Man, the LA Clippers sure are having a rough go to start the season. They started off well against the Memphis Grizzlies, finishing the first quarter up 34-25, but then got outscored 72-55 in the third and fourth quarter. They made a game out of it toward the end of the third and late in the fourth, even making it a 114-112 game after Paul George made a three with 1:14 left, and he again made it a two-point game at 116-114 with 39.7 seconds left.
Unfortunately, the Grizzlies found answers in the clutch, as Jaren Jackson Jr. hit a huge three with 17.5 seconds left and George missed his last two attempts from beyond the arc.
Ja Morant continued his strong start to the season with 28 points, 2 rebounds, 8 assists and a block, but he did have 5 turnovers. Jackson Jr. finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds, a block and a steal while De’Anthony Melton had 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. Desmond Bane contributed 19 points and 6 rebounds while Steven Adams closed things off for their starters with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and two steals. The one thing that Memphis will probably be wary of is how their whole bench combined for 13 points.
The balanced effort from the Grizzlies was enough, and overshadowed another classic performance from PG-13, who had 41 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 3 turnovers. If the Clippers’ plan involves relying on George constantly bailing them out, then they’re going to be in trouble. They’ll have to improve their three-point shooting, as they only hit 33.3% of their treys against Memphis, including a 1 of 6 performance from Marcus Morris Sr.
Hey Daryl Morey, maybe CJ McCollum is worth trading for
Fresh off a big win against the LA Lakers, the Phoenix Suns seemed a little gassed as they dropped a painful 134-103 loss against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers, who had a surprise loss against the Sacramento Kings in their first game, bounced back strong. CJ McCollum was their key cog on offense again with 28 points on 10 of 19 shooting (6 of 11 from deep) and he’s averaging 31 PPG in his first two games. If he was offended by Daryl Morey demanding a ridiculous 3 first round picks and 3 pick swaps for him, he’s sure showing it. At this point, he certainly looks like he would fit well in an offense entered around Joel Embiid.
Damian Lillard had a decent bounce back game for the Blazers, too, scoring 19 points on 6 of 11 shooting while dishing out 8 assists. He only shot 2 of 7 from beyond the arc but you KNOW he’ll start getting hot as the season progresses.
Giannis Antetokounmpo took the loss to the Heat personally
Reigning finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo definitely wasn’t happy about getting his ass kicked by the Miami Heat the other day, and put on a clinic against the hardy San Antonio Spurs in a 121-111 victory. Antetokounmpo finished with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocks while Khris Middleton had 28 points. Jrue Holiday looked decent, considering his foot injury in their season opener, and he finished with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. What will be particularly concerning to the Milwaukee Bucks, though, are the 16 turnovers that their big three combined for. The entire team finished with 20 turnovers.
Giannis’ offensive repertoire seems to continue to grow. He hit a Dirk Nowitzki-esque jumper today that would be a deadly weapon in playoff games where plays break down.
The Chicago Bulls experiment is paying early dividends, but the real test starts soon
Look, they may have played the Cade-less Detroit Pistons twice, and the Zion-less New Orleans Pelicans once, but that doesn’t mean the Bulls don’t deserve some credit for starting 3-0 for the season. Today’s win against the Pistons saw Nicola Vucevic haul in 15 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks on 3 turnovers, while DeMar DeRozan finished with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine scored 13 and 14 points respectively, while Alex Caruso and Javonte Green had 12 and 10 points off the bench.
They’ve got another winnable game against the Toronto Raptors coming up next, but then have a murderous 14-game schedule after that where they’ll be facing the New York Knicks (thrice), Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers (twice), Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, and Indiana Pacers.
It almost feels like the schedule-makers decided to give the Bulls four gimmes to get their fans’ hopes up.
Olympic Ricky Rubio decided to make an appearance today
The Atlanta Hawks opened their season by whooping the Dallas Mavericks, but ran into a roadblock today in a 101-95 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland’s victory was spearheaded by a rather unlikely source, as Ricky Rubio decided that he wanted to play like it was the Olympics and finished with a line of 23 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists while shooting 9 of 15 from the field and 3 of 7 from deep.
It channeled memories of Rubio’s performance in Spain’s Olympic matchup against the US, where he turned back the clock to drop 38 points in an eventual 95-81 defeat at the hands of Team USA.
The Indiana Pacers finally got a W after outlasting the Miami Heat in OT
The Heat and Indiana Pacers put on an overtime game today, but it was far from pretty. The game included a third quarter that saw both teams combine for a total of 25 points, but the Pacers had the last laugh as they outscored the Heat 16-5 in OT.
Fantasy basketball favorite Domantas Sabonis put up another good stat line with 17 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in the victory, while Malcolm Brogdon and Chris Duarte combined for 37 points. Tyler Herro had great game off the bench for the Heat, and had 30 points and 10 rebounds while leading them in minutes with 41. Jimmy Butler had a rough shooting night, though, as his 19 points came off of 7 of 22 shooting.