NBA Breakfast Special: LeBron James Vs. The World

LeBron James is still savage after all these years…

And as if that weren’t enough, he’s doing Dikembe’s finger wave in front of Hawks fans in Atlanta…

Bron had 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting, Kevin Love added 25 points and 16 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, behind a 40-29 rebounding advantage and 18 three-pointers made in 39 tries (46.2 percent!), beat Atlanta 121-114 to claim their 10th straight win and pull into a tie with Detroit atop the Central Division.

Speaking of LeBron, how about his insane 31.1 PER, 28.2 points per game, and absurd 58.0 field goal percentage? That is astounding for a guy in his 15th year, just when we think we’ve seen it all.

Bron passed Alex English for 10th all-time in field goals made, and he’s closing in on 30,000 career points, now with 29,379 overall.

Highlights, as your Seattle-based columnist sees something familiar in the NBA…rain:

From One C to Another

The other great team whose name starts with C held on to a 3½-game lead in the East, as the Boston Celtics, behind 36 points on 12-of-21 and 5-of-8 from three from Kyrie Irving, swatted the Philadelphia 76ers 108-97 at home.

Marcus Smart took only six shots, making two, and I am going to hammer that gimmick all season.

Al Horford had 20, Marcus Morris had 17 off the bench, and Jayson Tatum? He had the same number of points (15) as Ben Simmons, and he did it on 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) compared to Ben’s 6-of-14 (42.9 percent.)

Tatum also had zero turnovers compared to Simmons’ five.

OK, OK, Simmons also had six rebounds, seven assists, and five steals. But hey. Cherry-picking stats is the NBA writer’s holy birthright!

Seriously, though, the Sixers shot 16-of-32 from three and 19-of-52 (36.5 percent) from two, all while shooting 11-of-18 (61.1 percent) from the line. There is more to pace and space basketball than just shooting lots of threes even if you’re the Houston Rockets out there.

The C’s? .506/.414/.800, including 12-of-29 from long range. That’s how you win basketball games, a balanced, efficient attack. Oh, and forcing 19 turnovers. That helps too.

Highlights from the man of the match:

What The Crap, Denver, Seriously?

The Denver Nuggets are 12-9 and 9-2 at home.

The Denver Nuggets are, at times, a horrifyingly inconsistent basketball team.

They beat the Chicago Bulls 111-110, lost Nikola Jokic to an ankle injury, allowed Chicago to shoot 53.7 percent from the field, and just generally looked terrible…

Except for the little part where Will Barton came off the bench, scored 37 points on 13-of-19 from the field and 6-of-9 from Arvada, and bailed out a team that saw Emmanuel Mudiay shoot 2-of-9 and Jamal Murray 1-of-9 in the Point Guard Suckapalooza.

Revenge of the Manimal also continued, as Kenneth Faried had 14 points and 13 rebounds in a thumbing of his nose at Paul Millsap and every Nugs executive who thought it was worth acquiring him.

Highlights from Will the Thrill, including the ultimate heroics at the end:

Buck Wild with the Triple 20

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 20 points on 7-of-20 shooting, which was not so good.

Khris Middleton had 26 and Eric Bledsoe had 25 on 10-of-17 each. That was better.

And Milwaukee’s three stars combining for 71 points on 54 shots? It was enough to power the Bucks past the Blazers in Portland by a 103-91 count.

Speaking of three stars, Portland got 25 from Jusuf Nurkic on 9-of-17…then saw Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combine to shoot them out of the game, as the backcourt shot a combined 14-of-36 for only 33 points.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the Blazers did naff all else on offense; they shot 35-of-83 as a team (42.2 percent) and a horrible 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from Gresham.

Milwaukee, for their part, wasn’t exactly putting the lights out at Moda Center, but 48.3 and 30.0 were a lot better than what the home team managed.

Portland outrebounded the Bucks 50-35, but Milwaukee won the turnover battle 19-11, and extra possessions plus shooting accuracy equaled win in this one.

Highlights from Middleton’s hot shooting night:

And the Greek Freak securing the halftime lead with a couple of great chasedown blocks:

The Donovan Mitchell Experience

Who’d have thought Mitchell would come out of nowhere in Utah?

The rookie had 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 5-of-10 from Orem, and he wasn’t even Utah’s leading scorer.

That would be Alec Burks, who came off the bench for 28 points, part of a Total Team Effort for the Jazz in a 126-107 drubbing of the now Griffin-less Los Angeles Clippers.

Montrezl Harrell filled in admirably, making all five of his shots from the floor en route to 13 points, but he’s no Blake Griffin.

Austin Rivers led LA with 25 points, while Lou Williams added 20; the Clips shot a remarkable 54.3 percent from the field, but Utah went wild on the Clippers defense to the tune of 57.6 percent from the floor, 48.6 (17-of-35) from three, a 19-13 win in the turnover battle, and a mind-bending 38 assists on their 49 made field goals (77.6 percent, a clip that would do Golden State proud.)

Oh, and Burks was also plus-30. Just throwing that out there.

Highlights from Utah’s monster win to put eight teams in the West at or above .500 as the conference tries to avoid the dubious distinction of sending a losing team to the playoffs for the first time since 1997:

Seriously, that Mitchell kid’s got some hops. Amazing that the pass got exactly where it needed to while Mitchell came out of nowhere to get it.

And the overall game:

Big ups to Utah’s social media people. This is how you Twitter. Give full highlights after a win, so a certain breakfast-loving NBA writer can get a column done.

Happy Friday, folks; we’ll have something from the Pace and Space vault to share before the day is out. Thanks for reading!

Header image via Wolferman’s.