When the closest game in the NBA on any given night is 22 points, you know you weren’t exactly treated to the best competition the game has to offer.
But what did you expect when two games involved a playoff team against a tank crew and the third involved one of the most feast-or-famine teams in the league?
Boston beat the Knicks 128-100 in a snoozefest opener, Utah beat Houston 118-91 in the nightcap, and over on League Pass Portland pantsed the Suns 108-86 in a game that was over in the first quarter—Portland led 34-9 after one and cruised the rest of the way.
But that’s not to say there wasn’t a highlight reel’s worth of stuff to be mined here, so let’s to it on a shorter-than-usual Friday edition of the Special:
If your shots go in, you win. If the shots don’t go in, you lose. This is the most bleeding obvious point in basketball, and yet when you look at the execution…well, it was an execution.
Boston shot 53.3 percent from the field. The Knicks shot 39.6. And lo and behold, winning the turnover battle to the tune of seven extra possessions (16-9)? That helped too.
Kyrie Irving led a Total Team Effort with 22 points, Jaylen Brown thrived in his bench role contributing 21 on 7-of-10, Al Horford added a double-double with 19 points and 12 boards to go with four blocks, and the starters did a great job staying out of foul trouble—Horford had three and the other four guys had two each, all in between 24 (Marcus Smart) and 30 (Irving and Marcus Morris) minutes.
Irving was never flat in this All-World performance:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 7, 2018
Rockets Crash Land Again
The Achilles heel of the Rockets offense is that it doesn’t matter how many three-point shots you attempt if none of them go in.
Houston shot 8-of-36 (22.2 percent) from long range and 26-of-52 (50 percent) from two-point range.
When you spread the floor, it’s supposed to create opportunities to work inside—this is otherwise known as “why the Bucks are the best they’ve been since they still had Kareem.”
When you spread the floor and the defense doesn’t fear the long ball? Even though Rudy Gobert got ejected and played just three minutes, in theory opening up the middle, nobody told Houston that.
Derrick Favors stepped in and played the role of super sub, scoring 24 points, shooting 10-of-13, grabbing 10 rebounds, and at least to some degree completely frustrating the Rockets’ game plan as it looked like they had no idea what they were up against when they didn’t have Gobert to plan for.
Crazy part? Utah wasn’t any better from three (8-of-32, 25 percent), but their two-pointers fell at a 37-of-57 (64.9 percent) clip.
And turnovers? 23-12, Jazz with 11 extra possessions. Bring the pain, guys.
Favors is your man of the match:
📹| @dfavors14 gave his whole 💜 tonight
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 7, 2018
I Never Promised You A Moda Center
The Blazers were up 23-5 after nine minutes which was, at that point in the game, a 123-26 pace over 48 minutes.
The pace was 136-36 after the first quarter.
And no, they didn’t win by 100. But they might as well have.
Damian Lillard had 25 points on 8-of-14 in 28 minutes, but it was the bench that got the bulk of the fun with the game effectively over at tipoff.
Speaking of Chef, Pace and Space is proud to be the first (and only!) Basketball Reference content provider to mention him in a news article. Long live the Payton-Kemp Sonics and their human victory cigar. He even had a downright Boban-like .228 WS/48 and .684 True Shooting in 1993-94.
Right, what was I on about again?
Oh yeah, Blazers game where Lillard and a white boy from Norwood, Massachusetts combined for 49 points and only one other player—Zach Collins, goofy-looking white dude from Vegas—got into double figures (he had 10.)
Wait a minute…just how many white dudes they got in Portland anyway? Besides, like, 99 percent of the men in the city itself because Portland is damn near the whitest city in America, I mean.
OK, I’m going to shut up and run the highlights of Layman before I get myself in trouble.
— NBA (@NBA) December 7, 2018
Still to come: Klay Thompson‘s edition of Is He Any Good, and man…the Internet’s gonna hate me for it. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!