It was a nine-game night in the NBA. Here’s a recap and some analysis of everything that went down on a busy night in the association.
New York Knicks 123, Cleveland Cavaliers 105
The New York Knicks made sure to take advantage of a Cleveland Cavaliers team that was blown out by the Philadelphia 76ers the night before. New York led wire-to-wire en route to their fourth win of the season.
Julius Randle led the way with 30 points (23 in the first half), seven points, and four rebounds. Marcus Morris followed up with 23 points. Frank Ntilikina dished out six assists while only conceding one assist. Six Cavs scored in double figures, paced by Kevin Porter Jr.’s 18 points.
- The turnover battle was the determining factor in this game. Cleveland conceded a season-high 19 turnovers. New York committed just seven, the first time this season they’ve finished in single-digits.
- Randle had his biggest night as Knick on Monday. His 30 came on 70.6 percent shooting, making a season-high 12 field goals on 17 attempts. He also went 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 3-of-5 from the free throw line. It was basically flashes of the breakout potential Randle has shown throughout his career. We’ll see if, in time, he’ll be able to push the scoring envelope against tougher opponents.
- Cleveland has now dropped four straight games, but at least they looked good doing it. The Cavs rocked their classic black and blue “splash” uniforms for the second time this season, which made this 90’s kid feel all nostalgic. They’re now 1-1 in these unis, and will wear them again on Nov. 23 and 25.
Indiana Pacers 115, Brooklyn Nets 86
After dismissing the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, the Brooklyn Nets received a reality check on their “Life Without Kyrie” tour, losing big to the Indiana Pacers at home. After a sluggish first quarter for both sides, the Pacers set the tone for the rest of the game in the second by outscoring Brooklyn 41-18 in the frame. They maintained the advantage until the final buzzer, leading by as many as 30 points.
Aaron Holiday had a huge game, finishing with 24 points, 13 assists, and six rebounds. Domantas Sabonis chipped in 16 points and 18 rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie paced Brooklyn with 28 points.
- Aaron Holiday is making the most of his extended role this month, notching his seventh consecutive start at the point on Monday. Big performances like this will force Nate McMillan to really think about how to fit him in the rotation whenever the Pacers return to full strength.
- Domantas Sabonis racked up his eighth straight double-double on Monday, further solidifying his utility to the Pacers’ future plans. However, the question continues to be if he can mesh well with Myles Turner, who only played his sixth game of the year Monday and came away with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting.
- Spencer Dinwiddie did his best to step up with his 28 points, but the next highest scorers were Jarrett Allen and Garrett Temple with 10 points each. With Kyrie’s status unclear and LeVert out for awhile, the Nets need at least one additional consistent scoring option to keep them afloat. We’ll see if anyone can take up the mantle as the schedule rolls on.
Toronto Raptors 132, Charlotte Hornets 96
The Toronto Raptors returned from their 3-2 West Coast road trip to completely dismantle the Charlotte Hornets. The game was competitive at halftime, with Toronto only leading 60-56. But then the Raps unleashed a 72-40 second half to take home the win. They finished the game with 20 three-pointers, 39 points off of 20 forced turnovers, and a franchise-high 40 assists.
Seven Raptors finished in double-figures, led by OG Anunoby’s career-high 24 points and Pascal Siakam’s 20. Of Toronto’s 40 assists, Marc Gasol dished out a team-high nine. Marvin Williams paced Charlotte with 14 points off the bench, while Miles Bridges led the starters with 13.
- Beautiful ball movement by a Toronto team that entered the game ranked 12th in assists at 24.3 per game. It’s encouraging to see that type of on-court chemistry considering that key players Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka were out.
- The three-ball kept Charlotte in the game for as long as it could. The Hornets downed nine treys in the first half to Toronto’s five. But the tables turned in the second half when Charlotte went 6-of-25 from beyond while Toronto went 15-of-22. Live by the three, die by the three.
- It should be noted that all four of OG Anunoby’s made 3-pointers on the night came in the third quarter. It’s cool to see young players change the complexion of games like he did. It will be fun to see how much more game-breaking he can do as the season presses on.
