All the need-to-know info from Friday’s seven-game slate.
What transpired in between the Wolves win over the Thunder on October 22 and their subsequent 119-116 win over OKC on Friday — brutal losses to the Pacers and Pistons — was like filling an Oreo with toothpaste.
The discarded, scraped-out cream filling in this analogy, of course, is Jimmy Butler, who was absent in both losses due to a respiratory infection. Butler returned Friday, transforming Minnesota back into a respectable opponent as he finished with 25 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.
The Wolves arguably missed his defense most of all, but against the Thunder …
THERE GOES THAT MAN! pic.twitter.com/UNa2p9FJd9— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 28, 2017
Jimmy Butler won't quit pic.twitter.com/2hkxljLZrX— A Wolf Among Wolves (@AWAWBlog) October 28, 2017
CONFIRMED: Jimmy Gets Buckets #AllEyesNorth pic.twitter.com/8l7cek4ula— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 28, 2017
For most ailing NBA players killing it while unwell, the performance is marked their “flu game.” For Jimmy, we’ll have to get a tad more specific.
Butler says he’ll have snot rolling down his nose but will be ready to go— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) October 27, 2017
“Warriors” Got Literal
Golden State’s matchup with Washington was already weird when Draymond Green and Bradley Beal got into a fight that ultimately led to both getting ejected. Steve Kerr looked like a groovy detective. Washington was leading by double digits. The Warriors started the game 1-for-17 from behind the arc! (At least they can finally relate to what it feels like to play against their defense.) Before Friday, Steph Curry — who missed 10 of the 13 deep shots he tried on the night — was more successful from the 3-point line against the Wizards than he had been any against other team in his career.
The scrum, which you can read more about here, happened with 21 seconds left in the half. Golden State leaned on the bench for the remainder of the game: David West finished with 16 points, and Omri Casspi and Kevin Looney proved to be reliable reserves. The Warriors won, 120-117, like they were never down 18 points to start with.
John Wall and the Clutch-Gene Conversation
Wall’s failed 3-point attempt to tie the game at the end of the Wizards’ Friday loss to the Warriors was his second consecutive miss of that nature.
Wednesday, it was an uncontested, off-the-dribble attempt that would’ve tied the game at the end of OT, but rimmed out:
Bradley Beal wide open in the corner. John Wall worried about getting the shot against Lonzo Ball. pic.twitter.com/tzdsLpIJst— Clever Hoops (@CleverHoops) October 26, 2017
Two last-chance misses don’t determine whether or not Wall can be labeled “clutch,” but two in a row could start the conversation.
D’Antoni Gonna D’Antoni
Houston Rockets just broke the NBA record for fewest 2-pointers in a game (28). Won by 16. New era.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) October 28, 2017
The Orlando Magic Are the Best Team in the Eastern Conference
Technically, that is. Orlando obliterated San Antonio (this is the first time that sentence has been true in seven years), and the 114-85 margin represented the franchise’s largest-ever win over the Spurs. Jonathon Simmons fueled his new team against his former, adding 17 points and four rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.
“We’re taking every game personal,” Simmons said after the game. “We want to be seen as an elite team in the NBA.”
Right now, that’s not the perception. Orlando is 4-1, atop the Eastern Conference, with numbers thus far that no one predicted — shooting a collective 47.8 percent from the 3 tonight, for example — but have all the respect of Andre Roberson’s deep shot.
In the words of Magic sideline reporter Dante Marchitelli, “We haven’t seen this in a while.” Us either, Dante.
Aaron “Steph Curry” Gordon
Aaron Gordon bringing it up-— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) October 27, 2017
Wait WUT pic.twitter.com/skVGaSq0BX
FOR THE RECORD, through two games (Gordon was inactive for Orlando’s back-to-back earlier this week), Gordon shot the deep ball at 85.7 percent. Yes, on just seven attempts. Don’t be such a killjoy.
After Friday, that percentage has dipped slightly—the early-season breakout star went 2-for-4 from behind the arc as he poured in 16 points in the win.
Dwight Howard left Texas over a full season and two teams ago. Is he still mad about getting frozen out of the offense in Houston?
Ask his 19-point and 16-rebound stat line from Friday’s 109-93 home loss to the Rockets, or just skip the middleman and consult the rim:
It's the @DwightHoward show early on! Already with six points and five rebounds!!!#BuzzCity #HOUatCHA pic.twitter.com/lXoCphMzsI— FOX Sports: Hornets (@HornetsOnFSSE) October 27, 2017
Though, maybe this isn’t personal (it’s Dwight, so it is) — this is the big man’s fifth straight game grabbing 15 or more rebounds, a franchise record for that specific streak. He’s the first to open a season like that on the boards Charles Barkley nearly 20 years ago.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it ... [whispers] Superman?
The Knicks Are Happy, If Only for a Night
Kristaps Porzingis’s third 30-point game of the season came along with some firsts for the Knicks: New York’s first win, rookie Frank Ntilikina’s first points, the defense’s first time holding an opponent under 105 points.
Here’s Frankie Nicotine finally finding a lighter:
Frank Ntilikina gets his first @nyknicks points! #NBARooks pic.twitter.com/AJkfeXm3RN— NBA (@NBA) October 28, 2017
Correction: An earlier version of this piece included a linked tweet that incorrectly identified Jonathon Simmons.