The Joys of a TNT Double Header and Friday Ball

I also could’ve titled this article the sorrow that is the Knicks right now, but let’s skip it. I actually spent a good deal of Friday night cooking an elaborate Israeli dinner for some family and friends so by the time we’d eaten and I sat down to look at my computer the Knicks were down 66-46 to the Nets and nothing was O.K with the universe. I decided to skip the game; I’d been having a lovely evening up until that point and didn’t want to ruin it by watching Melo shoot 25% again or watch another team shoot 50% from 3 on us. (The Nets actually scratched 60, shooting 58% on 14-24. Gross). Booo Knicks boo. I’ll check in on you tonight, but you are slumping hard right now.

As it turns out, though, other basketball can be pretty fun to watch. Here’s some snippets from the last few days.

Rockets vs. Spurs

Hold on. Did the Rockets get kinda fun to watch? Is that possible?

Granted, I did not watch this entire blowout of a game, in which Coach Popp sat Timmy and Manu and allowed Aron Baynes and rookie Kyle Anderson (continually compared to a skinny Boris Diaw. Don’t know who that’s more insulting to.) to lead the team in minutes. Still though, the Rockets look dialed in all night and on an absolute mission to remain one of the NBA’s three unbeaten teams. Hint: One of those others is the Grizzlies. The Southwest is an absolutely murderous conference. A couple things about that game:

1.) I know a lot of people, myself included, thought the Rockets were going to take a big step back without Parsons, Lin, or Asik. And we still have a lot of the season to go, but the pickups that Daryl Morey made look GREAT. Trevor Ariza is a much better fit for this team; he spaces the floor for Harden better than Parsons, and adds some killer wing defense. Also, I dig the fact that Morey didn’t try to get another hulking back-up center to play the same kind of game Howard does when D12 hits the bench. Instead with the improvement of Motiejunas and having the other-fun-name Kostas Papanikolaou, the bench unit actually acts as a stretch-shooting group, making the Rockets a little more unpredictable. Lastly, Jason Terry. The Jet. Sneaky good pickup. I never heard about him moving to the H Town, but if you can add even more shooting to last year’s 4th best offense, well watch out.

2.) Harden and Howard have amazing chemistry with each other. Harden looks for Dwight in transition instead of euro-flailing his way to the line, Howard cleaned up at least two of James’ miscues on defense, and these guys just look like they enjoy playing with one another. Again, its never a great thing to lose talented players, but maybe simplifying the Rockets a little will allow these two guys to take another step towards their already-skyhigh ceilings.

3.) HARDEN PLAYED DEFENSE!!!! Or at least tried to keep his man in front of him. Granted again I only watched the first half, but he looked active, no one really blew past him, and he didn’t commit any bad fouls. Wow. I will say his off-ball defense remained atrocious with a lot of standing, saying things like “Oh you got the rebound? Sure, why not. I’ll just be right here.” after Spurs’ misses. But still, any improvement on that end is going to be HUGE for the Rockets.

Thunder vs. Grizzlies

Ahh one of the NBA’s best through 6 games, the Memphis Grizzlies and the MVP caliber play of Marc Gasol (lovably nicknamed Big Spain). I tuned in to this one in the 4th quarter when it was close and watched a severely depleted Thunder team do everything in their power to come away with a 2nd win.

While it has unquestionably been a nightmare season for Thunderheads, OKC had a little something to smile about with the return of a healthy Jeremy Lamb. Lamb got his first start as a pro, and looked very impressive, scoring 17 points off long 3s and drives into the paint. Between Lamb, and Serge, and a gritty-as-fuck Reggie Jackson, the Thunder actually do have enough firepower to win some games against mediocre teams. In fact, looking ahead at their schedule, they only play 1 playoff team in the next 7 games (although the Kings have been playing out of their minds this year). If they can take a few of those and sniff out .500 ball, that’ll go a long way towards keeping them playoff relevant. I know we’re six games into the season, but the West is so friggin’ good, a month without Durant and Westbrook could be enough to doom them.

Unfortunately, the Grizzlies are a playoff team, and a very good one, and they knocked off the Thunder in a NAIL BITER. Surprisingly, the Grizzlies relied a lot on the 3 ball down the stretch, at one point making 5 in a row as Reggie Jackson went into full hero mode to try to save the game. Unsurprising really, as he was the one who saved their playoff series against the Grizz two years ago with Russell out. Just not enough down the stretch, though, with another crueler-than-cruel 5 second inbound violation call killing the game for the Thunder.

Kings vs. Suns

Its my favorite team, its your favorite team, its AMERICA’s favorite team. The Kings came into this game, winners of 4 straight and gave the Suns the BUSINESS. Demarcus Cousins absolutely beat up on every undersized center the Suns had, finishing the game with 25 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out towards the end of the 4th quarter. However, at the same time, the Suns run-and-gun offense kept them right in it, with their backcourt scoring like 40 combined points through regulation. At the end of the 4th, neither team could pull away and we were headed to overtime.

With no Cousins in overtime and the Suns playing at home, I thought this game was as good as over. Especially because Rudy Gay was having a rough shooting night and turned the ball over on a critical last-possession, forcing DOUBLE OVERTIME! And here it was Darren Collison, showing the Suns he deserved Isaiah Thomas’s. Collison made some smooth jumpers and got to the rack down the stretch. He also had a terrible missed layup on a fast break cause by his own steal, but we’ll forget that. Whatever the case, one Sun miss later and the Kings are your winners in double overtime. Demarcus and Reggie celebrating together on the bench, and America’s team is 5-1 and looking forward to a matchup with the Thunder on Sunday.

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