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 reading the oral history of Sports Night….
LeBron James and the Cavaliers big three. That was the big three everyone should fear in the second half against the Pelicans. In that second half the big three scored 61 of the Cavs 67 points — Kyrie Irving had 27, LeBron James had 22 (plus five boards and five assists), and Kevin Love had a dozen. For the game LeBron had a triple double with 32 points, 12 boards and 10 assists.By the way, the Pelicans played pretty well and had 55 points in the second half, but they couldn’t get the stops against the Cavaliers offense.
Derrick Rose. Welcome back. After missing a couple games with an ankle sprain he played 32 minutes and scored 24 points while dishing out seven assists (plus three hockey assists) and looking good all night long. He was getting to the rim, in transition and the half court, with 50 percent of his shot attempts coming within eight feet of the rim. The Bulls offense has been surprisingly sharp all season (this game it was actually a little less efficient than the season average) but what really came around was the Bulls pressure on the opposing defense with Rose in the game. Also back for the night was the Bulls defense (it was pedestrian so far this young season, especially when the bench was in, but you knew that would come around).
Kawhi Leonard. We knew he was a defensive beast, we saw him against LeBron James in the NBA Finals, but it was a sight to behold again on Monday might — he stripped Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul in the same game, two of the better ball handling guards in the league. Oh, and the Spurs used him to exploit Crawford’s “defense” to the tune of 26 points for Leonard (Gregg Popovich said after the game it was the most plays he’d ever called for Leonard in his career, but on a night San Antonio was just ice cold from the field (they were 9-of-36 on uncontested shots) it was Leonard who gutted out a win for the Spurs against the Clippers.