Breakfast Special: Mile High Club

As savage demolitions go, holding LeBron James to 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting and the worst plus/minus of any Laker (-23), smashing the Lakers on your home court 117-85, and getting within half a game of first place in the West at 14-7 in the process…

…well, let’s just say the Denver Nuggets had themselves a time at home Tuesday night.

Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray, and Malik Beasley all had 20 points for the winners, Millsap’s 10 rebounds gave him a double-double, Mason Plumlee had 10 points and 10 boards for a double-double of his own, and Denver’s defense held the Lakers to an atrocious 5-of-35 night from three-point land.

Oh, and Lonzo Ball sprained his ankle. Kind of a bummer, really, depriving a columnist, unabashed Lonzo hater, and Pacers fan of some free cheap shots Thursday when the Lakers play the Pacers next.

And one other thing: The Nuggets out-rebounded the Lakers 60-39. By the gods, that is an insane display of dominance.

Paul Millsap is your man of the match as the Nugs follow up a six-losses-in-seven-games stretch with their fourth straight win:

About DeAndre Ayton’s Defense…

The Pacers beat the Suns 109-104 in Phoenix, overcoming a blown 13-point lead, getting down 94-92, and getting back into their rhythm to right the ship and close the game out, avoiding what would have been an embarrassing loss to a 4-16 team.

But the elephant in the room? Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis between them made DeAndre Ayton look like he’d never seen a basketball in his life defensively.

Turner and Sabonis combined for 37 points, 29 rebounds, four assists, a steal, and five blocks with only two turnovers.

Indiana shot 42.3 percent from long range (11-of-26), and curiously for a team that has generated so much offense in transition off turnovers, only managed to get six takeaways in the game.

Phoenix played about as well as you can play and still lose, but that interior defense shows that while Ayton’s ceiling may be Shaquille O’Neal, he’s still got a bad case of rookie-itis that needs to be worked out.

Speaking of Ayton, Darren Collison just put him on the reel for Shaqtin’ a Fool:

Sabonis is your man of the match…

…but Myles made a pretty big shot too:

Raptors. Grizzlies. Finals Preview?

OK, nobody seriously believes Memphis is coming out of the West no matter how good they’ve been early in the season, but a 122-114 Toronto win showed a bit of the pecking order as the 59-wins-in-2018 Raptors look like they’ve gotten even better.

At 18-4, they’re on pace to go 67-15, and that’s no fluke; by point differential they project as a 65-win team.

This was a balanced attack for the Raptors. Kyle Lowry had 24 points, Kawhi Leonard had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, Fred VanVleet added 18 off the bench on an efficient 6-of-6 night shooting the ball, and Toronto shot an insane 60.9 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from three, taking just 69 field goal attenpts in a game they scored 122.

That is…insane. Like actual are-you-kidding-me bonkers.

But give it up for VanVleet, who shot 3-of-4 from the line to fall just short of a perfect shooting night:

Miami Sleet

The Heat are in free fall, losers of eight of their last 10 to drop from 5-5 to 7-13.

The lone wins in that stretch were against Chicago and Brooklyn, not exactly murderer’s row.

And now they dumped one at home to the Hawks.

Trae Young had a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists on 5-of-12 shooting, Taurean Prince led the way with 18, and the Hawks paced a balanced ballgame to the 115-113 road win.

There were 44 turnovers in this garbage fire of a game; 24 for Atlanta, 20 for Miami.

But if you really want to point at a stat and “what the hell, guys” it, Miami’s 20-of-30 night from the free throw line in a game they lost by two is a fine place to start. Atlanta shot 27-of-32. There’s your ballgame right there.

Let’s get some love for Atlanta’s much-maligned rook:

And Finally…

Detroit beat the Knicks at the Hot N’ Ready, grabbing a 115-108 home win over the Knicks to pop New York down to 7-15.

Blake Griffin was the extra most bestest, scoring 30 points on 9-of-21 shooting because free throws are good and Blake made 12 of them in 16 tries.

Reggie Jackson and Stanley Johnson had 21 apiece, and even though the rest of the Pistons did jack squat, they played the Knicks so they still won.

Get your highlights here:

Coming later: A feature. How’s that for a teaser? Stay tuned and thanks for reading!