Ham’s Hoops Roundup Wednesday 1/17: The NBA Has Become The WWE And I Am All The Way Here For It

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DeAndre wants out of LA after #SecretTunnelGate. Cleveland is in shambles. I am no longer jealous of Arron Afflalo. The NBA has become the WWE. Oh and also Anthony Davis is absolutely absurd at the hooping. It’s the Hoops Roundup for Wednesday, January 17th. Let’s get it…

Scores from Tuesday, January 16th:

Minnesota 102  –  Orlando 108
New Orleans 116  –  Boston 113  OT
Dallas 102  –  Denver 105
Phoenix 111  –  Portland 118

Around The Association

When I started the Hoops Roundup last year, I used to start with the Around The Association section. Trade rumors, twitter happenings, non-basketball but basketball-adjacent things, etc. All of the things that happen on a nightly basis that are just as entertaining/newsworthy as the games.

When I picked it back up this season I pushed it to the bottom. I wanted to focus more on the games. And the product itself has been so good that outside of the weekly LaVar story, the performances have just mattered more and been more interesting.

Then MLK Day happened. Monday, January 15th 2018 happened and suddenly all the soap opera, WWE drama we’ve come to expect from June and July got squeezed into one day in the middle of January. In the span of 24 hours from Monday night to Tuesday night, here is a list of things that have happened:

  • Chris Paul returned to L.A. to a lackluster crowd reaction and out in the open contempt from his former teammates. Chris shared the same feelings, and got into it multiple times with Blake Griffin
  • 66-year-old Mike D’Antoni openly screamed FUCK YOU at Blake Griffin and basically challenged him to a fight
  • Austin Rivers stepped onto the court in a suit looking like the most easily killable bodyguard in an action movie while trying to go at Trevor Ariza.
  • Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, and multiple Rockets shoved and yelled at Austin Rivers outside the Clippers locker room.
  • Chris Paul then led a steaming hot Trevor Ariza, Gerald “I’ve been on the Rockets for ten minutes but I’m ready to scrap” Green, and James “I am a global superstar who put a bounty on Moses Malone’s son how does nobody ever talk about this” Harden through a SECRET TUNNEL in Staples Center like Nicolas goddamn Cage to enter the Clippers locker room to fight Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin…
  • Clint Capela was sent to knock on the front door as a diversion for that and had it slammed in his face like Wile E. Coyote.

  • The LAPD was called – which then led to quite possibly the funniest moment in Inside The NBA history. I love the show. I still think it’s the best studio show by a mile. And even when Chuck and Shaq can get tiresome with the back in my day shit – it’s moments like this that make that all worth it. Shaq throwing the paper made me cry laughing.

  • Meanwhile… just hours before… the Cavs cut off the hot water in Golden States showers after taking an L

ESPN — Following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 118-108 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday, multiple players acknowledged growing discontent and a strong sense of concern that unlike past seasons, the team does not have the capability to fix its problems and get back on a championship track.

  • As details emerged yesterday morning following the Rockets-Clippers fight and Basketball Twitter was getting it’s memes off, Stephen A came out and dropped one of the most outrageous reports I’ve ever seen.

  • The concept isn’t so absurd – DeAndre is from Houston, thrived in PNR with Chris Paul, would be even better as the roll man for Harden, is tight with Harden and multiple Rockets players, and most of all is probably sick of Doc Rivers.
  • What is absurd is that this came immediately on the heels of the most ridiculous NBA event since–ironically enough–the time when the Clippers held DeAndre hostage in his own house two summers ago. And it came after DeAndre was basically the only notable player on either team who wasn’t a part of the fight yet. So either DeAndre hates it so much there that he chose this moment to leak it, which is cold as ice. Or someone with an anti-DeAndre and/or anti-Clippers sentiment in the league chose this moment to drag DeAndre by cashing in a “you owe me one” with Stephen A. Smith
  • The NBA opened an investigation into #SecretTunnelGate

  • Isaiah Thomas–who had already turned down a video tribute from the Celtics during the first time Cleveland played Boston because he wanted his family there for it–just turned down the Celtics offer for a video tribute on February 11th because that is the same game Paul Pierce is having his jersey retired.

