The Skip Pass will be your home on Today’s Fastbreak for insights and nuggets on each game played in the NBA. This is different from your regular game recap or box score. We want to take you inside the game and call out things you might have missed.
Focus Games: Timberwolves at Thunder, Clippers at Spurs
Other Games: Bulls at Pacers, Cavaliers at 76ers, Wizards at Magic, Nuggets at Pistons, Rockets at Hawks, Kings at Bucks
Thunder 112, Timberwolves 92
- Russell Westbrook was at it again. After his rough game against the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook took a hammer to the young Wolves, putting up 28 points, eight assists, six boards and three steals. He did this on 18 shots while only turning the ball over twice, so it was an efficient, prolific evening.
- The Thunder scored a whopping 70 points in the paint, with Enes Kanter doing a ton of damage down there. Kanter dominated Cole Aldrich time and time again and finished with 20 points. The big man scored eight of his nine baskets in the restricted area.
- Jerami Grant seems to do everything aggressively and has been a nice spark since coming over from Philadelphia. He had two big dunks and four blocks.
- The Wolves entered play the worst third-quarter team in the league, and the third quarter was a disaster yet again. Minnesota was outscored 31-19 in the frame to turn a competitive game into a blowout, and the young squad has now been outscored by 37.1 points per 100 possessions in third quarters this season, per NBA.com.
- While the final result was bad, Karl-Anthony Towns showed out with 33 points on 13-of-20 shooting and 3-of-4 from three. So at least the Wolves had that going for them.
- The Ricky Rubio absence is being felt. Kris Dunn will be a nice player, but he’s not quite ready yet to run a consistently effective offense at a high level. Minnesota had just 12 assists.
Clippers 116, Spurs 92
- The Clippers’ offense hasn’t been humming on all cylinders this season, but that wasn’t the case in the first half. Los Angeles dropped 73 points on a normally strong San Antonio defense, and ESPN Stats & Info says those 73 points are the most given up in a first half by the Spurs in the Gregg Popovich era.
- Blake Griffin’s final line of 28 points, five rebounds and three assists isn’t that impressive, but 26 of those points came in a dominant first half (video below says all 28 came in first half, but that’s incorrect).
- The Clippers more than doubled up the Spurs in terms of points in the paint (48-22), and the 24-point margin of victory is Los Angeles’ largest in the history of the series between the two teams.
- It’s not often you see the Spurs get absolutely throttled, but this one was ugly. San Antonio barely managed to crack 40 percent from the field, with Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills scuffling to a 4-of-20 shooting night.
- The Spurs did manage 10 threes on a 40 percent clip, and five of those triples came from rookies Dejounte Murray and Nicolas Laprovittola. Another three came from LaMarcus Aldridge. Silver linings!
- The Aldridge/Pau Gasol frontcourt continues to have a rough time. They’ve given up over 112 points per 100 possessions, and they’ve been outscored by 5.5 points per 100 possessions when they share the court.
Pacers 111, Bulls 94
- Jeff Teague had gotten off to a woeful shooting start to the season, as he sported a 24.6 percent mark from the field and 11.1 percent mark from three heading into this game. Teague had by far his best performance of the season in a blowout victory, going for 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting overall and 3-of-5 from three. He also added six assists as the Pacers racked up 27 against a helpless Bulls defense.
- The Bulls’ “Three Alphas” trio of Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo has had some nice individual moments this season, but on the whole the team hasn’t been effective when they share the court. That trend continued as the Bulls were outscored by seven points in the 17 minutes they played together, and the team shot just 34.5 percent in those minutes. The spacing issues are starting to show.
Cavaliers 102, 76ers 101
- LeBron James passed Hakeem Olajuwon to move into 10th place on the all-time scoring list. It wan’t LeBron’s best shooting night (9-of-23), but he still had 25 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds, and the Cavaliers were a +11 with him on the court (so -10 when he sat). He helped make up for a woeful 3-of-17 shooting night for Kyrie Irving as Cleveland stays undefeated.
- The ending was disappointing as Joel Embiid wasn’t able to get a shot on the final possession, with Gerald Henderson instead turning it over. But Embiid wowed the crowd by making all four of his three-pointers and a monster swat of LeBron (that should’ve been a goaltend, but so what).
Magic 88, Wizards 86
- Orlando’s bench was the difference. The Magic reserves scored 43 points, with Jeff Green leading the way with 18. Green, Mario Hezonja and D.J. Augustin were all tied with a game-high +15.
- John Wall didn’t play, and Tomas Satoransky did a solid job as the starting point guard with eight points, three assists, two rebounds and a +13. But that Wizards bench has been a mess in the early going of this season, and Trey Burke’s disappointing career continues to be just that.
Pistons 103, Nuggets 86
- Andre Drummond recorded his third 20-rebound game in six games this season. The big man also added 19 points and three blocks, and he was a +13 on the evening. But perhaps the best thing of the night? A 7-of-11 mark from the charity stripe. 63.6 percent from the line isn’t good for most players, but if Drummond ever got close to that consistently, it’d be a huge development.
- Emmanuel Mudiay is not having a good time this season. After an awful 0-of-7 shooting performance, the second-year man is now shooting 27.1 percent from the field and 20.0 percent from long range. He had shooting problems in his rookie year, and things haven’t improved and have instead regressed.
Hawks 112, Rockets 97
- Simply a superb performance by the Hawks’ starting five. All five players scored in double figures, with three of them (Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore) reaching the 20-point mark. Millsap, Howard and Dennis Schroder also all recorded double-doubles, so it was definitely a great night for Howard against his former team.
- The Rockets’ defense has been predictably problematic, and they’re now the not-so-proud owners of the worst defensive rating in the NBA after allowing 53 percent shooting to Atlanta. James Harden and the Rockets will put up prolific numbers all season (Harden had 30/12/9 in this game), but it won’t mean anything if they continue to defend at this level.
Bucks 117, Kings 91
- The Bucks entered play with an average of 7.4 three-pointers made per game. Reserve forward Mirza Teletovic knocked down seven triples by himself in a huge 22-point performance off the bench. Rashad Vaughn added four treys of his own off the bench in an encouraging performance.
- There’s not much to say about this terrible Kings team that’s lost four in a row, with three of those losses coming by double figures and the other by eight points. On this night, it certainly didn’t help that the starting backcourt of Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo combined to shoot 2-of-14 from the field.