NBA Breakfast Special: Le Morte d’Arthur Memes

Man, the Cleveland Cavaliers just make no sense at all anymore, huh? One night they’re left for dead, the next LeBron James is back in 2007 and singlehandedly willing a G-League team toward the playoffs.

But what really mattered in their come-from-23-points-behind win over the Knicks? Arthur memes, that’s what.

This is the first display of true team unity we’ve seen from Cleveland, and it all started when, early in the third quarter, Tyronn Lue gave up the game for dead down 17, pulled LeBron and the rest of the starters…and watched the bench do what even their coach didn’t think they could.

Cleveland had 43 points in the fourth, including nine three-pointers, and LeBron ended up a rebound shy of a triple-double to go with his 23 points and 12 assists.

The Knicks had a non-standard Triple 20, as Kristaps Porzingis scored 20 on a dreadful 7-of-21 shooting, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 28, and Enes Kanter, who got into an altercation with LeBron in the second quarter over Kanter’s defense of Frank Ntilikina (who oh by the way had six steals), whom Bron criticized as the eighth pick in the draft.

The 104-101 win was like the Cavs of old:

Washington Wizardry

The Cavs won a huge game when they were left for dead and came back to haunt the Knicks.

For Washington, this was a much more standard night at the office, as the Wizards beat the Sacramento Kings, getting started in the second quarter and never looking back afterward on their way to a 110-92 drubbing of the visitors from out West.

Sacramento is now 3-10; curiously, they’re 2-3 at home and 1-7 on the road at this point in the season.

John Wall had 21 on 8-of-9 shooting to lead his team, while the Wiz as a whole shot 51.8 percent from the field and 91.7 percent (11-of-12) from the line.

They also won the rebounding battle 50-34, blunting the force of a weird shooting night for Sacramento, who shot 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) on three-point shots and 22-of-61 (36.1 percent) on twos.

Highlights:

Tickle the Twine, Milwaukee

Speaking of big nights from long range and lousy ones up close, the Milwaukee Bucks shot 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) from three and 28-of-60 (46.7 percent) from two on their way to a 110-103 win over Memphis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo ended up playing 44 minutes in one of those games that smacks in the modern NBA of a team trying maybe a little too hard to win a regular season game.

Then again, Milwaukee is 7-6; this is a team that will need every one of those “every game counts” efforts come April, since they don’t have the talent of a team that rests on its raw talent to coast to the playoffs and make their run then.

Tyreke Evans had 27 off the bench for Memphis, as he looks to jump into the early running for Sixth Man of the Year or a spot in the starting lineup.

Still, it was time to Fear the Deer for the Grizzlies:

Pelicans Win Ugly, Get Non-Standard Triple 20, Make No Sense

106-105 New Orleans in a game in which DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis combined for 35 points and 26 rebounds? Sure, why not, even if it was over the lowly Atlanta Hawks.

But the part that makes no sense was the Pelicans’ Triple 20. Cousins has 22 of those points by himself; Davis had 13. E’Twaun Moore had 24 to lead the team, while Darius Miller added 21 off the bench.

Making even less sense, the rest of the Pellies had 12 rebounds total. Cousins and Davis combined for 12 turnovers. The team was volume from three (13-of-33, 39.4 percent) and deadly from two (28-of-42, 66.7 percent.)

And the defense? Well, Atlanta shot 17-of-36 from long range.

But hey, 106-105 is still a win, no matter how ugly or weird it was. And hey, Rajon Rondo‘s back; he scored two points, hitting his only shot in five minutes of action.

The man of the match, though, was Miller, who hit the game-winner:

Lonzo Ball Sucks When Eric Bledsoe‘s Not Guarding Him

Lonzo Ball was…well, he was trash. Again.

Dollar Store Westbrook was 3-of-10 from the field and put up a seven-point, five-rebound, five-assist performance, but the Lakers actually won this time, unlike the loss in Milwaukee in which Ball had the triple-double.

Lest we forget, even with the 7-of-12 shooting night last week, Ball is still putting up a season-long slash line of .313/.250/.500, and that is simply not commensurate with an NBA-quality player no matter how much he racks up fantasy points even when his shot’s not falling.

Devin Booker and TJ Warren are for real for the Suns; Booker had 36 on 14-of-27 shooting, while Warren added 23 on 9-of-20.

The rest of the team? 34 points on 14-of-48 (29.2 percent.) Ouch.

