Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) If you want to know how much Anthony Davis means to the Lakers, watch their loss to the Pacers. It’s December, this is when you rest a guy if he tweaks an ankle to make sure it doesn’t become something bigger and chronic. Which is exactly what the Lakers did Tuesday with Anthony Davis — he suffered a “mild” sprained ankle at the end of the win against Atlanta Sunday, so he sat out Tuesday vs. Indiana.
His value to Los Angeles was clearly evident in a loss to the Pacers Tuesday that snapped a 14-game road winning streak for the Lakers.
Davis is the defensive anchor for Los Angeles (and an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year), a force on his man who is also an elite help defender. Without him, Domantas Sabonis scored 26 points, and Malcolm Brogdon was getting past Dwight Howard for reverse layups that became game-winners.
Malcolm Brogdon clutch buckets 😤 pic.twitter.com/nTfIkJ2eBf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 18, 2019
Also, Davis is the Lakers’ best rebounder and his presence on the glass was missing. The Pacers grabbed the offensive rebound on 30% of their missed shots, which also limited the chances for the Lakers to get out and run — something the Lakers do surprisingly well — and Los Angeles had just 10 fast break points.
Give Indiana credit, this is a gritty team with a strong defense that deserved the win. Malcolm Brogdon has been worth every penny, and the Sabonis/Myles Turner combination seems to be clicking much better of late. When Victor Oladipo returns, if he can be close to his All-NBA self from before he ruptured his right quad tendon, the Pacers become a dangerous playoff team nobody will want to face.
That doesn’t take away from the fact the Lakers are just not the same team without Anthony Davis (and Kyle Kuzma is out as well with his own ankle issue). Davis’ status for Thursday’s showdown with Milwaukee is not yet known, but as fans we want to see him out there for what is the most anticipated game of the season so far.
2) It’s time to let the Replay Center in Secaucus initiate end-of-game reviews. At every NBA game, there is a guy at the scorer’s table with an oversized headset on in constant contact with the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. The point is so the scorers can hear quickly and directly from them on reviews of if a shot is a two vs. a three, for example.
It’s time to let the officials in Secaucus also initiate a few reviews of obvious missed calls late in games — plays not reviewed because no call was made to review (or for other reasons).
Case in point, the end of the Pelicans’ overtime loss to Brooklyn.
The game was tied 93-93 and there was about a three-second difference between the shot and game clocks. Brooklyn wisely tried to eat up as much of the shot clock as they could before taking a shot, but then Spencer Dinwiddie badly missed a three that hit the corner of the backboard. It was an obvious shot clock violation, ball out of bounds to New Orleans with 2.7 seconds left — except there was no call. The officials told Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry the ball “clearly” hit the rim. Clearly it did not. This was not even particularly close. Even the Brooklyn broadcast on the YES Network said the officials missed this one.
Refs miss a Shot-Clock violation at the end of the game, that would have given the Pelicans another possession pic.twitter.com/KlgZVuguSC
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA2) December 18, 2019
What is the point of having all that review technology if not to get a call like this right? Not just going over and reviewing it comes off as the referees trying to protect their egos over getting a call right. Fair or not.
Which is why Secaucus should be able to talk to the scorer’s table courtside, call over the referees, and say “review this.” Just because there was no call doesn’t mean a play should not be reviewed.
Officiating an NBA game is impossibly difficult and the officials in the league are the best in the world (fans scoff at that, but watch college or FIBA refs and get back to me). They do an amazingly good job, and when they do miss big calls it eats at them. They are professionals who want to get it right. The key is a willingness to check their egos and get things right, which is why a Secaucus-initiated review makes sense.
Would the Pelicans have hit a game-winner and snapped their 12-game losing streak? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe the Pelicans airball their shot, the game goes to overtime, and that OT plays out just like the one we got and the Nets win. We’ll never know.
But at least New Orleans would have had a final shot in that scenario.
3) De'Aaron Fox returns just as Sacramento is starting to play better, could they make the playoffs? The goal in Sacramento this season was simple: Make the playoffs. For the first time in 13 years. The last time Sacramento made the postseason it was 2006 and Rick Adelman was running his corner offense in the California capital.
If the playoffs started today, Sacramento would be in as the eighth seed.
And Sacramento is just getting healthy — Marvin Bagley III returned four games ago, and on Tuesday night in Charlotte De’Aaron Fox returned to the lineup. Fox came off the bench in his first game but still led the team with 19 points and eight assists (he remains on a minutes restriction.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 18, 2019
The Hornets won the game, 110-102, and remain in the thick of the East playoff chase, too.
Even with the loss, Sacramento has won 4-of-6, and now they’re about to get their best players back on the court. And, starting Dec. 23 (against Houston), the Kings have 10-of-12 at home. Make a run there and the Kings can start to solidify a playoff spot in the West. Sure, only because the bottom of the West is much worse than expected, but the Kings do not care.
The Kings just want a ticket to the postseason dance, and finally getting healthy, maybe they could earn one.