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 you were hanging out with hamster bartenders….
Dwight Howard. You want evidence that Dwight Howard’s back is back, that he is healthy and moving the best he has since he played near DisneyWorld? How about that he had 12 points just off alley-oops on Thursday. Or, just ask the Spurs, who saw him drop 32 points on 18 shots (he was 8-of-13 on free throws) plus he had 16 rebounds. Sure, Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan were out, those are still impressive numbers. More than just offense, he is a defensive force again and the Rockets are more than 7 points per 100 possessions better on defense this young season compared to last year (they are giving up just 99 points per 100 possessions, third best in the league). That is the main reason they are 6-0 to start the season.
Spurs guards. Usually when Gregg Popovich rests guys like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili the other Spurs step up. Not tonight, and particularly not the San Antonio guards. Tony Parker and Danny Green were a combined 6-of-21 shooting overall, 0-of-6 from three, plus they had as many turnovers as they did assists. It was just not their night.
Portland’s defense. Dallas shot just 36,7 percent Thursday night, which worked out to 90.6 points per 100 possessions. We need to give Portland some credit for this, because it’s becoming a trend. So far this season, Portland is allowing just 96.1 points per 100 possessions, which is fifth best in the league. They are nearly 7 points per 100 possessions better than a year ago, really improving on a weakness. If they keep this up not only are the Trail Blazers a playoff lock they are a lot more dangerous once it gets here.
Mavericks in the third quarter. In the first half of their games this season, the Mavericks have outscored opponents by an average of 15.4 points, and they have led all five games at the break. However Dallas has been outscored by an average of 12.8 points a game in the third quarter. Dallas’ shooting percentage falls from 53 percent down to 40 percent (and they shoot 12 percent from three), while their opponents shoot 12 percent better overall. Maybe the Mavs should stop serving Jager Bombs in the locker room at halftime. Rick Carlisle is too good a coach to suggest it’s his adjustments, this is likely just a short-term blip.