Shoutout: A cool 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists for DeMarcus Cousins in the Kings’ beatdown of the Chicago Bulls, who can’t beat them in Sacramento for some reason. And watching him just beast guys down low was like watching the FIBA World Cup all over again. Too. Strong.
Not so much: In last night’s destruction at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Miami Heat compiled more turnovers (12) than assists (11) while also seemingly giving up more alley-oops (like a million) than any team in the history of basketball.
Speaking of: Seriously, so many alley-oops.
According to the play-by-play data, there were only seven Clipper oops last night, but those must be measured in dog oops, where every standard alley-oop counts for seven alley-oops. Only logical explanation.
On today’s episode of The Drop, The Starters discuss the East’s most disappointing teams; why Chris Bosh passed on teaming up with the Rockets; the ridiculous 76ers vs. Kentucky debate; and Kobe Bryant, the religious live-game experience. All that, plus pizza toppings, a new game called “Who Said It?” and Prince Harry’s mysterious real father.
On Thursday’s episode of The Starters, the guys discuss last night’s action-packed NBA schedule. Are the Milwaukee Bucks legit? Have the Pistons and/or Thunder dug themselves too deep of hole? And what did everyone think about the Raptors’ video tribute for Vince Carter? All that, plus this week’s Meme Team, Whoa Boy, and John Schuhmann’s thumbs.
Shoutout: On a great night of basketball, let’s give some shine to Monta Ellis, who has it all, including 34 points and four assists in a nice Mavericks win over the Wizards. That’s five straight wins for Dallas, who now sit 9-3 in third place in the Western Conference and whose offense cannot be stopped.
Not so much: Things are not going well for the Thunder, who dropped yet another game last night, this time in Denver against the Nuggets, who were the team everyone was zinging for being bad last week. If you lose to the most zinged team in the league, maybe you deserve to be zinged.
Whoops: Oh no, Brandon Knight.
Yes!: Way to go, Brandon Knight!
That’s how you overcome one of the biggest boners of the season, by knocking in a clutch three like it ain’t no thing. Not to mention, missing that layup means we got to see happy Nets fan all over again, so I’m happy it happened. Good stuff.
On Wednesday’s episode of The Starters, the guys discuss the Pelicans/Kings game, why Anthony Davis is must-watch television, the return of Swaggy P, and whether or not the Raptors should honor Vince Carter. That, plus our All-Limbs Team, guys we’re always backing, rookies, #HAWKSBROS, and Aussie swish bombs.
Shoutout: 28 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, two steals and a win for Anthony Davis. 24 points, 17 rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the loss for DeMarcus Cousins. This is going to turn in to our generation’s Chris Paul vs. Deron Williams debate, and I’M LOVIN’ IT (McDonald’s).
Not so much: The Hawks lost. At home. To the Lakers. Who had one win coming in to the night. I am le sigh — why must every Western Conference team be better than every Eastern Conference team?
Missed you: Oh man, I missed Nick Young. Good to see him back, making shots and airballing ones he shouldn’t have taken. The best part of his night, however, was this instant classic postgame interview.
To be honest, I think Swaggy has a point — the Lakers are an angry, bad team, so maybe having the league’s happiest player back helps them not take things so seriously. They aren’t a piece of space age titanium, so they shouldn’t be so hard on themselves. Nick Young for MVP.
On Tuesday’s episode of The Starters, the guys discuss if the Memphis Grizzlies are title contenders, and Jimmy Butler’s Most Improved candidacy. That, plus a heated round of Crossfire, in which we debate whether we would want to play with Kobe, and all the thumbs you could handle in the Up/Down Report and VSP.
A day late, but that’s OK…
UP: Milwaukee Bucks
It surely won’t hold, but let’s give some props to the Milwaukee Bucks, who are currently second in the league in defensive efficiency and seventh place in the Eastern Conference after a 5-5 start. They can’t score (28th in offensive efficiency) and they can’t shoot (bottom eight in both eFG% and TS%), but when you play enough defense, you’re going to have a chance to win some games. Yes, most of their success has come against offenses that aren’t setting the league on fire — of the teams they’ve played, only the Bulls, Heat and Grizzlies are in the top half of the league on offense — but I’m optimistic they can keep this up.
And the reason I’m optimistic feels weird — because is Jason Kidd a good coach? Once Brook Lopez got hurt last season, the Nets started playing small and their defense started generating a ton of turnovers and looking really good. Now that he’s got a team full of young guys with crazy arms, they’re doing the same thing but better, as the Bucks are the seventh-best team in the league at forcing TOs. So basically, the team has become an embodiment of a lot of Kiddsy kind of things — long for their position, force a bunch of turnovers, get up and down the court, cannot shoot. As it is with any young team overachieving early in the season, this could all blow up in a second, but for the second time already this season I’m up on the Bucks.