Jordan Clarkson was a monster off the bench for the Lake Show, scoring 25 points on 11-of-19 in 26 minutes and just generally playing like a guy who, if it weren’t for the overhyped kid in front of him on the depth chart, would probably be starting.

LA stands 6-8; they’re not good yet, but with the rest of the team silently getting a chance to improve, we may yet see the best of them.

I Find Your Lack of Gobert Disturbing

Man, you gotta feel for the Utah Jazz.

They lost Rudy Gobert to a tibia contusion after Dion Waiters kamikaze’d his way into Gobert’s leg in the Heat game, and now they’re at a loss for a defensive identity while their offense is so awful that it only managed 98 points against a Minnesota Timberwolves squad that can’t guard anyone.

What Minnesota can do is score in bunches; a .521/.500/.862 night led by Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Jeff Teague pulling a Triple 20, plus a 40-31 rebounding edge and holding Utah to 35 percent (14-of-40) from three? That’ll get you a 109-98 win.

Oh, and lost in all that scoring was Taj Gibson being the third Minnesota player to notch a double-double.

Highlights:

Blazed Up

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Jusuf Nurkic had 15, 17, and 17 points, respectively.

The Portland Trail Blazers outshot the Denver Nuggets 52.1 percent to 35.7.

And the Nugs gifted Portland 20 turnovers, failing to capitalize on Portland’s 21 giveaways.

This was an ugly game is the point, a 99-82 Blazers win in which Emmanuel Mudiay was minus-29 for Denver in his 21 minutes and Nikola Jokic was a complete non-factor with six points and seven rebounds on 2-of-11 shooting.

Highlights, such as they are:

Winning is indeed fun, and Portland’s now 7-6 and having fun.

Robert Covington, Legit Third Star

RoCo has been amassing one heck of a season for the Philadelphia 76ers, and he had 31 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 5-of-8 from three and a perfect 8-of-8 from the line.

In other words, he’s a monster on the rise.

How good is Covington? Try 50 percent from three on 7.4 attempts per game this season, along with 16.8 points and an 18.7 PER.

Oh, and Joel Embiid, now that it looks like he’s actually capable of playing on those fragile legs of his, is becoming the star Sixers fans hoped he would be.

Embiid had 32, but his 9-of-16 free throw shooting nearly proved costly in Philly’s 109-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

While we’re on the subject, Austin Rivers has demonstrated the value of advanced stats. Specifically, Value Over Replacement Player…and Chris Paul‘s high score in that stat; CP3 had a 5.3 VORP last year, which is the equivalent of 14.31 Wins Above Replacement.

Probably about right; the Clips were 14.3 wins better with Paul than without him. Last year, they won 51 games. This year, they’ve lost eight out of nine after starting 4-0, dropping to 5-8 and probably very realistically bound for 37 wins.

Impressive…in a screwed-up “the coach’s son sucks” kind of way.

But hey, you want highlights, you get ’em:

And Finally…

Oh, by the way, Golden State’s won seven in a row, they’re 11-3, on a 64-win pace, in first place out West, and even without Stephen Curry, the Warriors rode 21 points from Kevin Durant and 20 from Draymond Green to a 44-of-88 shooting night, a 50-35 rebounding advantage that included David West pulling down 11 boards in only 14 minutes, and an incredible 35 assists with no one player dishing more than eight dimes but five players notching at least five.

Orlando? The Magic never stood a chance as this one ended 110-100 for the home team. The Magic’s .420/.313/.889 slash line just wasn’t going to cut it.

It was Curry’s Bobblehead Night, so even though he wasn’t out there playing, he still made an impact on the crowd. Highlights:

SITE STUFF!

Since taking this site onto its own hosting, I was terrified that all the traffic was going to simply evaporate, but you, my readers, have stepped up, and we…OK, we’re still a small site that pulls a few thousand views in a good month, but the point is that we’re well on our way back to the high-water marks we set during the 2016 playoffs, with June of last year being our best traffic month ever.

In the dark times after launch? We had days with single-digit pageviews.

So to be back above the level of our “this might never catch on” Year 1 starting point? And to have a high ceiling on our traffic as Google no longer considers us a bottomless repository of dead links after the site redesign in March on our old host knocked our traffic down by over 90 percent nearly overnight?

Well…thanks to everyone who stuck with us, and, well…thanks for trusting the process. You’ll notice I’ve taken over sole writing duties around here; that’s because until we’ve got a monetization model that works, I’m not going to be subsidizing it, but I feel like I’m a better writer than I was two years ago, so there’s that.

What I’m saying is thanks for reading and stay tuned; the best is yet to come.