NBA Breakfast Special: Joel Embiid 46, Lonzo Ball 2

Man, the more Lonzo Ball stinks out the joint, the more the big steaming Number 2 on his uniform looks appropriate to his skill level.

Meanwhile, Joel Embiid scored 46 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, dished 7 assists, and swatted 7 blocks, a savage beatdown of the Lakers on the same night that Ben Simmons came a rebound shy of a triple-double and Robert Covington celebrated his new contract extension with 12 points on a deliciously efficient 5-of-9 shooting and 2-of-3 from long range.

Dollar Store Westbrook? Two points. It’s one thing to score your uniform number if you’re Kevin Durant or Dirk Nowitzki or even LeBron James. It’s quite another if you’re Lonzo Ball.

Ball was also benched for the last 16:04 of the game as coach Luke Walton had seen quite enough of Ball’s garbage play out there, all 1-of-9 shooting and 0-of-6 from three while failing to attempt a single free throw. That puts him at .303/.230/,500 on the year. He has attempted 24 free throws, a rate of .137 FTA/FGA. That is…horrific. Any half decent NBA player gets to the line for at least .200, and that’s for pure jump shooters who don’t draw a lot of contact. A guy like Embiid has a career rate over .500.

But anyway, yes. Joel Embiid is awesome. Lonzo Ball sucks. And the Lakers are hot garbage because they wasted the No. 2 overall draft pick when they could’ve had Jayson Tatum or Dennis Smith Jr. or Malik Monk or goddamn anyone but Lonzo Ball.

Ball isn’t even the best first-round draft pick on the Lakers; that’s No. 27 overall selection Kyle Kuzma, acquired from the Nets via trade.

Highlights from Philly’s trust-the-process win over the LA Dumpster Fires:

What On Earth Just Happened In Atlanta?

Seriously. A 3-12 team just won 126-80? It was their first home win of the season and it’s almost Thanksgiving? Just how bad ARE the Sacramento Kings anyway?

Pretty bad (3-11), especially against the Hawks Wednesday night. This was stinking out the joint taken to a whole new level.

Atlanta was up 64-35 at the half, played a fairly even third quarter, then won the fourth 34-19 to put the Kings on ice. When Dennis Schroder made a three-pointer to put the Hawks up 83-57 with 3:50 to go in the third quarter, Atlanta could’ve scored zero points for the last nearly 16 minutes of the game and still won.

The game was tied at zero for 14 seconds. Atlanta led the rest of the way.

It was a Super Total Team Effort for the Hawks, as eight (!) players scored in double figures; only Taurean Prince (32) played more than 25 minutes because of the blowout.

And in the 24 minutes he was given, Dewayne Dedmon scored 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting and hauled in 14 boards. On the whole, Atlanta outrebounded Sacramento 53-29 and shot 63.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from three against the Kings’ 35.2 and 21.4.

Highlights:

Knicks Ahoy

Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. had 22 and 26, but nobody else could quite find the 20th point; Courtney Lee had 19 and nobody else topped 13.

Still, the Knicks, with a shortened bench in which they only went nine deep, took care of the Utah Jazz despite the Jazz getting 30 from Rodney Hood off the bench, winning 106-101.

Utah was amazing from three, hitting 17 of 35 (48.2 percent) and hot garbage from two, hitting 17 of 44 (38.6 percent.) That’s not going to cut it, not when the Knicks took advantage of Rudy Gobert‘s injury to beat the Jazz 45-37 on the boards, along with doing a better job of drawing fouls (21-of-25 from the line for New York; 16-of-17 for Utah) and even winning the turnover battle 14-11. No Knicks player had more than two turnovers.

Ricky Rubio, meanwhile, continues to be one of the worst shooting point guards in the post-merger history of the league; his 4-of-10 actually raised his percentage, which coming into tonight was 37.1 percent, 0.4 percentage points lower than his career clip, which is the worst (min. 2400 attempts) in modern NBA history. Even his three-point shooting is trash, 25.8 percent compared to 31.0 lifetime.

