NBA Breakfast Special: LeBron’s Trauma to the Groin

Sing it with me folks, because LeBron just got “nothing’s quite as funny as a trauma to the groin” treatment from Lance Stephenson:

If you haven’t seen it yet, well, shield your eyes…

On the bright side, Pacers Twitter had plenty of fun with it:

The Pacers won 124-107, finishing the game on an 18-6 run in blatant contravention of last year’s team and its near-guaranteed tendency to lose ballgames they were winning late. For Pacers fans, this is a startling revelation, almost as though Paul George was a dark cloud over the arena and the sun just came out.

Yep…it’s hot take time eight games in, and PG13 sucked anyway.

Speaking of No. 13:

Yes, I know that was from Tuesday. I have a point to make here.

You Don’t Get MVP On Losing Teams

Not to bust on the bubble of those who think Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to be MVP this year, but the Bucks are 4-4. They just went to Charlotte and got a heaping helping ot looking like turkeys fully three weeks before Thanksgiving.

Khris Middleton had 43 for the Bucks on 15-of-28 shooting, the Greek Freak added only 14 on 5-of-16, while Charlotte had a Total Team Effort with seven guys in double figures.

That’s right. Kemba Walker led the way with a hyper-efficient 26 on 8-of-12 from the field, Dwight Howard had 17 points and 11 boards, and the team…well, they lost Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to an injury, but anyone else get the feeling that might prove to be an offensive upgrade?

The 126-121 win was powered by the Charlotte bench. All the starters had negative plus/minus figures. All the reserves were on the plus side, including a team-high plus-18 by Frank Kaminsky, who wants you to know he’s a Sixth Man of the Year waiting to happen.

And how about Malik Monk with the career-high 25?

Highlights:

You Get the Bad Team, You Beat the Bad Team

The Philadelphia 76ers feasted on the Atlanta Hawks, handing the boys from the 404 a “Good Team Not Found” error and their sixth straight loss after winning the opener. Atlanta’s looking like Philly looked a couple of years ago.

Not that the Sixers are terribly good except for the runaway freight train that has been Ben Simmons and his rookie campaign; Simmons went for 19 points, 13 boards, and nine assists, while Joel Embiid added a 21/12/6 and Robert Covington led the way with 22 on 6-of-11 from long range.

Downside? Philly made only 14 of 25 free throw attempts. This wasn’t even as close as the 119-109 final made it look:

The Suns Also Rising

Phoenix is 4-1 since firing Earl Watson. Things that make you go “hmmm…”

TJ Warren went bonkers, scoring 40 on 16-of-22 from the field. Devin Booker added 22 on 7-of-15. And if you remove the wretched performances of Mike James (1-of-10) and Tyler Ulis (1-of-6), the rest of the squad shot a combined 39-of-67 (58.2 percent) to cover for their incompetence and general Suns-y behavior out there.

Phoenix is 4-4. They beat the Wizards 122-116 in Washington. And this despite a combined 61 from John Wall (21 on 10-of-18 shooting) and Bradley Beal (40, on 12-of-25 from the field, 6-of-12 from the parking lot, and 10-of-11 from the line.)

It was closer than it probably needed to be, but it’s a win, and Phoenix, for now, gets to celebrate for a change. It all might go sideways on them—indeed, Jeff Hornacek isn’t walking through that door—but it’s .500 in November.

You Get the Bad Team, You Beat the Bad Team Part Deux

Miami ran into the Chicago Bulls at home, and the Heat delivered to run their record back up to 3-4. Chicago is 1-5.

Lauri Markkanen led all scorers with 25, Robin Lopez added 22, and that…well, it wasn’t enough to overcome Justin Holiday and Kris Dunn shooting a combined 8-of-30.

These two squads combined for 102 rebounds—54 for Chicago, 48 for Miami. Only ten of them were offensive. That kind of basketball and indifference toward crashing the glass to extend a possession is offensive, all right.

Seriously, nobody involved in this is making must-see League Pass viewing any time soon.

80-2? Do It To It, Boston

Oh man, am I ever looking dumb for suggesting the Sacramento Kings would be any good this year. I had them as my sleeper to be better than anyone expected, but they hit the snooze button when the season started.

De’Aaron Fox has been hit-or-miss and mostly miss in his rookie campaign so far, shooting 42-of-104 (40.4 percent) overall. Boston held him to 2-of-8.

Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown feasted on the Kings defense, scoring 22 points each; in Brown’s case, it was on 7-of-8 shooting. He shot 5-of-6 from long range, 3-of-5 from the line, and capped off a night of marvelous efficiency.

