We know you missed some NBA action Monday night between watching the Seahawks win and catching Ron Burgundy anchor an actual newscast. So to help you out, here are our NBA grades for Monday.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs. Slump? What slump? With his 23 points and 21 rebounds Duncan became the oldest player in NBA history to put up a 20-20. Ridiculous. He was 10-of-15 shooting and threw in a couple of blocks for good measure. Oh yea, and he drained the game winner in cold-blooded fashion.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers. Normally I don’t give an “A” to a guy on the losing team but… damn Paul George is good. I mean ridiculously good. He finished with 43 points on 16-of-30 shooting (53.3 percent) and he hit 7-of-15 from deep. He had 17 points in the fourth quarter hitting three-after-three, even when Wes Mathews was draped on him like a trench coat. I’m not sure anybody thought George was going to be this good, but man is he a special player.
Houston Rockets. They got outscored 36-23 in the first quarter by the tanktastic Utah Jazz and went on to lost the game.. Gordon Hayward went off for 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the quarter, Trey Burke added 10. Tell me all you want about Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons being out, this felt like the Rockets showed up and thought was going to be enough. Welcome to being a top team guys, do that and anyone will beat you. James Harden had 37 and the Rockets fought back to tie the game (86-86) but they couldn’t get over the hump.
John Wall, Washington Wizards. For the first time in the John Wall era, the Washington Wizards are .500. That doesn’t speak well to the past, but this team has played better of late and Wall gets the credit here because it’s his team. (Yes, Trevor Ariza could have been here with an “A” for his shooting.) Monday’s win that got the Wizards to .500 featured Washington has gotten from the Wizards lately — 16 inefficient points (5-of-14 shooting) but also 13 assists and he was +26 on the night. When he is on the court the Wizards are better.
Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Ryan Anderson (New Orleans Pelicans). Both of these guys are on teams that have lost their key offensive weapons and both of them stepped up with big nights Deng had 37 points, Anderson 36. They were strong performances that both teams need these guys to repeat — for weeks until Anthony Davis returns to New Orleans, or for the rest of the season in Chicago.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.