Owen’s Guide to All Things NBA – The Weekly Roundup for November 5-11


The best games of the week!

Boston @ Denver (107-115)
The game had everything a basketball lover enjoys – it was a battle of two teams near the top of their conferences, and Jamal Murray had his coming out party, dropping a career high of 48 to lead the Nuggets back from 18 points down. Murray overshadowed Kyrie Irving, who had 31 on the night, and also broke some unwritten rules, which created some great drama that I’ll have more on later.

Chicago @ New York (116-115)
A double OT one point victory game is prime NBA no matter which two teams are playing in it. Emmanuel Mudiay driving to the rim and laying one up to tie the ballgame with two seconds flat on the clock in double OT only to foul Zach LaVine on the next play of the game giving LaVine the opportunity to shoot the game-winning free throws with less than a second on the clock is one of the weirdest character arcs I’ve ever seen. “You either die the hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain” really holds up here; unfortunately for Mudiay, “long enough” was all of two seconds.

Houston @ Indiana (98-94)
Houston desperately needed a win to right what we all thought was a pretty sturdy ship. The Pacers are one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, and the Rockets played them tight. Chris Paul had 13 assists, Clint Capela had 18 points and 10 boards and Harden had 28, which is a model for how this trio should always run itself. One passer, one scorer and one guy who can grab boards and put up some points if needed. This game is a turning point for the rest of the season for Houston, and lets the rest of the league know they’ve got their stuff together a little more now.

Milwaukee @ Portland (103-118)
Have a night, CJ McCollum! CJ put up 40 on 65% shooting from the field, and 50% from downtown to lead the Blazers to a statement 15-point win over the Bucks. Jusuf Nurkic and Evan Turner also played well, as both had the two highest plus-minuses on the day, +19 and +21 respectively. This is a statement win for the Trail Blazers, who just refuse to go away from the Western Conference playoff picture. Giannis Antetokounmpo played well, Brook Lopez played all right, Khris Middleton played okay and then you have Eric Bledsoe, who shot two-for-twelve from the field and one for seven from three. The Bucks bench rotation also really fell short, with only 27 points as a unit.

Denver @ Memphis (87-89)
This game had Jaren Jackson Jr.’s name written all over it, with the rookie putting up 20 and hauling down seven boards. His production didn’t stop there though, as he put up three blocks and three steals. Unfortunately for Jackson, he fell apart in the 4th quarter after getting into foul trouble early in the second half, but luckily for the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol was there to pick up Jackson’s slack. He put up 12 of his 20 for the game in the second half, aided by Nikola Jokic sitting due to foul trouble early in the third. Jokic, unfortunately, is at the receiving end of the very cruel NBA world, getting panned after only putting up one shot all game, with that shot being a wild three to win it on a very broken last play of the game. Jokic had a major effect on the game even without scoring, creating a real problem with his length on the defensive side of the ball, and also using his excellent court vision to make ridiculous passes look like everyday ones. Jamal Murray is really where the blame for this game should be placed, as he went six for 21 from the field for 15 points.

Minnesota @ LA Lakers (110-114)
Is…is Derrick Rose…back? Sure, the Wolves lost the game, but D-Rose had a fantastic night putting up 31 on crazy efficient numbers, 64% from the field and 77% percent from three. A shooting performance good enough for me to totally ignore the four to five turnovers to assists ratio (and missing a tough game winner), but it’s good to see Rose back to being the go-to guy in those late game scenarios. And the Lakers finally have a rebounder whose name isn’t LeBron James in Tyson Chandler, which proved to be crucial in this game, as his offensive rebounding helped give the Lakers possession for 57 seconds of this game’s last 66. Josh Hart also had a great night, with 21 off the bench and two game-clinching free throws.

Milwaukee @ Golden State (134-111)
This game is an NBA rarity. The last time the Warriors got blown out by 22 points or more at home was October 25, 2016, where they lost by 26 to the Spurs. This game feels almost historic, as the Bucks lead by as much as 29 at one point. Eric Bledsoe got his redemption game after the nightmare in Portland, putting up 26 on wildly improved shooting. Giannis also played great, but what else do we expect from the early MVP frontrunner, especially after this win? The weirdest thing for this game is that the two guys with the best plus-minuses are Khris Middleton (+33), Eric Bledsoe (+30) and Ersan Ilyasova (+28), which is yet another reason plus-minus can be deceptive at times. Does Stephen Curry going out with a leg injury excuse losing this badly for the Warriors? Absolutely not – he still had 26 minutes, and there were two other all-stars on the floor, one of whom was an NBA MVP. The Warriors should be concerned if they have to play without Curry for a span of time, as he seems to be the glue holding this team together.

