PBT’s Wednesday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Davis, Morrow, just good night for anyone named Anthony


Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while spending $24 million on a watch….

source:  Anthony Davis. He’s been the best player in the league so far this young season. Better than LeBron James, better than Chris Bosh, better than Stephen Curry. Davis has a PER of 35.7 so far. At age 21. In his third NBA season. He had 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks against the Lakers Wednesday night — and that’s pretty much been a standard night for him. He’s a defensive force, he runs the floor, he’s got a midrange game, there’s not much he can’t do. Oh, and he can dunk, too.

source:  Anthony Morrow. The Thunder need scoring without Durant and Westbrook, and in his second game back Morrow provided it. He had 19 points in the fourth quarter, 28 for the game on 11-of-15 shooting, plus he was 4-of-5 from three. Oh, and the Thunder won, they are now 3-6 on the young season and just trying to keep their heads above water until the cavalry coms charging over the hill next month.

source:  New York Knicks. We all knew there was going to be adjustments to be made: The triangle offense takes time to learn, Derek Fisher is learning on the job as coach, the roster just does not have that much talent on it… but wow they have looked bad during this six-game losing streak. And never worse than in this loss to the Magic on Wednesday night at home. I’ll grant you that J.R. Smith’s last shot was not a wise choice (and not what Fisher drew up, you could see that on Carmelo Anthony’s face) but this loss was more than that. It was some odd player rotations and lineups from Fisher (no Tim Hardaway Jr. in the first half?). It was poor defense again — the Magic scored a high 106.5 points per 100 possessions in this game, but that is still berter than the Knicks season average of 108.4 (25th in the league). I wish I had a bright spot for Knicks fans, but this is going to be a long season.

source:  Paul Millsap. Normally he’d slide into the loser category because the Hawks misspelled his name on the back of jersey, but the man and too big a night to ignore — 30 points on 12-of-23 shooting, plus 17 rebounds and a couple of blocks. He carried the offense for stretches and the Hawks needed every bit of that to hold off the Jazz 100-97 (Utah’s shot to tie it late was not exactly pretty).

source:  Denver Nuggets. There was a time when the second night of a back-to-back up in the altitude of Denver was seen as a schedule maker’s loss — no team expected to win that game. Not any more, and not with these Blazers scoring at will in the first half — Portland led Denver 84-50 at halftime. Brian Shaw looked for what would work, throwing 13 different players on the court, and every single one of them has a negative +/- at the half. Kenneth Faried told ProBasketballTalk that the early-season problems are tied to the team just not meshing yet because of guys missing time due to injuries. That’s part of it, but there is a lot more going on here. And the Nuggets are digging the kind of early-season hole that will be hard for them to climb out of in the West.

source:  Brandon Jennings. Any night he is efficient it is actually news, and he was on Wednesday with 32 points on 11-for-19 shooting, plus 10 assists to just two turnovers. But it wasn’t enough to get the Pistons a win over the Wizards because Detroit just can’t get stops. However, Jennings is mostly here in the winner category because he did this:

Reports: Lakers working out free agent Quincy Miller, second rounder Ater Majok


The Lakers have the rights to Ater Majok, whom they drafted No. 58 in 2011.

They also have interest in Quincy Miller, whom the Nuggets waived before the season.

Maybe the Lakers are ready to act.

Shams Charania of RealGM:

Free agent forward Quincy Miller plans to visit the Lakers in Los Angeles later this week for a workout and an opportunity to sign, league sources told RealGM on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Lakers have flown in center Ater Majok — their 58th overall draft pick in 2011 — from China for a couple days of workouts with the team, league sources told RealGM.

Majok’s workout is unrelated to free agent forward Quincy Miller

Obviously, the Lakers want to keep a close eye on Majok as long as they have his rights. So, the timing of this workout could be coincidental. But it does seem interesting they’re working him out during the season when they’re considering tinkering with their roster.

There’s little reason to sign Majok now unless he blows away the Lakers in the workout, but Miller seems to be a viable addition.

Who would the Lakers, who have a full roster of 15 players, waive to make room? Los Angeles two players with unguaranteed contracts, Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington (who is away from the team after his father’s murder). Xavier Henry, one a one-contract, has really struggled this season. Any of those three are viable candidates.

Injured Nicolas Batum misses Trail Blazers-Hornets game, won’t travel to Denver


Entering tonight, no unit had played more than the Trail Blazers’ starting lineup of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez.

That lineup also saw the most minutes last season of any lineup that returned in tact this season.

Portland has a lot of things going for it, but don’t underestimate simple familiarity.

Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, their chemistry has taken a short-term hit.

Peter Socotch of CSN Northwest:

Portland Trail Blazers small forward Nicolas Batum will miss both Tuesday night’s game at the Moda Center versus the Charlotte Bobcats and will not travel to Denver for Wednesday’s game, either, head coach Terry Stotts said pregame.

Batum suffered a right knee contusion Sunday night in the closing minutes of the Blazers 116-100 win over the Denver Nuggets when the Blazers forward was going up for a rebound of the defensive end when he collided with Nuggets’ big man Timofey Mozgov.

Editor’s Note: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $400,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday’s NBA games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $50,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Allen Crabbe started for Batum against Charlotte, and he scored just two points in 22 minutes. But the Trail Blazers overcame a 23-point deficit for a 102-100.

