Timofey Mozgov, Denver Nuggets. It’s not just that Mozgov had a monster night — 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, plus a career high 29 rebounds — it’s that he did it against one of the better defensive centers in the NBA in Andrew Bogut. The real key here was just pure hustle — Mozgov outworked Warriors players for the rebounds. He got his points by working hard off the ball, which led to a quick pass and an easy bucket. The Warriors have played good defense this season but didn’t Thursday night and Mozgov made them pay. That was a career night for the Russian big man.
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets. Mentioned in the Mozgov grade that hustle was winning the day for Denver, so no shock that the Manimal put up 18 points and 17 rebounds. But those numbers are not out of line with what Faried has done the second half of this season — Denver has needed him to score and he has shown off a vastly improved post game (he is shooting 56 percent from the post since the All-Star Game, via Zach Lowe). He’s so confident in his post game that when the Warriors cut off the play designed for a handoff to Randy Foye, Faried just backed his man down and nailed the game winner.
Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs. I am not a fan of the “most improved player” award because it can be nebulous to define. That said, Patty Mills would land on my ballot. All season long he has had to step in when Tony Parker gets the night off, as happened Thursday, and he has played brilliantly — 26 points, including 6-of-11 shooting from three in the win over Dallas. Okay, not the most efficient of nights (9-of-25 shooting) but he’s getting it done for the team that will have the best record in the NBA.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs. If you’ve been watching “Cosmos” you know that certain bodies can bend space-time to their will. Tim Duncan is one of those bodies. He doesn’t seem to age. There was a real scare early in the game — he admitted it scared him, too — when Duncan hyperextended his knee. But soon he was back in the game and finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and threw in a block. Spurs win again. Timeless.
Watch Jonathan Simmons’ chasedown block on Stephen Curry
While the Spurs were running the Warriors out of Oracle Arena — a 129-100 Spurs win — Simmons had a fantastic chasedown block on Stephen Curry. It was one of the plays of the game (most of the rest came from Kawhi Leonard).
Simmons had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench for the Spurs in the win, which included a poster dunk on JaVale McGee late. Just to put some icing on the win.
Iman Shumpert in concussion protocol after collision with Porzingis
Late in the third quarter of Cleveland’s blowout opening night win over New York, the Cavalier’s Iman Shumpert lowered his head and tried to drive the lane, where he collided with Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis. It looked like Shumpert’s head hit Porzingis’ hip and elbow.
Shumpert instantly went to the ground, then needed help to come off the court. He was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, the team announced. Apparently, Porzingis is a rock.
A source questioned whether Shumpert would be available for either of the Cavs’ next two games, Friday in Toronto and Saturday against Orlando at The Q. To play, Shumpert would need to be symptom free, pass a series of tests, and show no symptoms after each test.
There is no set timeline with a concussion. In the short term, this will mean more DeAndre Liggins on the court until Shumpert returns.
The Cavs are already without rookie backup point guard Kay Felder, who suffered a concussion during practice last Friday when he ran into Chris Andersen.
What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.
LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.
But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.
Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.
After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.
The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.
In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.
Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.
For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.
Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.