Breakfast Special: Houston, You Have A Problem

The ghost of Carmelo Anthony‘s career has cast a specter of evil over the Rockets’ locker room after an exorcism in Oklahoma City went horribly wrong.

Indeed, both franchises are haunted now.

The Rockets got spanked at home, 104-85, by a Portland Trail Blazers team that was on a road SEGABABA after having disposed of the Pacers Monday night.

Which means either the 5-2 Blazers are for real…or the 1-5 Rockets are really that bad.

Damian Lillard (8-of-10) and CJ McCollum (7-of-13) combined for 41 points, Jusuf Nurkic added 22 on 7-of-10, and Portland made just two fewer (10-8) three-pointers despite a disparity of attempts in which Houston shot 43 attempts to Portland’s 20.

And it’s not like Houston made their two-pointers either; they were 21-of-53 (39.6 percent) from two-point range for an overall percentage for the game of 32.3.

Was McCollum on to something when he seemed to suggest Monday that the secret to stopping the modern NBA offense is to force them into the midrange and give them no other choice but to shoot from there?

It worked against Indiana. It worked against Houston. Melo was 2-of-12, Eric Gordon was 4-of-18 (and 2-of-10 from two-point range), Chris Paul was 6-of-19 and 4-of-11 from two…

I mean, let’s see them play the Warriors in a seven-game series (or at least the Bucks on the road) before we pass judgment, but Terry Stotts may have just cooked up the modern killer.

Highlights from the NBA’s road warriors:

Not In Our League, Philly

The Sixers really don’t look at all like the top-3 team many projected them as during the preseason.

Not only have they fallen way short of the Celtics and Raptors, but the Bucks, Pacers, and possibly even the Hornets (more on them in a minute) may have zoomed past them, making last year’s 16-game winning streak to close the regular season look like a fluke.

Philly is 4-4 after at one point last season being 36-30. See a pattern developing?

The Raptors handily disposed of the Sixers 129-112 at home, as Ben Simmons had a funky triple-double with 11 points, 10 assists, and 11 turnovers.

Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard just had a cold-blooded 31 points on 10-of-19 shooting, Kyle Lowry dished 12 assists to go with his 20 points, Pascal Siakam put up a 15/15 on 6-of-8 shooting, and Jonas Valanciunas continued to demonstrate that there is nothing more dangerous off the bench in an NBA game than a Lithuanian big man, as he had 23 points on 8-of-14.

Go home, Philly, this is not your world.

Kawhi is back, baby!

Wait, Are the Hornets…Good?

Charlotte beat Miami 125-113 to run their record to 4-4, but what’s more interesting is their point differential; they’re already +6.0 per game, 48 points to the good despite as many losses as wins.

Over 82 games, a +6.0 team would be expected to go 57-25.

Tony Parker and Malik Monk had 24 and 20 off the bench. Nicolas Batum had 20 on 7-of-10 shooting. Kemba Walker had 19 and went 4-of-8 from deep.

The Hornets shot 54.3 percent, made 13-of-28 from long range, won the rebound battle 39-34 and the free throw contest (24-of-29 against 20-of-24 for Miami), and look unstoppable on nights the ball’s bouncing their way.

Great teams win big and lose close. Don’t sleep on Charlotte.

How about Parker’s double-double for man of the match?

Lightning Round!

Dear Cleveland,

You might not want to gloat about not being winless anymore when you beat the Hawks at home.

That said, the 136-114 victory was powered by 33-of-43 at the line, 52 percent three-point shooting, a 22-13 win in the turnover battle, a 48-39 win on the boards, and a Total Team Effort in which Rodney Hood scored 26 to lead seven Cavaliers in double figures.

I guess firing Tyronn Lue wasn’t such a bad idea.

Sacramento just keeps winning, beating Orlando 107-99 on the road.

The Kings are 5-3 after Buddy Hield led the way with 25 points and 11 rebounds on 9-of-13 shooting, the defense held Orlando to just 39.6 percent shooting overall and an atrocious 11-of-43 (25.6 percent) from long range, and only two Orlando starters cracked double figures.

Hield is your man of the match:

Boston beat Detroit 108-105 to run their record to 5-2 and drop Detroit to 4-2 after a 4-0 start, with both losses coming in the home-and-home.

The Celtics look a lot more like themselves these days, and Kyrie Irving led the way with 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting.

Gordon Hayward, though…he’s averaging just 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game on 40.7 percent shooting for the season. Are we sure he’ll ever be the same after that gruesome injury last year?

When Russell Westbrook and Paul George each go for 32 points, and they do it on a combined 22-of-43 shooting, it’s hard to beat the Thunder, and the Clippers did not beat the Thunder.

Steven Adams added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and a team-high +18 in the 128-110 win.

Shooting 51.1 percent from the field helped too.

Thunder Up with some highlights:

And finally, they played a basketball game in Memphis last night.

The Grizzlies won it 127-115.

The Washington Wizards suck, and getting only four players into double figures didn’t help.

Then again, Memphis only got four guys into double figures too, but they shot 48.6 percent from the field and 46.4 from three against Washington’s 43.2 and 40.0.

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol had 19 each to pace the Grizz in this one:

For those of you wondering about Is He Any Good, don’t worry, it’s coming back Nov. 29. I don’t want to start it earlier than that because small sample sizes screw up the methodology I use to do the arguments. Go back to last year’s early-season stuff and you’ll see exactly why I made the choice I did this year.

And thanks for reading!