Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while applying for maybe the best journalism job out there….
Mike Dunleavy, Chicago Bulls. Don’t make Mike Dunleavy angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Dunleavy had no points in the first half before Chandler Parsons caught Dunleavy just above the eye with an elbow, bloodied his face and sent him to the locker room for 10 stitches. That just pissed Dunleavy off. He came out and scored 18 points in the third quarter, sparking a 16-0 Bulls run to start the period that blew the game wide open. Dunleavy finished the game with 21, best on the Bulls.
Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta needs wins because the suddenly hot Knicks won five in a row and in the East that means you’re in the playoff race. Atlanta picked up one of those wins against the lowly Bucks Thursday night in what turned out to be the best game of the night (102-97) and Teague had 22 points on 10 shots. Plus he had a big dunk for the dagger. If you’re wondering why he got a “B” ask him about the 7 turnovers. Still a solid night.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder. If you can’t have a good night against the guys the Lakers roll out as guards at this point, you probably can’t have a good night in the NBA. Westbrook made a steal and dunked on the game’s opening play and that pretty much set the tone for the OKC rout of the Lakers. Westbrook finished with 29 points on the night, his athleticism just overwhelming the Lakers.
Dwane Casey reportedly holds a grudge toward Raptors president Masai Ujiri for firing him.
Casey got revenge last night, coaching the Pistons to a win at Toronto. Casey called two quality plays in the final seconds, the latter producing Reggie Bullock‘s game-winner.
Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:
A Toronto reporter asked Blake Griffin if it gives Pistons players a degree of confidence in their coach when he gives them those tools to win games.
“We know that. This isn’t like we just discovered this for the first time today,” he said. “We’ve put in plays like that all the time in practice. He demands execution and we executed. Maybe to Toronto fans – or certainly their GM, maybe – it was a surprise. But not to us.”
The win had to be gratifying for Casey. Having his star player take up his greater cause must even more satisfying.
NBA scoring is exploding. Defenses are getting less leeway for physicality. Offenses are more efficient than ever. Pace is at its highest mark in decades.
Except for the Jazz last night.
Utah scored just 68 points in a 50-point loss to the Mavericks. And even that undersells the Jazz’s offensive woes. They played reasonably fast, getting 101 possessions. Their offensive rating – 67.3 – shows just how inept they truly were.
In all, Utah shot 42% on 2-pointers, 17% on 3-pointers and 63% on free throws and committed 22 turnovers.
The Jazz set several milestones for offensive futility:
- Fewest points in a game (68) in nearly two years (68 by Hawks vs. Jazz on Nov. 25, 2016)
- Lowest Basketball-Reference estimated offensive rating in a game (68.8) in more than three years (68.2 by Grizzlies vs. Warriors on Nov. 2, 2015)
- Fewest points in a second half (22) in nearly five years (19 by Rockets vs. Thunder on Jan. 16, 2014)
Comparing across eras can be difficult, but here’s one measure: The Jazz scored 68 points in a season teams are averaging 110.4 points per game.
That output relative to average – -42.4 – is one of the lowest of all-time:
Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are feuding, the possibility of Durant leaving the Warriors in free agency next summer hanging over everything.
Now comes Durant’s brother, Tony – intentionally or not – throwing gasoline on the fire. Again.
Tony posted and deleted these comments on Instagram, via Bleacher Report:
Read too much into vague social-media content at your own peril.
But, man, that sure looks like Tony advising Green just to enjoy Durant masking Green’s problems until Durant leaves the Warriors and leaves Green exposed.
Andrew Wiggins keeps besting Nikola Mirotic.
Wiggins won Rookie of the Year over Mirotic in 2015.
In the Timberwolves’ win over the Pelicans last night, Wiggins had the dagger dunk on Mirotic – and made sure Mirotic felt it. Ouch.