Breakfast Special: DeMar Ate Kawhi’s Breakfast

San Antonio was up 45-19 before Toronto even got their pants on for this one, and that was a minute into the second quarter.

And while the Raptors outscored the Spurs the rest of the way and lost by โ€œjustโ€ 18, 125-107, the point was made:

Gregg Popovich is not here for your criticism of his stars and their two-point shooting.

DeMar DeRozan got his first career triple-double against his old team, scoring 21 points on 7-of-15 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line. He added 14 rebounds and dished 11 assists to make it official.

Kawhi Leonard, meanwhile, got 21 points of his own on 8-of-13, but he had a Spurs defender close enough to name his deodorant brand at all times during the game, struggling like crazy to get good looks on those shots. Kawhi also managed just one rebound and finished the game minus-22.

That’s right…the Raptors actually won the 15 minutes Kawhi was off the floor, by four points.

The Spurs shot 13-of-27 on three-pointers (48.1 percent) as Popovich continues to use the triple as a sniper rifle rather than a machine gun; the team’s shooting nearly 40 percent from long range combined on the season.

And oh by the way, the team hit 58.6 percent of the deuces as well.

Lost in the discussion of midrange jump shots this season (and DeRozan having a lower eFG% than Lonzo Ball) is the simple fact that DeRozan is finishing 72 percent of his shots inside three feet, attacking the rim successfully in ways he simply hasn’t in his entire career to this point. His midrange game is still atrocious (a bit under 41 percent between 10 feet and the three-point arc, good for what would be around an 82 offensive rating), but he does have a reliable way to score…

That shot was from between zero and three feet.

Also, this might be the coolest sequence in all of basketball this year:

DeRozan, of course, is the man of the match:

Reggie Miller Loves Virtual Reality

I wanted video with the commentary where Kevin Harlan broke and laughed when Reggie Miller was carrying on like a giddy schoolboy during a promo for TNT’s VR broadcasts, but sadly no video was forthcoming and I’ve not got an in-house video production unit here (what, you thought the Twitter highlights were a coincidence?)

So you’re going to settle for a screenshot.

Reggie also had a nice happy-birthday wish for his sister Cheryl, who he described as โ€œthe greatest women’s basketball player ever.โ€ Greatest brother-sister athletic combo in history.

Anyway…

In Soviet Russia Rockets Launch YOU

James Harden continues to win games by himself, and the more the rest of the Rockets play, the more they look like the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Clint Capela deserves at least an honorable mention for the All-Star Game, and he scored 29 points and pulled down 21 rebounds for the Rockets as they beat the Warriors in Oakland on national TV 135-134 in overtime.

Harden, though…44 points (13-32 FG, 10-23 3PT, 8-9 FT), 10 rebounds, 15 assists, plus-5 in a game his team won by one, and the machine gun Rockets shot 21-of-54 from the arc and 24-of-45 on the deuces (38.9 and 53.3 percent, respectively) to polish off the team that, at several points during this season, have projected as their first-round playoff opponent.

Stephen Curry had 35, Klay Thompson had 26, and Kevin Durant had 26 for the Warriors, Draymond Green had nine points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists to flirt with a triple-double, and Golden State forced seven Harden turnovers, but it wasn’t enough.

Speaking of giveaways, the rest of the Rockets had a grand total of three. That’s getting it done.

Getting this game to overtime in the first place…

…led to the killshot:

And here’s your daily dose of uncalled travels and cheap rip moves (OK, fine, Harden only shot nine free throws.)

Forgotten Realms

The Nuggets played a game in Sacramento that nobody watched, completely upstaged as they get no respect from national media except for Charles Barkley giving them the kiss of death by picking them to make the Western Conference Finals during the halftime show of the Rockets-Warriors game.

Denver beat Sacramento 117-113, dropping the Kings to 19-19 on a night where two of the teams they’re trying to catch created some separation at the bottom half of the playoff bracket.

Nikola Jokic had 23 points and 13 rebounds, Jamal Murray led scorers with 36 including 6-of-12 from three, the Nuggets starters shot a combined 30-of-56 (53.6 percent) from the field to overcome poor play (33.3 percent shooting) from the bench, and Sacramento got wrecked on the boards 54-33 to give this one to the visitors.

Denver snatched the third-best record in the league away from the idle Pacers (Denver is 25-11; Indiana is 25-12) and stand just one game behind the Raptors and Bucks for the honor of best record in the Association.

But sure, no respect at all from the national media.

Murray had two points at halftime. Murray is the man of the match.

Coming later: The Is He Any Good that got delayed from yesterday for reasons mostly related to Seattle traffic (did I mention Mystery Ship Studios is planning to move HQ this year? Because Mystery Ship Studios is planning to move HQ this year), and I could probably find a feature or two in the mental trick bag, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!

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