Boston @ Phoenix (116-109)
This is a game in which Boston truly showed its character, coming back from what was at one point a 22 point Suns lead. Kyrie Irving got unbelievably hot in the 4th quarter, with 18 of his 39 points coming in the final period of regulation, even setting up Marcus Morris on the game-tying bucket. That momentum carried into the overtime period, where Irving was directly involved in 11 of the Celtics’ 16 points in the extra period. Unfortunately for Devin Booker, things went the opposite for him, as he was involved in 49 of Phoenix’s 100 in regulation, but faltered during overtime. He scored seven of the nine Suns points in the overtime period, but also missed four out of the last five shots, letting the Celtics run away with it.

Houston @ Oklahoma City (80-98)
Everything I said about Houston righting the ship was completely worthless. The Thunder didn’t even have Russell Westbrook because of his injury, and the supposedly second best team in the West couldn’t get a win over the Thunder? In all fairness to the Rockets, the Thunder’s starters played out of their minds, with all five starters in double figures, but come on, Houston needs to be better than this on a nightly basis to be considered a real contender.

Brooklyn @ Denver (112-110)
The Nets played really well, which is a thing that feels incredibly wrong to say. They shared the rock very efficiently, with five Nets players getting into double figures. However, there are really only two things important in this game. One was Nikola Jokic putting everything together and actually shooting the ball, so close to putting up a 40/20 game with 37 points and 21 rebounds. The other was of course, the game-winner, taken by none other than Caris LeVert, who expertly crossed up Gary Harris, who was providing tight pressure, then sending a prayer over Paul Millsap, who made some significant contact with LeVert. How the ball went in, I still don’t know, but props to LeVert for stepping up when his number gets called.

Milwaukee @ LA Clippers (126-128)
This game makes me feel a varying range of emotions. I’m happy because Giannis had yet another ridiculous game, posting an unbelievable 27 points, 18 rebounds, five steals and two blocks, but also sad because those stats came in a loss, to a team the Bucks should take care of. This game also made me impressed with Lou Williams after he called his own number at the end of the overtime period and hit a game-winning acrobatic reverse layup over Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe. It also made me laugh incredibly hard as Giannis Antetokounmpo tried to inbound the ball on the last play over Boban Marjanovic, who was only played the last play of the game, specifically to be an annoyance to Giannis. Not often that the Greek Freak himself gets beat for size.

Philadelphia @ Memphis (106-112)
Mike Conley Season High Alert! Now, as a Grizzlies fan, does the fact they needed 32 from Conley to beat a 76ers team on the second night of a back to back without their starting power forward and small forward concern me? Absolutely, it does. Role players played a huge role for the Sixers as Joel Embiid struggled to pick up any momentum in a tough defensive matchup against Marc Gasol, with JJ Redick putting up 22 and T.J. McConnell putting up 16. Luckily for the Grizzlies, offseason acquisitions Garrett Temple and Shelvin Mack stepped in and bolstered the offensive attack. This game shouldn’t have been as hard as it was for the Grizzlies, but a win is a win.

Atlanta @ LA Lakers (106-107)
The Lakers should be concerned. The Hawks are awful, and the Lakers should be able to beat them on a nightly basis if they want to be taken seriously as a contender in the West. LeBron continues to try to will this team to victory, although he slipped up, missing two crucial free-throws at the end of the game. Luckily for The King, Kyle Kuzma covered for him with a great board and then gave James a chance to redeem himself with a monster slam. The real hero of this game, however, is not LeBron James, but instead new addition Tyson Chandler for the second time this week after he seemingly rose up into the air and clawed down Trae Young’s last second floater to secure the win for the Lake Show. Still though, the Lakers shouldn’t need a miracle rebound and block to win this game.

Feud of the week!