  • Pierce openly complained that Isaiah would take the shine away from his special night.

“Danny and I talked about it for 40 minutes,” Pierce explained to ESPN early Tuesday afternoon. “He told me, ‘This is what we have planned,’ and at the end of the conversation, he said, ‘If you don’t want us to do Isaiah, we won’t.’ So I told him, ‘I really don’t.’ So that was it.”

  • It’s NBA #PettyWars at their finest, yes. But more than anything, this is entirely on the Celtics for scheduling Paul Pierce Night for the Cleveland game. There are 28 teams that you didn’t just make a high profile, contentious trade with. You won’t catch me having sympathy for Paul Pierce EVER – but I think he’s pretty justified here in being like “yo what the fuck guys?” Ironically enough though, it’s now gonna be a bigger deal than if they’d just done the video. But I don’t think anyone can fault Pierce for not wanting to basically share the night with a guy who spent two seasons there. Speaking of that…
  • Rajon Rondo had some thoughts!

  • Rajon is pretty clearly in his feelings about how much more the Celtics fans embraced Isaiah than they did him. He spent nine years there, won a title, carried Boston to the Conference Finals himself in 2012 and almost beat the peak Lebron Miami team. Isaiah was in Boston for two years and didn’t sniff beating LeBron. Yet it’s not even a contest as to who Boston embraced more. I can understand the bitterness there.
  • But the actual best part of this is Rondo throwing immense shade at the Phoenix Suns and absolutely nobody else.

  • And that was it. Maybe the craziest two days in NBA history. For 24 the NBA turned into the WWE – All of the drama without any real punches thr–

Wait… wait what’s that? Is… is that…


Minnesota 102  –  Orlando 108

Minnesota  (29-17)  4th in West
Orlando  (13-31)  14th in East

You know who I’m extremely not jealous of? Arron Afflalo. Doing the straight-armed swing punch is already an awful look. You look wildly uncoordinated. You look like you have no idea how to fight. And even if you land it there is absolutely nothing behind that swing compared to a normal punch.

Doing the straight-armed punch and whiffing is simply demoralizing. Not only is it embarrassing – you’ve also just thrown off all your balance, lost your footing, and basically opened yourself up to get cracked.

Whiffing on a straight-armed punch and then getting tossed into a “calm down there little man” headlock by white euro is probably the single most embarrassing moment on a basketball court since Kobe Bean caught the two piece hold the biscuit from Chris Childs.

Bjelica could have paraded Afflalo’s body around the court like Achilles did Hector. That man was more helpless than a child getting pulled out the room by the ear by his furious mother. DJ Augustine was trying to push Afflalo’s head out and it just got tighter like a Chinese Finger Trap.

It was one of the funniest visuals these eyes have ever seen. And Arron Afflalo better pray to god that Nemanja Bjelica doesn’t spend the next forty years of his life signing pictures of that moment like Nolan Ryan. Because outside of those twelve bars from Kendrick, this is probably the most memorable moment of his stale bread career.

On the bright side – that fight actually spurred Orlando to their second win in their last 18 games. So that’s cool, I guess. Evan Fournier led the way with 32 points and six threes on 12-22 shooting.

And Orlando snapped a red hot Minnesota team that had won five straight and 12 of their last 15. Jimmy (28p/7r/4a/2b/5s) did his best to keep them in it and Taj Gibson (18p/7r/3s) posted a solid night. But hopefully this was a good “we’ve still got things to work on” loss to take and carry momentum into a MONSTER game at Houston on Thursday (9:30pm TNT).

New Orleans 116  –  Boston 113  OT

New Orleans  (23-20)  6th in West
Boston  (34-11)  1st in East

I love all the drama of the last two days. LOVE it. all 1300 words or something above probably indicates that. And all of the hilarity and intrigue of NBA drama is reason 1B why I love this game.

