While we normally focus on game performances in the lede, it’s open to any big news story that’s trending the day before. Plus, when a pun like this is available, you don’t ever hesitate grabbing that low hanging fruit. Literally every mission objective by any content creator, spoiler alert! Indeed, this also is what you call a double whammy, in that anything Los Angeles sports soothes that SEO soul… but enough about internet metrics and writer’s fruit. Let’s talk about the bromance between the Lakers and Wizards front office that started with the Russell Westbrook trade last season and then culminated into a Kendrick Nunn and three second-rounders for the enigmatic Rui Hachimura.

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With a 48-point performance, why can’t LeBron James share in the festivities with the great Martin Luther King? I mean, there’s actually some real answers here, like, you know, I don’t think MLK would let China get in the way of social equality. And if we’re still being serious, this performance came against the worst team in the league. But therein lies the LeRub, if you will… Monday’s performance is yet another reminder of how bad the Lakers as a whole actually are. Check this fun stat out; over the last 16 games, LeGreat has a +143. In the minutes he’s sat on the bench, the Lakers have accumulated a -106. Yikes. Granted, I get the feeling that Lakers’ ownership would rather miss the play-in than pay the repeaters taxes, but Pelinka and others need to get him some more help. A healthy AD isn’t enough. And as much fun as it is laying into the Lakers, it’d be true shame (even with the bubble Chip) to waste LeAgeless in his year 38 when he can still dominate. Here’s what else I saw during last night’s games…

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Really, I think any famous “Joker” quote would work when describing Nikola Jokic. And we’re talking of course about Batman’s Joker, not some random funny dude. And of course, we are talking about NBA’s Nikola Jokic, not those really great tasting Swedish cough drops… or whatever. Well, maybe the movie line about cutting up someone’s poodles may not work, but still, after producing the most Jokic triple-double ever of 14/11/16 on 100/100/100 shooting splits, one must look out for those poodles. While yes, I also do tire a bit of how much he’s been in the MVP conversation the last half-decade (even winning some here and there), it’s probably because he puts up the most elite boring performances I have ever seen and we’re all better off for it, for sure. Fun fact, in 37 games so far this year, Jokic has only shot below 50% in one of them. Another fun fact! In just the 12 games he’s scored under 20 points, he’s averaged 11 rebounds and 12 assists with a +12.5. Can someone really sleepwalk to the Hall of Fame? I think we’re about to find out. Here’s what else I saw during yesterday’s short slate of games:

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Not that there was anything else much to talk about with the normal slate of games, but even on a night with a full schedule of matchups, Donovan Mitchell’s career-high 71 points in a comeback win against the Bulls would have probably taken the lede no matter what. Unless of course someone with the name that rhymes with Buka Fonkitch did something like his normal self. But enough about Harry Potter characters, Mitchell just didn’t create a loathing from Chicago fans. Nope. His 71/8/11 night also created so much self-loathing in Minnesota and Utah that they actually might raise up, the dozen or so of them, and actually, well, I don’t know what they’d do to be honest. I guess throw bad midwestern accents and Mormons at the rest of the world. I’m sure that’s a metaphor for something. Regardless, while Mitchell will have some hype follow him, don’t forget that, while a good basketball player, he’s still just a scorer. A scorer that the T-Wolves should have traded for instead and a scorer that the Jazz should have built around, sure. But for now, the Cavaliers have the spotlight in Cleveland, and whatever takes away from the eternal dumpster fire (now with added gasoline for obvious reason) from the Browns, well, something-something goose-goose and the gander. My homies in the Midwest know what’s up. Maybe? Here’s what else I saw during last night’s games…

