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 getting ready for your family’s annual Thanksgiving touch football game…
Ettore Messina. Gregg Popovich was out for the night after what the team called a “minor medical procedure” — let’s hope Pop is more forthcoming with his doctors than sideline reporters — which means his lead assistant had to step up. And that marked a little bit of history: Ettore Messina became the first European-born coach to be a team’s head coach for an NBA game. Thing is, in a few years he’s going to get his own NBA team and that is going to be really interesting.
Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m not about to say they turned the corner, but I will say this: Wednesday night’s easy 113-87 win over Washington was the best I’ve seen them play this season as a unit. LeBron James set an aggressive tone early (eight trips to the line in the first quarter and 12 points, five assists) but what really mattered was the Cavs played good defense, forcing turnovers and shutting down John Wall (six points on six shots) and getting revenge for a loss five days before. It is a step in the right direction.
Chase Budinger. We weren’t going to have any losers the night before Thanksgiving but… Chase, what was that?
Donatas Motiejunas. No Dwight Howard and the Rockets had to face the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins, who has been a beast this season.That smelled of trouble. And Cousins put up numbers — 29 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, three blocks — but the Rockets took the game and their reserve big man Motiejunas was key to that. He had 21 points on 15 shots and provided the needed inside balance to go with James Harden and Isaiah Canaan from the outside. That got the job done.