Breakfast Special: Derrick Rose’s Ghost Scares Utah

What strange times are these in Minnesota, where Derrick Rose can be his 2012 self for a night, possessed on Halloween by the ghost of his own talent.

Because Jimmy Butler has gone AWOL for the Timberwolves, Rose ended up starting at the point, Josh Okogie‘s 10.06 PER started in Butler’s spot…and Minnesota beat Utah 128-125 behind 50 points from Rose.

The game was about as typical a Tom Thibodeau coaching performance as you’ll see. The heavy-minutes rotation went seven deep, and only nine guys played even one minute of the game.

Rose played 41 minutes. Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 28 points of his own, played 40. Andrew Wiggins, who had 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting because efficiency is for other people, played 38. Okogie played 37.

But hey, when someone’s ACL blows, at least they’ll have Butler…wait.

I thought Utah was supposed to be good at defense. What happened here? Minnesota shot 12-of-25 (48 percent) from three. They shot 38-of-61 (62.3 percent!) on two-point shots. That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it, you play the defense on the hoop TV.

Then again, Utah shot 18-of-30 from the free throw line. Maybe we ought to be talking more about that.

So, who’s the man of the match? Gee, I wonder…

Beware the Bench Lithuanians

Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas, on the fourth- and first-seed if the season ended today Pacers and Raptors, are showing why there’s nothing more dangerous off the bench in the NBA than a Lithuanian big man. That was as true when Sabonis’ dad Arvydas patrolled the paint for the Portland Trail Blazers back during the Dark Ages as it is today.

Sabonis went full beast mode with 30 points and nine rebounds in just 21 minutes, hitting all 12 of his shots in the Pacers’ 107-101 win over the Knicks.

Meanwhile, Victor Oladipo, after starting just 2-of-6 and apparently battling bronchitis all night, proceeded to make eight of his next 12 shots to finish 10-of-18, score 24 points, and hit the dagger three-pointer toward the end that put the game out of reach.

And oh by the way, Thaddeus Young, whose offensive rebound set up the game-winner, had five steals, just abusing the Knicks and clogging up their interior passing lanes.

Tim Hardaway Jr. had 37 in this one on 7-of-11 three-point shooting, and the way he leads on the floor, you just know he’ll be in coaching someday when his playing days are done. Tip of the hat to the kid.

The Pacers shot 12-of-25 from three-point land. They don’t attempt enough threes, but they’re among the NBA’s best at making them. Dear gods, Nate McMillan. Coach your team right!

Sabonis is your man of the match:

#LOLakers

Look, when you only beat the Dallas Freaking Mavericks by one point at home (114-113), you still get laughed at. A win’s a win, but bad teams lose big and win close.

LeBron James had 29 points including clutch free throws to ice the game, JaVale McGee had 16 points and 15 rebounds, and Lonzo Ball is learning that if he just gets out of the way, he doesn’t totally suck; he had 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, hitting three relatively easy three-pointers on three attempts in the process, and added four rebounds and seven assists.

If the goal is to evolve Lonzo into a taller Ricky Rubio, that’s not so bad.

The Lakers shot 10-of-17 (!) from three-point land, and while 67 two-point attempts isn’t ideal, they got away with it through sheer force of accuracy.

This was a Super Sloppy Double Dare kind of game, as the physical challenge of not turning the ball over was beyond both teams. The Lakers gave it up 20 times, the Mavs 23, and that’s why both teams are horrid and deserved the one-point margin.

Let’s give the man of the match honors to JaVale, though. Wolf Pack proud!

Lightning Round!

San Antonio smoked Phoenix on national TV 120-90, as DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge combined to shoot 20-of-25 without attempting a three-pointer.

You don’t have to be Ben Simmons to Make the Midrange Great Again. Just hit 80 percent and tell the eFG% guys to pound sand, right?

The defense was on fire for the Spurs in the ballgame, as Phoenix shot just 35-of-90 (38.9 percent) overall.

Halloween highlights:

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Stephen Curry pursuit of 500 threes in a season, already in progress.

Curry went 7-of-11 from deep, scored 37 points, and powered the Warriors’ 131-121 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at home Wednesday night.

Klay Thompson? Well, he crashed back down to earth, hitting 1-of-4 from deep and scoring just 18 points after going for 52 last time out.

Golden State contained Anthony Davis, holding him to just 17 points to help seal the win.

Steph gonna Steph:

Sometimes “great teams win big and lose close” comes up short of its mark, and the Denver Nuggets’ road win in Chicago is certainly the exception that proves the rule.

They won 108-107 on a last-second putback by Paul Millsap, and as many, many Nuggets fans have pointed out, the reason they missed the playoffs last year was because they punted too many easy games and lost to bad teams often enough that the wins over good teams got canceled out.

There will be none of that this year. The Nugs are 6-1.

Man of the match? Look, only one shot mattered in 53 minutes of basketball.

And finally, Detroit’s season took all of three games to crash and burn. First the Celtics smacked them twice, now the Brooklyn Freaking Nets are having their fun, winning 120-119 in overtime at Barclays Center.

Spencer Dinwiddie had 25 points off the bench, Joe Harris had 23 on 4-of-7 from long range, and this game was so close that both the turnover (16) and rebound (55) battles were dead even at the end.

The difference? Well, maybe let’s consider that Andre Drummond is a counting stat rich but contribution-poor player after he was minus-11 despite scoring 24 points and hauling in 23 rebounds.

I’m thinking I’ll have to devote an article to this.

Dinwiddie is your man of the match, torching his old team:

That’s your ballgame for Wednesday, and I’m going to lean on Pistons Twitter to try and get an answer on that Drummond question, because it makes so little sense to me. I’ll write something when I get the skinny.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!