Breakfast Special: Thunder Up!

Jeff Van Gundy once went after the obsession basketball fans have with triple-doubles, saying that just because you get 10 of three different categories doesn’t mean you had a better game than the guy who scored 30 but only got five rebounds and five assists.

Case in point, the Oklahoma City Thunder, who got a triple-double out of Russell Westbrook (13 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) but in a cause where Westbrook had a terrible night shooting (5-of-20) and overall did not play particularly well.

No, the reason Oklahoma City pulled off the 118-112 win at home over the Milwaukee Bucks was thanks to Paul George, who had 36 points, 13 rebounds, but “only” three assists. He also had three steals and a game high plus-16; Westbrook, meanwhile, was minus-11 in his 36 minutes.

How bad did Westbrook drag the Thunder down shooting the ball? With his stats included, OKC shot 46.8 percent from the field. Without his stats included, they shot 52.7 percent.

And PG13? He shot 57.1 percent (12-of-21) and an astonishing 8-of-12 from three-point land.

Westbrook is not Oklahoma City’s best player anymore. That honor goes to a guy who, as much as it pains a Pacers fan to admit it, has begun to make a case for himself as at least a second team if not first team All-NBA selection. The only real point of debate there is rooted in just how many mind-bendingly great forwards there are in the league right now.

Oh, and Steven Adams is now the Kiwi Freak.

But Paul George is, of course, the man of the match:

We Are All Witnesses, Ivica Zubac

If you haven’t figured out yet that I’m a big fan of big foreign dudes in the NBA, you haven’t been paying attention.

Could be Steven Adams, could be Boban Marjanovic, could be Domantas Sabonis, I love them all.

Add Ivica Zubac to that list.

The Lakers beat the Suns 116-102 in the continued absence of LeBron James, getting 24 points and 16 rebounds out of Zubac in a starting role, stirring that in with 24 from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and 22 from Brandon Ingram, and playing Weird Stat Line Derby (cat and mouse version) with the Suns’ Josh Jackson.

Jackson, who is an honest-to-gods Dumpster fire and draft bust (seriously, a 9.67 PER in 23 minutes a game?!), shot 4-of-15 and posted a dismal minus-27 in his 34 minutes. The Suns were plus-13 when he was off the floor.

The only other Suns player whose plus-minus was wider than the team’s margin of defeat? Their other human Roland Emmerich movie and draft bust, Dragan Bender.

But anyway, we come to celebrate Zubac. Slagging the Suns is another pastime for another day.

Wait, the Spurs Shot How Many Threes?!

Did San Antonio just attempt 34 three-pointers in an NBA game and make 16 of them?

What in the name of Mike D’Antoni got into Gregg Popovich?

Jokes aside, this was standard-issue Spurs sniper-ing, with Bryn Forbes making 4-of-7, Davis Bertans hitting 5-of-8, and Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli each going 3-of-6.

This is the classic riposte of the “Popovich is playing to his guys’ strengths” Spurs fan…and no lie, y’all got a seriously good point there.

Oh, and the Spurs beat the Wizards 132-119, and San Antonio dumping 132 onto the scoreboard is going to get a columnist’s attention when scanning box scores in the morning.

Oh, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 on 12-of-21 without making a three. This Spurs team, man. Impenetrable as a sideline interview with the coach.

The Spurs shot 57 percent overall, 63.5 percent on two-pointers, a monster .663 eFG%…what’s not to love?

And Aldridge leading the way makes the reel:

Lightning Round!

Luka Doncic dropped a 30-point triple-double, with 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.

He joined elite company.

But the Mavericks lost to the Toronto Raptors at home 123-120, because Kawhi Leonard had 33 points of his own, the Raptors shot 17-of-34 from three, and Toronto shot 32-of-38 (!) from the free throw line.

But what the hell, it’s a 30-point triple-double.

And your man of the match in Toronto:

Side note, but I am both perplexed and in stitches by this Mascot Battle Royale.

We don’t often do Cleveland Cavaliers highlights around here, for what should be obvious reasons.

But the Cavs went to Chicago, played…well, like garbage, and won anyway because the Bulls aren’t any better. The 104-101 final was Cleveland’s 10th win in 51 tries.

Alec Burks had 18 for the starters, Jordan Clarkson had 18 off the bench, and Cleveland won despite shooting just 42.4 percent from the field.

Highlights! Of a Cleveland game! TANK FAIL IMMINENT

HERO OF SERBIA continues to be a no-show in games ever since mixing it up with Keanu Reeves.

The Boban-less Clippers beat the Kings anyway, 122-108.

Montrezl Harrell came off the bench, dropped a game-high 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting, and earned man of the match honors:

Do you like James Harden? Because Rockets fans like James Harden. He’s the only guy on that team able to will that horror show of a roster—they might as well have Jordan Peele coaching them at this point—to win after win.

Harden had 40 points on 14-of-27 shooting, yanked down 11 rebounds, and singlehandedly powered the Rockets past the Orlando Magic 103-98.

Man, even the haters gotta take off our hats, Harden’s going insane to make his MVP case.

Oh, and he only shot nine free throws (making eight), so no cheap foul jokes this time.

Just a man of the match and a highlight reel:

When Donovan Mitchell is anything even remotely approaching efficient, the Jazz border on unstoppable.

And 29 points on 10-of-22 shooting? That’s close enough for government work in Minnesota, where the Jazz won 125-111.

It was a Total Team Effort for Utah, with seven players in double figures and a monster 53.5 percent shooting night overall.

Want to watch the Spida score lots of points? That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?

And finally, Hassan Whiteside did Whiteside things, even though he’s turning into Dollar Store Myles Turner rather than Turner being Dollar Store Whiteside.

Hassan had 13 points, 16 rebounds, and a game-high plus-24 in Miami’s 106-97 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Dwyane Wade had himself a time off the bench with 15 points and 10 assists, so give it up for the man on the farewell tour:

I hope people realize I was (mostly) joking with that Anthony Davis trade piece I wrote a few weeks back, because gods bless Google and all the people who come here via that venerable search engine. I’m enjoying the clicks, guys.

Thanks for reading!