Monday, December 8
Best: John Wall Wins, Cries
Brad Popkin wrote about this more here, but the Wizards’ 133-132 victory over the Boston Celtics made John Wall fans out of nearly everyone in the stadium or watching on TV. He scored Washington’s last 10 points to lead the Wiz to a win, and then spoke candidly and emotionally about his friend Miyah Telemaque-Nelson, who died at just six-years-old.
The game – which featured Marcus Smart going for a career-high, several lead changes, and two overtimes – just seems kind of silly in comparison.
Worst: King James Puns
A couple things. First, I’m not sure how it works exactly, but I don’t think being famous is the same as being royalty. As much as we might have fun pretending otherwise,LeBron isn’t really a king. Jay-Z and Beyonce don’t really run a town. Let’s stop pretending like they’re the same.
Second, Will and Kate are showing up midway through the third quarter with floor seats. Those things are expensive! What are you guys, Heat fans? Show up on time!
Tuesday, December 9
Best: Robin Lopez goes after Hooper
I don’t know why this gets me so much, but I love the strangeness that is Robin Lopez. He draws pictures, trash-talks his brother, and seems to be just a total goofball – except for when he’s on the court. Then it’s all business.
Worst: Nets Ready to Deal
Marc Stein and Ohm Youngmisuk reported Tuesday that the Nets were looking to trade away any or all of Deron Williams and his contract (two years, $43.3 million with a player option), Joe Johnson (two years, $48.1 million), and Brook Lopez (four years, $60 million).
This willingness to trade away what was once supposed to be the foundation of the Nets shows that Billy King and Mikhail Prokorov admit that these contracts are a mistake. And while this day was sort of inevitable, seeing as how the Nets have disappointed and how they spent $190 million on the payroll last year, it’s also kind of sad.
Wednesday, December 10
Best: Warriors Go Super Small, Get their 14th Win
Playing the first Western Conference opponent with a winning record since the start of their 13-game win streak, the Warriors used an 11-0 run over two minutes in the fourth quarter to put the game away with a lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green. Playing against a Rockets team without Dwight Howard or Terrence Jones, the Warriors were able to fly around, getting three blocks in the final four minutes and really flustering a good Houston team.
Worst: Knicks Are Feuding
Though it started with the Knicks’ loss against the Nets on December 2nd, it wasn’t really until the 10th that Chris Broussard detailed the Knicks’ problems, which included a clash between Tim Hardaway Jr. and Carmelo Anthony, discontent within the locker room about the Triangle offense, and frustration with Derek Fisher as coach.
Right now, the Knickerbockers are 5-21 with no real hope of improving. It’s just ugly.
Thursday, December 11
Best: Harden Goes For 44 in Win
You can say what you want about his defensive effort in the past or the aesthetics of his game, but the debate about who the best 2-guard in the NBA is over. Harden is leading the NBA in scoring (26.3 per game), he’s second among shooting guards in rebounds (6.4), first in assists (6.7), second in steals (2), and third in blocks (1.1). Just last week, I picked Kyle Lowry as my first-quarter MVP, but Lowry and the Raptors have struggled without Demar DeRozan – the Rockets are 8-4 without a much better player (Dwight Howard) in a much better conference. How many other players in the league could have carried Houston like this?
Worst: Kobe Practices for the First Time This Month
Kobe shouldn’t be allowed to complain about the quality of his teammates at practice when:
1. He ran the best teammate he ever had out of town.
2. He hadn’t gone to practice in December.
3. He’s making $23.5 million this season, making it difficult for the front office to surround him with talent.
Friday, December 12
Best: Bulls vs. Trail Blazers
Everything about this game was great. Damian Lillard finally got to play one of his role models, Derrick Rose, for the first time in his career, and both players went off. Rose went for 31 for the first time since 2012 and Lillard hit 7 three-pointers en route to 35. Lamarcus Aldridge scored 21 points in the first quarter on just 12 shots while looking absolutely unstoppable. Nikola Mirotic looked like a guy who’s going to have a long career in the NBA. Both of these teams looked at times like title contenders in this game, and they’ll split the season series as the Bulls took this one, 115-106.
Worst: Nerlens Noel goes 0-fer in Return
I don’t quite understand how a 6’11” human with a 7’3” wingspan takes eight shots and misses all of them – especially when six of them are within four feet of the basket. Right now, he’s shooting just 53.8% from inside five feet and 31.8% outside that range. He can’t make a free throw, either (47.9%). He’s averaging 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks, but can you keep a guy on the court if he can’t score to this degree?
Check out this shot chart! My eyes are burning.
Saturday, December 13
Best: Tobias Harris Drops the Game-Winner
In his first season as a full-time starter, Tobias Harris has found a really nice role for himself as the leading scorer for Orlando. He’s shooting a career-best 47.1% from the field and 39.1% from deep while averaging 18.5 points and 7.9 rebounds for the Magic.
His success has been representative of Orlando as a whole. They’re not great right now, but you can see the pieces coming together. You’ve got four young pieces who have played really well this year (Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Harris, and Nikola Vucevic) and two intriguing assets (Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon). Right now, they’re slotted in for the 10th pick in the draft, too. If Payton develops, Gordon gets healthy, and the front office can draft well, you’ll see a lot more wins coming out of Orlando.
Worst: MCW and Rondo Desecrating the Triple-Double
Against Memphis on Saturday night, Michael Carter-Williams went for 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists in an overtime game that the Philadelphia 76ers ended up losing 120-115. It was his second triple-double of the season. The other? An 18-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist game against the Dallas Mavericks.
The games had two things in common: in both games, Carter-Williams shot less than 40% from the field and the 76ers lost both games. He and Rajon Rondo have been collectively devaluing the triple-double. Combined, they have five of the eleven triple-doubles on the year and have gone 1-4 in those games. Everyone else in the league has gone 5-1. The only other player to lose and record a triple-double this season was Eric Bledsoe, whose 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 16 assists weren’t enough to overcome Blake Griffin’s 45-point night, complete with a game-winning, step-back three.
Sunday, December 14
Best: Kobe Passes Jordan
I’ve never been a huge Kobe fan. Despite his incredible accomplishments, I’ve always thought he was a bit overrated. No matter how I feel about him, though, passing Jordan on the all-time scoring list last night against the Timberwolves is a big deal.
At 32,310 points, he’s still 4,618 away from Karl Malone and 6,077 away from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but it feels – if Kobe is willing to come back after his two-year deal on a cheaper salary – possible, right? If anyone could do it, it would be Kobe.
Worst: Dribbling at the End of Games
The Pelicans actually played really well in this one and probably should have ended up with the W, but go back to 1:50 in that video.
The NBA rule states that you cannot advance the ball before calling time-out to move the ball into the frontcourt, meaning that if New Orleans hadn’t already called a time out by the time Tyreke Evans dropped the ball to start dribbling, the Pelicans would have had to get the ball 70 feet away from the rim rather than 30.
It didn’t matter in this case, but a well-coached team should be on the same page in a situation like this. Do you want to press your advantage and try to fast break with no time out or do you want to advance the ball? It could be the difference between a W and an L next time.