We notched a pair of winners last night thanks to both the Bucks and the Jazz winning games at home. Utah did exactly as prescribed; stifled a struggling Grizzlies defense and truly looked like one of the best defensive units in the NBA. They are still first overall in the league in defensive efficiency and are looking like they are primed to take the next step in their team evolution; a Western Conference Playoff team.
But the most impressive result of the night might have been the tough overtime road win the Timberwolves ground out in Chicago. Andrew Wiggins had a career night scoring 33 points, but it could have been marred by an airballed game-winning attempt in regulation. Instead, the young Timberpups took big step in their team maturation, shutting down Chicago 9-0 in overtime and getting a huge road win. Karl Anthony Towns looks like a potential runaway Rookie of the Year and is already a legit presence inside with four double-doubles in five games. Ricky Rubio is running the team with aplomb and Wiggins showed signs of being “the guy” last night. There will still be some frustrating ‘no-show’ nights for this extremely young team, but the foundation appears to be in place in Minnesota.
Let’s keep the good times rolling and close out the week with a third straight winner.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks -4.5 (Total: 209)
Two glamorous franchises in the two largest cities in the country link up for a Sunday afternoon game… and no one will watch it. After all, if you like sports in general, this is about the 20th most compelling sporting event taking place this afternoon when you consider the lineup of football, soccer and hoops. Neither of these teams are any good this year, but I think there is a big difference in the early season performances of each. The Knicks have some promise. The Lakers hope Kobe’s promise to retire is honored. There’s a big difference. With New York, their future, Porzingis, is getting an opportunity to flourish without tethers. In LA, Randle, Clarkson and Russell are stunted by the incessant gunning of Kobe Bryant and the baffling enabling from Coach Byron Scott.
Through five games, Kobe has launched nearly 16 shots a game but only connected on 32% of them. He is shooting 21% from behind the arc. He is averaging just 2.6 assists. That’s some ball-hoggery of a staggering degree for a 37 year old who is returning from a devastating injury. The Lakers need ‘Facilitator Kobe’ to be remotely competitive, and thus far it is clear, they are NOT going to get him. New York’s ball-centric star, Carmelo Anthony, hasn’t been real efficient either, shooting even more often and connecting on just 37% of attempts. He does at least average four assists per game – and maybe most importantly, doesn’t play the same position as their young Lottery pick.
Plus, the team results have been radically different. The Lakers have a lone home win over the lowly Nets. Meanwhile, the Knicks are a respectable 2-4 with road wins at Washington and Milwaukee and all four losses to playoff teams including Cleveland, Atlanta and San Antonio – three top tier teams.
Kobe has great career numbers and “loves playing” at MSG. That could be a PROBLEM. Kobe has great career numbers everywhere. He was an all-time great player and one of the best to ever live. He just isn’t ANY MORE. Shhhh… don’t tell Kobe though. I’d like to fade him this afternoon as he launches an inefficient 20-plus shots and the Knicks cruise to the victory.