Milwaukee Bucks 115, Chicago Bulls 101
After losing to the Milwaukee Bucks last Thursday at Fiserv Forum, the Bulls were out for revenge in Monday’s rubber match at the United Center. And they almost had it! A Coby White triple with 6:23 remaining in the fourth gave Chicago a 99-98 lead. But then Milwaukee closed out the game on a 17-2 run to snatch back victory and take a 2-0 lead in the season series.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 33 points and 10 rebounds despite coughing it up eight times. Brook Lopez added 19 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocks. George Hill chipped in 18 points from off the bench. Daniel Gafford paced Chicago with 21 points off the bench.
- Daniel Gafford’s night solidified the fact that he should have been in the rotation in the first place. Lord knows why Jim Boylen was holding him out for so long — considering fellow rookie Coby White has been getting regular minutes already despite the logjam at point guard — but thank goodness Gafford had the opportunity to show his stuff tonight. Here’s hoping it turns into a bigger role even when Luke Kornet returns.
- Bulls duo Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen combined to shoot 6-of-28 from the field and 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. The rest of the squad shot 47.8 percent from the field. It’s not hard to deduce how the game could have gone if either or both of Chicago’s top two players were in rhythm.
- The Bucks allowed the Bulls to stay in the game most of the way, but it was reassuring to see them pull into that extra gear down the stretch. It would be best for their title aspirations if they didn’t play down to their opponents during the regular season.
Houston Rockets 132, Portland Trail Blazers 108
The Houston Rockets took home their eighth consecutive win and their second straight by at least 20 points. They controlled the middle quarters 70-46 in order to put this game to bed early.
James Harden led Houston with 36 points on the evening. Russell Westbrook pulled off a 28-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist triple double. It is his third triple double of the season and 141st of his career. Clint Capela also racked up 22 points, 20 rebounds, and four blocks. CJ McCollum paced the Portland Trail Blazers with 25 points. Damian Lillard was held to 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting, but still dished out 11 assists.
- The Big Three of Harden, Westbrook, and Capela came up huge on Monday, combining for 86 points, 39 rebounds, and 15 assists. I’m sure there’s plenty more of this to come this season. But the most important takeaway is that this is the type of production they will need every night this spring in order to contend for the title.
- Man, the lack of reliable production in Portland’s frontcourt is so glaring right now, it’s a little disheartening. The remedies are on the roster in Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, they’re just out indefinitely! Nassir Little has intrigued me in his time as a starter, but he obviously isn’t there yet as a reliable starter. We’ll also see what Carmelo has left in the tank soon. But I have a feeling the problems in the frontcourt are going to get worse before they get better.
- Houston released Ryan Anderson during the day on Monday, and it makes me wonder what the Rockets are planning to do. Did they release Anderson to give more playing time to Isaiah Hartenstein and Gary Clark? Are they intending to fill the spot with another free agent four? Is this the lead-up to converting Chris Clemons’ two-way deal to a full contract? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.
Dallas Mavericks 117, San Antonio Spurs 110
The Dallas Mavericks held the lead from tip-off to buzzer, but that doesn’t mean maintaining it was easy. The San Antonio Spurs fought back from an 18-point first half deficit and a 15-point second half deficit to make this game competitive. In the end, however, Dallas came out with the victory in this Texas battle.
Luka Doncic notched his sixth triple double of the season by racking up 42 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. Dorian Finney-Smith added 22 points to the cause, while Kristaps Porzingis accumulated 18 points and 10 boards. DeMar DeRozan led San Antonio with 36 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in the losing effort.
- Allow me to go “Basketball Hipster” here and say that I knew Luka was going to amazing in the NBA way back when he was in Madrid. The EuroLeague is the second-best basketball league on the planet, and they don’t hand out MVP awards to 19 year-olds just because. May we continue to bask in his ascendance to greatness.
- DeMar DeRozan has yet to make a 3-point shot in the year 2019. It’s hilarious to me, but it’s working for him: DMDR went 14-of-20 from the field, all 2-pointers. He’s just so elusive when he gets downhill that he’s still just as dangerous as any sharpshooter in the league.