Reason 1A is still games like last night. Games where dudes come in and absolutely annihilate a team from start to finish – especially those where it feels like they’re taking a leap. Lebron’s 45p/15r/5a Game 6 in Boston being the prime example.

Anthony Davis (45p/16r/2b) was not that. But that game combined with his Sunday performance (48p/17r/3b/4s) in MSG feels like a moment.

Back-to-back games… on the two biggest stages in basketball… of 45+ and 15+… against a star in Porzingis and an A+ defender in Horford… I mean… holy shit.

AD has been a superstar. He’s been a top ten talent. He’s posted unreal numbers and memorable performances. But this is the first time I can remember thinking… oh shit, this is it. This is I’m a top five player… I’m an MVP candidate… Watch me carry this team to the Conference Finals.

And sure, maybe that’s absurd to think with this team. But how many teams is he not the best player on the court for? Could he be better than Jimmy in a series? Absolutely. Could he be better than Russ in a series? No doubt. Could he be better than Harden in a series? Why not? Could he be better than Kawhi in a series? That’s the only one that gives me pause.

Yes the Pelicans are weird and flawed. But they’ve always got the two best bigs. They’re always a matchup nightmare. They’ll have two of the three best players on the floor against everyone but Golden State. They have three guys I’d absolutely go to war with (AD, Boogie, Rondo) and three I’m gaining more and more trust in (Jrue, Moore, Clark). And while it’s a stretch to think they can make any moves by the deadline, adding a wing shooter/defender would vault them up a level.

Jrue (23p/4r/7a/3s on 9-16 shooting) and Ian Clark (15p/4r on 7-10 shooting) helped pick up Boogie’s (19p/15r/5a/3s) lack of scoring. And Rondo (7p/3r/8a/2b/2s) was all over his old stomping grounds especially in the first.

Short of a major injury or a catastrophic collapse, this team is going to make the playoffs. If these last two games mean what I think they do… they’re gonna be there in May, too.

Kyrie led a comeback with 16 in the third and 24 of his 27 points in the second half. But shot just 8-24 with only 2 assists vs. 6 turnovers.

Al Horford added his usual stat line (14/9r/6a) and didn’t necessarily do a bad job defensively as Davis did only shoot 16-34. But 45 is still 45.

Jayson Tatum took only 6 shots, hitting half of them for 10p/5r/2a. But god damn was this move pretty.

The other half of the Young Jay’s added 16p/4r/5a and one borderline suicidal flex on Boogie. I won’t ever feel bad for Boston – but it will be wild to see a team lose a player to a detached ankle and a detached face in the same season.

Dallas 102  –  Denver 105

Dallas  (15-30)  13th in West
Denver  (23-21)  8th in West

Dennis Smith (25p/5a) did his best to lead a Dallas comeback, helping outscore Denver 33-19 in the fourth.

But it was too big a gap thanks to a monster night from Nikola Jokic (29p/18r/7a on 11-23 shooting).

Phoenix 111  –  Portland 118

Phoenix  (16-29)  11th in West
Portland  (22-21)  7th in West

Dame (31p/7r/5a) and CJ (27p/2b/3s) combined for 10 threes and 58 points total

And needed every bit of it to hold off Phoenix, nearly giving up a twenty point fourth quarter lead thanks to an insane 21-point fourth quarter from Devin Booker (43p/6r/8a/2s on 14-29 shooting, 5-12 from three),

I wrote about him last week… but Booker has been absolutely unreal these last three weeks since missing time in December. In his ten games back he’s been averaging 27/4/6 a night. Get him another young star and this dude is gonna be a PROBLEM for the next decade.

Schedule for Wednesday, January 16th:

7:00   Washington  @  Charlotte
7:30   New Orleans  @  Atlanta
7:30   San Antonio  @  Brooklyn
7:30   Detroit  @  Toronto
8:00   Golden State  @  Chicago
8:00   New York  @  Memphis
8:00   Miami  @  Milwaukee
8:00   LA Lakers  @  Oklahoma City   ESPN
10:00   Utah  @  Sacramento
10:30   Denver  @  LA Clippers   ESPN

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