All the need-to-know info from Wednesday’s 12-game slate.
Down two late in the fourth quarter against the Grizzlies, Aaron Gordon nearly asked for the ball in the post from Evan Fournier. Instead, he flared out to the corner where Fournier found him for a game-winning 3. Gordon was 2-for-4 from long range in on the night, and his season percentage from 3 is still a ridiculous 57.7 percent on more than four attempts per game. Air Gordon, who was a 28.9 percent 3-point shooter before this season, led the Magic to a 101-99 win with a long ball. Orlando is tied for the best record in the NBA. Welcome to 2017.
The B Stands for Buckets
This Is the Malik Monk We Were Promised
Ladies and gentleman, the Malik Monk Show has finally made it to the NBA. The rookie out of Kentucky had been shooting below 30 percent from the field in his first seven games prior to Bucks-Hornets on Wednesday. But shooters shoot, and in a tied game at the start of the fourth quarter, the Monk we knew and loved in Lexington came to life. In just five minutes of the final frame, he poured in 18 points the only way he knows how:
MALIK MONK THE LAST 4:00— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) November 2, 2017
Monk even survived his first heat check—a stepback fadeaway jumper with seven minutes left in the game that he missed but followed up with a driving floater just over a minute later. Monk finished with 25 off the bench, and the dent he had made in the game fueled the Hornets’ 126-121 victory despite Khris Middleton’s 43-point night.
Reunited and It Feels So Bad
Lance Stephenson and LeBron’s extracurricular history is well-known, and on Wednesday, they got painfully reacquainted:
Lance Stephenson and LeBron meet again. This time, Lance gets all ball. pic.twitter.com/pzSSowCaQ4— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) November 1, 2017
Ouch. Lance was issued a flagrant 1.
Tristan Thompson Injures His Calf
The Cavaliers announced that Tristan Thompson suffered a left calf strain, which was sustained during the second quarter of the Pacers-Cavs game. After trying to steal an inbounds pass on a Derrick Rose made jump shot, Thompson apparently tweaked a muscle and had to be helped off the floor. He wouldn’t return to the game.
For a team that has looked lost and lackadaisical on defense (the Cavs allowed 124 points in a 17-point loss to the Pacers) Thompson’s potential absence will be a concern. The Cavs already don’t have much depth and size up front. Cleveland may care only about what happens in the playoffs, but there isn’t that big of a margin for error with this new-look roster. The team’s chemistry can click only with a clean bill of health.
Ben Simmons Is a Force
Eight games into this season, Simmons is killing the small-sample-size metrics. He’s showing every night why he’s got the potential to be the next vanguard at the point guard position.
Simmons entered Wednesday’s game against the Hawks averaging 18.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. He finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists at home in a 119-109 win over Atlanta. Joel Embiid might be the once-in-a-generation talent, but the Sixers, for now, beat to Simmons’s rhythm.
Giannis Has Arms for Days
Get outta the way, Dwight! pic.twitter.com/cgSoKJ35Fz— Behind the Buck Pass (@BehindTheBucks) November 1, 2017
Great business decision, Dwight.
T.J. Warren Doesn’t Want to Tank
The Suns were down by 20 points to the Wizards on Wednesday, but T.J. Warren would not let them lose.
Warren exploded for 40 points and led the Suns’ comeback in their 122-116 upset over Washington. Of note: Since Earl Watson exited through that door, Phoenix is 4-1.
The Nuggets Are Alive
After a surprisingly rough start to what was supposed to be a breakthrough season, all the Nuggets needed to get right, apparently, was an altitude-fueled home win in which they put up their highest scoring total this season (129) on the Toronto Raptors (who scored 111). Paul Millsap scored 20 points in 26 minutes and looked liked the missing piece Denver expected him to be this offseason, while Nikola Jokic had eight points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists.
More importantly, the Nuggets got contributions from two former first-round picks. Emmanuel Mudiay danced his way to 16 points and six assists off the bench, and Jamal Murray poured in an ultra-efficient 24 points in 21 minutes, for a whopping plus-35.
NBA History, Brought to You by Boogie Cousins
35 PTS, 9 REBS, 6 ASTS, 6 STLS, 3 BLKS, & 5 3s.— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) November 2, 2017
DeMarcus Cousins is the 1st player to have that stat line in #NBA history.
Naturally, the Pelicans lost by six at home to the Timberwolves, 104-98.
Donovan Mitchell Is Chucking (and Making)
When Donovan Mitchell played at Louisville, he wore Damian Lillard’s Adidas shoes. It caught Lillard’s eye. “I liked his game,” Lillard said.
Mitchell, who eventually signed an apparel deal with Adidas, went toe-to-toe with his shoe company counterpart and nearly matched him point for point in the Jazz’s 112-103 overtime victory.
Mitchell had a career-high 28 points off the bench on 21 shots and in a career-high 35 minutes. Lillard countered with 33 points of his own, but thanks to Mitchell and Ricky Rubio’s bizarre 30-point, three-3-pointer, one-assist performance, the Jazz pulled out the win at home.