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So after last night’s win over a strong Cavaliers team, I’d confidently say now that the Nets are around the Bucks and Celtics tier and a real contender… which means Kevin Durant (36 MIN, 10-18 FG, 5-8 3PT, 7-8 FT, 9 REB, 5 AST, 4 TO, +10, 32 PTS.) is a legit MVP candidate as well. That being said though, Nets fans can be a tad bit ridiculous. Seeing a lot non-ironic content throwing Steve Nash under the bus and sneakily laying shade on “distractions” no longer affecting the team and all the hate the team has been receiving over these “distractions”. My homies in Brooklyn, y’all ridiculous. Isn’t Steve Nash the type of player-soft coach that KD and Kyrie wanted and forced on the team? Then you have KD’s fragility from being rightly called a bus rider… and of course the anti-semetic and anti-vaccine stuff from Kyrie, as if that wasn’t the most egregious out of all of this… so yeah, Nets are a great team and are playing well and have triumphed over some adversity. And yes, Kyrie Irving is playing well too! (40 MIN, 11-19 FG, 7-11 3PT, 3-4 FT, 4 REB, 5 AST, 3 TO, +16, 32 PTS. Finished 7-out-of-11 from beyond the arc. Happy Hanukkah to him! But it was their own adversity that they so eagerly created by being emotional and/or hateful idiots, so do they really deserve a cookie? No. I want the cookies. It’s the holiday season and I’m in the camp that says Jews don’t have space lasers, so yeah, that deserves cookies I think. Here’s what else I saw during last night’s short slate of games:

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Or at least the front offices of the Association are. I just want the regular Winter Wonderland. You know, the one that comes with snow? Now, I know the weather, I see the report, and a large swath of the country is due to be beat down by climate change at the end of the week, but not I. Nope, just rain. And more rain. I lived in Seattle folks, why am I here with the rain? But who cares, because we have the Raptors (Rapture? harhar) to talk about and it’s not looking good. Toronto has now lost six in a row and nine of their last 11. Of course, the reactionaries are ready to tear this team down and reset, especially since one of those losses was against the Magic (Apologies Orlando). There are theories out there that the Raptors should go the opposite direction and shed assets for a star to line up with Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes, but I’m not sure what assets they have. While I personally think its too early to have such thoughts, even after coming off a loss where aforementioned Siakam went HAM against the Sixers with 38 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists in 47 minutes. Then again, can you imagine the Mavericks with Siakam? Scary. Almost as scary as Siakam and Fred VanVleet having a good game together! Here’s what else I saw during last night’s slate of games:

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Never Lame Dame (you can steal that, it’s not that great) is exactly that. Which I guess is technically not true, the word never is pretty strong, but then again, a dead man (Kawhi Leonard) just shut down a Celtics MVP favorite, so I feel anything is possible nowadays. And since the aforementioned Leonard has been a topic de jour a few times already this season, and while I would love to continue talking about SGA making his All-Star starter case with a season-high 42 points on 14-26 FG, Damian Lillard is the focus, nailing 11 three-pointers, finishing his night against the Timberwolves with 38 points on 13-21 FG in just 29 minutes. Just to put that in context, the only players with 3+ games and 11+ threes this season is Steph… and of course Dame. Something to add, Dame already had eight threes and 27 points just in the first half. So while the correct nomenclature would probably be “Mostly Never Lame Dame,” I’m pretty sure that actually being a concept of time, or a reference to, even if Dame O’Clock sounds Irish, is probably safe being the lede today. But just in case, here’s what else I saw during last night’s small slate of games…

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Just like how Denial is not just a river in Egypt, so too has Kawhi Leonard risen above the ashes in this new final form of continued limited play. But, it’s quite the improvement from the semi-obituary I wrote several weeks ago, essentially a long-winded sigh followed by some comments about muscle sprains. That’s basically Leonard’s entire Clippers career in a nutshell. But over the last few weeks, Kawhi has slowly started getting more minutes and, while he looks a bit hobbled still (and is there a landing he doesn’t grimace on?), there’s only a handful of players you’d like to have on your last few possessions and I don’t think there’s a better closer out there when healthy. It’s just that, you know, he’s never that… But the dude has taken on and beaten peak LeBron and Steph and has a career 70%+ win percentage, not many modern names on that list. And so of course when given the chance, he’ll do the same thing to the Hornets, nailing an elegant step-back two-pointer with 1.4 seconds and securing the 119-117 win. Kawhi is definitely back, but at rate and for how long? No one can really know, but I do know that the Association is a better place when he’s on the floor and that’s all that matters… Here’s what else I saw during last night’s games:

