Only three games — and not the high-quality games we are used to on the Thursday night showcase stage due to the NCAA Tournament — so we’ve got one guy from each team that notched a victory.
Third Star: Tyreke Evans (21 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds)
The Kings won this game with a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter that gave them a lead the Timberwolves could not overcome. And Tyreke Evans was the key to the Sacramento fourth quarter with 11 of his 21 points, including seven in a row at one point. On the night Evans got those points on 8-of-11 shooting on the night, which was huge. By the way, the Kings are 6-5 in their last 11 and playing much better.
Second Star: LaMarcus Aldridge (28 points, 8 rebounds)
LaMarcus Aldridge had a huge first half in getting the Blazers a quality win on the road. He had 10 first quarter points, then when he returned in the second quarter the Blazers went on an 18-8 run that was when the Blazers ran away and hid in this game. But really the key was how he played — he wasn’t stationary but moving against the Bulls defense. He flashed, cut and when he got the rock he shot quickly. It worked for Aldridge and it worked for the Blazers.
First Star: Corey Brewer (29 points, 5 steals)
The Nuggets win streak is 14 games and they can thank Corey Brewer. He won that game for them, finishing it off in a way fitting of the drama of the first day of the NCAA Tournament.
It wasn’t just that he scored the last six points — including drawing (and selling) a foul on a three with 2.1 seconds left, then sinking all three free throws to lock up the win. But it was more than that — the Nuggets were flat early, he came in and scored 13 points in the second quarter to stabilize things. Normally Brewer comes in to stabilize the defense, but he can have hot offensive nights and the Nuggets have won 14 in a row because they know to ride the hot hand. Thursday that was Brewer.
Devin Booker — the Suns’ newly minted max contract player — had been working hard to recover from off-season hand surgery in time for the opening of the season (the original timeline after surgery had him missing the first week or two of the season).
Looks like he made it, according to coach Igor Kokoskov, via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
Booker is young, 21, and hopefully he just healed quickly. There is no reason to rush Booker back here, the Suns need to approach this season with a long-term view, not thinking win now.
This is going to be an interesting young Suns team with Booker, rookie Deandre Ayton, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, Mikal Bridges, and now with some veteran voices in Trevor Ariza and the newly added Jamal Crawford in the locker room. This team is not playoff bound in the West, but nightly they will be improved and not a pushover.
For 30 years, Paul Allen has owned the Portland Trail Blazers. In that time the team made the NBA Finals a couple of times, was a model of consistency making the playoffs 23 times, and providing a city unforgettable memories filled with some of the biggest personalities and best players in the game.
Allen passed away Monday, losing his battle to cancer. He was just 65 years old.
It has led to an outpouring from the entire NBA community, especially around Portland.
“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small. He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies. He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him. Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”
No Russell Westbrook. No Andre Roberson. Maybe no Steven Adams.
This is not what the NBA had in mind when they sent Oklahoma City to Golden State for the second game of the NBA’s opening night doubleheader on national television. But, that’s the reality due to injury.
Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on right knee back on Sept. 12 and it was expected to be re-evaluated around the start of the season. However, with the marathon of the NBA season about to start no way the Thunder were never going to rush him back, national television and the Warriors or not. While it’s less than ideal, getting it dealt with and missing training camp and a few games is better than to risk something worse during the season (or miss a month of the season in a Western Conference where there is little margin for error because of the depth of quality teams).
The Thunder called it “maintenance,” but this is Westbrook’s fourth surgery on that knee, although it’s the first in more than four years. His issues with this knee date back to the 2013 playoffs when Patrick Beverley crashed into it and tore the meniscus.
Westbrook is about to turn 30, has some heavy-usage miles on that body, and just signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension.
Pelicans star Anthony Davis said he’s the best player in the NBA.
His coach, Alvin Gentry, agreed then expanded.
If you don’t want to call him the best player, I call him the most valuable. Because if you can trade him for anybody, then he is the most valuable guy. Not that we would ever consider that. Don’t you guys take some kind of spin and put it on top. There is no one in the league that we would trade him for. There is no one out of the league. Not even Beyonce. If we wouldn’t trade him for her, then he’s probably untouchable.
I’d trade Davis for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s also in the MVP race, even younger and locked up an extra season.
LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden are better, older and locked up for longer than Davis. I’d probably trade Davis for LeBron or Curry, though not Harden.
Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum are worse, younger but also locked up for longer than Davis. I probably wouldn’t trade Davis for any of them, though the additional team control makes it worth considering.
Really, Davis is already at the point – as few as two years from unrestricted free agency – trade speculation hits high gear. The possibility of him leaving New Orleans high and dry in 2020 is too great to ignore.
As far as Davis for Beyonce… I guess it depends on your priorities.