HOOP HANGOUT • NBA GAMEDAY POST • Oct. 30th 2019

Recap

Harden has 59 points, Rockets outscore Wizards 159-158

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — James Harden scored 59 points and made one of two free throws with 2.4 seconds to play to give the Houston Rockets a 159-158 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

Bradley Beal scored 46 points for Washington, hitting three throws with 8.1 seconds left to tie it at 158.

Harden was 18 of 32 from the field, 6 of 14 from 3-point range, and made 17 of 18 free throws. He also had nine assists in 37 minutes.

Russell Westbrook had had just three points in the first three quarters, then scored 14 in the fourth quarter and finished with his second triple-double of the season. He had 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

Clint Capela added 21 points and 12 rebounds to help Houston improved to 3-1.

Rui Hachimura had 23 points in his home debut for the Wizards, Davis Bertans added 21 and Washington shot 62.6% from the field. The Wizards dropped to 1-3.

SUNS 121, WARRIORS 110

SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry broke his left hand and became the latest injured Warriors player when he fell hard in the third quarter of another embarrassing defeat by Golden State to Phoenix.

SEE RELATED: Stephen Curry breaks left hand during Warriors vs. Suns game

The two-time MVP drove to his left defended by Kelly Oubre Jr. and with big man Aron Baynes standing solidly in the paint. Curry leapt with the ball then came down head first landing awkwardly on his hands to brace himself from the court, with Baynes crashing onto Curry’s left hand. Curry grimaced in pain grabbing at his fingers then walked to the locker room with 8:31 left in the third quarter.

Baynes had 24 points, 12 rebounds seven assists and three blocked shots, Devin Booker scored 31 points as the Suns jumped out to a huge lead they never relinquished. The Warriors have lost badly in their first two home games at sparkling new Chase Center.

76ERS 118, TIMBERWOLVES 95

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid scored 19 points and got into a brawl with Karl-Anthony Towns that sent both players to the showers early, and Philadelphia beat Minnesota to improve to 4-0.

The Sixers were leading 75-55 midway through the third quarter when Embiid and Towns went at it.

SEE RELATED: Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid ejected, Ben Simmons made KAT tap out in wild NBA fight

The two big men have a history of talking trash to each other. After they got tangled under the basket, Embiid shoved Towns, who answered with a punch that missed as both fell to the floor. Ben Simmons jumped in and forcefully held Towns down as other players and coaches ran onto the court.

Embiid and Towns were ejected after a video review. Embiid shadowboxed to the crowd’s delight on his way back to the locker room. Fans responded with “MVP! “MVP!” chants.

Tobias Harris scored 18 points, Furkan Korkmaz had 17, Simmons added 16 for Philadelphia. Al Horford had 16 rebounds and 12 points. Andrew Wiggins scored 19 points for Minnesota.

CELTICS 116, BUCKS 105

BOSTON — Kemba Walker had 21 of his 32 points in the second half and Boston rallied to beat Milwaukee,

Jayson Tatum added 25 points, Gordon Hayward had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Marcus Smart finished with 19 points and six assists.

Milwaukee dominated in the first half, leading 19. But the Celtics responded in the third quarter, using a 26-7 run over the final 6:38 of the period to take an 80-76 edge into the fourth. Boston kept that momentum, beginning the final period with an 11-4 run to open a 91-80 lead.

Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 26 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 22 points and 14 rebounds, but the reigning MVP lost his composure late, picking up a hard foul on Smart and then a technical foul in the final minute.

JAZZ 110, CLIPPERS 96

SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Conley snapped an early season slump with 29 points and the Jazz beat the Clippers with Kawhi Leonard sitting out.

Conley had 18 points in the third quarter as the Jazz scored 40 in the period and took a 90-71 lead. Utah (4-1) has won three in a row.

Leonard missed the game for scheduled rest, though coach Doc Rivers has said his star forward has been healthy and energized. The Clippers play the second half of a back-to-back Thursday against San Antonio in Los Angeles.

Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points, Bojan Bogdanovic had 14 and Rudy Gobert 13.

Lou Williams paced the Clippers (3-2) with 24 points, 16 before halftime.

RAPTORS 125, PISTONS 113

TORONTO — Pascal Siakam scored 30 points, including 19 in the third quarter, and Fred VanVleet had 13 points and 11 assists in Toronto’s victory over Detroit.

Siakam made eight of 12 shots in the third, including three of four from 3-point range, as the defending NBA champions outscored Detroit 37-27 to take a 101-85 lead into the fourth.

Kyle Lowry scored 20 points, Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell each had 19 and OG Anonuby added 13 for the Raptors. Andre Drummond had 21 points and 22 rebounds for the Pistons.

TRAIL BLAZERS 102, THUNDER 99

OKLAHOMA CITY — Damian Lillard had 23 points and 13 assists to help Portland hold off Oklahoma City.

Lillard made 4 of 15 shots the first three quarters, but he made three 3-pointers in an 1:26 flurry in the fourth that turned a three-point deficit into a five-point lead.

C.J. McCollum scored 22 points and Kent Bazemore added 14 for the Trail Blazers. Chris Paul scored 21 points for the Thunder.

CAVALIERS 117, BULLS 111

CLEVELAND — Kevin Love had 17 points and 20 rebounds, Tristan Thompson scored 23 points and the Cleveland beat Chicago.

Love’s basket on a goaltending call gave Cleveland a 91-90 lead early in the fourth quarter. His jumper from the left wing put the Cavaliers ahead 110-106 with just under a minute to play.

Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine each scored 16 points for Chicago.

PACERS 118, NETS 108

NEW YORK — Domantas Sabonis scored 29 points, Jeremy Lamb added 25 and Indiana beat Brooklyn for its first victory in five games this season.

