All the need-to-know info from Monday’s slate (and team meetings).
The Cavs Are a Reality Show
All right, bear with me. According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavs held a meeting Monday, before one of their rare practices, where they “challenged” the fact that Kevin Love was sick during their game against Oklahoma City on Saturday and missed their Sunday practice.
[Takes a huge deep breath.]
Love defended himself, according to Wojnarowski—which, oh my goodness, can I please get video of Love pleading his case to LeBron and Dwyane Wade like he just got sent to the principal’s office?—in what was described as a “loud and intense” discussion that included Cavs coach Tyronn Lue and GM Koby Altman. But, in the end, the meeting had a “positive impact on what has become an increasingly fractured locker room,” according to the report.
The Cavs are a burgeoning mess, and every week, it appears someone else is at fault. Remember when it seemed like Lue was to blame? Now he may be the voice of reason.
.@JasonLloydNBA "Ty Lue is not the problem with the Cavs right now, he's what's holding this together"— Anthony Lima (@SportsBoyTony) January 22, 2018
Personally, I want to cut Love some slack. Maybe he wasn’t feeling well. Maybe, just maybe, the movie fan wanted to catch up on some Oscar contenders. Doesn’t LeBron preach that nothing matters until the playoffs anyway?
At this point, with the trade deadline fast approaching and some Cleveland players clamoring for change, it’s hard to know who will be alongside LeBron when they get there.
Boogie wanted no part of this Lauri Markkanen slam. pic.twitter.com/Eb7vY8njOs— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 23, 2018
That’s how the night began for DeMarcus Cousins: with a business decision that would have made Warren Buffett proud. It ended with a ridiculous box score that resembled a lottery ticket more so than anything possible in a basketball game. In the double-overtime contest that the Pelicans eked out over the Bulls, 132-128, Boogie finished with 44 points, 24 rebounds, 10 assists, four steals, and one block. It was the first 40-20-10 game since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.
In 1968, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry was 14. Fred Hoiberg wouldn’t be born for another four years, and a gallon of gas cost 34 cents.
That the Pelicans needed every drop of a historic night from Boogie, and not to mention 34 points from Anthony Davis, just to beat the Bulls in double overtime, is probably not a good sign, but it’s the only way that we can get historic statistical nights like this one anymore.
The Jazz Lose Their Tune Against the Hawks
It didn’t start well for the Jazz on their trip to Atlanta on Monday. They missed their first nine shots and eventually fell to the Hawks—who went into the game tied for the worst record in the league—by a whopping, embarrassing 14 points, 104-90.
John Collins throws down the dunk pic.twitter.com/XuLIw8i5kV— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 23, 2018
When John Collins is doing this plus hitting 3s, it’s not your night, Utah.
The Hornets lost a 20-point lead, but pulled out a 112-107 win over the Kings thanks to Howard’s six blocks and 16 rebounds.
Just Another Day at the Office
The Heat Make the Rockets Earn It
Miami gave Houston a run for its 3-point money Monday. The Heat led for most of the contest, which featured 15 lead changes and was a tight game throughout, but couldn’t pull out what would have been an impressive road win because the Rockets hit the shots they’re not used to hitting: midrange.
On an off night for Houston from 3, two midrange jumpers from Chris Paul and James Harden late in the fourth quarter closed the door on the Heat.
Miami outscored Houston by 22 in the paint. The team moved the ball like a yo-yo around the Rockets’ defense
Senhoras e senhores, Justise Winslow. pic.twitter.com/RHIThtBcY3— Heat Mili Grau (@HeatMilGrau) January 23, 2018
And they held the Rockets to their lowest-scoring half of the season. It was as complete a performance as possible that took Houston to the brink, but couldn’t quite push the Rockets over. And it proved two things: (1) The Heat’s ceiling could be surprisingly high. (2) The Rockets’ is even higher.
Brett Brown just told @NBCSPhilly that a couple of his players have already asked to attend the Super Bowl. Joel Embiid told me this morning he’s in, if Coach is. The deal? Brett said if they go undefeated the next eight games, they can charter from Indy to Minny.— Molly Sullivan (@MollySullivanTV) January 22, 2018
Like a parent enticing his kids to clean their room in exchange for a new toy, Brett Brown declared Monday that a trip to the Super Bowl to watch their fellow Philadelphians, the Eagles, is in the cards. The only stipulation: win eight straight games. At Memphis on Monday night, the Sixers blew a lead and lost to the Grizzlies, 105-101. So much for the Super Bowl.
Eh, maybe not. Wall missed 11 shots against the Mavericks on Monday, and the Wizards lost an embarrassing affair, 98-75. It’s Washington’s fifth loss in its past eight games.
The Point Guard That Was Promised
Jamal Murray— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 23, 2018
38 pts (14-19 FG) (4-6 3pt FG)
New career high
34 minutes pic.twitter.com/BhD5aHza8N
This is exactly what the Denver Nuggets have needed all season. Not just a point guard, but one that’s aggressive and efficient, especially on a night where Nikola Jokic struggles (16 points on 5-of-17 from the field). Typically, that player needs to be the 20-year-old Jamal Murray, and Monday showed it could be Murray as he exploded for 38 points, including the crunch-time finish that gave Denver the 104-101 win over Portland.
Jokic is a top-notch talent, but without a budding, young star, the Nuggets aren’t as good as they should be. As the no. 7 overall pick two years ago, Murray should and can be that star.
The Comedy Store at Staples Center
The nightcap featured a delightfully messy game between the Clippers and the Wolves, both winners of six of their past eight games heading into Monday’s matchup. With Jimmy Butler on the bench due to an apparent knee injury, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague carried the heavy load to the tune of 40 and 30 points, respectively, as the Wolves won, 126-118. Teague added six assists and finished with 16 made free throws (one more than the entire Clippers team had for the game).
The final minute was a doozy that featured a boneheaded turnover by Karl-Anthony Towns, who passed the ball out of bounds, to keep the Clippers in it. …
KAT with a brutal turnover in the clutch and Thibs is furious pic.twitter.com/vCARpUrKBc— Eric Fawcett (@Efawcett7) January 23, 2018
… Only to have Blake double-dribble on the ensuing possession to take them right back out of it, and then throw the ball away with less than 13 seconds left when they still had a chance. (Griffin had 32-12-12 triple-double.)
Taj Gibson's reaction to Blake Griffin's double dribble pic.twitter.com/gHEJRdyvZs— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 23, 2018
And to top it off in the most bizarre fashion, both Doc Rivers and Mike Woodson were ejected with 7.4 seconds left in the game. Crunch time was a comedy of errors, which felt befitting of the entire game. It was the only way Wiggins’s 40 points would feel this much of an afterthought.