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.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.
Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.
Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):
This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.
Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.
He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.
Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.
So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency
Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.
There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.
Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.