Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves. He could be here for the 30 points on 21 shots. He could be here for the 9 rebounds (which is a little off his pace a little), But he is here because a guy much maligned for his defense did a good job on Zach Randolph in the post and that was the real key to slowing the Memphis attack (Z-Bo was 7-of-19 on the night and while he got 20 he really had to work for them).
Memphis Grizzlies defense. Last season this team was a defensive force, this season not so much. They have not been good on that end all season but it is just getting worse. Sunday night they gave up 113.5 points per 100 possessions to Minnesota. In their five games (four of them losses) the Grizzlies have allowed 113.4 points per 100 possessions, which is the worst in the NBA over the that stretch. That will not get it done.
Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings. Give the man some credit for a fairly efficient night in his home debut in Sacramento — 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting. More than that his shots were not forced (most were good looks) and he had five rebounds, four steals and four assists. The Kings don’t beat the Rockets without him.
Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns. Stephen Curry tried but he doesn’t have the quickness to stay in front of Bledsoe, who racked up 24 points on 16 shots, plus added 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Bledsoe and Goran Dragic are a very underrated combo in the backcourt — they played Curry and Klay Thompson toe-to-toe. Five wins in a row for the Suns and Bledsoe has been key for that stretch.
Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs
He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.
Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said. “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”
I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.
His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”
He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.
Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.
Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.
Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance
NEW YORK (AP)— The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.
Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.
NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.
Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling
This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.
After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverleyin his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.
Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).
Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.