That may not seem like a big deal but staying in the mix while shorthanded isn't always the easiest.
For ORL, this felt like one of those games where once they got down it felt insurmountable. As good as their defense can be at times, their offense can go on brutal droughts and that's what we saw over the last 24 minutes. Just 42 combined points, Fournier's 22 wasn't enough
and while Nikola Vucevic also put up a nice double double, the Magic didn't give these two any help for the most part
It's not often a team will hit 15 3PM and only turn it over 10 times and lose at home, but that's sort of how the Magic's season has gone. Remember this was a playoff team last year that brought everyone back, so the 3-7 start is a bit perplexing. Especially considering they have one of the best defenses in the entire NBA.
Charlotte Hornets (4-6) 106 vs Philadelphia 76ers (6-3) 114
Coming off a tough West Coast road trip, losers of 3 straight and need something to make you feel better? Play the Hornets. That's what they are here for, to make contending teams feel better about themselves and that's exactly what they did. I'll give them credit, they made PHI sweat for the first half which was commendable, but that's about it.
The Sixers came out in the third quarter and put the clamps on CHA, getting off to a great start and finishing the quarter 35-23. They got to the rim with ease, finally made some threes, and you combine that with the horrific CHA shot selection and that's how you avoid disaster. The Hornets never really threatened again and the Sixers now remain perfect at home at 3-0. You don't exactly like the outside shooting issues and the turnovers, but everything else about the Sixers was about what you expect. They feasted near the rim, they had 29 assists on 46 baskets, and they owned the glass. I'm sure they were thrilled to see CHA on their schedule after losing three straight because this was a much needed win.
For CHA, you had it if you didn't decide to play like legit assholes in that third quarter. Some of the worst offense and decision making you'll see, they couldn't buy a bucket early and then they panicked and started taking bad threes which only made things worse. I guess with Terry Rozier in charge of things that tends to happen and he went 5-12 combined with Bacon's 0-6 not a great night for the CHA starting backcourt. If not for Tyler Zeller
and PJ Washington
the Hornets get blown out of this game and you know what maybe it's time they start Devonte Graham because if we're being honest he's been their best player to start the season
Milwaukee Bucks (7-3) 121 vs Oklahoma City Thunder (4-6) 119
Should we just accept that Giannis is going to average 35/16 this season because every single time I look at one of their games he finishes with 35/16
Yeah he stunk in the first half and kicked a sign, but then he remembered he's one of the best players on the planet and is for the most part an unstoppable force and there ya go, 35/16. It wasn't just him though, the entire Bucks team was a different animal in the second half, putting up 71 points including a huge third quarter that gave them some separation
They shot nearly 57% as a team which is a ridiculous number, but when you're getting to the rim with ease like MIL was it makes some sense. They did have to hold onto their butts a little bit at the end when OKC made a fourth quarter run and put up 39 points, but once Brook Lopez hit a huge three with 33 seconds left this game turned into a FT competition MIL did their job. A big road win for them to keep pace at the top of the East, and what's crazy is 5 of their 7 wins have come on the road. This team really hasn't played at home yet where they basically never lose.
For OKC, while it sucks to lose a close one like this at home, there are some positives. For example SGA is a fucking stud
and Chris Paul continues his steady play which honestly looks just like what we saw in HOU
They also got a 9-12 performance from Dennis Schroder off the bench who is turning out to be a pretty legit second unit guard
And hey scoring 119 isn't bad against a defense like MIL. You don't love being one of the best defenses in the league and giving up 121 at home but don't think about that stuff. You were competitive against one of the best teams in the league as a team clearly rebuilding. That's not easy to do so hold your head up high.
Cleveland Cavaliers (4-5) 108 vs New York Knicks (2-8) 87
This was one of those matchups where both teams stink big time yet someone has to win by default. I don't think the Knicks losing by 21 at home is what they had in mind though. I know the Cavs play hard but man this was a brutal showing for a team that certainly knows a thing or two about brutal performances. Julius Randle was the only starter in double figures that looked like he actually had a pulse
and as a team they shot just 36/29% with 21 TOs. They scored just 38 points in the first half and were down nearly 20 at the break. I guess having a team of me first players who are all on short contracts which means they will only be playing for themselves while also all being the same position isn't working out. Who knew? We all did but that's not the point. On one hand they are already getting an early lead on tanking season so there's that, but then you remember their lottery luck and I'm not sure that's the best strategy either.