Jamal Murray vs. Kyrie Irving
This all kicked off Monday night in Denver as Jamal Murray out-dueled fellow point guard Kyrie Irving, putting up a career-high 48 points. But Jamal Murray in all his hubris dared to strive for 50 in garbage time when the defense had given up, breaking a NBA unwritten rule by putting up a shot on the last possession of the game, when the time is supposed to be dribbled out. Murray’s biggest problem showed up when he missed. Kyrie Irving, already having been agitated by the young Murray dropping nearly 50 on him, grabbed the ball after it clanked off the rim, and launched it into the upper deck. There was no gentle toss here, we’re talking a full-on shot put throw. Kyrie tried to send that ball into orbit. And Kyrie recognizes that, as he was quoted as saying after the game, “I felt disrespected after the game. So your career high ball goes into the stands.” This was prime, grade A, wagyu beef that was forming here, but Jamal Murray defused the situation by recognizing his deadly sin against the basketball gods, saying “I think my emotions took over, as it normally does. No disrespect to the Boston organization and fans with that shot, I just had in my mind that I was going to go 50, and I think everybody kind of understood that was what I was trying to do.” What I don’t understand here is if Murray really wants the 50 badly enough to put up a heave in garbage time, why would he not drive to the lane to get a higher percentage shot. If you’re going to commit the crime of stat-padding, why not make sure to actually pad your stats? Either way, this short-lived beef was beautiful, and I look forward to the meeting between these two in March.

City Jersey Power Rankings!

30. Oklahoma City Thunder
The idea for these was great, I love paying respect to the native peoples of America who are so often marginalized. Execution, on the other hand, was a giant mistake. Fire the designer who thought all over electric blue with orange highlights was a good idea.

29. Los Angeles Lakers
Yeeesh. These are rough. Purple with black pinstripes is not a good look, no matter how much Magic Johnson thinks so. Why not go with an actual throwback if you’re trying to honor Magic Johnson? So many better options for LA, just don’t ask me to think of any of them.

28. New York Knicks
These are just a bad jersey reincarnated to be even worse. Why do the big cities always disappoint me? There are so many interesting things in the city of New York, the fireman ones last year were fantastic. These are just boring and ugly.

27. Dallas Mavericks
These are blue, that is for sure. That’s about the extent to which these are interesting. They’re blue; I don’t know what else to say. So many different blues. I can’t pretend anymore: these are bad.

26. Houston Rockets
Hey, it’s the same Chinese script we’ve seen from the Rockets for as long as I’ve been alive. Gold sleeves are kind of nice, but overall pretty boring. Why did the Rockets start wearing Chinese inspired jerseys in the first place? Yao Ming? Move on Houston, let the Bay Area handle the Eastern Asian inspired jerseys.

25. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors at least have a more plausible reason to wear an Eastern Asia inspired uniform, with a large East Asian population in the bay area, but these are still incredibly predictable for the Warriors, who have had multiple similar jerseys in recent years. I feel like Nike could have been a little more creative here.

24. Washington Wizards
They just took the city jersey from last year and made it black. This only works if the jerseys were already good, but these were boring in white, and now they’re boring in black. Or navy blue. I can’t tell, I’ve got bad eyes.

23. Detroit Pistons
Skid marks from a car on the jerseys for the motor city itself, Detroit, sounds super cool. These are mostly grey. This feels like another missed opportunity to use something culturally relevant as an inspiration rather than a cliché.

22. Charlotte Hornets
Buzz City is just such an odd nickname for a city. You can’t force nicknames upon a city, they have to be adopted naturally. As far as the jerseys go, they’re a massive letdown from the gradient sided releases from last year.

21. Orlando Magic
It’s what they did last year, but less interesting. Sure, last year’s Magic jerseys were offensive to the eyes, but at least they tried to come up with something interesting. These could have leaked before they were revealed and I would have assumed that they were just Magic away jerseys. Throwback jerseys from the era of Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal would have been a better move.

20. LA Clippers
I like the design for these, but they don’t say either Los Angeles or Clippers to me, they’re instead very “USA.” They were inspired by the 1984 Olympics in L.A., which seems like odd timing. L.A. has such a rich history and diverse culture you’d think they’d be able to come up with something more L.A.-centric.

19. Portland Trail Blazers
These are super similar to last year’s, but this time with less honoring head coach Terry Stotts. These look good, but are just a very safe, uninteresting choice for the design. I love the addition on one of the best city nicknames in the league in “Rip City,” but these are still bland.

18. San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio has a military base, and they’re honoring that, which is cool and all, and the black and grey camo is not the worst look. The only real place I’m deducting points is originality, as the Spurs have been putting out jerseys similar to this one for a while.

17. Phoenix Suns
These are aggressively purple, which didn’t work super well, but I can respect the effort to try to incorporate a very difficult color with which to work. I can also appreciate the nod to the Hispanic community of Arizona with the Spanish name (Los Suns), but why not go with the direct translation of soles, Spanish for “suns?” This jersey leaves me with more questions than answers.

