LAST NIGHT IN THE ASSOCIATION: Two buzzer-beating game-winners, both within moments of each other, and a star return to face his former team headlined a busy Monday night of NBA action.
🔥 Paul George played just his second game in Indiana as an opponent last night, and he showed out, dropping 36 points, nine boards and five assists against his former club. George was booed and chanted at multiple times throughout the game, and he didn’t seem too happy about it. After the game, George told the media that Pacers fans are directing their anger at the wrong person, and the people who should be getting booed have been in Indiana longer than he was. He refused to expound on his comments beyond that, though he did say he might one day do a tell-all about his Indiana departure. Weird.
🏀 First, Derrick Rose drove the lane with fewer than five seconds remaining in a tie game between Detroit and New Orleans, and hit a beautiful spinning mid-range fadeaway jumper from the elbow as the clock expired. Then, minutes later, Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica hit a 34-foot bomb against the Rockets to give Sacramento a huge road win. If we had to pick which game-winner was more impressive, we’d have to go with Bjelica’s considering his team was down by two at the time, and he shot it from a different area code.
🦌 We’d be remiss not to mention the Bucks won their 15th game in a row last night, beating the Magic 110-101 behind 32 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo. That team looks unstoppable right now.
LOVE DISCUSSES POTENTIAL TRADE: Kevin Love spoke to ESPN about the latest rumors regarding the Cavs making him available for trade. He says nothing has changed, and that since he’s gotten to Cleveland, there have always been trade rumors hovering around his name, so this is no different. By his tone, though, it sounded like he doesn’t expect to be a Cavalier much longer.
🤦 For what it’s worth, Shams reported that Love would prefer a trade to a contender, which…well…duh.
MORE TRADE SCUTTLE: Shams also reported that teams are interested in Hornets forward Marvin Williams, who is shooting a tidy 40 percent from three this season, as well as in Nuggets guard Malik Beasley, who broke out in 2018-19 but has had a slow start to this campaign, despite nailing 41.2 percent of his three-point looks.
BUTLER/HERRO LOVE: Four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and rookie Tyler Herro have a ton of respect for each other, particularly on Butler’s end towards the young buck. So much for the narrative about Butler being a terrible locker-room presence and too harsh towards young players, huh?
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Speaking of Butler, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week yesterday after averaging 27.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game the week prior. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis won it for the West after putting up a 35.0/8.0/2.5 stat line over four games for the Lakers.
🏆 Both players ranked highly in our latest MVP rankings, with Butler coming in at No. 6 and Davis at No. 5.
PROTEST DENIED: The Rockets’ protest over James Harden’s missed dunk was denied by the NBA, primarily because the league determined Houston had enough time in the fourth quarter and the two overtimes to overcome the mistake. Now, let’s hope we never have to hear about this story ever again.
WHO’S NEXT? Following the dismissal of David Fizdale, The Athletic breaks down which coach could be the next to get fired. Lots of juicy sourced information in there, including that Jim Boylen’s job appears to be safe, despite the Bulls being so disappointing this season.
A STERN WARNING: After his debacle of a tenure with Houston came to an end, Carmelo Anthony warned his buddy and fellow banana-boat team member Chris Paul to be wary of the Rockets. Turns out: He was right.
NEVER A DOUBT: While speaking to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, Markelle Fultz claims he never had a doubt he could become a productive NBA player, he just needed to get past his injury troubles. Fultz dropped 13 points and nine assists against the Bucks last night.
MORE REFEREE COMPLAINTS: The Wizards went public with their belief that their lone All-Star, Bradley Beal, isn’t getting a fair whistle this season. Beal himself referred to the way he’s officiated as “unacceptable”. For what it’s worth, Beal’s free-throw assist rate this year is 34 percent. In comparison, James Harden’s is 60.3. Maybe Beal has a point.
TWO BIG RETURNS: Gordon Hayward returned for the Celtics last night without limitations. He dropped 14 points in 26 minutes, going 7-for-10 from the floor and contributing five rebounds and four assists against the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers.
🐻 Rookie of the Year contender Ja Morant also made his return last night, and he picked up right where left off, dropping 26 points on 14 field-goal attempts and dishing out seven assists. He was kind of mean to the Warriors’ defense most of the night.
JAMEER OPENS UP: Jameer Nelson spent 10-plus seasons in Orlando, and one of the major storylines during his time was there was the Dwight Howard exit drama. He talked to us about that whole saga, and he did not hold back.
FRESH POD: Our very own Alex Kennedy is joined by colleague Bryan Kalbrosky to discuss the Knicks’ coaching search and how sustainable the Lakers’ early-season success is.
QUICK DEVELOPMENT: The 76ers probably didn’t expect Matisse Thybulle, a defense-first player, to be nailing 44.0 percent of his threes at this point in his career after being a 35.8 percent three-point shooter over four years in college. We broke down his excellent shooting start here.
NBA OPEN TO BUSINESS: League commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that the NBA could launch an investment vehicle for private equity firms to buy minority stakes in franchises. Investors might even be able to invest in multiple teams, which is probably the most interesting part of that news.
SALARY QUIZ: WHO’S THIS NBA PLAYER? 🤔
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