Breakfast Special: Russell Westbrook, Guitar Hero

Since their improbable win over the Warriors on Christmas Day, the Los Angeles Lakers have looked like the G-League team they are without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, both of whom are out with injury.

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat them 107-100 at Staples Center Wednesday night on national television, powered by Paul George‘s 37 points on 15-of-29 shooting and Russell Westbrook‘s 14-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.

Plus, there was this brilliant razz of Lance Stephenson after PG13 drew an and-one:

Never mind that Russ shot 3-of-20 from the field, just days after he shot 4-of-22 against Dallas on Sunday. In his last five games, he’s shot 30 percent or worse three times and 54.2 percent or better twice.

And oh by the way, Russ is shooting 23.6 percent from three this year. Let’s see him have a three-point contest with Ernie Johnson…nah, that’d be a step down from Charles Barkley for Elevator Ernie.

OK, enough of that. Watch PG13 light up Staples Center as ticked-off Lakers fans wonder what might have been if their franchise weren’t such a Dumpster fire that even LeBron can’t recruit the best:

Save Anthony Davis

The Brow had 34 points and 26 (!) rebounds. All five Pelicans starters scored in double figures; four of them had 20 points or more, including 25 from Elfrid Payton.

The Pellies’ bench had…five points on 2-of-7 shooting in a game where nobody beyond sixth man Darius Miller played more than nine minutes (Tim Frazier, who was minus-21 in the nine minutes in question.)

And the Nets beat them 126-121 as Jarrett Allen continues his quest to start a rivalry with Myles Turner (yes, really. I want to see those two guys blocking shots for the next 15 years, please.)

Speaking of Allen…

Oh, did we mention that Pelicans not named Anthony Davis had 15 rebounds…total?

Brooklyn shot 50.5 percent from the field, 51.6 percent (16-of-31) from three, won the rebounding battle (43-41), took better care of the ball (12-10 turnover margin), and got a fantastic performance from D’Angelo Russell (22 points, 13 assists, plus-21 even though his shooting was a dreadful 9-of-21), and oh by the way Ed Davis was plus-26 in 17 minutes off the bench.

Give it up for β€œthe other Russell” in today’s highlight reel:


The Dallas Mavericks are 3-15 on the road this season.

Win number three came against the Charlotte Hornets, who just put up one of the biggest steaming hot stinker games any team’s managed all year.

Dallas won 122-84 as all 13 of their players got into the game, all 13 put up a positive point differential, and even Dirk Nowitzki managed to be plus-15 with six points in only seven minutes.

Luka Doncic had 18, and so did Dennis Smith Jr., to lead the balanced attack as the starters spent most of the second half cheering on the reserves.

Charlotte shot 35.6 percent from the field and 18.8 from three, Kemba Walker had 11 points on 4-of-14, and they got outplayed on rebounds (57-46), turnovers (14-10), and free throws (16-of-18 against 14-of-19.)

Dallas had 31 assists on their 44 makes. Charlotte had 32 made baskets, total. They just plain got their butts kicked, and fans chanted β€œWe want Dirk!”…for the visitors.

The Hornets are embarrassing. Watch them go 36-46 again.

But how about some love for Dwight Powell? I don’t think I’ve featured him yet in this column this season.

Lightning Round!

Miami slaughtered Cleveland at the Q, 117-92.

Josh Richardson led the Heat with 24 points, the Heat had a Total Team Effort with seven guys in double figures, and Derrick Jones Jr. had 13 points and a team-best plus-27 in 31 minutes off the bench.

Get J-Rich or die tryin’:

The Atlanta Hawks trailed Washington by two points late in the fourth quarter, but then they went home early, losing to the Wizards by a final count of 114-98.

Bradley Beal led the Wiz with 24 on 9-of-20 shooting, Thomas Bryant had a nifty 16 points and 15 rebounds on just 5-of-7 from the field, and Atlanta shot just 8-of-13 from the free throw line as this one got away from the Hawks toward the end.

But how about Tomas Satoransky? If Wizards PR wants to give him a nod for man of the match highlights, sure. Beal will get the next one. Satoransky had 14 points and 11 boards:

Andrew Wiggins had 28 points, Karl-Anthony Towns had 32, but the Minnesota Timberwolves got thumped 115-102 in Boston by the Celtics thanks to only one other Wolves player reaching double figures (Tyus Jones, with 14.)

Nobody on the Celtics had more than five rebounds, yet the C’s matched dead even on total boards at 33.

Gordon Hayward had 35 points on 14-of-18 shooting off the bench, the Celtics shot 59.2 percent from the floor as a team, and that makes Hayward your man of the match:

Orlando waxed Chicago at the United Center 112-84, as the Magic try to hang around the fringes of the East playoff race and the Bulls try to land Zion Williamson.

Nikola Vucevic had 22 on 10-of-15 along with 12 rebounds and a team-best +22, Aaron Gordon had 18 on 8-of-14, and all 13 Magic players got into the game and posted positive on-court net ratings. Shooting 57.9 percent will do that for a team.

Nobody seems to want to put game highlights on Twitter, so here’s Mo Bamba makin’ like Shaq with a big block. It was a 28-point drubbing so hey whatever this is cool:

Detroit and Memphis played a bit of a snoozer that the Pistons won 101-94, the 89.8 game pace providing the wrong kind of throwback game. The Grizz continue to vie for the title of most boring team in the league.

Blake Griffin led the way with 26 for Detroit, who took advantage of the Grizzlies’ atrocious 4-of-18 three-point shooting night, countered it by shooting 16-of-40 for themselves, and that’s one way to win a game.

Griffin’s your man of the match:

And finally, the Sixers, who are not a great road team, did not have to be great against the Phoenix Suns.

Philadelphia won 132-127 behind a frankly absurd 41-of-54 team shooting night from the free throw line. Phoenix committed 34 fouls; Philadelphia committed 30 (and the Suns shot 30-of-36 from the stripe.)

90 free throws. Dear gods.

Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 42 points and 18 rebounds, while Ben Simmons added 29 on 0-of-0 from three-point land and J.J. Redick tossed in 27 of his own.

Embiid is your man of the match:

Coming to Pace and Space as the week continues: Is He Any Good today, the All-Guys-Fox-Likes Team on Friday, and a re-examination of the role of the three-pointer in today’s league on Saturday. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!