The Lakers lost to the short-handed Kings in a triple OT

LeBron James couldn’t make a three-pointer to win the game in regulation against the Kings, and the Lakers ran out of gas in the their second overtime game in a row. This was their first overtime loss this season, after previously going 4-0 in games with extra periods.

The Kings were down 13 at one point in the fourth quarter, but willed their way back into the game. De’Aaron Fox played 53 minutes, and was big in the overtime periods as he finished with 34 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists and a steal. The Kings were playing without Richaun Holmes and Harrison Barnes, then lost Maurice Harkless in the game, making the victory even sweeter for the Kings.

Buddy Hield struggled with his shooting, finishing with 25 points on 21 shots. Shooters shoot, though, and he hit a huge long three with 28.1 seconds left in the first OT to tie the game at 110-110. Anthony Davis gave the Lakers a 112-110 lead, but Hield tied the game to force a second overtime. James then tied the game again at 124-124 to force a third OT period.

The Kings pushed their lead to 135-128 with less than two minutes left in the third overtime period, and managed to hold on for the W. The Lakers cut it to 137-134 with 23.1 seconds left after Westbrook split a pair of free throws, but Hield then pushed the lead to 139-134 with a pair of free throws with 15.9 seconds left. Carmelo Anthony hit a three to make it 139-137, but Hield earned a clear path foul, allowing him to ice the game at 141-137. 

Another big performer for the Kings was Marvin Bagley, who basically had no playing time during Luke Walton’s tenure. He finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists while making all five of his shots.

Russell Westbrook finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. James had 30 points, 7 rebounds and 11 assists, while Anthony Davis finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks. Malik Monk had another big game off the bench with 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting.

James had a terrible night from beyond the arc, which contributed to their loss.

Alvin Gentry is now 2-1 since taking the Kings interim coaching job after Walton was fired. 

LaMelo Ball messed up the Wolves even with a bad scoring night

What was supposed to be a duel between the two contenders for last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year trophy instead turned into further evidence that the voters got it right.

Reigning Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball orchestrated his Charlotte Hornets to a masterful 133-115 victory over 2020 first overall pick Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Both Ball and Edwards struggled with their scoring from the get-go and finished with only 10 and 11 points, respectively, at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.

While Edwards was unable to make his imprint on the game, Ball, in what has become typical for him, found several other ways to help the Hornets pull off the win. The 6’7 point guard controlled the tempo and had a full line with six rebounds and 13 assists–the last four coming at the end of the third quarter when they blew open what was previously a close match.

The Timberwolves trailed by 10 at halftime before pulling within five, 77-72, midway through the third quarter. The game looked like it was heading towards a tight finish before Ball took matters into his own hands. Over the next six minutes, he only scored three points, but racked up four assists, three of which led to three-pointers by the streaky Kelly Oubre.

His impact goes beyond the box score though. Ball’s brilliant passing is infectious and, along with their supportive front office and coaching staff, has helped cultivate a culture of unselfishness on their team.

He has reawakened and amplified the passing of his teammates, particularly Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier who have thrived in past situations as secondary playmakers. Miles Bridges has also made strides to become an excellent situational playmaker which perfectly complements his explosive offensive repertoire.

These Hornets have vastly improved both individually and collectively compared to last season and it has helped them build a 13-8 record which puts them in strong contention for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference.

Their success has put the spotlight on Ball, who was picked third overall behind Edwards and the Golden State Warriors’ James Wiseman, and he has risen to the challenge with per-game averages of 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. The 20-year-old guard does not wilt under pressure and seems to have grown accustomed to all of the attention, having been on the public radar for almost five years now ever since a video of him pulling up from halfcourt went viral.

Ball was rightfully named last year’s Rookie of the Year and still looks like the best player of his draft class a month into their sophomore season. However, even with the setback in their first meeting since their rookie year, Edwards remains Ball’s biggest rival to that claim and is not likely to back down.

Edwards finished with only 11 points, five rebounds, and two assists in his match-up with Ball, but it was a mere aberration in what has been a strong start to his ‘21-’22 campaign. Despite playing on a team with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell–two proven offensive weapons who are about to entire the prime of their careers–Edwards has still emerged as one of their leading scorers with 22.8 points per game.

Although the 6’4 shooting guard continues to make highlight reels on an almost nightly basis with his high-flying dunks, he is also developing into a lethal all-around scorer. His whole arsenal was on display two weeks ago in their loss to the Warriors where he kept them in the game with 48 points. He has scored more than 23 points in more than half of the Timberwolves’ games so far and, like with Ball, it is easy to forget that he is only 20 years old.

The presence of Towns and Russell have hindered Minnesota’s ability to fully hand over the keys to their team to Edwards, yet his promising trajectory hints that it is a matter of when and not if this will happen.

There is reason to doubt that this Timberwolves franchise will handle Edwards’ growth and this entire situation well, given their history of mediocrity dating back to 1989 when they joined the NBA as an expansion team. They fumbled a similar situation with the talented Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury duo in the 90s then did not fare any better when they had a young Kevin Love onboard a decade later.

The situation with Towns, who was the first overall pick six years ago in the 2015 draft, has not been any better. The reward for all of these blown chances though is that it leads to more lottery picks and opportunities for a do-over, something that they have now with Edwards on board.

If they can somehow find a way to assemble a team that can make it out of the postseason’s opening round for the first time since their only Western Conference Finals appearance in 2004, then Edwards will have his chance to battle Ball for the distinction of being the best player in their draft class.

This budding rivalry between these two up-and-coming players who routinely set Instagram on fire will be a pleasure to watch over the years. If both of their teams can start winning on a consistent basis, then it will only take the competition a notch higher. While a potential finals match-up between these two 10 years down the road seems like nothing but a pipe dream at the moment, it is a fascinating thought and one that might actually, once and for all, break the internet.

At this point, the Suns are just making other teams look stupid

The Phoenix Suns are now on a 15-game winning streak, and this time they made it look easy against the New York Knicks.

Devin Booker blew up for 32 points on 14 of 27 shooting, leading a total of seven Suns players who scored in double figures. Chris Paul had a double-double with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 10 assists, while DeAndre Ayton had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

It was an easy victory for the Suns in Madison Square Garden, too. They raced off to a 33-27 first quarter lead, then outscored the Knicks 24-17 in the second quarter, and never really had to look back. They finished the game with a 118-97 blowout victory.

The Suns, like the Golden State Warriors, are basically playing “Fuck You” ball with the rest of the league at this point. Everyone that said they were lucky to make the Finals last year may live to regret their words. We’ve got to hope that the two west-leading teams meet in a playoff series.

The Warriors dominate the Blazers to stay ahead of the Suns

Steph Curry had 18 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists at the half. It was a competitive 27-26 first quarter for the Dubs, but they blew up for a 31-18 second quarter that pushed their advantage to 58-44 at halftime. The Blazers never recovered on the way to a 118-103 loss.

Andrew Wiggins had 11 points at halftime, while Jordan Poole had 10. Those two, plus Curry, shot a combined 18 of 26 from the field in the first half.

Curry finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, while Wiggins ended his night with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Poole only had another 4 points in the second half but finished with a team-best plus/minus of +23 with 14 points and 5 assists.

The Grizzlies dealt a big blow with a Ja Morant injury

Ja Morant is the heart and soul of this current Memphis Grizzlies team, and he’s gone down.

He suffered a leg injury in the first quarter of their game against the Atlanta Hawks, which they eventually lost 132-100. It looked like a no-contact injury too, which is worrying. He’s one of the most exciting players in the game today, so let’s hope he makes a quick recovery.