Post Up: Thunder Rising

by November 01, 2017
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Carmelo Anthony

Pacers 101 (4-3), Kings 83 (1-6)

Indiana, only a few months after trading Paul George, has been one of the Association’s biggest surprises. With Myles Turner (concussion) out since the season opener, the Pacers have needed newcomers Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to step up, and they’ve certainly done the job.

Sabonis (12 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists) has four double-doubles in his last five games while Oladipo (14 points) is showing signs of turning back into the star he was with the home-state Hoosiers. Fellow offseason pickups Cory Joseph and Bojan Bogdanovic combined to chip in 30 points while Thad Young added 15 points and 4 steals. The Pacers held Sacramento to 30 first half points.

This one was never really close, and the Kings — despite 18 points off the bench from De’Aaron Fox — keep struggling.

Since it was Halloween, the Pacers’ official Twitter account showed some holiday spirit with none other than the legendary Lance Stephenson (who had a typical Born Ready line of 6 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks).

Suns 122 (3-4), Nets 114 (3-5)

When teams fire coaches midseason, especially after three games, it’s always pretty hard to predict how players will respond. In the Suns’ case, the firing of Earl Watson might have been the nudge the team needed to start playing with more effort and intensity.

Phoenix took advantage of the Nets’ lack of size and defensive ability to build a 83-65 lead midway through the third quarter behind Devin Booker (32 points and 7 rebounds) and Mike James (a career-high 24 points with 4 steals). But, the Nets fought back, rolling off a 23-4 run to take a one-point lead by the end of the frame.

Brooklyn took a 106-98 advantage with just over six minutes left to play and it felt like the Suns had let one slip away. After a timeout, though, when Nets coach Kenny Atkinson brought D’Angelo Russell back in for Spencer Dinwiddie, Phoenix scored 18 of the next 20 points to re-take the lead and seal the W. Russell led the Nets with 33 points but it wasn’t enough, considering the home team went 9-for-31 from three-point range, missed 9 free throws and lost the rebounding battle 66-44.

Thunder 110 (4-3), Bucks 91 (4-3)

It feels like this team is starting to gel. Five Thunder players scored in double figures — including Melo, Russ and Paul George — while Steven Adams posted 14 points and 11 points and Jerami Grant added 17 off the bench. OKC came out of the gates hot, and was up 18 points by the break.

There was some fireworks just five minutes into the game, as, after a PG corner three, Adams went to give Khris Middleton the ball only to have Middleton fire it right back at him. The two exchanged some words and squared up before a ref got in the middle of it. Double technical fouls were called.

The big key for the Thunder was how smooth this win was, from beginning to end. Last year, when it was all Westbrook, all the time, he would often have to check back into games late in the fourth quarter to stave off a collapse. Things were different on Tuesday, as none of the Big Three had to reach the 30-minute plateau with the OKC bench doing a solid job. That’s huge for Billy Donovan.

Giannis was able to do his thing for Milwaukee (28 points and 8 rebounds) but was the only Buck who played well. The MVP campaign is still chugging along.

Lakers 113 (2-4), Pistons 92 (5-3)

After road wins over the Clippers and Warriors on back-to-back days, it wasn’t going to be easy for upstart Pistons to go into Staples Center again to take on a rested Lakers team. Detroit hung around in the first quarter but lost the second by 10 and was never able to climb out of its hole.

Tobias Harris and Reggie Jackson each scored 18 points as the Pistons fought hard in the second half, only to be outplayed by an energized L.A. squad which had seven different players score double-digit points. Lonzo (13 points and 6 rebounds) shot a little better from the field and made some highlight reel passes, including a nifty tip dime to Andrew Bogut and bullet feed of a bounce pass to get the Lakers some free throws.

Kyle Kuzma (16 points on 4-of-4 shooting from three) continues to impress while Larry Nance Jr. notched a double-double in his 27 minutes of action. They were able to take advantage of noticeably dragging Detroit.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images