In the real game of the night, Ben Roethlisberger was making the kind of heady plays on the field he can never seem to make off it, plus Rex Ryan’s level of disgust on the sidelines was surprisingly entertaining.
But this is an NBA blog. And so our actual Game of the Night had to be the only Game of the Night:
Nuggets 121, Pacers 107: That score makes it seem closer and more interesting than it actually was.
Indiana fans should have known they were in trouble early on. Denver started out missing a series of layups and tip ins. Carmelo Anthony missed his first six shots. Indiana has six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone. And yet the score was always close. Everything went right for the Pacers and they were up just three after one quarter.
Eventually things were going to start going wrong, eventually Nuggets shots would start to fall. And they did. Carmelo Anthony knocked down six three pointers in the third quarter (note to the Pacers: You may have wanted to close out on him a little better at some point) on his way to 36 points. He was so good he was not even booed after the game. Denver killed the Pacers by just knocking down their looks — they hit 15 of 22 spot up opportunities (according to Synergy Sports). The Nuggets also were strong in transition. The Pacers seemed to go to the post a lot but that was less effective and they didn’t have another gear to keep up with Denver’s scoring.
This was the kind of game some might point to and say that with Anthony the Nuggets are contenders in the West. They’re not. And we’re not saying that just because of how the Lakers dismantled them on Friday night (but that gave you some clues).
Denver has a powerful offense — they came into the game second in the league in offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions). But their defense is 20th in efficiency and that will not get it done. They won this one because they could just simply outscore Indiana — the Pacers finished with six more points per 100 possessions than they average on the season. The Pacers are not a good offensive team but they had a pretty solid night against Denver.
The Nuggets are fun while this lineup lasts. But they are not contenders. With this kind of defense they are a first round playoff exit under the best of scenarios.
CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.
However, his recovery may have hit a snag.
“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”
An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.
After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.
“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”
Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.
Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.
The Lopez twins have always been close. They were teammates at Stanford, they’re both heavily into comic books (and even write their own together), and they both have Instagram accounts for their cats (here’s Brook’s cat, Poupin, and Robin’s cat, Prince Edward Zephyr). So naturally, this summer, when Brook re-signed with the Nets and Robin signed with the Knicks, the logical thing to do would be to live together. Apparently that isn’t happening, because their cats don’t get along.
Via Kirsten Fleming of the New York Post:
“Brook’s cat is very two-faced,” Robin tells The Post. “Everybody loves Brook’s cat. To everybody’s face, he’s such a nice cat. And it may sound like I’m joking, but I am dead serious. He acts like a lazy, sweet cat when everybody is looking. But when their heads turn, he’ll try to chase after [my cat] Edward. The second I lay eyes on him, he’ll act like, ‘I’m a cherub. I’m innocent.’ I’m not buying it.”
Brook agrees that it would be a bad idea.
“We thought about it,” Brook tells The Post. “But the cats really wouldn’t get along. They just wouldn’t allow it.”
This is an extremely valid reason, even though it’s a disappointing. The Lopez twins are two of the most entertaining people in the NBA, and them living together would have had off-the-charts reality TV potential.
A month into the season, the Lakers the only team in the Western Conference that can absolutely be written out of any hopes of playoff contention. They’re in an awkward position with the upcoming draft: they still need talent long-term, and they owe their pick to the Sixers if it’s outside of the top three. Not surprisingly, Byron Scott isn’t thinking about it at all.
Via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
With the Lakers fielding the NBA’s second-worst record, how much effort will the franchise put in retaining its top-3 protected draft pick?
“I don’t think about that whatsoever,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “I probably won’t until April. That’s something I can’t control.”
The Lakers are in a precarious position. They appear likely bad enough to lose a lot of games. But will they lose enough to land in the top three? Otherwise, the Lakers owe Philadelphia their first-round pick as part of the Steve Nash trade.
“It’s impossible to think about the team, try to get our young guys better, the team better and also thinking about a pick,” Scott said. “That’s six months away and you might not even get it.”
Given Scott’s mentality, it’s not at all surprising that he isn’t thinking about the draft. But with his insistence on playing Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams more crunch-time minutes on this dismal Lakers team than D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, it’s pretty laughable that he talks about wanting to develop their young players.
Scott may not be thinking about the draft, but with the position the franchise is in and the likelihood that they lose their pick, he should be.