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Now that Thanksgiving is over and done with, I feel I can now safely state what I’m not thankful for. Balance in all things! And you know, I’m totally willing to accept that I bring this on myself, but I tend to get all the lame headlines this season heading into the NBA midweek. A roller coaster ride, as we’ve held the funeral for Kawhi Leonard’s career (a roller coaster in of itself), we’ve dealt with Ben Simmon’s fear of approaching the basketball rim in any shape and form. We’ve, of course, seen the drama of Kyrie Irving (and others, yikes) and we even missed the resurrection of Wilt Chamberlain in the form of Ivica Zubac and 29 rebounds… you’d think it’s timed that I miss all the fun things and have to talk about all the dumb things. But the one shining light has been the consistent and amazing play from Tyrese Haliburton. Coming off a nail-biting 116-115 win against the Lakers, it was Haliburton’s third straight game of 10+ assists with 0 turnovers, and in his last three games, has 30 assists and no turnovers. To insulate myself, I hereby declare Tuesday “Tyreseday” in hopes I can just talk about him the rest of the season. Just please, I don’t want to talk about Kyrie anymore…  Here’s what else I saw during last night’s games:

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For drama.

Yes, this isn’t just a TNT thing (is that still their tagline or did I just date myself?), and a large reason why I love the NBA so much. True, I still tune into the Super Bowl and some playoff matchups every year, I might watch over a dozen or so Padres games here and there if I feel like hating myself. But the NBA, the players have always done that great job where they have my curiosity and then they have my attention. And while you should never start a sentence with “The” and “Jews”, from Kyrie to Jalen Brown to Isaiah Thomas, there’s definitely some beer being held onto. Then you have Ladder vs. Man, Montrez Harrell standing firm as the defender of ladders. You dig the romance part of soaps? Did you know that Booker/Jenner is officially no more? And oh yeah, there are actual games being played too, crazy I know! So Happy Thanksgiving y’all, here’s what I saw during last night’s games…

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While I’d love to talk about Tim Hardaway testing the double-jeopardy statute of being cancelled (there is no law), quickly getting right back into it after his post-hate clarity of attacking and then apologizing to the LGBTQ community and then moving straight into describing basketball plays as raking. It could have been graping because no one ever thinks about the grapes, you know? But as I said, Tim’s swan song as an NBA broadcaster isn’t exactly “fantasy basketball” relevant, so it might be better to focus on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s continued emergence as a legit NBA star (second team for sure, first team anyone?). Coming off a night where he scored 37 points with 4 rebounds and 8 assists, there were times last night (and during the season) where he just looks simply unguardable. Even the Celtics, who don’t run too many doubles, were throwing everything at him. While still pulling out the win, the Celtics’ elite defenders exposed SGA’s agility and shot IQ to be exceptional and confirmed that this may actually be a very special year despite tanking towards Wembanyama. (Trademark pending.)

Here’s what else I saw during last night’s light slate of games:

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While not an actual in-game injury, news broke late last night that Kawhi Leonard is now out indefinitely amid his ACL recovery. This is both possibly the least-surprising surprise since Elon Musk bought Twitter and turned the platform into… well whatever you want to call it. I’m sure if you tie a bunch of adjectives and expletives, you’d be pretty accurate. And this was the same week! True, Kawhi had not looked great all so far and was already very limited recently due to “tendinitis” but I think it’s clear at this point that the best Kawhi ever was has already happened and his magical run in playoffs on the Raptors may have been the number one contributing factor to the Leonard we see now today. And frankly the past several years. And no matter how you look at it, we’re talking about a player who took a year off and has been handled with extreme care so far in 2022 and probably hadn’t had back-to-back games since the Great Depression. Hate to say it, but this might be his career swan song. On that note, it’s Tuesday so go vote! That way we don’t lose Kawhi and Democracy in the same week…

Here’s what else I saw during last night’s full slate of games:

Please, blog, may I have some more?