As long as Batum is out, Portland will face a stiff challenge. That doesn’t mean the Trail Blazers should rush back their do-it-all forward.

There’s never a good time to lose a player of Batum’s caliber, but Portland’s upcoming schedule — especially consider it’s a Western Conference team — is relatively easy. The Trail Blazers could probably better afford to sit Batum now and let him fully heal rather doing so later in the season.

Kenneth Faried is “good” with Brian Shaw now, but Nuggets still struggling to mesh


The start of their relationship was rocky.

Kenneth Faried’s frenetic energy fit beautifully with George Karl’s up-and-down, more unscripted offense. His raw athleticism was prized. Then last season in came Brian Shaw as coach and he wanted more traditional things out of Faried, who didn’t have a polished post game or midrange face up game that any team feared.

“Before, last year, we’d butt heads because certain philosophies he was going with I didn’t want to obey them or abide by them. I wanted to do my own thing and play more minutes. I was frustrated,” Faried told ProBasketballTalk. “But as the season went on, it sucked because guys went down, but we had to come together and click in order for us to win the number of games we won last year.

“It helped a lot going into this year, with me coming back from (Team) USA and the things I did there, he has even more confidence in me and plays me more minutes and make sure I’m on the court to help the team and make an impact.”

They’re good now, Faried and Shaw. They are on the same page.

The problem is the 1-5 Nuggets are not. Faried is frustrated, all the Nuggets are. Denver has talented players and the core of a team that won more than 50 games two years ago — himself, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and others — but they have a bottom 10 offense and defense in the early going.

Faried attributes the slow start to a hangover from all the injuries.

“Guys coming back from injuries, it’s tough right now,” Faried said of the reason behind the slow start. “We’re basically just trying to mesh and come together, and that kind of makes it difficult when guys can’t play full time. And some guys just have to sit out because of soreness.

“In the games, some guys haven’t played with other guys in a while, so we’re just trying to get it together. Training camp helped a little but it didn’t help to make us just ‘okay, all right, we’re clicking.’ Even the team that won the title isn’t meshing right now (the Spurs). It’s early, it happens, but it will sooner or later.”

Where Faried has always connected is with fans — Denver Nuggets fans loved the Manimal. This summer, Team USA fans jumped on that bandwagon as Faried became a key part of the USA’s gold medal run at the World Championships. So with that growing fan base Faried joined with American Express and NBA.com on their “Home Court Advantage” series that tells you more about the players. You can see one of Faried’s videos above where he has to defend some of his Instagram posts. And he really can’t.

“I do connect with the fans,” Faried said. “All the fans want to see is you play hard and give effort. If you can’t win the game you’re giving effort to win the game, you’re not just laying down and dying. That’s why I think the fans like me so much and then respect me, because I’m a player that gives effort, and I appeal to the fans with highlight dunks and blocks, making highlight plays but being solid…

“Home Court Advantage is showing them what I do, where I grew up, and just me being me.”

Faried connected with some frustrated fans in Detroit earlier this year when he talked about the Nuggets plans to let Josh Smith just fire away and shoot the Pistons out of the game with ill-advised jumpers. Smith responded by calling Faried a clown.

“I believe (the controversy) just took off out of nowhere,” Faried said. “I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful or anything. Josh is a star, he’s a great player, I was just saying what our scheme was, we were just going with our scheme, and I think the media took it as I was disrespecting Josh or I think I’m better than him. I don’t think I’m better than nobody, I just believe in myself.”

Nuggets fans believe in him, and now so does Shaw.

Kenneth Faried: Nuggets ‘sick and tired’ of losing


The Nuggets are off to a 1-5 start to the season, tied with the Lakers for last in the West and only slightly better than the 0-7 Sixers.

And it’s beginning to weigh on the team’s players.

Although the group was encouraged by aspects of its performance during a 16-point loss to the Blazers on Sunday, Kenneth Faried verbalized the collective mood in the locker room.

From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post:

“Guys are sick and tired of coming into the locker room depressed and sad after a game,” said Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried.

Denver’s 116-100 loss Sunday at Portland was particularly hard to swallow because it could be argued the Nuggets played their best game of the season. Ty Lawson played his best all-around game — from point production to aggressiveness to running the team and limiting turnovers. Arron Afflalo scored a season-high 18 points and made a season-best 57 percent of his shots. …

“We play on our home court Wednesday and we’ve got to come out and get a win,” Faried said. “This is our home crowd. We don’t want them to start booing us, getting mad at us. So we’ve got to do it for them. If not for ourselves, then for them.”

The Nuggets host those same Blazers on Wednesday, but at least will be getting them on the second night of a back-to-back after Portland hosts Charlotte on Tuesday. And, from an NBA travel perspective, those situations set up very favorably for the Nuggets, considering the additional distance the team needs to travel from the airport to downtown, as well as the famous altitude difference visiting players must adjust to when playing in the mile-high city.

It makes sense to target this game as one that’s winnable for the Nuggets, even against a very good Blazers team.

As for the slow start, it must be especially difficult for Faried, considering the way he played with a star-studded USA Basketball team over the summer that went unbeaten on the way to earning gold in international play at the FIBA World Cup.