All the need-to-know info from Thursday’s (admittedly light) slate.
Paul George Knows We’re Listening
The rumors of PG leaving in free agency next summer to sign with the Lakers began even before the Thunder traded for him. We’ve seen Magic Johnson admit to tampering—or “wink-winking”—with George on Jimmy Kimmel.
The Clippers game was George’s second in Los Angeles this season. His parents sat courtside—a nice little reminder of where he comes from—as they did when the Thunder played the Lakers a night earlier. David Aldridge wanted some answers, dammit:
David Aldridge: “Does it remind you of what you love, or what you don’t miss, being in L.A.?”
George: “It’s good. [...] It’s good…”—awkward glances to the side of the camera, some muttering about a change of pace in Oklahoma—“I got two great places to be.”
THE CRYPTICISM. THE NERVE. THE … THE PERFECT ANSWER.
0.00007 Seconds or Less
Battle of the Best in the West
Both the Rockets and Warriors played Thursday without their respective megastars, James Harden and Omri Casspi.
Kevin Durant was also listed as out.
Golden State won, 124-114, as it often can without one of Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, or Durant. That Houston could hang with the best team in the league without its own conductor was the end-game revelation.
(The Rockets were on the second night of a back-to-back, as well, after beating the far-less-formidable Orlando Magic on Wednesday.)
The Warriors closed out Houston expertly, going on a late 7-0 run. Still, it was heartening to see Chris Paul and Eric Gordon—who finished with 28 and 30 points, respectively, and combined for 16 assists—go toe-to-toe with Steph and Klay (29 and 28 points, nine total assists). Paul has performed like an All-Star point guard in Harden’s two-game absence, which is likely because he is a nine-time All-Star, eight-time All-NBA, nine-time All-Defensive team point guard.
To quote The Ringer’s Sean Yoo via Slack, “I think Chris Paul legitimately broke David West’s ankles.”
No Referee’s Safe
Jerami Grant tied a season high with three blocks.
The stat lines in OKC’s 127-117 victory against the Clippers were a tray of extra-loaded baked potatoes on both sides:
Blake Griffin: 24 points, nine rebounds, seven assists
DeAndre Jordan: 26 points, 17 rebounds
Lou Williams: 26 points, 10 assists
Russell Westbrook: 29 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists
Paul George: 31 points, six rebounds, three assists
Less flashy than those above is Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 22 points, four rebounds, and two assists. But it is remarkable for two reasons: First, he has now officially scored the 21st-most points in NBA history, passing Patrick Ewing. He now has 24,829.
Second, this is Melo being a third option successfully. His field goals (12 attempts) equalled rookie Terrance Ferguson’s, but were efficient. Melo went 9-for-12 overall with three of those makes coming from beyond the perimeter. In the last two weeks, he’s averaged 19.3 points, 50.4 percent shooting from the field, and 47 percent from 3 on 6.4 attempts per game. The latter two would both be the best marks of his career. To find out what Melo thinks of his recent uptick, we throw to him in the field:
Chill Melo, you're on TV *NSFW* pic.twitter.com/3DdU6SR7Oe— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 5, 2018
The Grass Is Always Gerald Greener
When the Rockets made the call to Green, a Houston native, he was on his couch. I like to think he was watching an NBA game, maybe a League Pass alert, particularly one of the 29 teams that passed on signing the 31-year-old veteran to its bench.
Green’s resurrection via the Rockets hit a new high mark against the Warriors: He scored 29 points in 34 minutes and went 8-for-15 from beyond the 3-point line.
Next Thing I Knew, He Was All Up on Me Screaming
Clint Capela With the Swiss-step
Wait, Why Is There a Mouse?
this is the scariest thing ive ever seen pic.twitter.com/Y8MN64UUkC— Whitney Medworth (@its_whitney) January 5, 2018
Sweet nightmares of a giant Eric Gordon neck, my Thursday NBA friends.