All the need-to-know info from Monday’s nine-game slate.
(Maybe Don’t) Hack-A-Howard
Tom Thibodeau resorted to big-man malpractice in the fourth quarter of the Timberwolves’ game on Monday. Down 12 to the Hornets with 3:15 to go, Minnesota preyed on Dwight Howard, a 40.3 percent free throw shooter on the season entering Monday.
3:15 left: Dwight Howard makes free throw 1 of 2
3:15 left: Dwight Howard misses free throw 2 of 2
3:01 left: Dwight Howard misses free throw 1 of 2
3:01 left: Dwight Howard makes free throw 2 of 2
2:50 left: Dwight Howard makes free throw 1 of 2
2:50 left: Dwight Howard misses free throw 2 of 2
2:23 left: Dwight Howard makes free throw 1 of 2
2:23 left: Dwight Howard makes free throw 2 of 2
2:06 left: Dwight Howard makes free throw 1 of 2
2:06 left: Dwight Howard misses free throw 1 of 2
That’s 60 percent—and six points on five possessions. Howard finished Charlotte’s 118-102 win going 9-for-14 at the charity stripe. (And while 64.3 percent on the night is nothing to be proud of, it’s a better free throw shooting percentage than that of Andrew Wiggins, who is hitting just 61.5 percent of his tries this season.) Howard hacked the hackers!
Nice to See the Magic’s Rec Sand Volleyball League Pay Off
Aaron Gordon continued to self-sabotage his “AG can shoot 3s now!” campaign on Monday night against the Pacers, finishing 2-for-9 from deep in the Magic’s 105-97 loss.
His early-season hot hand has shattered like it was made of glass and put under cold water. Fewer than 10 days ago, Orlando’s 6-foot-9 forward was leading the NBA in 3-point shooting after hitting 59.5 percent of his 42 attempts through 10 games. Since then, Gordon has taken 31 deep shots. He’s made seven. That’s a 23 percent rate.
If you don’t get that 3-point contest invite, Aaron, I know another All-Star event that will welcome you and your 7-foot-wingspan with very open, similarly long arms.
“BUT MOM, HE WAS MEAN FIRST,” NBA EDITION
Joel Embiid is the biggest troll in the NBA pic.twitter.com/RcPareQdwd— NBAFL⚡️SH (@TheNBAFlash) November 21, 2017
Kyrie Is Getting MVP Chants, and You Can’t Be Mad Anymore, Guys
Irving dropped 47 points, went 10-for-11 from the line, poured in five 3s, shot 72.7 PERCENT on 22 field goal attempts, and had this beaut:
Marcus Smart doing Marcus Smart things ☘ pic.twitter.com/MY0jLOJllA— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 21, 2017
The 110-102 overtime win over Dallas marks 16 in a row for Boston.
Beal became the youngest player in NBA history to hit 700 career 3-pointers with this shot:
It was a very cool, very impressive, very noteworthy thing—until Giannis Antetokounmpo absorbed the stat (and all of Beal’s other accomplishments) by swallowing his attempt whole.
(The Wizards won 99-88, breaking a two-game losing streak.)
Dip of the Clip
The Clippers—losers of nine straight, slumpers of shoulders, Leftovers of the Chris Paul trade—have their check-engine light on. Los Angeles fell yet again, this time 107-85 to Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks:
Nine losses in a row ties the worst streak for the franchise during Blake Griffin’s time as a Clipper.
Cleveland Is Trying the Defense Thing
The Cavs have quietly won their last five games (or not so quietly, if you follow the roster on Instagram). Over that span, Cleveland has the ninth-rated defense in the league. Zoom out to the entire season, of course, and the team is still dead last.
In a 116-88 win against the Pistons on Monday, there wasn’t as much sample time for the first unit’s defense. Jose Calderon, the Cavaliers’ (temporary) starting point guard, dropped 14 points, led all players in minutes, and powered the team to its largest win of the season.
I mean, yes, LeBron James also did that (18 points, eight assists in a season-low 27 minutes), and Kevin Love (19 points, 11 rebounds), and Jae Crowder (season-high 18 points).
The blowout unfortunately cut short the NBA’s greatest rivalry, Stanley Johnson vs. LeBron’s ego.