NBA Breakfast Special: Clippermania

by Fox Doucette

The Los Angeles Clippers are sixth in the NBA in Offensive Rating and the best in Defensive Rating. As much fun as small sample sizes are, a +25.3 point differential is fiendishly difficult to ignore.

And sure enough, Steve Ballmer’s plaything went out and stomped the Utah Jazz, owners of the league’s ninth-best defense and slowest pace, scoring 102 points on a squad that plays at a 94.1 pace like nobody told them it’s not 1997 anymore.

Note the score here in this clip with two minutes left. Then consider the final score was 102-84:

Or this score with three and a half to go:

The Jazz scored four points in the final 5:10 and no points in the final 2:24.

Full-size highlights:

Pacers And Space

Am I allowed to both love and hate my team? Because as a Pacers fan, I have no goddamn clue how to make sense of the first four games. The team is second in Offensive Rating and 26th in Defensive Rating. They rolled up 130 points on a team coached by Tom Thibodeau, and they didn’t even have Myles Turner to help them out.

Crazier than that, they scored 130 in a game in which their leading scorer, Victor MVP Oladipo, had 28 points. Domantas Sabonis, who can’t shoot a lick, went 7-of-7. TJ Rookie of the Year Leaf had 11 off the bench.

What the hell is with this team? They were supposed to be tanking!

What. The. Actual. Hell. 130 points on 84 shots, and it’s not like they took a ton of threes (10-of-22) or free throws (8-of-11). They just shot 46-of-62 (74.2 percent) on two-pointers and had an eFG% on those threes of 68.2.

And the only player not to hit at least half his shots (going 1-of-5) was Lance Stephenson. Because of course it was.

And that was with shots like this:

Full highlights:

Magic LeBron

LeBron James is 6’9” tall, built like a tank, and can pass like Magic Johnson. So of course he’d spend most of the game as the nominal point guard, as the Cavaliers won a closer-than-it-needed-to-be 119-112 ballgame over the wretched 0-3 Chicago Bulls:

JR Smith is a national treasure.

34 points + 13 assists = win:

It should be pointed out that Lauri Markkanen is damn good; the Finn shot 7-of-12, scored 19 points, and pulled down eight rebounds. Too bad nobody’s going to notice his rookie year.

More Than A Dunk Contest Guy

Aaron Gordon’s sneakily having one hell of a start to the season as the Orlando Magic are 3-0. He had 41 points on 14-of-18 shooting (!), tickling the twine from long range to the tune of 5-of-5 and shooting 8-of-10 from the line to add a ton of bonus points and rack up the efficiency numbers.

The Magic beat the Brooklyn Nets 125-121 on the strength of that performance, and it’s worth asking what the hell the NBA has come to when Frank Vogel and Tom Thibodeau preside over two teams with awful defenses.

Speaking of Vogel, his team is also fifth in offense. That makes even less sense than their No. 16 Defensive Rating.

Dunks and daggers marked the day:

Kyrie Irving Still Sucks

Irving has not started well in Boston. Yeah, he’s scoring 20 points a game, but counting stats mean nothing. His .375/.320/.900 slash line would be great if all he shot were free throws, but he’s putting up 18 shots a game from the field…and scoring 20 points. That’s Iversonian, and I don’t mean that kindly.

It’s been Boston’s youth movement that’s been powering them since Gordon Hayward went down. Jaylen Brown was 9-of-16 for 23 points; Jayson Tatum had 22 on 9-of-15.

Oh, and Terry Rozier was plus-24 off the bench, playing the role of “bigger than the box score.”

All that added up to a 110-89 win over the Knicks:

Jaylen has a chance at being the best guy named Brown ever to wear No. 7 for the Celtics.

And Finally…

Anthony Davis is hurt again. Dude’s never played a full season’s worth of games, why should he start now?

Here’s the good news, though; he didn’t wreck anything ending in “CL”:

Oh, but this is a column whose policy is winners-only for highlights…well, unless something insane happened. Which means that Rip City gets its due, as Portland went to 3-1 with the 103-93 win behind 23 from CJ McCollum.

It was a sloppy game, with a 37.5 percent shooting performance nonetheless carrying the day despite DeMarcus Cousins going bonkers for 39 points and in the process demonstrating why having just one guy prowling the post is better than two big men.

The Blazers just don’t lose home openers. It doesn’t happen.

SITE STUFF!

As those of you who follow me on Twitter (@RealFoxD) know, I’ve got a job “to support my writing habit”. They recently moved me from night shift to day shift, which means my writing time must by necessity get kicked into the evening hours (or the asscrack of dawn, like these Breakfast Specials.)

So get used to features posting overnight, including tonight’s analysis of point differential and just how many points make a win over the course of a season. I’ll keep everyone posted on social media when they go up. Thanks for reading!