Breakfast Special: Down With 34-Minute Basketball Games

Indiana Pacers fans were uncomfortably reminded of the bad old days Tuesday night, as a 26-point lead nearly evaporated against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, before the Pacers—the last team Cleveland beat before the Cavs’ current 10-game losing streak—avoided bookending the streak in question and finished off the 123-115 win.

And the Pacers defense was so hideous that it only serves to remind us all why Myles Turner deserves to be Defensive Player of the Year; the team is a completely different squad without him anchoring the defense and protecting the rim.

All due respect to Domantas Sabonis, who is a better rebounder and a better offensive player than is Turner, but his defense is nowhere near the equal of the man he replaced in the starting lineup due to Turner’s ongoing shoulder soreness.

It sure didn’t look like the defense had a problem in the first quarter, though, as Indiana raced out to a 38-16 lead after one.

They led by as wide a margin as 70-44 in the third quarter, but then the Cavaliers stormed back, seemingly unable to miss even when the defense played well, and scoring 72 points in the second half overall.

Trouble was, they were already too far down; it’s the same problem that doomed the Wizards against Indiana earlier this season.

Victor Oladipo had 17 points and a game-high plus-16 on-court rating, but it was Thaddeus Young who took the game by the throat and choke-slammed it to the ground.

Thad the Impaler had 26 points on 11-of-14, including making all three of his three-point attempts, to claim man of the match honors alongside Bojan Bogdanovic and his 23 points:

Put the Fun in Fundamentals, Minnesota

“Take care of the ball.” “Make your free throws.” “Don’t give the other team fast breaks.”

Minnesota did all of the above, winning the turnover battle (16-10), making their free throws (32-of-40), and not letting OKC run them off the floor (the Thunder scored just 11 fast break points and only got four steals) to win 119-117 behind 40 (!) from Andrew Wiggins.

Russell Westbrook had a huge game for the Thunder, scoring 25 points on 11-of-22 shooting and dishing 16 assists, part of an overall Thunder attack that saw them shoot 50.6 percent from the field.

But another adage—“control the glass, control the game”—powered another five extra possessions for the Wolves; they won the offensive rebound battle 15-10.

Give any team 11 extra possessions and they’ll do enough with them to overcome even a poor shooting night, and that’s how the Wolves won this game.

Wiggins is your man of the match:

Landry Shamet For ROY

Landry Shamet hit 8-of-14 three-point tries and ended up with 29 points, Furkan Korkmaz started and scored 16 points on 3-of-7 from long range, and the Philadelphia 76ers overall shot 51.5 percent (17-of-33) from three and 55.7 percent from the field as they routed the Washington Wizards 132-115.

It was a three-point party and everyone was invited except for one guy.

Ben Simmons had 17 points on 0-of-0 from three-point land.

The Wizards hit half of their shots (42-of-84) but got annihilated on the glass (13-6 offensive rebounds and 49-34 overall), and if you can’t get the rebound and the other team can’t miss, it doesn’t matter how well you shoot the ball unless you make all of them and don’t have to worry about rebounds at all.

Nobody on the Sixers played more than 28 minutes (Simmons, plus Jimmy Butler, who scored 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting.) They’ve got a road back-to-back as they play the Wizards in Washington Wednesday, one of those fun home-and-home consecutive-night series, and Philly took the first leg handily.

The Sixers drafted well when they got this Shamet kid. He’s good:

Lightning Round!

Nikola Jokic went to Miami, brought a triple-double (29 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) with him, and powered the Denver Nuggets to a 103-99 win over the Heat.

Denver won the rebounding battle (50-38), held Miami to a terrible 25.8 percent (8-of-31) from three, and overcame a horrid turnover differential (16-6) to make the most of the possessions they got when they didn’t cough the ball up.

This was a classic “not as close as the score” game for Denver, but the stat gods don’t care about mitigating factors; point differential regresses to the number you actually put up.

But blah blah stats and stats, here’s Jokic actually doing the things on the basketball court that got him that triple-double:

The Hawks put up a valiant effort, and you can see the roots of a Trae YoungJohn Collins power team in a few years, but the Toronto Raptors were simply too much for them, winning 104-101.

Kawhi Leonard had 31 points, six assists, and six steals, the Raptors forced 26 (!) Hawks turnovers, and outshot Atlanta handily (20-of-27 vs. 11-of-16) at the free throw line, and that’s enough to sink a squad.

The Sacramento Kings shot 51.7 percent from three, got 24 points out of De’Aaron Fox, and made 20-of-29 from the free throw line as they did a solid job drawing fouls.

The Kings also turned it over 25 times against the Suns’ 19, and when you commit 25 turnovers, that loses you a lot of ballgames; Phoenix won at home 115-111.

Kelly Oubre Jr. exploded off the bench with 26 points, T.J. Warren added 21, and the Suns, who shot the ball well (51.1 percent from the field and 15-of-19 at the line), secured the home win.

The advanced stats don’t like Oubre. The column built on showing how counting stats get counted up loves him. Have some breakfast, Kelly:

The Warriors beat the Knicks 122-95, riding 43 points (on 18-of-29 shooting) from Klay Thompson to the win.

And it’s not just that Klay had 43 in a game where Golden State hit 68.6 percent (35-of-51) of their two-pointers. It’s the Knicks defense completely failing to force Thompson to put it on the floor that sealed this one.

Seriously, this is a wacky sequence of highlights, as weird as any you’ll see all year:

And finally, the Hornets seem to have decided that rather than put up another season with a big positive point differential and a garbage record, they’re just going to get blown out a time or two and reset the expectations accordingly.

At least that’s what you’d gather from Charlotte getting mashed in Los Angeles by the Clippers 128-109.

Lou Williams had 27, Montrezl Harrell and Tobias Harris had 23 each, Danilo Gallinari notched 20, the Clips put up a 51.6/46.7/85.7 shooting split, Charlotte hit just 36-of-90 (40 percent) for the game, and they got flat-out embarrassed out there.

Give it up for the entire squad, getting it done big at home:

I’m taking the rest of today off for some much-needed rest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up on everything you may have missed on Pace and Space. Pop on over to the homepage and take your pick, and thanks for reading!