DOWN: Chicago Bulls’ minutes
As a Bulls fan, let me preface this by saying I think Tom Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the league and that this Bulls team is the best they’ve had in the Derrick Rose era. With that out of the way, Thibs needs to chill on these minutes.
For the first time in forever, the Bulls have an actually deep bench. They’re two-deep basically everywhere, they’ve got scorers, they’ve got defenders and they’ll get even better once Derrick Rose (hopefully) returns and Kirk Hinrich returns to a backup role. Yes, there have been issues defending at times with two rookies and Aaron Brooks in the rotation, and they can still go through bouts of scorelessness when shots aren’t dropping, but there are quite a few Bulls who need to see the court.
And that’s why it’s so weird that Jimmy Butler is still averaging 40 minutes per game and that Pau Gasol is playing nearly 35 per when he hasn’t sniffed that since 2012. The Bulls are notorious for running out of steam in the playoffs, with Rose or without, and it’s becoming more and more obvious that the heavy minute loads eventually wear on the team. Little stress injuries, no legs on jumpers, even sloggier outings — these have become the hallmarks of the Bulls later in the season. Yeah, guys like Butler and Joakim Noah want to be out there every minute they can, but it’s on the coach to sit them down so they’ll be ready once the calendar flips to May. Not to mention, playing the bench more means they develop and will also be more ready come playoff time. It’s a win-win-win kind of thing.
Which leads me to…
UP: Spursification of everything
This is what it all boils down to for me: if you’re not doing what the Spurs are doing, you’re probably doing it wrong.
The Jazz were boring last season, brought back basically the same team with a new coach (Quin Snyder) who coached underneath a former Spurs assistant (Mike Budenholzer) and now they’re fun to watch — that’s Spursification.
The Bulls play their big players too many minutes which runs them down and neglects to develop their backups who are therefore not trusted come playoff time — that’s anti-Spursification.
Teams throughout the NBA are moving the ball like crazy, while superstars are trying to limit their minutes — that’s Spursification.
The Los Angeles Lakers hate three-pointers and they’re the worst team in the Western Conference — that’s anti-Spursification.
Essentially, NBA teams need to look at what San Antonio is doing, realize this is what they should be doing and then do it. It’s that simple.
BOTH: Christmas jerseys
Once again, the NBA’s Christmas jerseys look ridiculous. It’s an annual tradition at this point. But I’m kind of OK with them, for a few reasons.
For one, no sleeves, which is how it’s supposed to be, said the old man to the youth. Jokes, but I think we can all agree that sleeveless basketball jerseys are preferable, so that’s a thumbs up. Not to mention, it’s going to be hilarious to see people buying jerseys that say “Tim” or “Ed” or “Jimmy” like they’re real things. And finally, this is what people get for acting like those Kings jerseys with the names underneath the numbers were cool. Kitschiness isn’t everything and nostalgia clouds judgement.
But on the other hand, those tiny logos on the fronts of the jerseys are not the jam. That’s the worst part to me because there’s literally no reason for it, and it looks like an error more than anything. Why not just keep the standard fronts with the first name underneath on the back?
Watchlist: Kawhi Leonard’s hands, Wesley Matthews, Oklahoma City Thunder’s offense, people hating Dwight Howard, Lance Stephenson stealing rebounds, the Pelicans or the Kings making the playoffs
Shoutout: Markieff Morris (the Markieffier of the Morris twins) went for 30 points on 14-21 shooting, while adding seven rebounds, five assists and four steals in Phoenix’s thrilling victory in Boston, proving exactly why he got the bigger portion of the twins’ joint contract extension and also got to choose the PIN on their shared debit card. Rumor has it Markieff also gets to choose which bunk bed he wants to sleep in every night, and that he usually goes for the top.
Not so much: Another really bad loss for the Hornets, this time by 25 at home against the Mavericks, who have been straight-up slaughtering opponents over the past week. They’ve won their last three games by a combined 94 points, which is very good.
Very solid: After last night’s win in L.A. over the Clippers, the Bulls are now 6-0 on the road and looking good doing it.
Too many teams have used “Bench Mob” as a nickname for their bench units, including the Bulls a few years back, so I’m really against that for this team, but it’s starting to look like Chicago’s bench is going to name a nickname. Please submit your choices in the comments.
On Monday’s episode of The Starters, the guys discuss DeMarcus Cousins’ maturation and Rudy Gay’s three-year contract extension with the Kings. That, plus Bones joins us to discuss whether we should feel sorry for Kobe Bryant, and a creepy Australian unicorn joins us to tell us about Nick Young. Too. Much. Fun.