Post Up: Lift Off

Houston is literally unbeatable when CP3 is on the floor.
by December 08, 2017
Chris Paul

Lakers 107 (9-15), 76ers (13-11)

The League has a crazy amount of quality young talent and these two teams have a nice chunk of it. Like the Philly-L.A. meeting back in November, tonight’s version was exciting and a glimpse into the League’s future. Both Joel Embiid (33 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks) and Ben Simmons (12 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists) played really well, but Philly committed 18 turnovers, allowing the Lakers — with 7 players scoring in double figures — to hold a lead throughout.

It all came down to the last few seconds and was decided when Lonzo Ball beautifully drew the 76ers’ attention to the baseline, allowing him to find an open Brandon Ingram for the game-winning three.

Ingram ended up with 21 points on the game, and Lonzo had a near triple-double (along with 4 blocks and 3 steals). But it was the play of Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson off the bench, who combined to score 32, that was the difference. Randle was aggressive from the get-go, going right at Embiid multiple times for dunks and layups. Very impressive road win for the young Lakers.

Wizards 109 (14-11), Suns 99 (9-18)

Two days removed from his career-best 51-point performance in the Wizards’ win over the Trail Blazers, Bradley Beal dialed it down a little in Phoenix. He scored a game-high 34 to lead Washington past the Suns, hitting 13 of his 22 shots and dishing out 4 assists. Markieff Morris helped out, dropping 21 points on 12 field goal attempts.

It’s good to see the Wizards get on a little roll, away from home, without John Wall. Their biggest issue is still the bench, which has benefited from guys like Mike Scott and a healthy Ian Mahinmi, but when Beal is going off every night, that weakness is less devastating.

With Devin Booker out due to the groin injury he suffered a few days ago, Phoenix needed other guys to step up. T.J. Warren led the Suns with 23 points and 8 rebounds while Greg Monroe (15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and Tyler Ulis (13 points, 6 assists) helped out. Beal and Morris were just too much.

Nets 100 (10-14), Thunder 95 (11-13)

In the first of two Mexico City games this season — both featuring the Nets — Brooklyn overcame a weak first quarter to stun the Paul George-less Thunder. Undermanned due both to injury and the announced trade for Jahlil Okafor and Nik Staukas, the Nets only got 19 minutes from starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie because of foul trouble, forcing Caris LeVert to run the offense most of the night.

LeVert turned out to be the best player on the floor, notching a 21-point and 10-assist double-double (the first of his career) with 0 turnovers as he lead Brooklyn to a second-straight win. Allen Crabbe was a game-high +21, scoring 15 points, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 17.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Thunder. It was another iso-heavy night for the offense, as Russell Westbrook (31 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) was 10-for-27 from the field and Carmelo Anthony (11 points, 11 rebounds) struggled to get his shot going in the high altitude. OKC missed more than half of its free throws. It’s clear they need PG in order to be a true contender, but scoring 37 second half points against defensively challenged Brooklyn is a troubling sign.

Rockets 112 (19-4), Jazz 101 (13-13)

Houston might be as underrated a team as a 19-4 record could possibly allow for. James Harden (29 points) and Chris Paul (18 points, 9 rebounds, 13 assists) look like they’ve been playing together for 10 years while the Rockets’ supporting cast — led on Thursday by Ryan Anderson (23 points) — seems perfectly suited to work around their two stars.

With the win over Utah, the Rockets improved to 11-1 on the road this season and is now a perfect 9-0 when CP3 plays. They’ve won eight straight games, starting when Paul returned from injury, and have won all 8 by double digits.

Donovan Mitchell balled out once again, leading the Jazz with 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting. Alec Burks scored 17 off the bench. The big problem for Utah: defense. No team can stop Houston’s lethal attack, especially from three, but you can’t let the Rockets hit 18 triples and expect to have a chance for a W.

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