Breakfast Special: The Pacers Stink on National TV

Smart Pacers fans knew to watch anything besides ABC yesterday, as smart Pacers fans saw the 106-89 beatdown—featuring 30 second-half points and some of the worst shooting the team’s put up all year—coming down Broad Street in Philadelphia with its doors open.

Take a returning Joel Embiid, on the road, on national TV, and that’s a perfect storm for the 76ers to dominate, and so (at least after halftime) they dominated, all while Pacers fans resigned ourselves to wishing we had the dulcet tones of Chris Denari and Quinn Buckner on Fox Sports Indiana/League Pass to soothe our souls instead of ABC’s crew, which seemed to be openly rooting for the Sixers at times.

And the officiating…there was a point in the third quarter where Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis, and Kyle O’Quinn had a combined 11 fouls because every time they looked at Embiid the wrong way or Embiid flopped like he was auditioning for a theatrical performance of the Marcus Smart Follies, one of the officials had the whistle out.

Pacers fans, meanwhile, were either wishing for the refs to swallow the whistle or for the whistle to be shoved up the other end of the refs’ digestive tracts.

Philly wasn’t great in this one—they shot just 43.7 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from deep—but they didn’t have to be, not with a 52-44 rebounding advantage and the Pacers shooting a horrific 59.5 percent (22-of-37) from the line.

Embiid had 33 points and 12 rebounds, Ben Simmons had 15 points on 0-of-0 from 3-point land, and Mike Scott led everyone in plus-minus with plus-20 off the bench in 26 minutes for the Sixers.

In the words of a River City Ransom mook, BARF!

Embiid is your man of the match in my one nod to professional objectivity in this entire stinking recap:

Fool’s Gold-en State

Klay Thompson had the temerity to blame the Warriors’ fans at Oracle Arena for not bringing enough energy in the Dubs’ 115-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns at home.

The Suns have now beaten the Warriors, Bucks, and Celtics on the road this year—combined with wins over the Bucks and Nuggets at home, that’s five of their 16 wins and half of their six road wins all season.

So at least the Warriors are in good company for getting embarrassed against one of the league’s worst teams.

Devin Booker had 37 points, Kelly Oubre had 22, and Deandre Ayton had 18 on an inefficient 9-of-19 from the field—is Ayton afraid to shoot free throws or is he just that bad at drawing contact?

Oh, and Kevin Durant went down with an injury. Let’s all get to writing off the Warriors’ chances so they can go 16-0 in the playoffs and be basketball’s answer to the New England Patriots, who won the Super Bowl after everyone wrote them off in December.

Because that’s just what the NBA needs, one team winning all the titles.

Booker’s 17 fourth-quarter points (where’s the defense?) makes him man of the match:

Sniper Beats Machine Gunner

The San Antonio Spurs grabbed a big home win against the Milwaukee Bucks by a 121-114 count, and the stat line was exactly the sort of utter weirdness that has defined Spurs basketball all year.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 15 rebounds, DeMar DeRozan added 28, and those 57 points came on a combined 24-of-46 shooting and just 1-of-3 from three.

The rest of the Spurs shot 11-of-26 from long range, yielding an overall percentage of 41.4 from out there, and getting a .621 eFG% on any shot will go a long way in life.

Of course, that also means they shot 71 two-pointers, making 37 (52.1 percent) of them.

But the real mind-blowing stat? The Spurs turned the ball over four times. Once every 12 minutes. A 6:1 assist-to-turnover ratio considering the 24 dimes. You’ll win a lot of ballgames shooting the lights out and taking care of the ball.

There’s a certain upper practical limit to any given set of 100 possessions in any given offensive scheme. The Spurs have to hit that upper limit in order to win; they don’t have near the margin of error that the Bucks, Rockets, or Warriors do.

And while for most coaches that’s a recipe for disaster, Gregg Popovich makes it work.

The two-point shot is dead. Long live the two-point shot.

Highlights of a monster comeback:

Lightning Round!

Detroit Basketball happened for West Coast viewers at 9 in the morning Sunday, and the Pistons earned Dwane Casey’s Raisin Bran with a 131-108 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Blake Griffin led the way with 28, Andre Drummond had 16 points and 15 rebounds to go with a plus-25, and Luke Kennard came off the bench, played a game-high 31 minutes, and posted a team-best plus-27 in those minutes.

Detroit shot 53.8 percent from the field and 54.3 percent (19-of-35!) from long range. Langston Galloway hit all six of his tries from out there to post 21 points when a two-pointer and a free throw get added to his total.

You want highlights? The Pistons have you covered:

It was no Kawhi Leonard, no problem for the Toronto Raptors, who went to Miami and thumped the Heat 125-104 despite a day game on Daylight Savings day after a night on South Beach.

Nicely done, guys.

Eight (!) Raptors scored in double figures, led by Kyle Lowry’s 24 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, and plus-31 (!!) plus-minus.

Toronto went 21-of-40 (52.5 percent) from three, scorching the nets to get half of their points from long range while getting the other half on two-point shots (61.8 percent) and free throws (20-of-26.)

Man of the match? Take a wild guess.

Trae Young had another atrocious shooting night, but he did get a double-double with 10 points (on 2-of-13!) and 10 assists in the Hawks’ 128-116 win over the Pelicans in Atlanta.

John Collins had 23 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks, Kevin Huerter poured in 27 of his own, and a wildly entertaining game between two cities with a great sports rivalry in pro and college sports produced a breakneck pace (104.6) and plenty of scoring.

You gotta love that.

Do I smell Asian food? Because there’s a whole lot of ginger in these highlights of Huerter:

Memphis beat Orlando 105-97 in the “Lakers are in the wrong conference” Derby. Los Angeles, at 30-36, is mathematically tied with the 31-37 Magic, who stand just one game behind 31-35 Miami for eighth in the East.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, are 28-40 and tied with the Mavericks (more on them in a minute) for 13th in the West.

Mike Conley led the woebegone Grizz with 26, Avery Bradley added 21, and Orlando pleasingly obliged their hosts by shooting 35.6 percent of the field and a clang-tastic 12-of-38 (31.6 percent) from three.

Miss enough shots and you’ll give away a game.

Conley’s the man of this shambles of a match:

Dallas is hard to beat at home.

Houston is hard to beat anywhere.

And the immovable object lost at home to the irresistible force 94-93 in a game marked by terrible shooting (36.4 percent for the winners and 41.3 percent for the losers), rookies doing rookie things (Luka Doncic, despite the double-double of 19 points and 15 boards to go with nine assists, did it all on 5-of-16 shooting), and an “MVP my ass” performance from James Harden (7-of-25 shooting for 20 points because the refs didn’t indulge him and only allowed him three free throw attempts.)

This game was a defensive grind. There is no man of the match. There is only Chris Paul with a game-saving block:

And finally, the Minnesota Timberwolves are doing their part to keep the Lakers behind them so in case of collapse by the Spurs or Clippers, we won’t have to deal with LeBron in the playoffs (not that there’s a chance in hell of this because Bron’s been shut down as the Lakers start tanking.)

Jeff Teague had 20 points and 10 assists, Karl-Anthony Towns added 18, and Taj Gibson led Wolves scorers with 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting, as the Wolves beat the Knicks 103-92 at home.

Gibson is good, and he is also the man of the match:

Feature later (I promise.) Breakfast now. Nice traffic day yesterday, so thanks to all of you who showed up and caught up.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!