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:

Marcus Morris Sr. – 30 MIN, 5-12 FG, 2-8 3PT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, -15, 12 PTS. Can’t wait for Ty Lue to realize he doesn’t need to play Marcus Morris for 30+ minutes a game. Especially not at the same time as John Wall and Luke Kennard.

Kelly Oubre Jr. – 40 MIN, 10-23 FG, 4-10 3PT, 4-6 FT, 7 REB, 2 AST, -2, 28 PTS. Are the Hornets an absolute clown show of a franchise? Or am I just jealous they are getting Wembanyama? Why not both?

Bol Bol – 19 MIN, 1-4 FG, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, +3, 2 PTS. No Bol Bol propaganda for me to spread today unfortunately.

Paolo Banchero – 33 MIN, 4-16 FG, 0-3 3PT, 12-15 FT, 12 REB, 7 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TO, +1, 20 PTS. The Magic are going through growing pains, but I remain confident Paolo and Franz are the foundational pieces, and the Magic future is very bright.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – 33 MIN, 12-21 FG, 2-4 3PT 8-11 FT, 13 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, -4, 34 PTS. It’s the Greek God’s world and we’re just living in it.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – 35 MIN, 10-22 FG, 0-3 3PT, 15-15 FT, 6 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 6 TO, +12, 35 PTS. 12 games left for those who took the over on OKC’s win total this season. Just saying…

Jaylen Brown – 39 MIN, 9-22 FG, 1-6 3PT, 3-4 FT, 8 REB, 8 AST, +6, 22 PTS. Celtics have only lost to one team in regulation. It was to the Bulls, twice, which should count double probably, but still super impressive.

Jayson Tatum – 39 MIN, 11-24 FG, 5-10 3PT, 4-5 FT, 12 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TO, +9, 31 PTS. Tatum is at the point where this is a mediocre game for him.

Dillon Brooks – 34 MIN, 7-22 FG, 2-11 3PT, 1-1 FT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 5 TO, -10, 17 PTS. Why schedule a loss when you can just win with your G-League team?

Tyus Jones – 36 MIN, 10-16 FG, 3-6 3PT, 5-5 FT, 5 REB, 10 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, +8, 28 PTS. Are the Grizzlies better without Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Ziaire Willliams, John Konchar, Danny Green, and Jake LaRavia?

Luka Doncic – 29 MIN, 12-20 FG, 4-9 3PT, 5-7 FT, 6 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 3 TO, +20, 33 PTS. Mavs are spooky average. They should pretend every other team is the NBA is the Suns.

Devin Booker – 30 MIN, 4-13 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 5 AST, 1 TO, -18, 11 PTS. More like Devin Bricker last night, am I right folks?

Buddy Hield – 40 MIN, 6-19 FG, 4-13 3PT, 1-2 FT, 9 REB, 5 AST, 1 TO, +3, 17 PTS. If there’s one thing I learned from this game, it’s that Andrew Wiggins is the entire Warriors’ perimeter defense.

Andrew Nembhard – 41 MIN, 13-21 FG, 5-7 3PT, 0-1 FT, 8 REB, 13 AST, 1 STL, 4 TO, +16, 31 PTS. So, uh… this Nembhard dude seems like he might be pretty good? Only four 30-point games by rookies this season so far. One from Paolo Banchero. One from Andrew Nembhard. Two from Bennedict Mathurin. Maybe this is just a way to compliment Mathurin again…

Steph Curry – 38 MIN, 3-17 FG, 2-10 3PT, 4-4 FT, 4 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 3 TO, -17, 12 PTS. So Nembhard just shut down LeBron, hit a game-winner on the Lakers, and then last night completely outplayed Steph… all in the span of a week. Crazy.

 

 

 

Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell.