Post Up: In Overdrive

The Pistons and Rockets continued their strong play, the 76ers' young guns dominated, the Warriors beat the Lakers in OT, and more.
by November 30, 2017
Detroit Pistons

Pistons 131 (14-6), Suns 107 (8-15)

They’ve been overshadowed a bit by the Celtics, but the Stan Van Gundy-led Pistons might be the biggest surprise team in the Eastern Conference. With the throttling of Phoenix, Detroit moved just two games behind Boston and won a third-straight game. Tobias Harris (20 points, 7 rebounds), Avery Bradley (20 points) and Reggie Jackson (23 points, 5 assists) led the way.

Andre Drummond scored 13 points and notched 7 boards, but took on more of a distributor role in this one, posting 7 dimes from the center position. He also became the first player in the NBA this season to reach 300 rebounds. What makes Detroit so scary is that, on any given night, a different player can be the main guy.

Last season, the Pistons’ offense would bog down often when Drummond was dealing with foul trouble or just not playing well. But, Harris has been playing at an All-Star level and the addition of Bradley has given Detroit a solid shooter who is a lockdown defender. It doesn’t hurt that Jackson is finally feeling comfortable in Stan Van’s system.

Magic 121 (9-13), Thunder 108 (8-12)

Orlando snapped a 9-game losing streak as the Thunder keep struggling to get on the same page. It was close most of the way until the Magic broke away during the second half. Aaron Gordon did most of the damage, exploding for 40 points and 15 rebounds. He did it with dunks, threes (6-for-12 beyond the arc) and defense (4 steals).

People were never worried with AG’s athleticism or high-flying ability, it was his questionable jumpshot that limited his ceiling as a big-time scorer. That’s not too much of a concern anymore. Elfrid Payton helped out with an efficient 19 points and stuffed the stat sheet with 5 boards, 6 assists and 4 steals. After a quick start, the Magic have cooled down considerably so they needed this one.

MVP Russ showed up in Orlando with 37 points and 11 rebounds, but the Thunder bench scored just 16 points and Carmelo Anthony was 5-for-16 from the field. As a team, OKC shot under 40 percent and let the Magic make 59 percent of their shots. That combo isn’t going to result in wins too often.

76ers 118 (12-8), Wizards 113 (11-10)

Already without John Wall (knee), the Wizards lost Bradley Beal to a facial contusion a few minutes into the game and kind of slogged through the opening half as a result. They trailed 58-40 at the break, as Embiid and Simmons took over (the pair combined for 56 points, 32 rebounds and a crazy 47 free throw attempts).

Beal would return and helped Washington fight back with a 48-point fourth quarter to make this a game. The Wizards were within 116-113 with 11 seconds to play. But, they couldn’t grab a key defensive rebound and didn’t have a chance to cut the deficit any further. Three Wizards (Beal, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jodie Meeks) scored 20+ points in the loss.

Something interesting: Washington used a Hack-a-Simmons strategy in the final frame to aid the comeback effort, and it worked perfectly. Simmons took 24 free throws in the fourth quarter — an NBA record — and was just 15-of-29 at the charity stripe overall. Have a feeling we’ll see other teams do the same when they play Philly.

Raptors 126 (13-7), Hornets 113 (8-12)

Entering tonight, Toronto was 6-1 at home and Charlotte was 1-8 on the road. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise that the Raptors scored 71 first half points and cruised to an easy W as Kemba Walker, sat with a bruised shoulder. Both Kyle Lowry (36 points, 6 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (30 points, 6 assists) had monster games.

Lowry had the honor of being interviewed after the game by the 6 God himself.

You could make the argument that Lowry and DeRozan make up the East’s best backcourt, and both have seemingly been unleashed this season as they make three-pointers more of a focus. When they each are feeling good on offense, it’s really hard to stop this Raptors squad.

Kemba is the heart and soul of the Hornets, so when they don’t have him, other guys need to step up. Dwight Howard did that tonight, needing just 12 shots to post a 22-point, 10-rebound double-double (and posterize Serge Ibaka). He was the only Charlotte starter to do much. Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky each added 18 points off the bench.

Knicks 115 (11-10), Heat 86 (10-11)

Disaster almost struck the Knicks in the first quarter, as Kristaps Porzingis turned his ankle badly while trying to grab a loose ball. KP wouldn’t return, but the team announced that x-rays were negative and it was only a sprain. Even without their star, the Knicks crushed Miami, outscoring the Heat by 21 in the first half and winning each quarter.

New York snapped a three-game skid and got back to the high-energy, unselfish play that helped the Knicks surprise people in the early going. Enes Kanter (22 points, 14 rebounds) took advantage of Hassan Whiteside (knee) being out of the lineup. Jeff Hornacek got contributions from his entire roster, as all 13 Knicks to play made at least one field goal en route to a 60% team shooting day.

Rockets 118 (17-4), Pacers 97 (12-10)

Houston ends November with a 12-1 record in the month, with 11 of those wins coming by 14 or more points (the only holdout: a 117-113 W over the Cavaliers). Since Chris Paul came back from his knee injury, the Rockets have won six straight. They started slow against Indiana but outscored the Pacers by double digits in the second and third quarters to open up a big lead.

The Rockets’ entire starting lineup hit double figures, with James Harden putting up a casual near triple-double (29 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists) to just 1 turnover. At this point, Beard is looking like the MVP frontrunner as Houston sports the Western Conference’s top record. He has these mega-games on an almost nightly basis and, like LeBron, they’re starting to feel unremarkable in that “transcendent star” type of way.

Also, look at this ball movement and that first pass. Incredible:

Timberwolves 120 (13-9), Pelicans 102 (11-10)

For the second night in a row, a star player was ejected for the first time in their career. Yesterday, it was LeBron and tonight, it was Anthony Davis. At the time AD was tossed, Minnesota led 46-43. The Timberwolves then outscored New Orleans 74-59 the rest of the way.

Minnesota won this game down low, outrebounding the Pelicans by 16 with both Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson putting up double-doubles. Andrew Wiggins led the scoring charge, dropping 28 points on an efficient 18 shots. He also had 5 dimes, which is nice to see from a guy struggling to diversify his offensive game. Oh, and an enormous block too.

Jrue Holiday scored 27 to pace New Orleans, which also got 17 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists from DeMarcus Cousins. Scoring wasn’t the problem for the Pelicans tonight, it was their defense. Minnesota shot 58 percent from the field and had 30 assists.

Nets 109 (8-13), Mavericks 104 (5-17)

Down their top two point guards as well as Allen Crabbe and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson due to injury, the Nets have needed different guys to step up almost every night. In Dallas, it was DeMarre Carroll and Trevor Booker. Carroll — picked up this offseason in a salary dump from the Raptors — knocked down 4 threes while Booker, a free agent this summer, posted a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double and had some huge tip-outs down the stretch that turned into offensive boards.

Brooklyn withstood a terrible free throw shooting day (14-of-25) to beat the Mavericks, mostly behind the play of guys like Carroll, Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, all of whom were unceremoniously discarded by their previous teams.

Things are looking bleak for the Mavericks, who are just 3-10 at home and heading toward a sub-20 win season. Harrison Barnes scored 17 points to go with 8 rebounds and 6 assists while rookie forward Maxi Kleber scored a career-high 16.

Spurs 104 (14-7), Grizzlies 95 (7-13)

The Grizzlies, in their first game post-David Fizdale, hung around with the Spurs all night but LaMarcus Aldridge was too much. LMA scored 41 points on 17-for-24 shooting to take down depleted Memphis, which was led by Tyreke Evans‘ 22. Aldridge played so well that Gregg Popovich said nice things about him after the game.

Tony Parker added 10 points and 5 assists in his second game back from injury. That’s nine straight losses for the Grizzlies.

Warriors 127 (15-6), Lakers 123 (8-12) / OT

This was probably the most fun game of the whole 10-game slate. The Dubs took the lead early but the Lakers — behind 41 points from reserves Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle — surged back in the second quarter to go ahead at the half. L.A. and Golden State went back and forth down the stretch before Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s three-point play gave the Lakers a 109-106 edge.

But, 10 seconds later, Kevin Durant (29 points) drilled a contested three to tie it up. Both sides missed potential game-winners before the defending champs took over in the extra period. Steph Curry (28 points) knocked down back-to-back threes to build a cushion and, despite some great shot-making from Brandon Ingram, it held up.

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