Five games on tap for the 11/15 NBA Recap. The Nets were without Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons. The Los Angeles Clippers without Kawhi Leonard, so just another day in the National Basketball Association.
Sacramento Kings: 153 – Brooklyn Nets: 121
The Kings scored some points and then scored some more. The Nets, known for their defensive proficiency uncharacteristically were gouged for 153 points. That is sarcasm, they are a modest defensive team, but far from horrible. I will skip over the politics, but do the Nets miss Kyrie Irving yet? He was unlikely to make up a 32-point gap, but his offensive output would be helpful. After going 4-1 without Irving, the Nets have now lost two straight.
Terence Davis: If you had Davis scoring 31 points on your bingo card, raise your hand. Put your hands down, liars. One cool thing about blowouts, is you get to see what your reserve guys have to offer. Apparently, Davis has a lot to offer. 31 points, 9 boards, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Have a day, T!
Kevin Huerter: Huerter has been good and made the most of the playing time increase. Despite decent minutes with Atlanta, he was more of a role player. Last night, in 29 minutes, he shot 70% from the floor (7 for 10,) including 5 for 7 from behind the arc. He was a weapon against Brooklyn.
Domantas Sabonis: The big man offered a nice stat line – 17 points, 7 boards, and 7 assists while connecting on all five of his free-throw attempts.
Kevin Durant: If “I need help” was a person, it would be Kevin Durant. KD is playing with a group of secondary players, afterthoughts, and borderline G League guys. It is amazing the Nets scored 121 points. Kyrie Irving’s suspension continues, missing his seventh straight game, and Ben Simmons is Ben Simmonsing with the best of them. It is anyone’s guess when these guys are back. These two pieces were supposed to be the guys that helped Durant get his first non-Curry ring. In the loss, KD finished with 27 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Edmond Sumner: Sumner, a career bench player and substitute option, has never averaged more than 17 minutes per game in any of his first five seasons in the NBA. In 21 minutes, Sumner scored 18 points. A quality effort. With few scorers available Sumner took nine shots, second only to Durant.
Nic Claxton: Claxton is still recovering from injury and logged only 17 minutes. This is not a great recipe for success. With No Kyrie Irving, and Durant needing rest from time to time, the Nets need to work through Claxton, as he is one of the few players that can have his way, especially down in the paint. Nic scored 6 points on 3 for 5 shooting. Ideally, his playing time will start to increase soon.
Portland Trail Blazers: 117 – San Antonio Spurs: 110
After a hot start for the Spurs, a few injuries, and a super-pervy Josh Primo removed from the team, the Spurs are now right where they belong, fully immersed in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. The surprising Blazers continue to lead the Western Conference. Now at fourteen games played, the “its early talk” is wearing off, and Portland needs to be considered as a legit contender.
Anfernee Simmons: Anfernee is getting buckets the easy way and is not a complement to Lillard; he is an equal custody factor. Against the Spurs, he scored 23 points, hitting on 50% (5 for 10) of his three-point attempts. He has scored 23 or more points in seven of his last nine games. Simmons is why Portland fans do not miss CJ McCollum.
Damian Lillard: The best team in the Western Conference is led by the most clutch player of the last decade, Damian Lillard, and the Blazers just keep winning. In 39 minutes of floor time, Dame is fully recovered from the injuries that have plagued him for over a year. Despite an off night from deep, he finished with 22 points and 11 assists.
Jerami Grant: For years, the Blazers have hoped for a third scorer. Jerami Grants them that wish. 9 for 15 from the field, including 6 for 8 from the three-point line for 29 points. He was everywhere, adding 8 rebounds. The former Piston has proved to be the perfect fit for the Trail Blazers.
Jakob Poeltl: Beastly he was. Once considered a “big potential guy,” Poeltl is now a big numbers guy. It is easy to see why the Spurs are excited about his future. He went 14 for 17 from the field, pouring in 31 points, adding 14 rebounds and 5 assists. A massive line for the center. Poeltl looks All-Star Game ready.
Devin Vassell: Another key part of this young Spurs’ nucleus, Vassell has maximized his bump in playing time. As one of the players who figured to make the biggest leap year-over-year, he is balling. In a losing effort, he scored 21 points while converting on 50% (4 for 8) of his three-point shots.
New York Knicks: 118 – Utah Jazz: 111
The Knicks are starting to catch some bodies, and despite some lackluster play from Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, are starting to figure out how to win games. Some of them, against good teams. The Utah Jazz need to reset and get back to what led to victories early in the season, making Lauri Markkanen option 1.
