All the need-to-know info from Wednesday’s slate.
Jump Balls: 0-for-1
This has to be the worst jump ball thrown by a ref in NBA history. Even Kanter who won it was like WTF? pic.twitter.com/0wkwgg4EUv— Swaggy P-rez (@World_Wide_Wob) November 9, 2017
Elfrid Payton and His Glorious Head of Hair Are Back
Orlando’s starting point guard returned from a strained left hamstring at the perfect time. Well, not perfect, as the former Eastern Conference–leading Magic lost their past two thanks to a backcourt thin as Brandon Ingram (who, sure, “put on weight” this summer).
D.J. Augustin started after Payton went down—missing eight straight games, one short of his total missed over three seasons. But on November 1, Augustin also went down, also because of a hurt left hamstring. Don’t skip (left) leg day, Orlando! Shelvin Mack stepped up in the two games (losses) after, sharing ballhandling time with do-it-all swingman and former Gregg Popovich oeuvre Jonathon Simmons.
Welcome back, Payton. Aaron Gordon missed you.
And so did the Magic, who beat the Knicks, 112-99.
Kyrie Will Handle It
Baynes’s Big Night
Boston closed out a tight 107-96 win over the Lakers without Al Horford or Jayson Tatum on the court. The former was ruled out after entering the NBA’s concussion protocol—three days after the hit occurred on November 6 against the Hawks. Tatum tweaked his ankle during the game, leaving in the second quarter and being ruled out for the remainder due to soreness.
The Celtics struggled to operate the same execution of the offense without Horford. His passing effectuates Boston’s praised ball movement—he’s averaging 4.7 assists per game, one fewer than team-leading Kyrie Irving—while his shooting capability effectively stretches defenses. But Boston still pulled out a win, the team’s 10th straight, thanks to his replacement, Aron Baynes.
Who, traveling Los Angeles fans learned on Wednesday, is the bully who stole their Dunkin’ Donuts concession money.
Baynes played for Stan Van Gundy last season in Detroit, where he excelled on defense. In just 23 minutes against the Lakers, Baynes scored a game-high 21 points (tied for a personal career high) while shooting 8-for-12 from the field, grabbed eight rebounds, finished with three assists, and stole my dad’s most famous pick-up game move:
What a perfect Baynes possession... clock a guy with a pick, then score with an old school lefty hook pic.twitter.com/LTTguxAWUx— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) November 9, 2017
A no-look assist tops a regular assist the way a homemade Thanksgiving pie (good, I’m proud of you) tops one from Trader Joe’s (still gets the job done; nothing to be ashamed of, Kyle). A between-the-legs, no-look assist is better than just a no-look in the way that Steph Curry’s shot (great) is better than Paul George’s (still pretty good). This, my friends—a tiny-hop, between-the-legs, no-look assist—is watching Curry while eating slice three.