All the need-to-know info from Thursday’s two-game slate.
Damelight Savings Time
Late in the fourth quarter, overtime looming, ISO situation brewing. Adjust your watches, check your clocks, and maybe don’t let a cold-blooded, clutch shooter get his shot off. This is Damian Lillard Time, after all.
YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS!— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) November 3, 2017
DAME SINKS THE GAME-WINNING 3 WITH 0.7 LEFT! pic.twitter.com/2yv6tr2iDM
Lillard had 32 points on the night, but he left the most important three, as he does, for the end, when it mattered most. A quick-footed crossover right into stepback 3 over the outstretched, lanky arms of Brandon Ingram went in just in time to put the bow on the wild back-and-forth affair between the Lakers and the Blazers that ended 113-110 in favor of the home team.
Tale of Two Halves: A Warriors Story
Like the protracted embrace of a boa constrictor, the Warriors—when they don’t dominate from tipoff—have made the slow-start-turned-blowout their calling card. It’s like they inadvertently play a game to see how much of a deficit they can overcome.
Against the Spurs on Thursday night, that number was 19 points. That’s the deficit the Warriors found themselves in before turning on the afterburners and taking the game back in the second half. The ultimately won by 20, 112-92, in what was a 39-point turnaround. Aided by Kevin Durant’s slow 0-for-8 start, LaMarcus Aldridge’s unicorn-like first half (two 3s!), and the Spurs dominating the boards 25-13 early, San Antonio looked like it had a chance to make this a game even without Kawhi Leonard, who has yet to play a game this season due to a quad injury.
TNT reporting Pop is "hopeful" Kawhi could return within next 3 weeks.— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) November 3, 2017
But of course Durant started 6-for-6 in the second half, exploding for 15 points and finishing with 24 to help Golden State regain a lead it wouldn’t relinquish thanks to its 34-23 advantage in the third quarter. While Steph Curry had a quiet 21, the Warriors’ scoring force was Klay Thompson, who lit things up with 27 points on 17 shots, including 5-of-8 from 3-point land. It was more than enough for the Spurs, young Dejounte Murray, 40-year-old Manu Ginobili, and Rudy Gay (yikes) to overcome.
Death, taxes, and the Warriors surviving slow starts.
Start Kyle Kuzma
Of the Lakers’ five most-used lineups this season, Kuzma is in three of the four most productive by net rating. That raises a question: Why isn’t he starting?
Aside from the hoopla that follows Lonzo Ball’s every move, one of the more interesting parts about this Lakers’ season is their dilemma at power forward. With both Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. commanding the position as more experienced players on a young team, it’s been hard to ignore how good Kyle Kuzma has been in limited minutes at that spot.
Heading into Thursday’s game, Kuzma was averaging 14 points and five rebounds on 27 minutes per game as a late-first-round rookie. On Thursday against the Blazers, he put up 22 points in 29 minutes off the bench, (and nearly hit the shot to tie it late), displaying both polished offensive moves and the propensity for confident shooting.
Late in the third quarter of Thursday’s game, Nance suffered a left hand injury that took him out of the contest. It was reported that he fractured his thumb, which means that by unfortunate circumstances, Kuzma may get a start in the near future after all.
A Faint Bright Side
LaMarcus Aldridge has scored the most points in the first eight games of any season of his career. 188 and counting.— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) November 3, 2017
Green Means Whoa
DANNY GREEN, Destroyer Of Worlds pic.twitter.com/u1wSXzIQwU— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) November 3, 2017
In the span of one play, Danny Green body-checked Steph Curry onto the ground and embossed Kevin Durant on a poster. I can only assume Kawhi Monstar-transferred his powers to Green pregame.
Steve Kerr Goes NSFW at Work
Mike Brown had to hold back a riled-up Kerr back after a missed call by referee Marc Davis. Kerr received his first technical of the season.
Pop is heated. And has been ejected. pic.twitter.com/9yDmYBdPlk— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) November 3, 2017
Of course Popovich wasn’t going to let his buddy Kerr beat him to the locker room. In the fourth quarter, after arguing a call and getting two quick technicals, Pop was ejected less than five minutes before the game concluded. Lasting lesson: Being two of the best coaching minds in the league does not preclude you from being a hothead.
KCP Channels His Inner A.I.
Woah!— Leading NBA (@LeadingNBA) November 3, 2017
KCP with the ankle breaker on McCollum.pic.twitter.com/qxoZrpoqv3
(Did C.J. trip? Maybe, but I’m not here to be a highlight truther.)
Scary Moment for Steph
Fratello wants to say this was an ankle thing, but clearly a concern for Curry’s KNEE. He seems to be okay.... pic.twitter.com/K1Wf9wer87— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) November 3, 2017
Curry stayed in the game but went into the locker room in between quarters. The Warriors announced he only had a tweaked knee he needed to get taped up. He returned to the game in the second quarter and promptly knocked down a 3.
Big Baller Block
Lonzo Ball had a quiet night (zero points, three rebounds, four assists) but he did have this highlight rejection.