I love De’Aaron Fox and wish he were on the Pacers.
Or, if I can’t have that, let’s see the Namesake traded to the Clippers or HERO OF SERBIA Boban Marjanovic traded to the Kings so my favorite non-Pacers can be on the same team.
Fox went for just 15 points on 6-of-20 shooting against the criminally underrated defensive ability of Lonzo Ball (which is more than Ball could say for himself when Fox ate his lunch in college, but y’all in the NBA now, son) but dished 12 assists and grabbed nine rebounds like “who’s the triple-double machine now?”
Well, Ball is Dollar Store Russell Westbrook—his own 20 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds proved it, and Ball shot a stellar 8-of-13.
Anyway, the Kings beat the Lakers 117-116, storming back from a double-digit deficit through three quarters to succeed where the Warriors failed on Christmas Day.
Read that again. The Kings succeeded where the Golden State Warriors failed. At anything in the NBA, the times, they are a-changin’.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, hit the game-winner, and after the game, Fox had a fantastic assessment of the crowd in attendance in Sacramento:
De'Aaron Fox liked the energy from the Sacramento home crowd tonight even though there was "too many f*cking Lakers fans" 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/AAAYkHaFBZ
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 28, 2018
The Other Bogdanovic had 23 points on 9-of-16 off the bench, and the team effort from the Kings deserves team highlights:
You’re gonna wanna watch these highlights again…and again…and again… ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/iLYfTye9OU
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 28, 2018
Do That Thing You Do, James Harden
When James Harden is hitting his three-pointers, and when he’s baiting your guys into committing those ticky-tack fouls and sending him to the line to continue his quest to pass Jerry West for most free throws made in a season (840, in 1965-66, although Harden’s career high is just 746, in 2016-17), you should just fold up the tent, you’re not winning the ballgame.
The Celtics? They did not win the ballgame.
Houston beat Boston 127-113 at home as Harden went off for 45 points on 11-of-26 shooting, 9-of-18 from three, and 14-of-17 at the line.
Joined by Clint Capela‘s 24 points and 18 rebounds and featuring Eric Gordon‘s 20, the Rockets ran out to an 11-point lead after the first, ended up ahead just two at halftime, then scored 70 second-half points to put it on ice.
Houston hit 18-of-45 overall from long range, and Harden was so much of a one-man army that the Rockets dished just 17 assists on their 41 made baskets for the game.
The Rockets also shredded the Celtics on the glass, opening a 54-38 rebounding advantage behind a 16-7 offensive rebounding disparity.
Boston shot the ball well—46.9 percent from the floor, 38.7 from three, for a respectable .543 eFG%—but they just got run off the floor. Houston’s eFG% was .581 and they won the offensive rebounding battle. No wonder they won by double digits.
The #MVP had himself another epic performance.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 28, 2018
The Deteriorating Situation In Oakland
For a first-place team, the Golden State Warriors are in a state of utter disarray.
Jusuf Nurkic had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Lillard had 21 on 7-of-20 shooting, and CJ McCollum had 24 on 7-of-22. Stop me if you’ve heard that story before of Portland’s vaunted backcourt playing horrifically inefficient basketball.
Is it time for Portland to blow it up since you can’t win in the playoffs with two guards who can’t shoot consistently?
Durant hit just 11-of-27 from the field on this one, Stephen Curry hit 11-of-26, and 6-of-15 from three, and the Warriors overall shot just 42.5 percent from the field, 29.5 from three, and a downright bizarre 40 percent (6-of-15) from the line.
That last, including just 1-of-3 from Curry, who is an all-time great free throw shooter, was a heck of a way to lose a ballgame.
Golden State’s teamwork is falling apart. They’re still the defending champs. They’re still in control of their own destiny. But how many ugly games do they have to lose before it becomes evident they’re not the runaway odds-on favorite?
Lillard’s game-winner was huge…
The kid from Oakland hits the game winner at our last game in Oakland. pic.twitter.com/oWXoGC019M
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 28, 2018
You're going to wanna watch these highlights 🎥 pic.twitter.com/oAMeWIBbIt
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 28, 2018
New arena, same great taste, as the Bucks-Knicks home-and-home, which started with a Bucks win on Christmas Day, finished with a 112-96 win in Wisconsin for the home team in the Thursday rematch.
New York shot just 37.1 percent despite hitting 41.9 percent of their threes, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 or better for the second straight game—31 points on 10-of-20 from the field and 10-of-14 from the line—and Khris Middleton, whose shooting has been off lately, hit 10-of-17 on his way to 25 points.
Milwaukee outrebounded the Knicks 57-43, but stats stats stats here’s Greekazoid doing what he do:
The King of New York was back at it again:
31 PTS | 14 REB | 8 AST | 4 BLK pic.twitter.com/Grmjm7Cx3g
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 28, 2018
And finally, Ben Simmons had 13 points on 0-of-0 from three to go with 14 rebounds and 12 assists, J.J. Redick lit up the scoreboard on 6-of-9 from three to get 24 points, Joel Embiid had a double-double with 23 and 15, and the 76ers smoked the Jazz in Utah 114-97.
The Jazz wasted a decent shooting night (10-of-20, 23 points) from Donovan Mitchell and a pretty typical (17 points, 15 rebounds) Rudy Gobert game by shooting just 38.4 percent from the field as a team.
This was not the systemic dismantling of Portland from Christmas. This was meek surrender to an East team, something not often seen by the Western Conference this year.
Breakfast is simple. Get triple-double, have team win, get highlight reel. All you, Ben:
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 28, 2018
There might be features this weekend. There might be features Monday. I’m kicking ideas around for new features to run on the regular to go with Pacers Tuesday and Is He Any Good, so stay tuned for that as 2019 begins, and thanks for reading!