The Pacers remain undefeated after running their league-best record to 9-0 with a blowout 104-77 win over the Bucks.
Milwaukee is a depleted team right now due to multiple players being injured, and there’s not nearly enough depth to sustain even one starter being out, much less multiple productive players. Larry Sanders, Caron Butler, and Ersan Ilyasova were all unable to go due to various issues.
Then again, it might not have mattered who the Bucks rolled out given the way that Indiana has started the season.
The Pacers have gotten off to their strong start by bringing a level of intensity on both ends of the floor that their opponents have rarely been able to match. Roy Hibbert has been dominant in anchoring the defense, and Friday night was no different. Hibbert finished with a dominant line of 24 points on just 10 shots, to go along with 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
Milwaukee shot just 34.1 percent from the field, and O.J. Mayo, the only credible offensive threat on the floor for the Bucks, was held to 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting.
The bench was the weakness of this Pacers team a season ago, but offseason upgrades have seemed to address that issue. Luis Scola and C.J. Watson continue to be regularly reliable contributors, and Indiana has proven to be so deep that Chris Copeland, who showed promise with the Knicks last year, has yet to see substantial minutes.
The Pacers will be tested on Saturday, playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road against the Bulls in Chicago. Derrick Rose sat out of his team’s win on Friday, and if he should similarly miss the contest against Indiana, the Pacers would have a great chance to remain undefeated through the first 10 games of the season.
DeMarcus Cousins had a bitter exit from the Kings, but that won’t be the last they see of him.
Cousins’ Pelicans will host Sacramento tomorrow night.
Not that Cousins rushed to talk about the matchup.
Justin Verrier of ESPN:
Cousins is pretty funny when joking with the media, and his smile is contagious. Just listen to all the laughs Cousins generates as he goes through his shtick.
Bonus points to Cousins for eventually breaking down and providing real answers. Some of his relationships in Sacramento were clearly meaningful to him, and he wanted to acknowledge those — even if he’d prefer just to get past this awkward game and all the talk it invites.
Lauri Markkanen is 7-foot and made 42% of his 3-pointers this season.
That combination alone will have NBA teams drooling, and the Arizona freshman will capitalize.
Evan Daniels of Scout:
Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is declaring for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent, multiple sources told Scout.
Markkanen seems pretty certain to get picked in the lottery, likely in the top 10.
Calling him a good shooter for his height undersells him. It’s not just he shoots so efficiently from deep, it’s that he can generate 3-pointers in so many ways — pick-and-pops, spot-ups, off off-ball screens and even running pick-and-rolls himself. Having the height to shoot over defenders is his most noticeable asset, but don’t undersell his mobility.
Markkanen also finishes well at the rim and offensively rebounds at extremely impressive clip for someone who spends so much time on the perimeter. Those interior skills instill belief he will eventually become a suitable defender.
There are a couple red flags. He’s old for a freshman, turning 20 before the draft. He leaves plenty to be desired defensively, especially due to his lack of strength.
But his size and shooting are tantalizing. That’s plenty for now.
Watch for Collin Sexton in the 2018 NBA draft.
In the meantime, the Alabama commit had all eyes — include Dwyane Wade‘s — on him with this pass in the McDonald’s All-American Game last night.
Carmelo Anthony scored just nine points on 12 shots in the Knicks loss to the Heat last night — well below his season averages of 22 points on 19 shots per game.
Anthony, via Ian Begley of ESPN:
“I see the writing on the wall. I see what it is,” Anthony said late Wednesday night. “I see what they’re trying to do, and it’s just me accepting that. That’s what puts me at peace. Just knowing and understanding how things work. I’m at peace with that.”
Is Anthony talking about just the Knicks’ final dozen games of this season, when they’re clearly interesting in testing less-proven players? Or is he referring to his entire tenure in New York?
Anthony has said he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Knicks want to rebuild, and they’ll reportedly try again to trade him this offseason. Perhaps, this is Anthony indicating he’s warming up to the idea of allowing a trade.
Anthony’s and Kristaps Porzingis‘ timelines are barely compatible, if at all. It’d make sense for the Knicks to go in a different direction.
Could Anthony be at peace with that?