Jalen Brunson: Few agreed with the four-year, $104 million dollar contract Brunson signed but the Knicks continued to add to their pile of admirable players. The issue is that GREAT players win games. If the recent Brunson is what they paid for, then I am all for it. Jalen finished the game with 25 points and 8 assists. Over his last eight games, he is averaging 21 points, 7 assists, and shooting 95% (40 for 42) from the free-throw line. The Knicks are still at least one player away, but Brunson’s performance is very promising and shows that he is, in fact, a great player.
Julius Randle: Once again, Randle was horrible and completely uninterested in playing defense. This can be overshadowed by a stellar offensive performance, but he did not do that last night. There are other issues with Randle as well. He does not box out, rarely hustles back on fast break opportunities, and his body language is terrible. Knicks head coach, Tom Thibodeau, may need to make a culture change before Randle rubs off on other players.
Kelly Olynyk: This loss is not on Kelly, as he played his tail off. Last night, he finished fourth on the team in minutes, but first in everything else. 27 points on 7 of 13 shooting while adding 11 rebounds. Olynyk scored 9 points in the fourth quarter and got to the line three times, making 5 of his 6 attempts.
Lauri Markkanen: Markkanen’s fall back to Earth continued. Still valuable, and a solid player, after starting the season like Steph Curry, he is now more of the Dell variety. At the start of the season, he was cooking with hot grease adding a little extra Lauri’s seasoning. As of late, he has had some struggles. He is averaging 15 points per game in his last three games. The field goal percentage has dipped some, but shot attempts are down. Utah Jazz head coach, Will Hardy, may see a theme here, hopefully. In the last three games, Markkanen has been less involved. All three games were losses.
Dallas Mavericks: 103 – Los Angeles Clippers: 101
No Kawhi Leonard, no problem. Kidding, it is a huge problem that is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. I love Charles Barkley’s humor, but I think he may have had the wrong guy when he called Anthony Davis “street clothes.” It is promising that the Clippers almost beat a good Mavericks team without Leonard, but how long is this team going to breathe on a promise?
Luka Doncic: All-world scorer Doncic had another great game. He made 50% (11 for 22) of his shots, he was a perfect 11 for 11 from the charity stripe, oh, and he dished 5 assists, swiped 3 steals, and picked up 11 boards. Despite blowing a huge lead, Luka was the difference in the end, converting late in the game for the win.
Dorian Finney-Smith: Well above his season average of 8 points per game, Smith scored 21 points. All 7 of his baskets were three-pointers. In a game when it looked like Dallas would put it away early, Smith, along with Luka needed to bring it in the second half to close. Like Doncic, Smith also had 3 steals.
Kawhi Leonard: Leonard missed yet another game. There is a growing concern in the Clippers’ organization that Kawhi’s constant unavailability will not improve anytime soon. There are whispers, like his time in San Antonio, that some part of him does not want to play. Something to keep an eye on as the Clippers have the pieces and the coach to win a title but will not without Kawhi. The payroll certainly will not hold up much longer without results.
Paul George: George was good. He is always good. I feel for the guy because we know how hard he competes and desperately wants to win. But he cannot do it by himself. George finished with 23 points, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 7 rebounds. He did have a dreadful 10 turnovers, so he shares some blame in the 2-point loss.
New Orleans Pelicans: 113 – Memphis Grizzlies: 102
The Grizzlies’ inability to score points in the fourth quarter was the difference in the game. Memphis scored only 15 in the closing frame. Their Jekyll and Hyde, home/road split once again took them down. The Grizzlies are a ferocious 5-1 at home, but a whimper on the road at 4-5. A big win for the Pelicans without the injured Zion Williamson.
CJ McCollum: CJ was the clear go-to option, scoring 10 in the fourth quarter to close out the game. On 23 shots, CJ made 11 of them, including a game-high 7 of 13 from the three-point line. He also assisted on 9 buckets.
Brandon Ingram: Ingram is back to regular game minutes, He was very efficient, shooting 50% (7 for 14,) from the floor while adding 4 rebounds. Brandon was perfect from the free-throw line (3 for 3) and from downtown (2 for 2.)
Larry Nance Jr.: Nance Jr. has never averaged more than 10 points per game in his career. I understand it is only two games, but over those two games, he is averaging 20.5 points and 8 rebounds. The thirty minutes per game has done right by Larry. He finished the game with 19 points and 7 boards. Nance Jr. shot 80% (8 for 10) from the free-throw line.
Ja Morant: Ja ruled, as usual. He scored 36 points to go along with 8 rebounds. Not known as a great three-point shooter, he struggled a bit going 2 for 6 from behind the arc. A necessary performance with sharpshooter Desmond Bane out with injury. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon brooks struggled from the floor.
Brandon Clarke: Clarke was solid in 33 minutes. Clarke made 6 of his 12 shot attempts, but like the rest of the Grizzlies, was off from the three-point line. The Grizzlies shot 25% from three, which was the difference in the game. Clarke finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.