All the need-to-know info from Tuesday’s NBA slate.
Death, Taxes, and the Cavs’ Defense Being Bad
Amid trade rumors, a heated locker room, and leaked team meetings, the Cavs traveled to San Antonio and got outworked and outplayed by the Spurs on their way to a 114-102 loss, their 10th in their past 13 games.
The Cavs were outrebounded, had twice as many turnovers as the Spurs did, and shot 29 percent from 3. Isaiah Thomas clearly hasn’t regained his bounce yet, which means he’s not up to form offensively and an even bigger liability on defense. J.R. Smith isn’t hitting 3s, making his presence only a detriment to the Cavs defense. Kevin Love is playing like he knows there’s tape of the Cavs’ meeting floating around on the internet, and Iman Shumpert, who returned on Tuesday night from a knee injury, was unsurprisingly disappointing. Ty Lue, meanwhile, is coaching with his eyes closed.
Ty Lue on his lineups after another loss: “I’m going to make a change.” He would not reveal what.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 24, 2018
Even LeBron, who had a near triple-double, looked disengaged at times, and multiple plays exposed every Cavs player on defense.
Throughout the game, each player looked like they were going through the bitter motions, knowing full well this team will likely look different in two weeks. The question is, will that actually make a difference? And more importantly, can the switch be flipped on defense?
With a midrange jumper at the end of the first quarter of Tuesday’s game against the Spurs, LeBron James topped 30,000 career points, becoming the youngest ever to do so, and only the seventh player in NBA history to reach the milestone.
The only thing I can think of in my life that amounts to anywhere near 30,000 is my student debt. Anyway, LeBron is 33, but he’s still having one of his best seasons. Surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) isn’t totally out of reach before he calls it quits.
The Thunder Steal Their Own Money
This game had a little bit of everything. A strong first three quarters from Paul George. Joe Harris making five 3s. Thirty-two points from Russell Westbrook. Ten straight points by Raymond Felton in the fourth. Spencer Dinwiddie hitting a go-ahead shot in crunch time, only to have Russ hit his own tough shot to give the Thunder the tight 109-108 win.
The scrappy Nets nearly pulled off the upset. OKC barely escaped. Just another night with one of the most polarizing teams in the league.
The Fourth Quarter Belonged to Kyle Kuzma
A lot of things contributed to Los Angeles’s messy 108-107 victory over the Celtics. The Lakers outrebounded the Celtics by nine, scored 14 more points in the paint, and got to the line 26 more times (they missed 15 of them, though!). They also had Marcus Smart’s potential game-winning shot lip out as the buzzer sounded.
But really, none of that matters without Kyle Kuzma, who couldn’t miss in the fourth quarter. The rookie tallied 17 points in the period (a team-high 28 in the game), and missed only one field goal in the quarter to vault the Lakers’ upset chances. Kuzma also did it with his passing, which was Globetrotter-like at times:
It was a breakout game for the breakout rookie: another sign that he’s the real deal and yet another reason he should be a permanent starter on a young Lakers team.
You Spin My Head Right Flat, Right Flat
Looper II (2018)
There Will Be Snubs
After the All-Star reserves were announced Tuesday, the snubs (and even the not-so-real snubs) took to Twitter to express their displeasure.
Andre Drummond didn’t hold back ...
Gotta be fuckin kidding me lol— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) January 24, 2018
Guess I gotta start doing back flips after every point I score to get attention around here!— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) January 24, 2018
Lmao on to the next
... And then proceeded to retweet everyone who agreed with him.
Lou Williams went the more subtle route ...
Lol— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) January 23, 2018
... until he made it pretty clear what the issue was:
And Devin Booker, well, Devin Booker is here to make sure #facts don’t die in darkness:
After the Thunder beat the Nets, Westbrook caped hard for his fellow teammate Paul George.
Russell Westbrook called it “outrageous” that Paul George was not named an All-Star: pic.twitter.com/62vmKKbFSx— Royce Young (@royceyoung) January 24, 2018
CAREER-HIGH ALERT— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 24, 2018
KD collects his 13th assist in the game ➡️ David West pic.twitter.com/JyHaVXjos9
The Warriors took care of the Porzingis-less Knicks Tuesday night, handing them a 123-112 loss thanks to 32 points from Steph Curry and Durant’s game-high, career-high 14 assists. (The Warriors as a whole had a whopping 40—their sixth game with at least that many in the Kerr era. The rest of the league has a combined eight in that same span.) And Durant’s final assist wasn’t reflected in the box score. With less than three minutes left, Durant was ejected—his fourth time this season!—allowing Patrick McCaw to get some minutes. These are the luxuries one can afford when playing for the most talented team of all time.
Jeff “Steph” Hornacek
Jeff Hornacek FED UP he about to put the jersey back on and play pic.twitter.com/Wg9oebbyKR— Kyle Kuzwob (@World_Wide_Wob) January 24, 2018
The Cavs Should Trade for (Tonight’s) Garrett Temple
With a Cavs–George Hill trade reportedly at the “1-yard line,” the Kings, losers of eight straight, took on the Orlando Magic on Tuesday and beat them 105-99. Hill didn’t play—the Kings are purposefully sitting two veterans a game to give more time to their young core—but Garrett Temple did, and he proceeded to drop 34 points on 17 shots off the bench.
TURN THE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS ON!!! GARRETT TEMPLE IS ON FIRE!!! pic.twitter.com/kRAenNM1Ly— Kings on NBCS (@NBCSKings) January 24, 2018
Temple missed only one shot in the first half and then kept his groove going: He hit four 3s and missed only three field goals all game long. Get Koby Altman on the phone.