The Pelicans have been leaning on Dante Cunningham for about 23 minutes a night on the wing (he started 10 of their games this season), and he’s not exactly lit it up for them — 5.6 points per game, and while he is shooting 41 percent from three he is struggling inside the arc, all of which has added up to a PER of 8.
Now New Orleans — winners of four in a row — will need someone else to step up and fill those minutes, because Cunningham is out until around Christmas at least, and possibly into the New Year, the team announced on Thanksgiving.
The fibula is the smaller of the two bones that runs from your knee to your ankle. The injury occurred in the second quarter Wednesday in the win over Minnesota.
The Pelicans need Solomon Hill to step up, they paid the man $48 million last summer to fill out this role. Hill won the job out of training camp but was replaced by Cunningham as Alvin Gentry looked to shake things up. While Hill had a nice game against Atlanta a couple of games ago (11 points on six shots) he’s going to have to step up now if the Pelicans are going to keep their hot streak going and get back into the playoff hunt in the West. They still have a lot of mountain to climb on that front.
Stephen Curry trolled Luke Walton after Warriors blew out Lakers
If sharing is caring the Warriors are getting along just fine — this makes 10 games in a row the Golden State Warriors have at least 30 assists in a game (just three off tying the NBA record).
The Warriors set a franchise record with 47 assists on their way to thrashing the Lakers 149-106. Draymond Green had 11 assists, Stephen Curry nine, but what’s impressive is everyone on the team is getting a few — which means everyone is moving the rock, and everyone receiving the ball is knocking down the shot. It’s tough to beat a team doing that (the Warriors have won nine in a row).
That 149 was Golden State’s highest scoring game in more than 24 years (since an overtime game in 1992).
Three things we learned Wednesday: Anthony Davis shows Towns why GMs used to pick him
1) Anthony Davis reminds Karl-Anthony Towns, everyone why all the GMs used to pick him to build around. It’s an annual question on the NBA’s preseason GM survey: If you could build your team around one player, who would it be? Two years ago the GMs overwhelmingly chose Anthony Davis. This year it was Karl-Anthony Towns, which made sense after his breakout rookie season while Davis battled injuries. GMs tend to be fickle (watch the GMs pick Joel Embiid next year).
Wednesday night, Davis reminded Towns and everybody else why he is the guy who should be on top of that list.
Davis was a dominant force for New Orleans, putting up 21 points in the first quarter on his way to 45 points on 17-of-27 shooting for the game. Davis did much of it in the paint — he was 7-of-7 in the restricted area and 6-of-8 in the rest of the paint. It was unfair as Davis just shot over or blew by Gorgui Dieng or Towns (his defenders) and scored at will — including a personal 8-0 run during the third quarter when the Pelicans pulled away for the win.
Towns is undoubtedly still a great player and a franchise cornerstone — eventually, Tom Thibodeau will get Minnesota playing defense and figuring it how not just to come apart in the third quarter. But the Timberwolves have work to do and look like they will be next year’s breakout team, not this year’s.
The Pelicans have won four in a row (and now 6-of-8), and make you wonder if they can overcome that ugly 0-8 start that looked like it doomed them.
2) Maybe one shouldn’t just leave Kevin Love open. Love’s first points of the game Wednesday night came with a difficult baseline 15-foot fadeaway over Mason Plumlee. It was a high degree of difficulty shot that fell that showed Love was on his game.
So the Trail Blazers responded by leaving him wide open from three for his next several shots, so he could really get his stroke and confidence going.
The result was Love dropped 34 points on Portland — in the first quarter. Love was 11-of-14 from the floor, including 8-of-10 from three, and seemed like he could not miss.
A lot of his shots came on pick-and-pops where both Portland defenders went with the ball, or where Love’s man just flat-out lost him at the arc and couldn’t recover. That said, Love hit some tough fade-aways and made plays in the post.
3) James Harden’s triple-double: 29 points, 15 assists, 12 turnovers.That led to a loss. When you are not just the primary but one-and-only playmaker on the team, as James Harden is, it’s not enough just to put up numbers — you have to be efficient doing it. Or your team loses.
That’s what happened when the Rockets took on the Raptors Wednesday night. Harden was wheeling and dealing, with 29 points on 13 shots, plus 15 assists. But, he turned the ball over 12 times — 26.5 percent of his possessions used ended in a turnover. As a team, the Rockets turned it over 28 times — 27.9 percent of the team’s possessions ended in a turnover. Do that against a good team like the Raptors and you’ll watch them score 33 points off turnovers, you’ll watch DeMar DeRozan drop 24 points (a slow night for him of late), and you’ll watch the Raptors win 115-102.
It’s the unfair burden on Harden (and Russell Westbrook) this season — putting up numbers is not enough, they need to be efficient doing it or their team will lose.
Bonus thing we learned (which we already knew): The Warriors and Cavaliers can put up points. Fueled by Kevin Love’s ridiculous hot hand (see above), the Cavaliers put up 81 points in the first half on the Trail Blazers. Not to be outdone, the Warriors hung and 80 on the Lakers in the first half. It was a scoring free for all night around the NBA where eight guys — Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry, Love, and Davis all had at least 30 points (and Harden had 29).
Watch Kevin Love drop NBA record 34 points in first quarter on Portland
Which means, Trail Blazers, you may want to stop leaving him open.
Love set an NBA record dropping 34 points on Portland — in the first quarter. Love was 11-of-14 from the floor, including 8-of-10 from three, and seemed like he could not miss. A lot of his shots came on pick-and-pops where both Portland defenders went with the ball, or where Love’s man just flat-out lost him at the arc and couldn’t recover. That said, Love hit some tough fade-aways and made plays in the post. Once he started to see the ball go in nothing was going to stop him. That’s the kind of shooting exhibition that would leave Stephen Curry impressed.
We will note that the Trail Blazers had the second-worst defense in the NBA coming into the game, and they are on the second night of a back-to-back (Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis torched them Tuesday). Still, 34 points in one quarter is flat out ridiculous, and Love earned those buckets knocking down the shots. (Portland did better and Love didn’t score in the second quarter.)