Malcolm Brogdon added 21 points and 13 assists for Indiana.

Kyrie Irving led Brooklyn with 28 points, Spencer Dinwiddie had 20 and Caris LeVert 15. The Nets have lost two in a row to fall to 1-3.

MAGIC 95, KNICKS 82

ORLANDO, Fla. — Nikola Vucevic had 21 points and 14 rebounds and Orlando rallied to beat New York.

Aaron Gordon scored 10 of his 15 points final 5:35 to help Orlando snap a two-game losing streak. Evan Fournier added 14 points, and Jonathan Isaac had 10. Julius Randle led New York with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

HORNETS 118, KINGS 111

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — P.J. Washington scored 23 points and Charlotte overcame a 14-point deficit to beat winless Sacramento.

Terry Rozier had 22 points, six assists and five rebounds for Charlotte. Buddy Hield scored 23 points and Harrison Barnes had 22 for the Kings.

SportsLine

Kawhi becoming critical player in G.O.A.T. debate

Now with the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard is in a position to block LeBron James from growing his championship total, which will have a ripple effect on his legacy.

Ben Rohrbach | Yahoo Sports

The next eight months could launch Kawhi Leonard’s legacy into a stratosphere that could further complicate the G.O.A.T. debate between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Leonard’s championship run with the Toronto Raptors last season was that impressive. In dismantling a Golden State Warriors super-team led by Stephen Curry, he validated his own contribution to the San Antonio Spurs’ destruction of a Miami Heat super-team anchored by LeBron in 2014.

In between, Leonard was on the short list of candidates for best player alive, winning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year honors and finishing top-three in MVP voting twice. He looked poised to challenge the Warriors with Kevin Durant in the 2017 Western Conference finals before suffering an ankle injury that ended his season and any chance the Spurs had at an upset. That bled into the quadriceps tendinopathy that cost him all but nine games in 2017-18, and a career bound for superstardom seemed in jeopardy. Then, Leonard left no doubt he is the best player alive in June.

Now, imagine Leonard wins a third Finals MVP in seven seasons, beating LeBron’s Los Angeles Lakers to lead three different teams to titles, including the Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers, two franchises that had never even sniffed the Finals before. Is that more impressive than LeBron winning two titles in Miami and a third with the Cleveland Cavaliers? Twice going through LeBron at least established Leonard as his peer when healthy over a large stretch of their primes.

I am not about to argue that Leonard would belong in the conversation with LeBron and Jordan as one of the three greatest players to ever live. Their résumés are far more decorated at this point. But Leonard would complicate the debate if he were to join Kevin Durant in twice spoiling LeBron’s pursuit of six rings. Jordan never had a peer during his reign, which is the ultimate feather in his cap. You could argue that Jordan never had a threat as great as Leonard, but then what would that say about the Clippers superstar? It would vault him into all-time greatness at the age of 28.

Kyrie Irving’s ‘mood swings’ are reportedly an ‘unspoken concern’ in Brooklyn

In a piece written by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Brooklyn Nets sources said that an “episode” happened while the team was in China.

Deyscha Smith | Boston.com

As Kyrie Irving gets accustomed to playing in Brooklyn, his teammates are getting used to him, too.

In a piece written by ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, MacMullan detailed how the Brooklyn Nets are finding chemistry amongst their newest additions: Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan and former Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. The trio have become close friends and even made the decision during NBA free agency to specifically play together in Brooklyn.

With that, Irving’s attitude is something that the Nets organization has had to get used to since his arrival. According to MacMullan, his “mood swings” have made Nets officials reportedly “queasy.” In Santa Monica, Irving refused to participate with the Nets’ performance team while they were getting information on biometric data (“I’m not doing it.”).  Then, when the team was in China, he had an “episode” that left the team confused as to what had caused it:

“When Irving lapses into these funks, he often shuts down, unwilling to communicate with the coaching staff, front office and, sometimes, even his teammates,” MacMullan wrote. “Nets team sources say one such episode occurred during Brooklyn’s trip to China, leaving everyone scratching their heads as to what precipitated it.”

While it’s unclear what exactly happened in China, iHeartradio digital strategist Christopher Lavinio tweeted that while the team was taking a photo at the Pearl TV Tower, Irving refused to take off his hat and told the team to photoshop it off of him.

In efforts to get through to him, MacMullan added that the Nets reportedly asked Durant to “coax” Irving into having a “better frame of mind”. Durant, however, said he respected his space and how he is:

“I look at Kyrie as somebody who is an artist,” Durant said. “You have to leave him alone. You know what he’ll bring to the table every night because he cares so much about the game…Now, it might not be how other people want him to care about it. He has his way of doing things. I respect who he is and what he does. He has all the intangibles you want in a teammate and a great player. So, how he gets to the point to be ready for 7:30 every night, I’m supporting him 100 percent.”

Meanwhile, Irving’s former Cavaliers teammate, J.R. Smith reacted to a post by Bleacher Report about MacMullan’s report.

In efforts to get through to him, MacMullan added that the Nets reportedly asked Durant to “coax” Irving into having a “better frame of mind”. Durant, however, said he respected his space and how he is:

“I look at Kyrie as somebody who is an artist,” Durant said. “You have to leave him alone. You know what he’ll bring to the table every night because he cares so much about the game…Now, it might not be how other people want him to care about it. He has his way of doing things. I respect who he is and what he does. He has all the intangibles you want in a teammate and a great player. So, how he gets to the point to be ready for 7:30 every night, I’m supporting him 100 percent.”

From Boston to Brooklyn, Irving’s attitude is a topic of conversation yet again.