Breakfast Special: Competitive Games Are For Suckers

The NBA put on seven games for the entertainment of the viewing public Tuesday night.

Only two of them were anyone’s idea of competitive in the fourth quarter, and a third finished with the tightest final score margin (five) but the team that won was up 14 with little enough time left in the game that it would’ve been bonkers had they not put the game on ice (give it up for Darren Collison, and we’ll get to the Pacers-Knicks game shortly.)

The rest of them were either double-digit blowouts or a Spurs-Mavs game where every time Dallas looked like they were going to make a game of it, San Antonio went on a mini-run like a bigger guy holding a little guy at arm’s length while the little guy futilely flailed around trying to hit him.

We’ll get there (and brace yourself for a lightning round full of lopsided statistical comparisons), but first…

C’mon, Cleveland, Do Us Pacers Fans A Favor

The Cavaliers were down 16 points in the first quarter against the Sixers, trailing 24-8 before most of the guys on the bench had doffed the warmups for the first time in the game.

They seized a 97-96 lead with about two and a half minutes to play, got within one at 100-99 with a minute and a half left…and didn’t score again, as Philly scored the last six points of the game and iced them 106-99.

Ben Simmons had 26 points on 0-of-0 from three-point land along with 10 rebounds and eight assists, Joel Embiid was a force on the glass with 19 boards to overcome a 6-of-16 shooting night on his way to 17 points, and Cleveland was simply unable to capitalize on a massive 21-7 turnover advantage, shooting 39.6 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from long range, all while getting terrorized on the glass 60-37.

The moral of the story is that if your opponent sucks badly enough, you can hold serve at home even when you play like complete trash in terms of taking care of the ball.

And the Cavaliers have been hot garbage in every non-LeBron year of their existence since Michael Jordan‘s second retirement.

Simmons is your man of the match…

…with a thank-you-for-highlights tip of the hat to Sixers social media for these Embiid highlights:

Dispatches from an 11-Game Losing Streak

The Pacers made their game with the Knicks harder than it needed to be, the one game in all of this wretched 11-game stretch that they needed to make sure they didn’t lose in order to avoid losing all 11 of them.

Seriously, this is a monstrous stretch of the schedule, and whoever at the league office thought it would be a good idea should…well, OK, it was a computer, and that’s as good a reason as any to kill all robots and ban algorithms, isn’t it? Ad victoriam! (followers of my Twitter and way-too-devout Brotherhood players in Fallout 4, unite!)

The Pacers were up 14 in the fourth quarter before forgetting how to basketball and letting the Knicks all the way back within three before Darren Collison—gods bless him—made the two game-icing free throws at the end to seal the final 103-98 margin.

The Knicks were on a 15-4 run before that tourniquet from DC.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the team with 24 points, Myles Turner held his own on the glass to get 15 points and nine rebounds despite outstanding rebounder DeAndre Jordan fighting him for those boards—seriously, Turner deserves a lot of credit for his rebounding improvement this year—and Domantas Sabonis poured in 10 points off the bench despite still looking sore on his injured ankle and shooting just 4-of-12.

With a nod toward the Born Ready 2 Pod guys on Pacers Twitter, hit the damn music for the man of the match:

The Mavericks Can’t Win at Home Either

Dallas started the season with the weird distinction of being unbeatable at home and a G-League team on the road.

And while they’re still terrible (6-27), their home record has cooled to 21-13 after a 112-105 loss to San Antonio, who always seemed to have a timely bucket in the fourth quarter whenever the Mavs threatened to tie things up or take the lead.

DeMar DeRozan had 33 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 28, and Derrick White had 23, all on a combined 32-of-54 shooting, while the rest of the Spurs chipped in a grand total of just 28 points themselves, on 11-of-28.

San Antonio also made all 18 of their free throws, a fine way to win a basketball game.

Luka Doncic, meanwhile, had a rare complete stinker of a game, scoring 12 points on 5-of-18 shooting and turning the ball over (Ferris Bueller reference imminent!) niiiiiine tiiiiimes.

Doncic also shot 1-of-9 from the free throw line, because if you’re going to screw up, it’s probably best to royally, utterly, nastily screw up and get it out of your system.

Aldridge is the man of the match:

Lightning Round!

Andre Ingram, the G-League GOAT, got to play two minutes for the Lakers in their 123-107 win over the Chicago Bulls on the road.

He’s also getting some dosh for his bank account with his 10-day contract, always a nice perk for a guy who just wants to get out there and ball.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the NBA’s wealth spectrum, LeBron James scored 36 points on 15-of-23 shooting, pulling down 10 boards, while JaVale McGee led the Lakers in plus-minus with a rock-solid plus-26 in his 33 minutes on his way to 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Also, wow. Craziest in-the-run-of-play alley-oop all season:

Bron’s the man of the match:

All five Bucks starters scored in double figures, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points to lead that charge, and Milwaukee overcame a poor (10-of-36) three-point shooting performance to dust the Pelicans 130-113 in New Orleans.

Pat Connaughton was minus-10 in 24 minutes, meaning he played half the game in the minus column while his team won by 27 in the other half of the game without him. Yikes.

When Houston calls James Harden the MVP on Twitter, we laugh. When Milwaukee does it for Giannis, we applaud:

Denver’s chances of catching Golden State for the top spot in the west are a mile high after a 133-107 dismantling of the Minnesota Timberwolves in Denver Tuesday.

Jamal Murray scored 30 while Paul Millsap scored 23 and posted a game-high plus-25, making him, along with Mason Plumlee (plus-25 in 21 minutes) the two Nuggets who got closest to seeing the team get outscored when they were on the bench. Denver was just plus-one in each of the two men’s off minutes.

But that’s still a heck of a beatdown if you’re plus-25 and the team still wins your sit minutes.

Murray is your man of the match:

The Clippers got flat-out smoked on their home floor by the Trail Blazers 125-104.

CJ McCollum burst out for 35 points on 12-of-21 shooting, Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic scored 20 each, and Enes Kanter came off the bench to add 14 points, nine rebounds, and one middle finger for Recep Erdogan.

Yeah, I went there.

McCollum had more points in the fourth quarter than any player on either team had in the entire game. So…highlights!

I’m taking the rest of today off for reasons that have nothing to do with Tyreke Evans contracting Butler’s Disease and missing the Pacers game “for personal reasons”, but the Breakfast Special will be back along with Is He Any Good (stop laughing, even though yeah, it’ll probably be an impulsive Thursday feature that pushes IHAG to Friday, you guys know me too well..) on Thursday.

In the meantime, why not look at those spiffy Related Articles, or click any of the categories on the menu at the top of the page and enjoy some more quality basketball writing while you’re wasting your employer’s money on Hump Day by goofing off?

Stick it to the man. Read Pace and Space. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!