NBA Breakfast Special: Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe Problem

So, as would inevitably be the case, Lonzo Ball got himself a triple double, scoring 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, dishing 13 assists, and pulling down 12 rebounds in a loss to the Bucks on Saturday. He became the youngest in NBA history to do it, at 20 years and 15 days, surpassing LeBron James.

But have you noticed that Ball has had exactly two good games this season, and both involved his being guarded by Eric Bledsoe?

After making Ball look like Russell Westbrook twice, you have to wonder if Bledsoe isn’t either washed up or else so disengaged with the sport he plays after all those years in the dumpster fire that is the Phoenix Suns organization that he might take his place as the worst defender in the backcourt in the league today.

Oh well. Just felt like mentioning that, on to Sunday’s action:

Next Man Up In Boston

The Celtics have weapons on top of weapons. Knock one or two or even three of them out of action, and the rest simply step up and pull out big performances.

Gordon Hayward, you know about. Kyrie Irving has a broken face and will be wearing a mask once he returns to action. Al Horford was in concussion protocol…

…and when Horford came back, he came back with a vengeance, scoring 21 points to lead Boston over the Toronto Raptors and run the Celtics’ winning streak to 12 games.

Jaylen Brown had 18. Jayson Tatum had 13. Terry Rozier added 16 off the bench. And Boston’s 15 offensive rebounds negated the effects of a 40.6 percent shooting night, so even though the Raptors shot 46.2 percent and 41.7 from long range, the Celtics, powered by that 46-36 rebounding edge and the three-turnover differential (14 for Boston; 17 for Toronto), won the ballgame 95-94.

Highlights:

Dee-Troit Basketball

The Pistons laid the smackdown on the Miami Heat to extend their own winning streak to five, run their record to 10-3, and stay within a game and a half of the 12-2 Celtics.

Behind 25 points from Tobias Harris, 24 from Avery Bradley, and a 17-rebound night from Andre Drummond, Detroit rode a .483/.500/.700 shooting night, including 14-of-28 from long range, to a straight-up butt-kicking of Miami, who got a 20-and-12 double-double from Hassan Whiteside…and naff-all else.

The Pistons outrebounded the heat 54-39, and curiously, for as good as they shot the ball, those baskets were created neither by fast breaks (only nine Miami turnovers) nor exceptional ball movement (only 24 assists on the 42 made baskets, a pedestrian 57.1 percentage.)

Also, Reggie Bullock had zero points despite starting the game. And HERO OF SERBIA was a DNP-CD. Unleash Boban Marjanovic! Otherwise, what the hell did you pay him $7 million for? The guy’s got .309 Win Shares per 48 minutes for his career! He’s good!

In Which the Indiana Pacers Get Their Butts Kicked

I didn’t bother watching the Pacers game live. I knew what the Houston Rockets would do to them, and so it came to pass.

James Harden had 26 on 9-of-21 shooting, dished out 15 assists, and only committed three turnovers against Indiana’s woeful excuse for a defense.

Clint Capela, as big men do in this league, feasted on the rotten interior defense and Myles Turner‘s troubling inability to position himself for rebounds (this has been a problem since Turner was a rookie and risks turning him into Roy Hibbert 2.0 in Indiana.) Capela had 20 points and 17 boards.

And Eric Gordon completed the Triple 20, the fifth time this season Houston has had three guys over 20 points, all wins, and second only to Golden State’s seven times over that threshold.

Victor Oladipo had 28 for the Pacers to lead all scorers, but that’s about all Indiana got on a night where they were weak shooting (.446/.364/.619), got outrebounded 47-41, lost the assist battle 24-18, and…well, they drew level on turnovers. Against a team with James Flipping Harden on it. Yikes.

Highlights from Houston’s 118-95 smackdown:

And Finally…

Oklahoma City rode a 39-25 third-quarter advantage to a 112-99 win. Paul George led the way with 37 points, while Russell Westbrook had a Harden-like game in that he shot 6-of-18 from the floor, looked utterly awful shooting the ball, and got bailed out by the refs to the tune of 12-of-13 from the line to end with 27 and look more efficient than he was.

The Thunder were without Carmelo Anthony, and on only a very select few occasions has their Big Three looked like anything resembling a threat.

The Thunder are now 6-7 and clawing their way back to respectability, but this team was supposed to set the world on fire and challenge for a deep playoff run after they put a Big Three together.

This season looks like anything but.

But hey, a .500/.469/.758, especially as bad as Westbrook was (the rest of the Thunder shot 30-of-54, a 55.6 percent clip)? That’s…actually surprisingly good for a squad that was a G-League team with one superstar last year.

PG13 is your man of the match, with 79 points combined in his last two games:

Short night in the Association, so short column in the morning. Which means…well…get back to work, folks, or try out some of our other delicious NBA fare on the main page. Thanks for reading!