Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: About that Warriors’ let down...
I completely understand if you were prepping for “The Force Awakens” opening by watching (or re-watching) the Family Guy Star Wars episodes. I think we all are. If that means you missed the slate of a dozen NBA games on Wednesday night, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know about a busy Wednesday around the NBA.
1) About that Warriors’ let down after their first loss... The Warriors lost to the Bucks because they were tired — seventh game of a road trip, the second night of a back-to-back after playing a double-overtime thriller. Wednesday they were rested, and the Phoenix Suns paid the price — 128-103, and it wasn’t that close. Starting at the end of the first half the Warriors went on a 58-19 run and by the end of the third were up 40. Klay Thompson had 27 in the third shooting Stephen Curry-like threes, and he finished with a career-high 43. Draymond Green had 16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals. It wasn’t a perfect night for Golden State — Curry actually missed two free throws in a row — but the Suns lack any of the tools to properly combat what the Warriors do. Golden State is going to be rested — just five games the next two weeks, all at home — and they showed again that when focused there is not another team in the Association playing as well right now. I can’t wait until the Christmas Day showdown with Cleveland (who should finally be healthy for this matchup).
2) Don’t look now, but the Thunder have won six in a row. It doesn’t always have to be the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook show. Sure, they combined for 37 points, but four other OKC players were in double figures scoring also as the Thunder rolled the Trail Blazers 106-90. That’s 10 wins in the last 12 games for OKC. In their last 10 games the Thunder have the NBA’s fourth-best offense and fifth-best defense — those are the signs of a team playing like a contender. In those last 10 OKC is outscoring opponents by an impressive 9.9 points per 100 possessions — the problem is that’s still third behind the Spurs and Warriors. There are still questions in OKC, but they are playing like a team that wants to be in the title contender conversation.
3) The Kristaps Porzingis vs. Karl-Anthony Towns showdown goes to Towns. And Ricky Rubio. And the Knicks. Let’s be honest, we tuned into this game to see the top two rookies in the NBA — Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis — go head-to-head. If we go to the judges’ cards to score that matchup, Towns gets the decision — he had 25 points on 21 shots, plus 10 rebounds (Porzingis had 11 points on 14 shots). But Porzingis did land some blows.
The other winners on the night were the Knicks, who needed a “W” and got one thanks to 29 from Arron Afflalo. Also getting a win was Ricky Rubio, whose line of 9 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, and eight steals was as close to a quadruple-double as anyone has come in a long time.
4) Paul Pierce reaches 26,000 career points, only 15 others have done that. Paul Pierce has become almost a forgotten man with the Clippers, averaging just 4.2 points a game, not playing in crunch time, and just getting a quiet 15-20 minutes a night. But the man has had a long career of scoring and with that keeps racking up milestones — like reaching 26,000 career points when he hit this jumper at the first quarter buzzer. Pierce is 16th on the NBA All-Time scoring list (19th if you count the ABA numbers). He’s a lock Hall of Famer, and we won’t remember him as the guy coming off the Clippers’ bench.
5) Enes Kanter had the worst length-of-the-court shot you may ever see. Words cannot do this justice.