Boston shot 48.8 percent from the floor and 41.5 percent from out in Somerville, 17-of-41 in total from the Charlestown side of the Orange Line that leads into the Garden.

Jayson Tatum had 12 on 4-of-7, and the C’s just keep looking like a squad developing into a champion…and that’s before Gordon Hayward comes back.

Highlights from the 113-86 beatdown, the third game in a row where Sacramento failed to crack 90:

Clash of the Unlikely Titans

In Memphis, two 5-2 teams faced off for the chance to remain tied with Boston for the best record in all of basketball.

The other team—and the winner—was the Orlando Magic.

What strange times we live in, friends. The Magic are 6-2. Aaron Gordon had 19 on 7-of-11 shooting. Evan Fournier added 22 on 9-of-16. Orlando won the rebounding battle 38-31, shot 50.7 percent as a team including 13-of-29 (44.8 percent) from long range…

Look, I make no secret of being a big fan of Stuff the Magic Dragon as a mascot. It’s good to see him with a good team to rally the fans to cheer for:

The 101-99 League Pass Alert thriller was good to the last drop:

You Get the Bad Team, You Beat the Bad Team: The Trilogy

Houston’s lost some games they should’ve won. But when the Rockets played the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, that did not apply.

After all, it’s the Knicks. And yes, New York is 3-4 and better than Cleveland right now. But they’re still the Knicks.

James Harden had 31 points and seven turnovers. All five Rockets starters scored in double figures, and Houston shot 47.7 percent overall from the field, not bad for a team that took 52 three-pointers; they were 23-of-36 (63.9 percent) from closer than 22 feet.

Seriously, 52 three-pointers? I mean, I love what pace and space principles have done for the NBA so much that I named my damn site after it, but there’s just no physicality in the game anymore.

Whatever. People throw orange balls long distances and someone catches it on camera. The Rockets won 119-97 and gave the ESPN viewing audience a show:

The MIN-NO Would Be Lost

If not for the courage of the fearless crew…

And by fearless crew, I mean hey, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins lit up the Wolves’ wretched interior defense, Karl-Anthony Towns can’t guard anyone, the twin towers went for a combined 59 points.

Too bad the rest of the Pelicans didn’t do jack all.

Towns was only 1-of-7 from the field and settled for two points. Andrew Wiggins did Andrew Wiggins things, and by that I mean he put up great counting stats with terrible efficiency; 18 points on 9-of-21 shooting, no free throws, no three-pointers, just a bunch of deuces dropped on the floor.

Jimmy Butler “led the way” with 23 on 8-of-18, but this wasn’t a game the Wolves won. It was one the Pellies lost, as the 104-98 defeat happened mainly due to New Orleans shooting 8-of-31 (25.8 percent) from long range.

Oh, and this happened.

Highlights:

One is Made of Gold, The Other Is Extinct

The Nuggets ran up a 129-111 win, and their Twitter guy is a national treasure:

Oh, man. You got kids, Twitter guy? Because you got dad jokes!

Jamal Murray led the way with 24, while Paul Millsap had 20, all for a Nugs squad that shot 53.4 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc. That’s quality right there.

The Incredible Men of Salt Lake

No Hayward? No problem! The Jazz continue to play stifling defense at home, running their record to 5-0 in the friendly confines of Mormon Country.

Despite 33 points from Damian Lillard, the Jazz overcame the Blazers in overtime 112-103.

Rudy Gobert had 16 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks, Ricky Rubio actually shot the ball well to get to 30 points on 8-of-17 from the floor, 3-of-6 from long range, and all 11 shots made at the line, and Donovan Mitchell added 25 on 8-of-21 off the bench.

It wasn’t pretty—there were 108 combined rebounds in the ballgame, with Utah snagging 55 of them—but it got the job done.

Mitchell gets the spotlight:

You Get the Bad Team, You Beat the Bad Team, Four The Win!

The Clippers started hot, got frosty, now they’re hot again, because beating up on Dallas is therapy in basketball form.

The Los Angeles defense held Dallas to 39.3 percent shooting, while the offense shot 53.2 percent in the 119-98 blowout win.

Blake Griffin led the way with 20 as all 13 guys on the roster played at least five minutes; the Clips were up 18 at halftime and never looked back.

You want highlights? You got ’em:

Whew. 12 games! Tomorrow’s breakfast will be a whole lot lighter after this big meal, as only two games are scheduled, namely the ones on TNT. Which means Inside the NBA. And Shaqtin’. It’s the best night of the week in the sport, really.

And we’ll have highlights. And a feature piece later tonight. Thanks for reading!