Orlando is rebuilding and just drafted Jalen Suggs will be at the heart of that effort with players such as Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton, and others playing roles.
Then there is Jonathan Issac. The power forward and defensive force seemed poised to, if not break out, at least take a step forward on the offensive end two seasons ago and cement his role as a franchise superstar to rebuild around, averaging 11.9 points per game, grabbing 6.8 rebounds per game. Then he tore his ACL in the bubble, a huge setback, and missed all of last season recovering.
Isaac will return this coming season, although the Magic are being very careful not to put an official timeline on when. So when Isaac was at the Orlando J.U.M.P. Ministries Global Church Seafood Festival — an event he and his fiance, Takita Thomas, helped organize — Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel asked Isaac if he would be ready to go opening night.
“We’ll see,” Isaac said about being ready for the season opener, which is 45 days away. “I’m on the court. I’m weaning out of the brace. I’m jumping. I’m finishing around the basket and such. I’m easing my way. … I’m getting there…
“I feel good. My knee is doing great. I’m making strides, I’m getting stronger and I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Isaac said.
That doesn’t sound like a player who will be ready in about seven weeks for NBA action.
However, he should be back this season. The question is not just when but also how long it will take him to get all the way back, trust his knee, and regain his All-Defensive Team level form? That is the end of the court when Isaac will be transformative, anchoring the Magic defense as they continue to add talent for new coach Jamahl Mosley to mold and turn into a dangerous team in a few years.
The Magic will not rush Isaac back, they gave him an $80 million contract extension while he worked on that recovery and there is no reason to push him. Orlando needs to think big picture. But a lot of eyes will be on Isaac’s return because he was at the heart of what was next in Orlando before they traded all their stars and went all-in on the rebuild.
Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.
Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.
The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.
That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.
Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.
Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.
The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.
The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.
It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.
Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.
The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.
Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).
Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.
If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.
Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).
With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.
Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.
Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.
The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.