All the need-to-know info from Wednesday’s slate.
Give Steven Adams Some Love
Paul George returned to Indy on Wednesday, hitting two free throws to ice the Thunder’s ugly 100-95 win. But it was Adams who signed a temporary lease on the paint at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and fueled Oklahoma City’s road victory with his inside play.
In 35 minutes, Adams scored a team-high 23 points and bullied his way to 13 rebounds, creating second chances for a Thunder team that missed 52 shots.
Adams shot 11-of-16—accounting for more made shots than the Thunder’s Big Three had combined—but didn’t have a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. Coincidentally, that’s when the Thunder’s lead nearly evaporated, as they almost blew another game in crunch time. For all the talk about George, Russell Westbrook (who had another triple-double, but shot poorly), and Melo still trying to coexist, Adams has brought tone-setting energy in a diminished role. The big man from New Zealand has the highest PER on the team (21.4). And while the mess around him has been fluid, Adams has been the metronome keeping the beat down low. He deserves his due, too.
Frank Kaminsky Shows Us Just How Good the Rockets Are
Poor Kaminsky. He first entered with 4:34 left in the first quarter with Charlotte up five. In the 6:50 that he spent on the court before being subbed out, he netted a minus-31 thanks to the Rockets' 31-2 run. MINUS-31. In less than seven minutes, Kaminsky's box-score line became a symbol for how lethal the Rockets can be on offense.
Kaminsky finished at a gutting minus-38 in 15 minutes of play. Chris Paul scored a season-high 31 points and Houston won its 11th straight game, 108-96. The Rockets are currently as unstoppable as a freight train without any brakes, yet as efficient and controlled as assembly line machinery.
Three (Bad) Signs Inside Indianapolis, Indiana
George's homecoming after his offseason trade to Thunder didn't go by without the typical crowd reception. There was, of course, the requisite, though undeserved, booing and jeering toward the former Pacer. But most notably, there were the signs:
The really bad signs:
The Paul George Hate Is Real in Indiana pic.twitter.com/WEK4JKMJOE— Travis Singleton (@SneakerReporter) December 13, 2017
Then there was the apparent pregame video montage filled with Pacers legends that didn’t include George. Once the game began, fans booed George every time he touched ball like they were Knicks fans hating on Reggie Miller.
I, for one, didn’t think that George’s return to Indy would be this big of a deal—sure, he expressed his plans to not sign long term, but the team did trade him away—but I respect the crowd’s commitment to the pettiness. Just … get better signs next time.
Oh, and maybe don’t wear George’s jersey while you’re booing him?
These dudes booing Paul George but still wearing his jersey lmao what... pic.twitter.com/njM7W5YXlv— Jordan Maly (@JordanCMaly) December 14, 2017
You're not stopping DeMarcus Cousins when he breaks this out pic.twitter.com/V1hLfKzTM1— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 14, 2017
From the get-go, Pelicans-Bucks was going to be a matchup of big guns. While Giannis Antetokounmpo carried the load for Milwaukee—to the tune of a game-high 32 points—his efforts were not enough to overcome the duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, who combined for 51 in a game the Pelicans won, 115-108, despite 21 team turnovers.
In crunch time, after a plethora of lead changes, Boogie heeded the call and tacked the nail in the coffin both from the inside:
And the outside:
Kris Dunn nails dagger in Alec Burks’ face, screams “F**K HIM. F**K HIM!!!!”. The disrespect. pic.twitter.com/NqYYpwR9R7— #PettyWarz (@World_Wide_Wob) December 14, 2017
Two unicorns are better than one.
John Wall Returns With a Bang
A Long Losing Streak for Utah
Kris Dunn’s dagger against the Jazz had a few ramifications. For one, it sealed the Bulls’ fourth straight win after starting the season 3-20. For another, it meant the Jazz—who had already lost three in a row—couldn’t get a win over one of the worst teams in the league right before facing the most brutal stretch of their season.
In the next 11 games, the Jazz will face the Celtics, the Cavs (twice), the Rockets, the Warriors, the Spurs, the Thunder (twice), the Pelicans, and the Nuggets (twice). Good luck, Utah, and may Donovan Mitchell save you.
Someone Save (or Blow Up) the Grizzlies
Memphis scored only 29 points through two quarters against the Wizards, the team’s lowest first-half output since October 2013. The Grizzlies eventually made a game out of it, but ultimately lost, 93-87. It was their 16th L in the last 17 games. Of course, it hasn’t helped that Mike Conley has missed the last 15 games with a left Achilles injury. (“We wouldn’t be in this position if I was playing,” Conley said two weeks ago.)
To add insult to injury, a report surfaced earlier on Wednesday that said Marc Gasol would be open to accepting a trade away from the only NBA home he's known to a more competitive squad. The sound you just heard was LeBron walking to Cavs GM Koby Altman’s office to get the trade machine going. Meanwhile, Memphis’s tumultuous season could get even bleaker very soon.
Dwight Howard Is Bizarro Magic Johnson
What the Dwight just happened?! pic.twitter.com/MKiTZYNw4x— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 14, 2017
Arts and Crafts With Gary Harris
The Nuggets lost to the Celtics on Wednesday, 124-118. Kyrie Irving had 33 points and the Celtics shot nearly 60 percent from the field. With Boston’s hot shooting, Denver shouldn’t have been close, but Gary Harris kept the Nuggets in it with his career-high 36 points. Harris added six assists and two steals and this crafty move in the fourth quarter.
Gary Harris is on one tonightpic.twitter.com/fYDoB1rQ7x— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 14, 2017
After Wednesday, Harris has more than half as many 20-plus-point games as he had all of last season. He’s totaled at least 20 points in five of his last eight. With Nikola Jokic struggling with an ankle injury and Paul Millsap out, this is exactly what the Nuggets need to stay in the playoff hunt.