Ham’s Hoops Roundup Wednesday 12/20 – The Freak and The King

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Giannis pulls one out from under LeBron. Z-Bo shows Philly the dark arts. And Anthony Davis tries to strong arm the Pels for a little help. It’s the Hoops Roundup for Wednesday, Dec. 20th. Let’s get it…

Scores from Tuesday, Dec. 19th

Sacramento 101  –  Philadelphia 95
New Orleans 106  –  Washington 116
Cleveland 116  –  Milwaukee 119

Sacramento 101  –  Philadelphia 109

Sacramento  (10-20)
Philadelphia  (14-16)

At the start of last week, Joel Embiid had never played more than 36 minutes in an NBA game. On Tuesday he played 39 minutes in OT against Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota. On Friday he played 49 (FORTY NINE!) minutes against Steven Adams and OKC in that Triple OT thriller while very clearly playing through back pain.

That’s back-to-back career highs against two of the most physical bigs in the game. And that’s why Embiid sat for a second straight game last night.

The Sixers now out of the playoffs at 14-16. They’re 1-7 in their last eight, losing all four games that Embiid has sat in that stretch. And Embiid is expect to sit their home-and-home with Toronto before likely (“HOPEFULLY” -screamed every NBA fan) returning for Christmas Day against the Knicks.

Philly ain’t taking any chances. And that’s fine. They’ll likely fight with Miami and New York for that 8th spot in the East all season. Miami is profoundly mediocre. And New York plays 20 of 29 games on the road (where they are 2-9) leading into the All Star Break. Philly will be fine. Get Embiid healthy and rested while you can.

Zach Randolph took over without Embiid’s presence down low, bullying his way to 27 points on 12-19 shooting. At one point his moves prompted Sixer color guy Alaa Abdelnaby at 2:03 below to say “It’s like watching old style jiu jitsu or karate between Amir (Johnson) and Z-Bo. Some dark arts going on down there.” And that made my night. Z-Bo forever.

New Orleans 106  –  Washington 116

New Orleans  (15-16)
Washington  (17-14)

Woj is Woj because he worked his ass off. I want to make that one thing clear first. Woj is the top information curator of the Association, the go-to news breaker, and so publicly renowned that he’s known by a singular name like an actual NBA superstar  first and foremost because he worked his ass off. That’s how Woj became Woj.

Woj also became Woj because of things like this.

Because he will do favors for people – favors like giving Anthony Davis a platform to subtly but not so subtly light a fire under the ass of the Pelicans Front Office. All I care about is winning. You know who wins? Teams with at least three All Stars. I want to be in New Orleans. But I most value a well-run organization. By the way, I’m very, very aware Boston wants to trade for me. I’m not one to make demands of the franchise. But by the way, Boogie and Rondo opened my eyes to what I can change around here.

Anthony Davis’s agent, Thaddeus Foucher of WMG, will owe Woj for this. Or Woj will owe Foucher for getting the headline here, depending on how you look at it. It’s a mutually beneficial move. Just watch for this to come back around in the form of Woj reporting on on of Foucher’s other clients (Gorgui Dieng, who could be moved for more depth in Minnesota… Kenneth Faried who has lived in trade rumors for nearly a decade… a certain reigning MVP who’s Thunder team is an absolute mess) in the near future.

Also Anthony Davis is not getting traded to Boston this season.

Davis then went out and posted 37p/9r on 11-21 shooting, getting help from Boogie (26p/13r/4a on 8-17 shooting) and nobody else.

The rest of the Pelicans combined for just 43 points on 15-42 (36%) shooting. And New Orleans dropped below .500 (15-16) for the firs time since November 3rd. They’re now 8th in the West, just a game above Utah for the last spot. And if Dell Demps doesn’t take AD’s message seriously, that’s probably where they’ll hover for the majority of this season.

There was a winning side last night. Wall (18p/6r/10a) and Beal (26p/5r/6a) dominated the Pels backcourt and got some bench help from emoji tatted Mike Scott (24p on 11-15 shooting).

Cleveland 116  –  Milwaukee 119

Cleveland  (23-9)
Milwaukee  (16-13)

We’re four months away from the playoffs. As much as the standings are starting to take shape, we won’t have a full idea of everything until at least March. And that bottom half of the East could come down to the last few days of the regular season.

But we are one HUNDO P getting a Cavs-Bucks series. One hundred percent.

We have to. Because for all the great little team and individual rivalries in this league, Cavs-Bucks and LeBron-Giannis is right there at the top. Best vs. the next. Old guard vs. the new. There’s a competitive animosity between these two without any fluff to it. They’re rivals simply because one is the best now and one is going to be the best. And every time they play they bring out the best in each other.

This time things flipped. LeBron (39p/7a/3s/2b on 14-22 shooting with 5 threes) got the numbers. Giannis (27p/14r/8a/2s on 8-14 shooting) finally got the win after five straight L’s – literally pulling it out from under LeBron.

These two don’t play again until Monday, March 19th. But that’s not the last time we’ll see them. We’re getting the playoff series we deserve from these two.

And by these two I mean LeBron and Delly.

Around The Association

Magic and Isiah did a bury-the-hatchet sit down last night on NBA TV after a 25 year estrangement that ended with a tearful apology and emotional embrace.

To the best of my knowledge, the estrangement did start when Isiah made no effort to support his longtime friend Magic after his HIV diagnosis and then spread rumors about Magic’s sexuality. I’m sure there’s more there and I’m certain they left a lot off camera for the sake of not dredging up old, reputation-damaging things like that. Isiah is just out here trying to make it through the #MeToo movement without people bringing back up the fact that MSG had to pay an eight figure settlement for his ’07 sexual harassment of Anucha Brown Sanders. I can’t imagine he’d want the fact that he abandoned his good friend after an HIV diagnosis for being gay getting dragged back into the news too.

I get all that. I’m just curious why Magic is the only one apologizing here.

Also there is definitely not any Knicks bitterness here. Definitely not. Totally neutral.


In other new somebody stole Charlie Villanueva’s toilet.

Schedule for Wednesday, Dec. 20th:

7:00   Toronto  @  Charlotte
7:30   Indiana  @  Atlanta
7:30   Miami  @  Boston
7:30   Sacramento  @  Brooklyn
8:00   Orlando  @  Chicago
8:00   LA Lakers  @  Houston     NBATV
8:00   Utah  @  Oklahoma City
8:30   Detroit  @  Dallas
9:00   Minnesota  @  Denver
10:00   San Antonio  @  Portland
10:30   Memphis  @  Golden State     NBATV
10:30   Phoenix  @  LA Clippers

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