Breakfast Special: James Harden, LVP

Allow me a moment of gleeful bias in an otherwise objective statistical and visual roundup of NBA action.

Because James Harden shot 1-of-17 from three-point land, making one more three-pointer than Ben Simmons did yesterday, as the Rockets lost to the Magic 116-109.

But here is why Harden is fundamentally absurd.

He had 38 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds, shot 11-of-32 from the field overall, and made 15-of-16 from the line, and every nitwit who’s willing to ignore his blatant manipulation of the referees and horrible shooting when they’re not giving him the calls (and the turnovers; he’s averaging over six a game) thinks he’s the MVP.

Unless it’s the Lakers, on any given night I’m a fan of Houston’s opponent.

Speaking of whom, Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon had 22 points each, the Magic starters shot 28-of-54 (51.9 percent) from the field, the Magic out-rebounded the Rockets 45-38, and Orlando had better ball movement (25 assists on 41 makes against 20 on 38 for Houston) in the win.

Vucevic added nine rebounds and six assists; Gordon had eight boards and half a dollar’s worth of dimes.

In addition to leading the team in all three primary counting stats, Vucevic also had a game-high plus-15. He’s having one of the quietest monster seasons in the league this year, sitting right behind Jokic in the “Guys Named Nikola” NBA power rankings.

But really, when you have two deserving men of the match, you get highlights of two men of the match:

A Must-See Barn Burner in DC

You know why League Pass is so wonderful? Because you can tune in to some random game on a Sunday that’s suddenly gone completely crazy go nuts and get treated to the greatest show on Earth.

Case in point, a game where Bradley Beal had 43 points (on 17-of-36 shooting!), 15 assists, and 10 rebounds, his second career triple-double…and his team, the Wizards, lost in double overtime to the Toronto Raptors, 140-138.

Because Kawhi Leonard had 41 points on a much more efficient 15-of-29 to go with 11 rebounds, Pascal Siakam lit up the stat sheet with 24 points on 9-of-16 and 19 boards, Kyle Lowry overcame a terrible shooting day (12 points, 4-of-15) to dish 11 assists, Delon Wright came off the bench for 17 on 7-of-11, and the Raptors got the job done.

There were 41 turnovers in this one (21 Toronto, 20 Washington.) There were 110 rebounds (58-52, Raptors.)

But maybe most importantly, there was a huge free throw disparity, as the Raps made 29-of-36 while the Wizards made just 11-of-18. Make your free throws. Don’t give the enemy 18 more makes on the same number of misses.

But let’s face it. When a game is this good, sometimes even the losing side gets a spot in the highlights.

Los Angeles Is Burning

This is not a test of the Emergency Broadcast System, when point guard fires and big human towers conspire to dance again.

Basketball was some Bad Religion at Staples Center Sunday as the Lakers lost at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Lonzo Ball shot 5-of-14 from the field, 2-of-8 from three, and 1-of-2 at the line for a true Dollar Store Westbrook stat line: 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, a team loss, and a garbage performance that looks better on the stat line than it did on the floor.

Meanwhile, all five Cavs starters scored in double figures, Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 14 rebounds, Alec Burks had 17 points and 13 boards, and Cedi Osman (!) led the team with 20 points.

And the Lakers shot 7-of-34 (20.6 percent) from three and 39.6 percent overall. What a Dumpster fire.

It’s Tristan Thompson’s world now:

Lightning Round!

Ben Simmons had 20 points on 0-of-0 from three-point land, he also added 22 rebounds and nine assists, and the Philadelphia 76ers traveled to New York and worked the Knicks 108-105.

Joel Embiid had 26 points on 9-of-24 shooting, J.J. Redick had 22 on 6-of-13, and the Sixers didn’t play well in some areas (6-of-20 from three, a 16-10 turnover disadvantage) but they played spectacularly in others (a 56-34 pummeling of the Knicks on the glass, making over half their two-pointers) to get the win.

And sure, all those of you saying “Simmons doesn’t need a jump shot”…well, not when he’s owning the boards and passing the ball and making the shots he does take, he doesn’t, but “shoot the three, you coward!”

When you can’t stop Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks will probably beat you.

The Hawks couldn’t stop Greekazoid, who had 33 points and a plus-20 on-court. They lost at home 133-114.

Eric Bledsoe added 24 points and 10 assists on 9-of-14, Khris Middleton had a double-double of his own with 17 points and 11 rebounds, the Bucks made 53.3 percent of their shots as a team including 62.9 percent of their two-pointers, and that was your ballgame.

He’s Greek, he’s a freak, he’s the Breakfast Special MVP:

Dear gods, Stephen Curry. Just…dear gods.

The Warriors beat the Mavericks in Dallas 119-114 behind 48 points (!) on 11-of-19 from three (!!) from Steph.

Kevin Durant had 28 points of his own to take the award for Best Supporting Actor in this one.

But it’s Steph’s world, we’re all just watchin’ on the teevee:

And finally, there’s a good reason why Vucevic is still only the second-rated Nikola in the league.

Nikola Jokic had 40 points and 10 rebounds to power the Nuggets’ 116-113 win in Denver over the Trail Blazers, and Jokic did it on 15-of-23 shooting, clowning Jusuf Nurkic all night long.

Denver shot 55.6 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three, and the game wasn’t as close as the score; Portland stayed in it by hitting 21-of-22 from the free throw line and committing only nine turnovers.

Sometimes you do everything right, but the other team’s guy is just too much for you. No shame in that when the Joker’s running amok out there.

Coming later, “Luka Doncic: All-Star? You Sure About That?” (it’s kinda like Is He Any Good, but with the Three-Year Rule waived. You’ll like it.)

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!