16. Milwaukee Bucks
Do not be mistaken, these are awful and I would never wear one in public, but they are a cool nod to the old home of guys like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. These’ll look good paired with the special throwback courts.

15. Boston Celtics
The Celtics may have finally produced a semi-decent grey jersey, something they’ve been trying to do for just as long as they’ve been trying to win another ring. I like the gold; I’d imagine it’s a nod to the Boston’s large Irish population.

14. Memphis Grizzlies
Pulling from Memphis’ rich wrestling history was a bold choice for both Nike and the organization, and they pulled it off. A nice touch is the GNG on the paneling of the shorts. Sure, they look like the Pacers’, but they’re still all right.

13. Sacramento Kings
The Kings’ city jerseys were one of my favorites from last year, and they stuck to that same formula. I’m detecting some points for originality, but the blue and the red still works so good together, and “SacTown” looks so much better across the chest than the weird lion basketball hybrid from last year’s rendition.

12. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs went for something bold and exciting, much unlike their playing style, and I can respect that. The all over orange and blue is super interesting to the eye and pays a perfect homage to the Cavs of the 90’s. These are so garish that I can’t help but like them. They’re going to look really weird on that gold and red court, though.

11. Indiana Pacers
I don’t understand the massive amounts of hate all the grey jerseys ae getting from the internet. These are respectable and a much cooler nod to a car town than Detroit got. The yellow stripes really make this one.

10. Atlanta Hawks
These are great. The gold lettering works so well, as these jerseys give off an elegant feel in celebration of the Hawks’ 50th year of operation. They have a modern feel but with a color pallet that works, unlike the other Hawks jerseys. The less I see of that weird neon green the better, unless it’s paired with a dark blue in a throwback to the Pete Maravich era of Atlanta basketball.

9. Philadelphia 76ers
Are these a little boring? Sure. Is the wordless front still fantastic? Absolutely. Supposedly these pay their respects to the Rocky franchise, but all I can see are sweatpants jerseys. Still, though, the decision to go wordless on the front and instead surround the numbers with the circle of stars is a great one that really paid off for these.

8. Brooklyn Nets
Sometimes these jerseys just hypnotize me because they’re so good. These jerseys give a great nod to late great Brooklyn native Notorious B.I.G., with his signature Coogi sweater print running up the side. Perfect jerseys for a team so intertwined with rap that the owner is Jay-Z.

7. Utah Jazz
These are exactly the same jerseys as the Jazz had last year, which is the only place I’m deducting points for these. The canyon themed jerseys for a city so lacking in any identifiable cultural identity is brilliant, and the sunset effect they give off is perfect.

6. New Orleans Pelicans
These make me ready for Mardis Gras! The colors for these work great, and the stripe wrapping the chest is so perfectly unaligned with the rest of the jersey that it conveys the chaos that surrounds a Fat Tuesday in New Orleans.

5. Toronto Raptors
The OVOs will always look cool, especially when they keep them really simple. Much like the Hawks’, these do convey a little bit of that feeling of elegance. “North” also shouldn’t work as a single team’s identity, but the Raptors and Drake have claimed it for themselves.

4. Chicago Bulls
The second straight year nodding to the flag of Chicago deducts a few points for the Bulls, but these are ridiculous. The new jerseys opt for a grey base, and eliminate the “Chicago” script on the chest, instead going for a direct nod to the six-pointed star covered flag.

3. Denver Nuggets
They brought them back! Finally! The rainbow skylines are back after 25 years, and I have to say that they did a very good job with them, although they’re not quite the originals. Still, well done to the Nuggets for putting a new creative spin on a classic jersey.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves
These jerseys serve as a touching tribute to the city’s regal son, Prince. The jerseys feature a beautiful royal purple color and pink lettering reminiscent to the purple rain font. They work so astonishingly well, and I can’t wait to see the Target Center turn into a temporary expansion of Prince’s estate, Paisley Park.

1. Miami Heat
Last year, I joked that the Heat should just make a black version of the “Miami Vice” themed jerseys and rebrand to them. The Heat did me one better, not only making the black jerseys I had thought of, but also making a beautiful court to match. The Heat could stand to undergo a permanent rebrand to promote “Miami Vice.”

Team of the Week!

PG: Jamal Murray
SG: CJ McCollum
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Tyson Chandler