The Indiana Pacers went 7-4 in the absence of Victor Oladipo earlier this season, 8-4 if you count the Hawks game where Vic came in, had a cup of coffee, and left.
The Pacers are 0-2 without Myles Turner, who sat out Sunday with a sore right shoulder as the Pacers lost 121-105 to the Toronto Raptors, who in the process became the first team with 30 wins as they ran their record to 30-12.
The Raptors improved to 8-2 without Kawhi Leonard. Things that make you go “hmmm…”, since Toronto has a .688 winning percentage (56-26 per 82 games) with Leonard and an .800 win percentage (66-16) without him.
But seriously, this was a three-point barrage writ large upon the landscape for Toronto, as the Raptors took advantage of every blown assignment, slow rotation, long rebound, and every other possible lapse the Pacers made on defense in order to shoot 17-of-33 (51.5 percent) from out there.
Indiana? 4-of-17. FOUR three-pointers made. Go ahead and give the biggest facepalm you can, Pacers fans, this was a horror show of Nate McMillan, the East Coach of the Month in December, getting his clipboard handed to him by Nick Nurse.
And how about Toronto beating Milwaukee and Indiana, the two teams directly behind them in the East standings, on both ends of a back-to-back with the Bucks game on the road?
Sixth in offense, tenth in defense, first in the standings.
It was a Total Team Effort as Toronto got eight (!) guys into double figures, and Kyle Lowry paced the starters with 12 points and eight assists:
— NBA (@NBA) January 7, 2019
Lakers – LeBron = G-League
The Lakers beat the stuffing out of Golden State on Christmas after LeBron James went down with a groin strain.
Since then, the Lakers are 1-5, the lone win at home against Sacramento.
And Sunday, Los Angeles got brutally murdered by a Timberwolves team that is today celebrating their freedom from Tom Thibodeau’s drill sergeant coaching, 108-86.
As a team, the Lakers shot 36.8 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from three, turned the ball over 21 times, lost the rebounding (50-48) and free throw percentage (71.4-60.7, as the Lakers had two more makes on seven more attempts) battles, and just got their rear ends handed to them.
This Lakers team looks wretched. Without LeBron, this roster wouldn’t win 25 games.
KAT sent Thibs packing on a high note:
KAT was a force down low as the @Timberwolves beat the Lakers at home! 😼💪
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 6, 2019
I Thought the Thunder Were Supposed to Win These
Oklahoma City generally plays well in Sunday home games.
But the Washington Wizards came to town and smashed the Thunder 116-98.
The weird part? Washington didn’t even play well. Bradley Beal had 25, but on 10-of-27. The Wiz shot 43.6 percent from the field and 27 percent from three. They got to the line more, but only attempted three more free throws (18-of-22 vs. 12-of-19.)
Where they got this one was in OKC not shooting the ball well either (43.2 percent from the field, although they did hit 10-of-25 from three for a 40 percent clip), winning the turnover battle (14-9), dominating the offensive glass (Washington yanked down 16 offensive boards and won the overall rebounding battle 55-41), and ending up with a ton more shot attempts (101-88) as a result of all those extra possessions from the offensive boards.
Russell Westbrook had a triple-double, but it was another inefficient more-shots-than-points outing (22 on 9-of-23, to go with 15 rebounds and 13 assists). And Dennis Schroder wasn’t his usual self off the bench—he had nine points on 3-of-10 and posted a minus-32 in just 16 minutes.
Beal wasn’t good, but he was good enough:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 7, 2019
The Nets went into Chicago and completed a terrible day for Chicago sports; lost in the (Super Bowl) shuffle of the Bears’ choke on the game-winning field goal was the Bulls losing 117-100.
That’s three straight for the Nets, who improve to 20-21 and stand seventh in the East:
— NBA (@NBA) January 6, 2019
The Magic are in free-fall, and they’ve now dropped to 17-22 after losing 106-96 to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Tobias Harris led the Clips with 28, Lou Williams turned a 4-of-12 shooting night into 17 points off the bench somehow, and the Clippers defense held Orlando to just 37.1 percent shooting in order to seal the win.
Harris is your man of the match as the Clips stormed back from 15 down with a 25-point swing:
— NBA (@NBA) January 6, 2019
The Heat had no heat at all, shooting a frosty 35.6 percent from the field and 14.7 percent (5-of-34) from three, the Hawks won the rebounding battle 59-41, and Miami did nothing to help its cause at the line, shooting a pathetic 15-of-27 (55.6 percent.)
Miami is 19-19. They’re sixth in the East, leading the pack of cannon fodder below the Raptors-Bucks-Pacers-Sixers-Celtics tier of actual Finals contenders.
But this one belongs to Trae, who may be the second-worst rookie (ahead of only Collin Sexton) in Total Points Added, but that doesn’t matter when he’s doing this:
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 7, 2019
And finally, Charlotte went into Phoenix and won 119-113, beating the lowly Suns by only six points as the Hornets try to get back to .500; they’re 19-20 and stand eighth in the East.
Kemba Walker had 29 on 9-of-20 shooting, Tony Parker had 20 and Willy Hernangomez 19 off the bench, and the Suns couldn’t win this one despite shooting 51.8 percent because they got mashed 14-3 on the offensive glass.
Walker’s the man of the match, since he shed his usual choker-in-the-clutch rap to score 18 points in the fourth quarter:
29 points for Captain Kemba Walker in tonight's win!
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) January 7, 2019
We’re back in the swing of another week and ran a ton of features you may have missed if you’re reading at work, so go ahead and have a look through the front page and the recent headlines and enjoy.
And as always, thanks for reading!