Breakfast Special: Limping into the Break

There were three games in the NBA Thursday night, and from the looks of them, the players on some of those teams were already dreaming of wherever it is they’re spending All-Star week, whether it’s at some travel destination, at the game itself, or just home with their families getting healthy and enjoying a brief respite from the long grind of the NBA season.

The net result of all this was that we got some real stinker games. Like…

Charlotte Fixes a Problem

There are two ways you can fix the problem of having a positive point differential and a losing record. You could simply win more games…

…or you could get your butts kicked so hard that you drop out of the positive territory in points scored against points allowed and embrace the fact that your team is a garbage fire.

So the 27-30 Hornets went out and got their butts kicked by the Orlando Magic (who at 27-32 are just a game behind them in the cluster separating 7th from 10th in the East), the 127-89 final score an honest-to-gods embarrassment.

Only five teams in the Eastern Conference have outscored their opponents this season. Only six (the Nets, with a -0.4 overall differential, a 40-win season pace, but 30-29 at present, plus the top five you know and love) have winning records.

Orlando won by 38 points and they’re still down -1.1 a game. They’d have to outscore their opponents the rest of the way by a margin great enough that they’d almost have to make the playoffs in order to get to plus territory.

Kemba Walker was horrendous in this game, with 10 points on 4-of-20 shooting, missing all seven of his three-pointers.

Terrence Ross led the Magic in scoring off the bench with 21, as a game that was over at halftime meant all 13 Orlando players played at least five minutes and scored at least two points.

Charlotte overall shot 35.1 percent from the field and 4-of-31 (12.9 percent) from long range. This was a full-on disaster.

Ross and Nikola Vucevic had themselves a time:

Oh Say Can You OKC

Russell Westbrook finally added an efficient scoring performance (44 points on 18-of-30) to a triple-double (14 rebounds, 11 assists)…and the Thunder lost to New Orleans 131-122.

Even weirder, Anthony Davis is still playing like a guy who wants to do anything other than play basketball for a living. He had 14 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes, and now the team is saying he’s got a shoulder injury…which is oddly timed insofar as if he’s โ€œinjuredโ€, anything he does in Sunday’s All-Star Game is just going to create a massive media firestorm over and above the towering inferno that was already in the cards for Davis.

Julius Randle had 33 points, Jrue Holiday had 32, and those two plus Darius Miller were all plus-19 to lead the way for the Pellies.

The Pelicans are never going to look good out of all this. It’s just a matter of time before attendance craters, all the think pieces start up about how the Big Easy can’t support NBA basketball, and the team moves to Seattle.

Hard to imagine anyone will be too choked up with that lost legacy when the Sonics unis come out, especially the Retro Night ones with the crisp, clean design from the early 1990s…let the merch sales begin.

Randle’s the man of the match:

And Finally…

The Knicks went to Atlanta and beat the Hawks 106-91, handing a game back to Cleveland in the Cryin’ For Zion Sweepstakes.

Dennis Smith Jr. had 19 points and seven assists on 7-of-10 from the field, the Knicks’ defense held Atlanta to just 36.3 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from long range, and Trae Young continues to have moments where sometimes he’s the best player on the Hawks’ opponent.

Young had 16 points and 11 assists, but he went just 6-of-19 from the field.

Smith is your man of the match:

It’s a special edition of the Special (Specialception!) on Monday, as we’ll have highlights from the All-Star Game. None of this analysis and man-of-the-match stuff, just wall-to-wall big stars doing big things for your entertainment, the tl;dr version of what’s sure to be a pointless game of value to nobody otherwise.

So stay tuned for that, and thanks for reading!