Wow, the league’s smaller teams had a field day against the supposed top contenders today.
If you had told me yesterday that the Suns, Bucks, Lakers and Clippers would all drop very winnable games, I would have called you insane. However, that’s exactly what came to pass.
Russell Westbrook’s triple-double not enough to beat his old team
The Lakers, facing a 0-4 Thunder squad, started off like they were going to get back over .500 with a 41-19 first quarter lead. Instead of holding onto a victory, the Lakers simply deflated and were outscored 104-74 over the next three quarters en-route to a surprising 123-115 defeat. Anthony Davis was his usual self with 30 and 8 rebounds on 12 of 22 shooting, while Russell Westbrook added yet another triple-double to his tally with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists, but it wasn’t enough. It didn’t help that Westbrook shot 8 of 20 from the field and 2 of 8 from three while coughing up 10 turnovers.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the way for the Thunder with 27 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists, and all five of the Thunder’s starters scored at least 15 points. SGA hit a huge three to end the third quarter that gave the Thunder a 97-95 lead. He didn’t hit another field goal for the rest of the game, but his team also never relinquished the lead again after his big shot.
Paul George misfires as the Cavs take down the Clippers
The Clippers were handily beaten 92-79 by the Cavaliers, who got 26 points and 7 rebounds out of Collin Sexton. The Cavs opened the game with a 23-14 quarter and then held on the rest of the way, as the Clippers never found their rhythm. Paul George had an especially rough game, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 6 of 20 from the field and 0 of 8 from three.
D’Angelo Russell finally got it going
The Timberwolves got off to a hot start against the Bucks, outscoring them 44-34, and then rode out that lead for the rest of the game. They’d been waiting for D’Angelo Russell to finally get it going, and the point guard delivered today with 29 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists on 12 of 25 shooting. He got a lot of help from Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, who both chipped in 25 points as the Wolves improved to 3-1.
They had to weather a monster game from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 40 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals with only two turnovers. The Greek Freak’s improved shooting continued to show itself on this game, as he finished 15 of 23 from the field, 3 of 6 from the line, and 7 of 9 from the charity stripe. He did not get enough help from the other Bucks starters though, who barely outscored him 44-40.
The Suns were snuffed out by a Harrison Barnes buzzer-beater
The Suns, who are the reigning Western Conference champs, continued their woeful start to the season by dropping a home game against the Kings. The Suns looked to have decent control of the game in the beginning, reaching the halfway mark with a 61-53 lead, but things collapsed in the third quarter when the Kings rode a hot streak from Buddy Hield to outscore them 29-15.
However, it actually looked like the Kings would turn into the classic Kangz, as they led by double-digits with just under six minutes left in the game. They blew that lead and allowed the Suns to claw their way back into a 107-107 tie with 34.7 seconds left. However, they weren’t able to get a go-ahead bucket and then were faced with this:
Miles Bridges is playing his way to a huge contract
The Hornets are now second in the Eastern Conference after taking down the Magic. They saw another scoring outburst from Miles Bridges, who is on the way to a huge contract if he keeps playing like this. Bridges had 31 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists and made 11 of 21 shots including 5 of 10 from three. He was matched with a strong game from Gordon Hayward, who had 24 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block and shot 9 of 13 from the field. That helped them weather a rough night from LaMelo Ball, who shot 3 of 14 on the way to 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Mason Plumlee also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Nets need to sort their offense out
Our writer Francis pointed out today that the Nets are in a serious quagmire offensively. Right now, they’re a far cry from last year’s squad, who had the best offense in the league. It’s not even as simple as having Kyrie Irving on the court, because Kevin Durant and James Harden led the Nets to an offensive rating of 122.1 when they shared the court last year. This time around, their offensive rating is an atrocious 93.0.
That kind of offense was never going to be good enough against a Miami Heat team that is finding its stride. Bam Adebayo put up 24 points and 9 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler had a fantasy-worthy line of 17 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and a block. Kyle Lowry failed to score in double digits but had an impact on the game with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists, and PJ Tucker found his shot with 15 points and 7 rebounds.
The Heat had a bit of a scary moment, too, after Kyle Lowry had a bad accidental collision with Blake Griffin, but he seemed to come out of it relatively unscathed and still played 34 minutes.