Our nightly look around the NBA, or what you missed while figuring out how to use lasers to mark the first down line in the a football game….
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers. For my money right now he is the best power forward in the game. I’d rather have him over Kevin Love or Dirk Nowitzki or Carmelo Anthony or even Tim Duncan. Anthony Davis will take the crown in a few years but he’s not there yet. (I’m not counting LeBron James as a four even though that’s the role he plays the most for Miami, different system.) The Portland Trail Blazers are 16-3 after beating the Thunder Thursday night and Aldridge finished with 38 points on 17-of-28 shooting (60.7 percent) plus he had 13 rebounds and zero turnovers. He dropped 28 and 10 the last game on the Pacers defense. He is at his peak right now and lifting these Blazers to a surprising and amazing start.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks raced out to an early lead and never looked back in this one and Millsap’s 11 first quarter points were key to that start. Millsap finished with 25 points going right at Blake Griffin whenever he could. Millsap has been a great fit for Atlanta this season.
Houston Rockets’ offense. Despite giving up 97 points to the Suns, the Rockets played respectable defense Wednesday night. It was the other end of the floor that was the mess — Houston shot 35.2 percent as a team and 29 percent from three. James Harden was 3-of-17, Dwight Howard 4-of-11, Aaron Brooks 7-of-18 and so on. It wasn’t pretty. Houston has the second best offense in the league so far this season; this was just a one-off night for them.
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks. He knocked down a three 30 seconds into the game to give the Hawks a lead 3-2 that they would never relinquish. More importantly that three set a record — that is his 89th consecutive game making a three, tying the league record. Korver knocked down 6-of-9 from three for a season-high 23 points.
The Cavaliers are clearly frustrated.
Did someone in Cleveland take out that frustration on the Warriors after they beat the Cavs last night?
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Players were complaining about there being no hot water in the visiting locker room showers. When they walked in, they could be heard screaming in discomfort. Most of the players emerged shivering from taking a quick wash-off.
“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!” Kevin Durant yelled, referring to LeBron James.
No one seemed angry; the situation was more humorous.
That’s the right approach. Whenever the hot water is out in a visiting locker room, the finger is pointed at the home team for sabotage. Sometimes, heating systems just fail.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is scoring more in the post, the basketball analogue of football’s trenches.
Apparently, he’s taking the comparison to the next level.
In the Bucks’ win over the Wizards yesterday, Antetokounmpo played the part of a long-snapping center to set up Khris Middleton in transition.
NBC Sports Washington:
Rockets players James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green and Chris Paul reportedly went through a back hallway to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ locker room after last night’s game.
That’s one version of the story, at least.
But it apparently isn’t the only one – at least when it comes to Harden’s, Green’s and Paul’s involvement.
Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
A hallway runs between the Clippers locker room and the visitors locker room, where players from opposing teams often see each other and catch up. According to a Rockets source, Ariza was waiting on Griffin, and when the game ended he charged from the hallway into the Clips locker room. When Rivers spotted Ariza near the entrance, according to the source, he said: “Let his b—– a– come in.” Ariza then turned his attention to Rivers.
ESPN reported that Ariza was flanked by three teammates—Harden, Paul and Gerald Green—but their purpose was unclear. “They were holding Trevor back,” the source said.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Harden was sitting out his seventh straight game with a strained hamstring on Monday night, and Rockets sources believe that he’ll be ready for a return to the lineup on Thursday night against Minnesota.
Austin Rivers challenging Ariza is juicy, but the type of thing people say during altercations. The rest of this sounds like the Rockets trying to position themselves ahead of the NBA handing down punishments.
If they were just trying to restrain Ariza, then Harden, Paul and Green shouldn’t be fined or suspended. But if Harden is suspended, he could serve his penalty Thursday – even if the Rockets are fibbing about him being ready to play (though they at least previously laid the groundwork for that one).
There’s a lot for the league to untangle.
Russell Westbrook jumped from fifth to second in the NBA in technical fouls in about two seconds.
The Thunder star received two technical fouls and an automatic ejection late in Oklahoma City’s win over the Kings last night, leaving his nine technical fouls behind only Draymond Green‘s 11.
Westbrook got hit in the face on a drive, but instead of a foul being called on Sacramento, Westbrook was whistled for travelling. That’s quite a turnaround from the expected call to the actual call, so I understand why Westbrook was so upset. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if Westbrook said something that warranted ejection. Thunder coach Billy Donovan also got a technical foul in the sequence.
Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:
The league used to crack down on that more with public fines, but the Thunder have skirted the rule this season.