For CLE, this team plays hard I'll give them that and on a night where Love/Thompson are mostly quiet it has to be nice for Cavs fans to see their young talent carry them
The Cavs are another one of these surprise teams in that while their record is still under .500 at 4-5, they are definitely better than most people thought. They can still defend at times and while things look better obviously when you play the Knicks, this isn't a completely hopeless team or anything like that. Now if there's a team out there that gets desperate and they are able to flip Love for assets they'll probably get back to losing a whole lot, but for now this is not a team you can just gloss over and that's certainly a positive.
Brooklyn Nets (4-5) 112 vs Phoenix Suns (6-3) 138
Wait a second here. You mean to tell me a team that last year looked like it was full of potential and made the playoffs loaded with good young talent brought in Kyrie Irving to take all their shots and they have gotten worse? To the point where they are now under .500 with him leading the way? That can't be right and you shouldn't joke about such things. He had 15 points on 16 shots which isn't exactly great, and if not got Spencer Dinwiddie
and DeAndre Jordan on the second unit this would have been even more of a disaster
Here are the facts. The Nets are horrific defensively. They are giving up the most points in the East at 121 a game and are currently ranked 26th in the NBA in defense. I don't care how fancy Kyrie's dribbling is, if this team isn't going to play any goddamn defense none of that is going to matter. The league is as deep as it's ever been so you have to bring it defensively every single night. The Nets refuse to do that or they are incapable of doing that, both options aren't great and that's how you find yourself under .500.
For PHX, I mean if you're telling me the Nets are actually good, then this was another example of the Suns beating a good team which has suddenly become the norm for them. This was a beatdown like you read about, with 52/45% splits and only 7 TOs with every starter looking fantastic
I'm talking 19 3PM, 37 assists on 52 baskets which is an outrageous number, and with no quarter under 31 points you almost don't recognize this Suns team. They showed us early that they were legit and they haven't given any indication that things are going to change anytime soon. Now 4-2 at home, the Suns are no longer an automatic win and that's pretty awesome for them and their fans. Not their asshole owner Robert Sarver who stinks out loud, but for everyone else involved it's great to see this team finally start to figure it out, and they're doing it all without Ayton.
Atlanta Hawks (3-6) 113 vs Portland Trail Blazers (4-6) 124 F/OT
I'm sure the Blazers weren't thrilled that they had to go to OT just to beat the Hawks, but for a team that desperately needed a win, especially at home considering they were winless they should take it. A much more balanced performance than what we saw on Friday night where it was Dame an nobody else, at least this time he had some help
You know who also continues to impress and may be a legit MIP candidate? Anfernee Simons. This dude is becoming a real option off the bench for POR at just 19 years old and he put up a very efficient 20 on 8-12 shooting in his 24 minutes
There is a great opportunity for him on this roster, and in his first real action he's more than risen to the occasion.
For ATL, as you can expect Trae Young was a monster
and Jabari Parker continues to come out of nowhere and look like a real NBA player and not someone who definitely looked like they were about to be out of the league
and you have to give them credit for hanging on the road like this. Unfortunately they simply ran out of gas in the OT and scored just 6 points, but don't let the final score fool you, they were right there every step of the way. The 40/26% ended up biting them in the ass, but you love the fight if you're an ATL fan.
Toronto Raptors (7-2) 113 vs Los Angeles Lakers (7-2) 104
I dunno if I would call this an upset because the Raptors are legit, but given how dominant the Lakers have been to start the year I was a little surprised they lost this game at home after having a 10 point lead at the break. Anthony Davis was once again a monster as he tends to be
and even though he couldn't shoot for shit LeBron did finish with another triple double which even if you hate him is impressive
but for a team that had been playing such good defense, they certainly didn't show it in the second half of this game. The Raptors dropped 61 points over the final 24 minutes, and you combine that with the Lakers offense also disappearing, especially in the third quarter where they only had 18, and that's how you end your 7 game winning streak.
For TOR, a big road win against one of the hottest teams in the league is always nice, but to do it without Ibaka and Lowry who are out due to injury is even more impressive. That meant Siakam was going to have to be a beast which he was
as was Fred VanVleet who has turned himself into a bonafide stud for this team
As impressive as they both were, the second unit was just as huge with 43 points on good splits and this was a team that turned it up on both ends over the final 24 minutes which is exactly what you need to do to steal a road win against a really good team. If you thought TOR was going to drop off without Kawhi you are sorely mistaken. Hell even without two key rotation players they can still beat anybody in the NBA. That's huge.
And that's it! You're now all caught up with everything that went down last night in the NBA. We're back tonight with 6 more games and as always if you can't watch just check back in the morning. Have a great Monday!