Ham’s Hoops Roundup Wednesday 1/31: James Harden Is Unreal and The Cavs Are (Actually) In Trouble

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Kevin Love is out and the Cavs are screwed. James Harden drops a casual 60/10/11 triple double. Washington shows out without John Wall. And LaMarcus plays a little defense. It’s the Hoops Roundup for Wednesday, January 31st. Let’s get it…


Scores from Tuesday, January 30th:

Oklahoma City 96  –  Washington 102
Brooklyn 95  –  New York 111
Minnesota 104  –  Toronto 109
Cleveland 114  –  Detroit 125
Orlando 107  –  Houston 114
Sacramento 114  –  New Orleans 103
Denver 104  –  San Antonio 106
Golden State 99  –  Utah 129
Portland 104  –  LA Clippers 96


Around The Association

Kevin Love broke his hand last night and is now expected out for two months.

I think they’re genuinely screwed for the first time in these four LeBron seasons and wrote about why. You can read that here.

 


Bulls-Pelicans Mirotic Trade falls through

The trade deadline is now in full swing. Maybe not full, full swing… but when a star gets dealt like Blake on Monday, the starting gun has been fire.

Yesterday afternoon we got our first tease of the season when Woj informed us of the potential Mirotic-to-New Orleans deal.

It’s an interesting concept. Mirotic obviously isn’t Boogie – both in production and style. He’d force Davis to Center in their best lineups, which Davis has never liked to do. But he would give them much improved spacing around Davis and a decently prolific second/third scoring option. He’s averaging 17p/6r on fantastic 47/43/82 splits in just 25 minutes a night. The two big man advantage obviously died with Boogie’s achilles… but a Davis-Mirotic big duo is at least intriguing enough to create a different, more perimeter-oriented set of mismatches.

But that’s not all for naught.

Mirotic has somewhat of a no-trade clause, and he exercised it. Basically he can deny a trade to any team that won’t guarantee his salary ($12.5 mil) gets picked up next season.

New Orleans only wants him as a three-month rental. The expected salary cap for next season is $101 million. With Mirotic’s $12.5 mil replacing Omer Asik’s $11.3 mil, NO would be at $96 million between nine players before they even re-sign Boogie. They want to get rid of Asik’s $11.3 without locking anything in for next season.

Mirotic doesn’t want to approve the trade without that guarantee because that would forfeit his Bird Rights – meaning New Orleans could only re-sign him this summer using one of their exceptions (i.e. less money) since they’ll be over the salary cap. And with so many teams with little to no cap room this summer, Mirotic also doesn’t want to take a chance on the open market, where he might end up getting significantly less than $12.5 mil next season.

I’m gonna be honest guys… I can’t believe how well I just laid that out. I’m actually getting good at this.


Oklahoma City 96  –  Washington 102

Oklahoma City  (30-21)  5th in West
Washington  (28-22)  5th in East

John Wall is out for at least six weeks. I said yesterday that I think Washington will be fine. They’ve got a decent enough cushion (4.5 games over 9th seed Detroit) that it’s hard to imagine them falling out of the playoffs. With ten weeks left in the season, even a super-conservative eight week timeline gives them eight or nine games to get back in a groove with Wall for the playoffs. And even if they fall back into the 7-8 range, we’re still talking about a Wizards team that is convinced they’re as good as anyone when healthy. So they play Boston or Toronto first instead of Cleveland or Milwaukee – is that even a bad thing?

What’ll be interesting to watch–other than their approach at the deadline–is how they take this six weeks to build up the confidence of the rest of the team. That of course means the bench guys like Oubre, Satoransky, Scott, and Mahinmi – none of whom were good last night. That’s discouraging for a team that’s lack of depth has cost them year after year.

But it also means the other starters like Porter, Morris, Gortat. Gortat is so dependent on Wall and could very well be on another team next week so I’ll leave him aside. But Morris (18p/6r/4a/2b on 7-14 shooting) and Porter (25p/6r/3a/2s on 8-13 shooting) were encouraging, especially Porter.

