We know you spent most of Monday night trying to figure out what that ethereal music the Apollo 10 astronauts heard on the dark side of the moon was, so you didn’t watch any NBA games. That’s okay, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know from a Monday around the Association.”
1) Warriors become the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history by beating Hawks. It got interesting. Atlanta became the latest team to make a big run on Golden State and force a response. Portland did it most of the game, but the 13-turnover third quarter for the Warriors put that game out of reach. The Clippers game seemed to be in garbage time until a 13-0 run late gave Los Angeles a chance to tie (the shot fell short). Then Monday night the Warriors were in complete control up 23 in the third quarter, when the Hawks went on a 33-6 run and took the lead. These lapses are a combination of factors. The Warriors have some mental vacations, they get bored it seems, but also teams are not just rolling over for them. Good teams that have pride. The result is the Warriors having to work hard for games where it felt like they were in control.
But in the end, the Warriors usually do bounce back. Golden State closed Monday’s game on a 23-10 run in Atlanta.
The result is almost always the same — Golden State gets the win, this time 102-92. The Warriors are now 50-5, the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history. Golden State remains on pace to beat the 1996 Chicago Bulls’ win record of 72 games (they need to go 23-4 to do it).
Monday’s hero for the Warriors was Andrew Bogut. Yes, Bogut. He provided some physicality in the paint, blocked some shots, made smart passes on offense, and changed the tone for a Warriors’ team that had taken its foot off the gas. Yes, Stephen Curry was still doing Stephen Curry things — he had 36 points — but I’m telling you Bogut gets the credit here. Still, if you’re demanding your nightly ridiculous Curry highlight, here you go.
2) Channing Frye makes his debut for Cavaliers but Pistons spoil the day. Cavaliers fans got to see the guy they gave up Anderson Varejao for Monday night (not that much was expected of Channing Frye in his debut, he’s had basically no practice time with the team). Frye played nine minutes for the Cavaliers, missed both his threes, and looked like the new kid trying to fit in. He’ll find a more comfortable groove.
As a whole the Cavaliers looked flat Monday, none more so than LeBron James who shot 5-of-18 on the evening. The Cavaliers were on the second night of a back-to-back, but so were the Pistons who played with far more energy all game. Maybe the best example was in the final minute, when down eight LeBron James used his strength to bully his way to the rim on a drive, the ball cradled in his arms — and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ripped the ball out of his hands, then went the length of the court for the dagger layup. Ballgame. Chalk it up to just an off night for the Cavs, they just don’t want to have too many of those.
3) Giannis Antetokounmpo finishes the off-the-backboard alley-oop. Yes, it still counts if you do it against the Lakers’ defense. The Bucks picked up a win and the Greek Freak had maybe the highlight of the night.
4) Pistons void Donatas Motiejunas trade with Rockets over concerns about his back. Stan Van Gundy has coveted Motiejunas for years — a true 7-footer who can bang inside and is shooting 41.2 percent from three this season. He’s a perfect fit on paper for the inside-out offense Van Guyndy is trying to set up in Detroit.
But in reality, Motiejunas’ back (he’s had a couple of surgeries in the past year) is so bad that SVG and the Pistons decided to take a pass. They voided the trade made on the deadline day with Houston, something they are allowed to do if Motiejunas did not pass his physical. This is a real punch to the gut for the Rockets. First, they lose a top-eight protected first round pick in 2016 that was coming their way, now Houston may be without a first round pick this year. Second, the return of Motiejunas’ salary put them back above the tax line and make the Rockets tax payers again. Finally, that makes four guys that the Rockets tried to trade (Dwight Howard, Ty Lawson) or did trade (Motiejunas, Joel Anthony) who are now back in the locker room for the rest of the season. I do not envy J.B. Bickerstaff trying to coach this team.
5) Kyle Lowry puts up triple-double. Does it still count if Jose Calderon is guarding him? Kyle Lowry and the Raptors went into Madison Square Garden on Monday night and looked every bit the second best team in the East, with an unstoppable backcourt led by Kyle Lowry. Going up against the porus defense of Jose Calderon, Lowry did what he wanted on the way to 22 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds, and the Raptors picked up a comfortable win 122-95.