Highlights:

Miami Gets Wiz’d On

The Washington Wizards can destroy you a bunch of different ways, but last night in Miami, they went with the Portland Trail Blazers impression, where John Wall and Bradley Beal played the role of Lillard/McCollum (more on those two later) in Washington’s 102-93 road win.

Actually, that’s kind of an insult to Portland’s backcourt. Wall had 27 and Beal had 26, but the two took a combined 40 shots (9-of-21 for Wall, 6-of-19 for Beal) and relied on the referees to bail out their efficiency (7-of-8 from the line for Wall, 13-of-14 for Beal.)

So they were more James Harden than anything tonight.

Both teams shot an identical 41.0 percent (32-of-78) from the field, but the Wizards shot 29-of-31 from the line compared to Miami’s 16-of-19, and that proved decisive even as the Heat hit 13-of-30 (43.3 percent) from three against Washington’s 9-of-19 (47.4 percent.)

Modern basketball is often said to be a three-point shooting contest, but people forget the importance of free throws to a balanced pace-and-space breakfast. The zebras will win you games if you get them on your side.

Highlights of the man of the match:

You Get the Bad Team, You Beat the Bad Team

Oklahoma City is now 7-7, breaking even after winning three straight. They’re 5-2 at home, and that included a 92-79 smackdown of the Chicago Bulls to complete a season series sweep by a combined score of 193-148.

Allowing 74 points per game to a team is, even in a two-game sample, pretty bloody impressive.

Russell Westbrook led the way with 21 points on 6-of-13; Carmelo Anthony and Paul George combined to play like trash, scoring 31 points (18 for Melo, 13 for PG) on a combined 7-of-25 from the field (28 percent.)

The Thunder overall shot 36.1 percent (26-of-72) but got bailed out by the refs, shooting 32-of-37 as a team from the line.

Chicago? They were 26-of-75 (34.7 percent) from the field, completely failing to take advantage of the poor shooting by their opponents. Kris Dunn was horrendous, shooting 1-of-11 (9.1 percent) for three points in a game where only three Bulls (Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine, and Antonio Blakeney) scored in double figures.

Highlights, if you can call them that, from this stinker, courtesy of the man of the match:

King James Lives, Swats Away Bugs in Charlotte

LeBron James had 31 points Wednesday night as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their third straight to get back over the .500 mark at 8-7. Charlotte, now 5-8 and losers of five straight, took the 115-107 loss mainly because they couldn’t get a three-pointer to fall to save their lives.

The Hornets were 6-of-26 (23.1 percent) from long range; Cleveland, led by LeBron’s 4-of-7, shot 13-of-38 (34.2 percent), which wasn’t good, but it was good enough.

The Cavs also shot 18-of-20 (90 percent) from the line, while Charlotte frittered away a potential advantage by shooting 19-of-28 (67.9 percent) from the charity stripe, including a typically Dwight Howard laying of rotten eggs from there, at 2-of-6.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who normally can’t make a jump shot if you hold a gun to his head, was 10-of-14, leading his team with 22 points, but that wasn’t enough, not with Kevin Love shooting 9-of-16 for Cleveland to back up his All-World teammate.

We need a name for this kind of steal and slam. Pick-two?

It’s LeBron’s world:

Game highlights:

Indiana Pacers, Cardiac Kids

Thank the gods for Darren Collison sometimes

DC had 30 points, nailing all 12 of his free throws to go with 8-of-13 from the field, and he combined with Victor Oladipo‘s 21 and Bojan Bogdanovic‘s 16 to pull out a far-closer-than-it-should’ve-been 116-113 win for the Pacers in Memphis.

Marc Gasol, as good big men tend to, shredded the Pacers’ feeble rim protection (seriously, Myles Turner, three blocks is great, but pulling down five boards when your man goes for 13? Not good enough.)

Indiana shot 50.6 percent from the field, 50 percent from three, and 90 percent from the line. That was enough, thanks largely to Memphis stinking out the joint from long range and shooting only 8-of-32.

Put it all together for a win, and have a look at the highlights for the man of the match:

The Khris Middleton Show In Milwaukee

Middleton had 27 points, leading his team, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 21, and the Bucks shot a handy 48.7 percent while holding the Detroit Pistons to 35.3 percent from the field.