Porter was impressively aggressive last night, getting to the basket and, most importantly, to the line. His season high for free throw attempts had been 5 – last night he took 8 and made all 8.

Scotty Brooks is gonna have to find a way to get his bench more involved and more confident. But Otto Porter really taking on that roll of secondary scorer behind Beal last night was a great sign.

Huge win to kick off these next few weeks for the Wiz

Russell Westbrook (13p/6r/10a/4s with 7 turnovers on 5-18 shooting) apparently needs the challenge of John Wall to get it up for the Wizards. He put up that stinker last night just five days after hanging 46/6/6 on Wall in Washington.

George (28p/6r), Melo (19p/6r/3a/3b), and Steven Adams (16p/12r) tried to carry the load. But that ended an eight game streak for the Thunder – their best stretch of the season.


Brooklyn 95  –  New York 111

Brooklyn  (18-33)  13th in East
New York  (23-28)  10th in East

After playing 14 of their last 17 on the road–including all of their last seven–the Knicks returned home to the Garden. And folks,, they looked… fired up. Thanks,

It cracks me up that we’ve now fallen so deep into the twitter/slang/emoji age that not one single person I saw online used that “Fired Up” dad joke. It was all fire emojis and “look at this heat lmao”. My corny ass dad joke was somehow the least corny thing I’ve seen. Fuck I’m getting old.

Kristaps Porzingis (28p/5r/2a/2b on 9-19 shooting, 6-8 from three) came out and played his best game in weeks. Enes Kanter (20p/20r/5a/2b on 8-10 shooting) threw up another 20/20 game. And the Knicks looked very, very, very happy to finally be back in MSG.


Minnesota 104  –  Toronto 109

Minnesota  (32-22)  4th in West
Toronto  (34-15)  2nd in East

You know what feels less than ideal? Giving Karl-Anthony Towns less than one third the amount of shots as Andrew Wiggins.

Shoutout to the boys from Mickstape who pointed out that Karl has now taken less than ten shots in five of Minnesota’s last seven games.

The two games with over ten shots? A win and a damn close loss without Jimmy Butler in Golden State.

Their record in those five games? 2-3! And one of those two wins is deceptive in this experiment because Towns sat most of the first with foul trouble and got all of his shots and points in the second half to spur a major comeback.

Karl-Anthony Towns should not be shooting any less than 15 times per game.

This month the Wolves are 9-8. It’s their worst month of the season. Towns is averaging 12.6 attempts per game this month, his lowest of any month. And if you take out his 24 shots against Golden State (of which he made 13), he’d be at 11.9 per game in January.

On the season he’s averaging 13.7 per game, that’s the same as Austin Rivers. If he were to continue averaging 11.9 attempts per game, that would put him between Will Barton and Justin Holliday.

Karl-Anthony Towns is an All Star. He’s as gifted an offensive big as any you’ll find in this league. During this 12-shots-per-game month his shooting splits are an outrageous 56/40/88. For the season they are 54/40/84.

Karl-Anthony Towns should be getting no less… NOT ONE LESS… than sixteen shots per game. I like Thibs. But for the love of god dude… GET KARL THE FUCKING BALL

Image result for thibs screaming

Toronto continues to roll right along, pulling out a nice win behind DeMar (23p/4r/8a), Kyle (15p/3r/9a), and Valanciunas (18p/11r). They’ve got a good one with Washington tomorrow night


Cleveland 114  –  Detroit 125

Cleveland  (29-20)  3rd in East
Detroit  (23-26)  9th in East

 

I wrote about Kevin Love’s injury earlier. I think they’re genuinely screwed for the first time in these four LeBron seasons and wrote about why. You can read that here.


LeBron went for 21p/6r/7a and Isaiah hit 12-13 free throws to get him to 19p/3r/5a. But the Love-less Cavs got their doors blown off in the second half 66-51 and helped the Pistons–with no more Harris or Bradley but still without Blake–end an eight game losing streak.