- Dallas’ 17 3-pointers are ultimately what kept San Antonio at arm’s length despite the comeback efforts. Those are the most 3’s the Spurs have given up so far this season, and they’re already a team that entered the game 21st in opponent 3-point percentage.
Boston Celtics 99, Phoenix Suns 85
After having their 10-game winning streak snapped on Sunday by the Sacramento Kings, the Boston Celtics looked to start a new one with a win over the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Most of the game consisted of trading baskets…well whatever baskets chose to fall through. Both teams combined to shoot 40.9 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range.
Still, a 31-20 second quarter was all Boston needed to tilt this game in their favor. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Devin Booker paced Phoenix with 20 points.
- It wasn’t the prettiest game, but Boston figured out a way to get the job done. Their scrappiness was apparent in the 12-5 advantage they held in second chance points.
- The Celtics fell a point short of 100 for the second straight game. This is a departure from the 118.7 points per game they averaged in the nine games before their west coast trip. As the Los Angeles Clippers loom on Wednesday, Boston will have to figure out how to get their offense back on track in order to get past one of the West’s toughest teams.
- The Suns were without Ricky Rubio for the second time this season, and it showed on the court. Their 22 assists ties a season-low for the team. If Rubio is out again for Tuesday’s game at Sacramento, you have to worry if Phoenix will find the rhythm on offense to bounce back from this loss.
Minnesota Timberwolves 112, Utah Jazz 102
Much of this game was a good old-fashioned tussle between two division rivals. This matchup featured 14 ties and 16 lead changes. However, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally took control of the game when they reeled off a 23-4 run early in the fourth quarter that ultimately put them up by 13 points with 3:22 left in regulation. It was academic from there.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks. Jeff Teague followed up with 21 points and 11 assists. Rudy Gobert wrangled a 16-point, 14-rebound double-double. Bojan Bogdanovic paced the Utah Jazz in scoring with 18 points before fouling out.
- Even though they’re the ones with one of the league’s fiercest rim protector, Utah really struggled inside the arc on Monday. The Jazz hit just 35.4 percent of their 2-point attempts, and were blocked 10 times. They are already one of the second-worst-shooting team in the non-paint restricted area, and those issues seemed to seep into the other regions of the 2-point range.
- It’s been an up-and-down season for Donovan Mitchell, and Monday’s game was a dud. His 5-of-23 (21.7 percent) shooting was a season-low. But as we’ve seen this season, he can easily bounce back. Mitchell will definitely be seeking redemption on the back end of this home-and-home series in Minneapolis on Wednesday.
- Karl-Anthony Towns continued making his case as one of the league’s top centers. His performance was his 10th double-double of the season, and his fourth game with at least five assists.
Los Angeles Clippers 90, Oklahoma City Thunder 88
Paul George, Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Patrick Patterson, and Danilo Gallinari faced off against their former teams. In a surprise to no one, this game was close and competitive. In the end, it was a George triple with 25 seconds left in the game that put the Clippers ahead for good. I’m looking forward to the rematch in OKC on Dec. 22!
Despite George’s heroics, Montrezl Harrell was actually LA’s leading scorer. Trez racked up 28 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, and dished out five assists. PG finished with 18 points. Chris Paul led the Oklahoma City Thunder with 22 points in the defeat.
- It really is impressive to watch this race for Sixth Man of the Year take shape each game on the Clippers bench. Both Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are capable of big nights, and tonight it was Harrell taking control of things. We’ll see who gives themselves the edge in Wednesday’s game against Boston.
- It’s good to see Paul George get back into the flow of things. He did give up seven turnovers, but he also shot 7-of-14 from the field. The Clippers have already been a tough team to face this year, and as George gains his bearings, it’s definitely not getting easier.
- The Thunder had a brutal offensive game, shooting 37.3 percent from the field and 25.9 percent from 3-point range. However, their defensive effort kept them in this game, as they held the Clippers to 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 27.8 percent from beyond the arc. This game was basically a microcosm of their season to date, as they now sport a 0.0 net rating. They have produced and conceded 103.9 points per 100 possessions.