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NBA ICYMI: Austin Rivers May Have Broken Blake Griffin

Everything you need to know about Monday in the NBA

Los Angeles Lakers v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

All the need-to-know info from Monday’s eight-game slate.


This Does Not Look Good for Blake Griffin

The Clippers outlasted the Lakers, 120-115, on Monday, in the same way one person dies a little less slowly than another. But the squalor that is a Clippers performance these days got even worse when a scramble for the ball dealt Blake Griffin a blow to the head from Lonzo Ball and another to the knee from teammate Austin Rivers:

If watching the younger Rivers jack 3s wasn’t bad enough—Rivers finished with an impressive 19 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, but just 1-for-6 from 3; if you’ve watched him play, you know this is worse than it sounds—seeing him possibly injure the only vestige of hope left on this godforsaken team with the breeziness of an “If it fits, I sits” cat is too much.

Doc Rivers told reporters after the game that Griffin will undergo further tests on Tuesday. “It didn’t look good, obviously,” he said.

We’re getting dangerously close to the point where a town meeting will need to be held to determine if the entire Rivers family should be forced to leave Los Angeles.

The King Stays The King

In the lead-up to LeBron James’s first matchup with young Ben Simmons—whose command of the game, court vision, and strength–body control–athleticism blend bear a striking resemblance to his agent-mate (and maybe more???)—reporters took James’s temperature on the apparent similarities between himself and the league’s best rookie.

“Ben is Ben. And I am who I am,” James said. “And so on and so on. So you guys kind of do that comparison stuff."

Fair enough. Yet James, a volume subtweeter and prover of points, certainly played like he had something to say on the matter. LeBron had 15 points and six rebounds in the first quarter alone and finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in an easy 113-91 Cavaliers win in Philadelphia. Not even the rule book could stop James from carrying Cleveland’s moribund supporting cast to an eighth straight win:

Simmons, meanwhile, had 10 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, and left the game early with a sprained ankle.

FYI: The Pistons May Be Really Good

As the Magic slink back into obscurity in a hailstorm of missed 3s, the Pistons, the East’s other early surprise contender, have held firm in the conference’s upper ranks. In case you were still dubious about Detroit’s viability as a contender (and, really, we can’t blame you), Monday’s 118-108 win in Boston was a very convincing counterargument.

Tobias Harris continues to reflect the more positive interpretation of his “Diet Melo” alias, finishing Monday’s win with 31 points on 16 shots and eight rebounds. Reggie Jackson has, for the most part, managed to tamp down his impulse to play like a Brandon Armstrong impression of Russell Westbrook while rekindling his pick-and-roll chemistry with Andre Drummond. And Drummond himself has, more often than not this season, proved to be the best player on the floor:

Look at that giant man! In a rapidly downsizing league, Drummond, much like Joel Embiid, has managed to turn imposing size (with enough athleticism to keep up with today’s blistering pace) back into an advantage. Against the C’s, Drummond had 26 points, missed just two shots from both the floor and the free throw line, and pulled down 34.4 percent of available rebounds.

If you can’t force Drummond off the court because of his free-throw shooting, how are you supposed to counter the 6-foot-11 behemoth with ball skills, especially if your only options are finesse power forwards and hired goons?

This Is Your Nightly Reminder That James Harden Is Amazing

Harden’s night: 37 points (13-for-20), 10 rebounds, eight assists, and eight 3-pointers in a 117-103 win over Brooklyn. Just give him MVP now.

The Kings Beat the Warriors!!!!

… Without Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.

But still!

The 110-106 victory over a Zombie Warriors team that started Patrick McCaw and Omri Casspi marks just the sixth win of the season for the Kings. But any victory, let alone one in which you see flashes from some of the young players—Willie Cauley-Stein (19 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Frank Mason III (14 points) in particular—the franchise so desperately need to develop, is enough for a hope-starved fan base to live off of for a few days.

Long live the Kings of Fun.

The Kristaps Has Become Self-Aware

Joakim Noah Is Back, and Knicks Fans Are Happy (?)

After ridding themselves of Phil Jackson’s mind-fuckery and Carmelo Anthony’s ballhoggery in the same offseason, the Knicks have, rather improbably, rebranded themselves this season as a fun, young upstart. The #vibes are so strong in New York right now that Joakim Noah, the physical embodiment of the emotional scarring left over from Jackson’s butt-centric tenure, returned on Monday after more than 10 months on the shelf to … earnest applause?

Ringer designer Matt James was live on the scene at Madison Square Garden and filed the following dispatch in NBA Slack: “Guys this is weird but Joakim Noah’s getting cheered non-sarcastically every time he does something.”

Forty minutes later, James filed another update from the field: “Turtle from Entourage is here and he got half the ovation that Noah got.”

Noah played only three minutes of the Blazers’ 103-91 beatdown of the Knicks and did little to disinfect his current reputation. But the hive is real. And with rookies like this—

—who can blame them?

Vince Carter Is Still Half-Amazing

I am 30 and ate a hamburger today.

Carter is 40 and did this today:

Cool.

Long Live Lance