Detroit came within 1 point from Ish Smith from having all five starters with 20+, led by Andre Drummond (21p/22r/7a/3b/3s) feasting on the boards in Kevin Love’s absence and Stanley Johnson (26p/10r/4a/2s) embracing his new responsibilities with the best game of his young career.


Orlando 107  –  Houston 114

Orlando  (14-35)  15th in East
Houston  (36-13)  2nd in West

James Harden had a 60 point triple double.

I was honestly just gonna let that sit. It’s such an absurd performance that I thought it would be funny… after writing in detail about so many weird, minute little things in the NBA on a nightly basis… to write one line about a historic, mind-numbingly impressive 60p/10r/11a triple double and move right on.

But then I found this one tweet and I just simply couldn’t not post it. 60 points. 11 assists. 86 points accounted for. He scored or assisted on 21 two pointers, 9 three pointers, and made 17 of his 18 free throws. It all added up to 86 of his teams 114 points. And it’s not even the second most points he’s accounted for in a game.

 

It’s pretty difficult in an 82 game season to say one game locks up the MVP, especially not one in January. But with LeBron fading, KD and Steph bound to split their votes, and Giannis still lingering back in the sixth seed… and a line, again, of 60p/10r/11a/4s on 19-30 shooting with 5 threes and 17-18 from the line… James Harden really might have done it.

Unreal


Sacramento 114  –  New Orleans 103

Sacramento  (16-34)  14th in West
New Orleans  (27-23)  7th in West

Zach Randolph (26p/12r on 11-23 shooting) had his way without Boogie down low. That was to be expected. What wasn’t expected was Kosta Koufos (17p/17r on 7-12 shooting) doing the same.

It could be a long few months here for New Orleans if they don’t do something quick.

I talked about the failed Nikola Mirotic trade above. If they want to stay in the playoffs, they might need to reconsider refusing to take Mirotic’s salary next season.

41 points in the second half, against Sacramento, is not gonna cut it. Yikes


Denver 104  –  San Antonio 106

Denver  (26-25)  8th in West
San Antonio  (34-19)  3rd in West

LaMarcus went for 30p/5r and had a monster block on Torrey Craig on what looked to be a sure bucket to pull Denver within 3 with 1:20 left.

I know its a few months in now… but the fact that Pop really has LMA committed on defense alone is enough to clear the field for Coach of the Year.

Spo has been great in Miami with no stars. Stevens dealt with Hayward’s injury, developed his young guys quicker than expected, and has gelled an entirely remade roster together. Dwane Casey has developed not only the young guys on his roster, but also DeMar DeRozan from a star who’s ceiling we all saw as limited to a borderline top ten player; and has the Raps killing teams so quickly and easily that he’s been able to further build the confidence of his bench.

Pop got LaMarcus Aldridge to play defense. That… and, you know, having a team with a ton of unknowns and without the third best player in the world at the 3 seed in the West. That too.


Golden State 99  –  Utah 129

Golden State  (40-11)  1st in West
Utah  (22-28)  10th in West

Full lineup and the Warriors got their door blow off last night. I’d make more of this, but this has been an exceptionally long blog and also I’m relatively confident the Warriors will be fine.

But Steve Kerr… he didn’t take the perfromance lightly.

Mitchell (20p/3r/4a/4s) and Rubio (23p/5r/11a) outplayed the best backcourt in the world for a night. And Joe Ingles (20p with 6 threes) kicked Kevin Durant’s ass. Kudos to them.


Portland 104  –  LA Clippers 96

Portland  (28-22)  6th in West
LA Clippers  (25-25)  9th in West

And last but not least… Dame (28p/4r/7a with 5 threes, plus 11-11 from he line) outplayed his future team.

OH… what was that???

I didn’t say anything. See y’all tomorrow!


Schedule for Wednesday, January 31st:

7:00  Memphis  @  Indiana
7:00  LA Lakers  @  Orlando
7:30  Charlotte  @  Atlanta
7:30  Philadelphia  @  Brooklyn
7:30  Miami  @  Cleveland
8:00  New York  @  Boston    ESPN
10:00  Chicago  @  Portland
10:30  Dallas  @  Phoenix    ESPN



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