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) Luka Doncic makes the game look easy in return, Dallas wins. The best athletes make the game look easy. Roger Federer is graceful and makes tennis look effortless. Lionel Messi makes goal scoring look like something anyone can do, same with Mike Trout hitting a baseball 450 feet.
Luka Doncic returned from missing four games with a sprained ankle on Thursday night and looked rusty at points, winded late in the game, but also had moments where he reminded you just how easy the game can be for him.
Luka (24 PTS & 10 REB) did not disappoint in his return to action! 💪 pic.twitter.com/osNhzXJuxB
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 27, 2019
Doncic finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists leading Dallas to a 102-98 win against San Antonio Thursday night. It wasn’t just him terrorizing guys like LaMarcus Aldridge on the pick-and-roll (which Doncic did a few times), it’s how he moves and understands spacing and when to make cuts that opens up the floor — and makes Seth Curry look like Pete Maravich.
We liked that too, Luka 😏 pic.twitter.com/FUMVsTodM6
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 27, 2019
The other key to this game? Dallas was 16-of-40 from three (40 percent). When Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. are hitting from deep (both hit three from beyond the arc in this game) the Mavs are hard to beat.
The Mavericks stayed afloat going 2-2 in the four games Doncic missed. Dallas will be battling Houston (and maybe Utah) the rest of the way for the four seed and home court in the first round, so easing back into a win against the slow-footed Spurs was good for Doncic. Now the Mavs head out to the West Coast for a Warriors then Lakers back-to-back. We’ll see if the game still looks easy against the length of the Lakers.
2) Brooklyn has historically bad shooting night, Spencer Dinwiddie blames “too much eggnog.” Every team has games they just need to flush and move on from over the course of 82; there are just those nights where nothing works.
Brooklyn took that to a new level Thursday night — the Nets were “laughably bad” in the words of point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Consider the stats:
• The Nets 82 points were a new season low.
• Brooklyn shot 26.9 percent for the game (21-for-78), the worst any team has shot the ball in nearly eight years (January 2012)
• The Nets shot 13-of-50 from three, 26 percent.
• It was worse from two.
The Brooklyn Nets' eight two-point field goals on Thursday were the fewest by a team in a game since Nov. 22, 1950, when the Lakers and Pistons each made four FG in a game famous for its final score (19-18, Ft. Wayne). The 24-second shot clock debuted less than four years later.
— Elias Sports Bureau (@EliasSports) December 27, 2019
You got that right, Brooklyn made the fewest two pointers in a game in the shot clock era. And all that against a Knicks defense that has been bottom 10 in the league all season.
So Dinwiddie, how would you describe the night? Via Malika Andrews of ESPN:
“We were really, really bad. Like laughably bad. We shot really bad… Let’s go with too much eggnog. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
He was joking people, lighten up.
The Knicks took advantage behind 30 points from Julius Randle and cruised to a win.
3) It wasn’t pretty. At all. It was downright ugly at the end. But Minnesota finally won, snapping an 11-game losing streak. While in New York one team was being historically bad, the end of the game between the Kings and Timberwolves had both teams just playing terribly.
In the last 15 minutes of this game — the final five minutes of regulation plus the two overtimes — the Timberwolves and Kings combined to shoot 14-of-50 (28 percent) overall and 3-of-21 (14.3 percent) from three. And there were plays like this.
— Shaqtin' a Fool (@shaqtin) December 27, 2019
Eventually, Minnesota got a few buckets and held on for a 105-104 victory — the Timberwolves’ first win in December. Gorgui Dieng scored 21 points and Andrew Wiggins had 18 for Minnesota (playing without Karl-Anthony Towns due to a sprained left knee). It’s a win; they will take it.
But it wasn’t pretty.Follow @basketballtalk