‘Tis the season for holiday parties and busy schedules. If on Sunday you were trying to finish your shopping before going to the neighbors Christmas extravaganza, so you missed the NBA action, we understand. And we’ve got you covered. Here are five things you need to know from around the NBA Sunday.
1) Kyrie Irving returns, the Cavaliers are getting whole. Cleveland didn’t send Kyrie Irving down to the D-League for a rehab stint before his NBA debut this season, but they did the next best thing — he returned against the 76ers. As you’d expect there was rust on him and his game after having been on the shelf since Game 1 of the NBA Finals — Irving missed his first five shots. Eventually, the shots started to fall, and Irving finished with 12 points on 12 shots, plus four assists in 17 minutes of work. What was important is that he moved well and wasn’t hesitant, so he should look better against the Knicks Wednesday (and the Warriors Friday). What’s important is the Cavaliers are getting whole.
Oh, by the way, LeBron James had 23 to lead Cleveland to a 108-86 win Sunday over struggling Philadelphia.
2) Damian Lillard still putting up numbers, injured or not. Portland did what they do Sunday: Look good early then fade late and lose (this time to Miami 116-109). Damian Lillard did what he does as well, being the hub of the Blazers offense to the tune of 32 points and nine assists. But by the fourth quarter Lillard seemed to be favoring one leg a little, and after the game came news he is battling plantar fasciitis, which he aggravated against the Heat. Not good. If you’re a Trail Blazers fan because the only real cure is rest, and Portland can’t afford to lose Lillard for any length of time, their offense drops off by 12.5 points per 100 possessions.
3) Paul Millsap had the dunk of the day. Atlanta just snuck past Orlando Sunday, 103-100, but Paul Millsap had the dunk of the day in my book. That is Jason Smith for Orlando who recognizes what his happening too late and can’t get over in time to stop it.
4) Kyle Lowry ejected, tied for league lead in technicals, and the Raptors lose. Toronto teases you, they beat San Antonio recently and showed the potential for what they can be. Then they come out Sunday at home against the Kings flat, went down 17-2 to open the game, trail by 22 in the first quarter, and look unimpressive in a loss. A frustrated Kyle Lowry (4-of-13 shooting) got called for a foul he didn’t like in the third and would not stop
chirping at the official asking for clarification, picked up a couple of technicals and got tossed. He’ll get a fine for that. Lowry now has eight technicals this season, tied for the league lead with Blake Griffin. If you’re getting as many techs as Griffin, you’re talking too much. Look at it this way: The Raptors are 11.4 points per 100 possessions better with Lowry on the court, they can’t afford for him to get tossed anymore.
5) DeMarcus Cousins with a monster slam. From the Kings’ win, Cousins hurt the rim with this one.