All that added up to a 99-95 win, closer than it at first appeared thanks mainly to Detroit shooting 20-of-23 from the free throw line.

And of course, the only three misses by the entire team all came from Andre Drummond (5-of-8), because he couldn’t reliably hit 100 percent in a game if he took two shots.

Drummond did have 13 points and 17 rebounds, so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

The Bucks are now 4-0 with Eric Bledsoe in the lineup, raising their overall record to 8-6 and getting them back in the conversation in the East. Too bad Bledsoe can’t cover Lonzo Ball to save his life. That’s kind of a problem.

Highlights of a “get that weak stuff outta here” kind of game:

(yeah, kinda can’t swear anymore. Got content partners n’ stuff. Welcome, readers coming here via Basketball Reference!)

Triple 20 Powers Raptors Win

A Type 2 Triple 20 (two stars and a third guy coming up big) powered Toronto to a 125-116 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Kyle Lowry had 25, DeMar DeRozan had 22, and Jonas Valanciunas was the third man in the booth with 21.

This was also that delightful combination of a Triple 20 and a Total Team Effort; 12 from Serge Ibaka, 10 from Pascal Siakam, 17 from C.J. Miles (including 5-of-9 from three), and 10 for Fred VanVleet helped crank the wheel on a 59.2 percent team shooting percentage.

How on earth were the Pelicans supposed to stop that? 25 from DeMarcus Cousins, 19 from Anthony Davis, and “only” 50.2 percent from the field in a game in which the Raptors made 16 three-pointers to New Orleans’ 10?

Also of note, the teams combined to shoot 33-of-34 from the line (19-of-20 for the Raps, a perfect 14-of-14 for the Pellies.)

It was a fun game. 125-116 shootouts where teams just can’t miss tend to be. Dwane Casey’s cured his Scott-Hollins Syndrome. It’s glorious.

Highlights for the man of the match wearing No. 7:

Is It Time to Worry About the Spurs?

Seriously, San Antonio may be in the middle of the NBA pack in offensive rating, but they’ve got the fifth-ranked defense. They’re also playing at a snail’s pace, fourth-slowest in the league.

But at some point you have to look at a 98-86 loss like the one in Minnesota last night and wonder if the Spurs have any real scoring threats at all with Kawhi Leonard out.

LaMarcus Aldridge is a dinosaur. His midrange jump shooting is woefully inefficient even when it’s going down, and when it’s not going down, you get an atrocity like his 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting in the Wolves game.

Meanwhile, Karl-Anthony Towns notched 26 points and 16 rebounds, leading the way on a night in which his team shot 44.8 percent from the field and 9-of-18 from three, all while holding the Spurs to a .418/.292/.867 slash line.

The key was the turnover battle. Minnesota turned it over only six times total; San Antonio coughed it up 16 times. The extra possessions and the deadeye long-range shooting proved decisive.

Highlights for the man of the match and birthday boy:

And Finally…

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were doing the Wall-and-Beal tonight, scoring 26 and 24 on 9-of-21 and 8-of-16, respectively, and the duo combined to shoot 9-of-17 (5-of-10 for Lillard, 4-of-7 for McCollum) from three and 7-of-8 (four attempts each with Lillard providing the lone miss) from the line.

Shabazz Napier came a point away from adding to a Triple 20, but had to settle for 19 on 7-of-12 from the field and a perfect 5-of-5 beyond the arc, powering Portland to an overall 14-of-27 clip from long range (and yes, that means nobody else on the team made a three despite five attempts.)

Put up a weird-as-hell .437/.519/.692 slash line and you can get to 99 points. Win the turnover battle 15-12, only commit ten fouls (even though they were perfect, Orlando only shot 9-of-9 from the line), and make your enemy miss a bunch of threes (11-of-29, 37.9 percent) and you too might drop the Magic on your home floor.

Portland has won two straight; Orlando’s lost three in a row.

Highlights:

There are only two games on Thursday night, both on TNT, so we’ll have a bit of that We Know Drama flavor in Friday’s breakfast. Stay tuned for that, and thanks for reading!