Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while wishing you had a beer refrigerator as cool as Canada’s….
Philadelphia 76ers. They have lost two consecutive games by 40 or more points — 45 to the Clippers on Sunday, 43 to the Warriors on Monday. The only other team to lose back-to-back games by that much … the 1994 Philadelphia 76ers. We knew Philadelphia would struggle this season but not like this. It’s not just one end of the court where they have issues, Philadelphia couldn’t stop Golden State, allowing them to score 115.8 points per 100 possessions. On the other end Philly shot just 6-of-26 in the second quarter scoring 12 points. The Sixers need the All-Star break badly.
Marreese Speights, Golden State Warriors. When Marreese Speights dreams it must be a lot like this — 17 second quarter points, 32 points for the game on 12-of-15 shooting, the crowd shouting “M-V-P” when he steps to the free throw line. That he did it against the Sixers “defense” doesn’t matter. He was 7-of-8 in the paint, 4-of-5 from the midrange and 1-of-2 from three. With Andrew Bogut and Jermaine O’Neal out they expected him to step up, but nobody expected this.
John Loyer, Detroit Pistons coach. The orders from owner Tom Gores have been the same all season — make the playoffs. Well, Loyer has been on the job one game but after a win over banged-up San Antonio Spurs his Pistons are tied for the eighth seed in the East. Hey a lot of guys including Frank Vogel of the Pacers got their job as mid-seasons replacements and proved they should keep the gig, we’ll see if Loyer can prove to be one of those.
David West, Indiana Pacers. He’s maybe the most overlooked star in the NBA right now, certainly a guy fans overlook on this team, but he is key to what they do. West had 17 of his 25 in first quarter as Pacers pulled away early and never looked back. He got most of those points on Kenneth Faried. Denver likes to run, and up-tempo teams have bothered the Pistons this season (see the Suns for an example) but the Pacers bottled up the Nuggets from the start.
Jeff Green, Boston Celtics. Green showed up ready to be aggressive and that proved too much for the Bucks to handle. Green had 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter when the Celtics pulled away. Green struggled to finish (2-of-5 in the restricted area) but he was 6-of-9 from the midrange as his jumper was falling.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is a wizard when it comes to shots you don’t think can ever reach the iron. Each time he does something like this, he surprises you even though you should be used to it by now.
But I’m not. The Utah Jazz aren’t. Heck, maybe even Steph isn’t used to it by now.
As Curry was driving down the left side of the floor on Thursday, Shelvin Mack got out of position and wound up trailing the Warriors star. With Curry rounding the pick, Mack reached and earned a foul.
Thinking quickly, Curry then hoisted up a rainbow of a shot that gently kissed the net on the way down.
Curry would go on to make the free throw for the 3-point play.
We’re 21 games into Minnesota Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns‘ sophomore season and it already seems cliche to say that he has guard skills
But, like, he does have guard skills.
There was more evidence of that on Thursday night as the Timberwolves matched up with the Toronto Raptors in Canada.
With the ball near the top of the arc and with the Raptors defense collapsing on the Minnesota guards, Towns saw an opportunity to split the defense and run to the rim with the ball.
Toronto C Jonas Valanciunas slid over to meet Towns at the rim, but there wasn’t much anyone could do.
Pau Gasol spent two seasons at the United Center with the Chicago Bulls, so it made sense that when he returned as a member of the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, he would know his way around. In fact, Gasol knows the bowels of Chicago’s home arena so well that he wound up walking toward the wrong locker room as a force of habit.
During the NBA on TNT’s coverage of the game, reporter Allie LaForce showed cameras following Gasol after he said hello to some folks in the tunnel.
Unfortunately, Gasol walked about 15 feet before realizing he was heading to the wrong side.
Maybe it was something of an indicator for the night, as the first few quarters of play between the Spurs and the Bulls were extremely sloppy.
Damian Lillard had the No. 1 hip-hop album on iTunes. Milwaukee Bucks fans still think he needed to get taken down a peg, so on Wednesday during a game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Bucks, fans in Milwaukee had a message for Lillard.
Well, it was more of a cheer:
If you can’t quite make out what Bucks fans are saying, it was pretty simple: “Sound-Cloud rap-per!”
Lillard famously began his rapping career as an NBA player by releasing songs on SoundCloud — a mostly-free online audio hosting site — but he’s now graduated to a big release with professional production and guest spots by industry legends like Lil’ Wayne, Juvenile, and Jamie Foxx. His debut full-length album came out in October and is called “The Letter O”.
The Blazers superstar also started his own label in November.
Still, the Bucks arena experience is pretty great considering the coordinated t-shirts, the Bandwagon Cam, and Giannis Antetokounmpo.