Five Takeaways from an NBA Sunday: Paul George is all the way back

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The NBA season is crawling into its third week, and Sunday’s five games conveniently were spread from afternoon to evening, and featured a couple huge comebacks. If you were too busy needlessly freaking out about Starbucks’ holiday cups, here are five things you should know from an NBA Sunday.

1) Paul George looks like his old All-Star self again. But the Pacers still lost. Paul George had a couple good games this past week but Sunday he showed he is all the way back — he went head-to-head with LeBron James and held his own. George put up 32 points Sunday against James and the Cavaliers, meanwhile defending LeBron on the other end (LeBron had 29 points on 23 shots). It was an entertaining game thanks of those two, who had great clashes back in the Eastern Conference Finals and Sunday renewed that rivalry —and you could sense the mutual respect. Ultimately too much Kevin Love (22 points), a fourth-quarter 7-0 run, and a couple of LeBron free throws late sealed a Cavs win.

In the two games prior, George put up 36 and 26 points. He has shown he’s back to the All-Star, top 12 NBA player he was prior to his freakish injury playing for Team USA. What’s most interesting about this three-game run? Indiana had gone back to a larger lineup, moving George back to the three. After all the hype about the Pacers going small and George at the four (he’s spending time there still), he’s thriving back at his traditional position.

2) Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson powered the best comeback of the season. In the third quarter Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers were up by as many as 18 on the Pistons, and were still up 13 entering the fourth quarter. They seemed in control. Then Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson took over — the Pistons went on a 20-0 run at one point and won the fourth quarter 41-11, making it look like a comfortable 120-103 win when the final buzzer sounded. Drummond had 29 points and 27 rebounds in the game — that’s three 20-20 games for Drummond this season, the rest of the NBA has one. And he wasn’t even the best Piston on the floor in the fourth. After an unimpressive first three quarters (14 points on 15 shots), Jackson had 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting in the fourth

In limited run last season, Jackson and Drummond showed real chemistry. Last summer Stan Van Gundy bet on that giving Jackson an $80 million contract that was mocked in some quarters. Nobody’s laughing now. So far this season when Jackson and Drummond are on the court together the Pistons have an offensive rating of 108 points per 100 possessions, and they are +18.8 points per 100. Late in games the Pistons’ offense is essentially a Drummond/Jackson high pick and roll with shooters spacing the floor, and those two look like one of the best P&R combos in the league. Maybe SVG knew what he was doing after all.

3) Dwyane Wade passes Scottie Pippen on the all-time scoring list. He’s not exactly at the top of this list — with this bucket Dwyane Wade is now 51st all-time in the NBA in scoring. Still, he moved past Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen on Sunday (in an impressive Heat win over the Raptors), and in the next couple weeks he will track down and pass Dale Ellis and Reggie Theus.

4) Kobe Bryant may have played his last game in Madison Square Garden. The first time Kobe Bryant stepped on the court in Madison Square Garden it was 1996, and he was coming off the Lakers’ bench as a rookie. Since then he has had some of his most memorable games there, like dropping 61 on the Knicks back in 2009. Kobe had averaged 30.7 points a game in MSG coming into Sunday. The reality of where he and his Lakers are right now was on full display Sunday — Bryant had 18 points on 6-of-19 shooting, he was 2-of-10 from three, and the Lakers lost 99-95. Sunday felt like the end of an era for Kobe and his trips to NYC (he’s not coming there as a free agent next summer, just stop talking about that nonsense).

5) Kevin Durant looked good, dropping 32 on the Suns in a Thunder win. Kevin Durant does not want to talk about his pending free agency. He doesn’t have to; everyone else will do it for him. And 29 other teams will covet him so long as he keeps scoring like he did against Phoenix Sunday.

Watch Jamal Murray hit insane hand-switching layup around LeBron

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Are. You. Kidding. Me.

You are not going to see a better layup these playoffs than this one by Denver’s Jamal Murray, going around LeBron James near the end of the first half of Game 4.

Murray went up thinking dunk, had to change his mind because of LeBron, brought it down, went around him, and spun it in off the glass. Insane. It had some people on Twitter referencing the legendary Michael Jordan hand-switching shot. Not sure I’m willing to compare this Murray shot to a layup that helped launch a dynasty, but it’s close.

Murray had 16 in the first half but the Nuggets trailed at the break 60-55 in a high scoring first half. Anthony Davis had 19 to lead the Lakers.

Former Louisville star Donovan Mitchell “sad, angry, disgusted” with Breonna Taylor decision

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NBA players — like large swaths of the United States — are shaking their heads at the decision not to prosecute the police sho shot Breonna Taylor in her home. That includes LeBron James, who said the walls of Taylor’s neighbors got more justice than she did.

Now former Louisville star Donovan Mitchell has spoken out on the issue.

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We’re Sorry Breonna😔🤦🏾‍♂️

A post shared by Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) on

The hate and racism in too many of the responses to that Instagram post highlight the injustice and additional hurdles Black people in America have to clear every day.

Louisville has faced a night of protests and backlash to the decision by the grand jury, which included the two police officers getting shot (they both survived).

 

Report: Bulls paying Billy Donovan $6 million-plus annual salary

New Bulls coach and former Thunder coach Billy Donovan
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf just spent the NBA hiatus – at least if you looked beyond “The Last Dance” itself – getting dragged for not spending enough to give Michael Jordan another year of title contention in Chicago.

Paying to hire Billy Donovan is a way for Reinsdorf and the Bulls to repair their reputations.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

I’d be surprised if all four years are fully guaranteed. Coaching contracts of this length usually contain a team option or two.

But that’s still a hefty salary. Especially in these times. Especially considering it was believed the Bulls would keep Jim Boylen for financial reasons.

Donovan left the Thunder despite them offering him a new contract. He likely knew he could get more elsewhere.

Credit Chicago for being the team to spend. The Bulls needed a solid coach after Boylen and Fred Hoiberg.

Donovan won’t solve all Chicago’s problems, but he should help on multiple fronts. This upgrade costs nothing but Reinsdorf’s money, which every Chicago fan is perfectly willing to spend.

NBA playoff schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

NBA playoff schedule 2020
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And there were four.

The NBA is down to the conference finals — and the bubble has provided us with upsets galore. There are some unexpected teams in the NBA’s Final Four, but of course LeBron James is still there. The Lakers are the heavy favorites at this point.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except in the East, when ESPN wants a break not to clash with the NFL, and to let the West catch up. The fast pace of games will return with the NBA Finals.
Families for the players, and with the final four now the coaches, are in the bubble.
• The NBA has released an NBA Finals schedule to teams and their target is still a Sept. 30 Game 1. If either conference finals goes seven games that date will need to be pushed back.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Heat 117, Celtics 114, OT
Game 2: Heat 106, Celtics 101
Game 3: Celtics 117, Heat 106
Game 4: Heat 112, Celtics 109 (Miami leads series 3-1)
Game 5: Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 6: Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 7: TBD (ESPN)*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Game 1: Lakers 126, Nuggets 114
Game 2: Lakers 105, Nuggets 103
Game 3: Nuggets 114, Lakers 106 (Lakers lead series 2-1)
Game 4: Sept. 24, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 5: Sept. 26, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 6: Sept. 28, TBD (TNT)*
Game 7: Sept. 30, TBD (TNT)*
*If necessary

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0