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Grades: OKC Thunder explode in 2nd half, take down Clippers

The OKC Thunder use a huge third quarter to run past the LA Clippers, securing their second win of the NBA season
On a night where the officials almost stole the show, the OKC Thunder claimed their second win in as many games. A hotly contested affair against the visiting Clippers saw the Thunder end up on top 128-110. Tonight’s performance showcased the possibilities of this talented Oklahoma City roster.
The start of the night didn’t exactly go according cheap nba jerseys china
to plan for the Thunder. Despite Russell Westbrook torching defender after defender, no one else in a white uniform seemed to get into a rhythm early on. Officiating was..questionable to say the least, and the Clippers led by 13 points at the half.
Entering the second half, the Thunder were riddled with foul trouble and in search of a spark. After missing three of their first four shots in the third, OKC proceeded to go on a 20-0 run to flip the game on it’s head.

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What stood out during the exhilarating run was the defense and athleticism that makes the Thunder such a promising team. To turn a double-digit deficit into a blowout win is something to get excited about with this squad.

The OKC Thunder aren’t going to shoot as good as they did in the second half all season. However, if they can maintain the suffocating defense and effort level for a full season, the sky is certainly the limit for this team.

Enjoy this one, Thunder fans. It’s time for some player grades.

Report: Dwight Howard Plans to Make Wizards Debut vs. Thunder After Back Injury

Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard is expected to make his season debut Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

The veteran has been out with a back injury since training camp and missed the entire preseason and first seven games of the regular season. The Wizards have gone just 1-6 in his absence.

This issue, which has been listed as gluteal soreness on injury reports, has kept Howard from making his debut with the Wizards after signing with the team in July. This came after a trade from the Charlotte Hornets to the Brooklyn Nets, who waived him the next day.

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It continues a wild ride for the center,Cheap Oklahoma City Thunder Jerseys  who will be suiting up for his fourth different team in four years. Overall, it will be the sixth team he’s played for in the last eight seasons.

Although he is no longer playing at the level we saw earlier in his career when he earned eight consecutive All-Star selections and three Defensive Player of the Year awards, he remains an effective player in the post. Last season, he averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for Charlotte.

He could be a difference-maker for a Wizards team that ranks just 28th in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage and 29th in defensive rebounding percentage, per Basketball Reference.

It remains to be seen how he will fit in with a group that already seems to lack chemistry on the court, but things can’t get much worse for Washington at the moment.

Dwight Howard plans to make season debut on Friday, according to report

Dwight Howard will make his first appearance as a Wizards on Friday when the team hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Howard has missed all seven games so far this season, as well as all of training camp and the preseason while dealing with back issues stemming from a sore piriformis. He went through multiple practices with the team two weeks ago, but they chose to keep him at home when they embarked on their five-game road trip so he could work on his conditioning.

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Washington will be eager to get Howard out on the floor. They’ve started 1-6, thanks in large part to issues Howard can address. The Wizards’ other centers have been ineffective, cheap nba jerseys from china
which has left them with no other option than to play Markieff Morris heavy minutes at center, up until he had to enter the NBA’s concussion protocol on Sunday. The team is currently dead last in rebounding rate, pulling in just 43.3 percent of all available rebounds this season. Last season Howard averaged 12.5 rebounds per game, more than double what anyone else on the team has averaged so far this season.

Howard’s shot-blocking presence should help Washington tighten up their defense as well. The Wizards are 26th in defensive rating, allowing 114.1 points per 100 possessions. Opponents are making 19.4 field goals per game in the restricted area this season, the tenth-highest average in the league.

The problem is that Howard probably won’t fix Washington’s locker room squabbling, which has arguably been their biggest issue this season. If anything, his track record suggests he could make things worse if he isn’t happy with his role.

Only time will tell if Howard is what Washington needs to get back on track or if he pushes the train all the way off the rails. Either way, we should get our first idea of what he can do on Friday.

Short-handed New Orleans Pelicans nearly pull off comeback before succumbing to Denver Nuggets in final minutes, 116-111

Anthony Davis can’t come back soon enough.

That’s the sentiment echoing all across the Pelicans organization as New Orleans dropped their second consecutive game and first of the five-game West Coast road trip cheap nba jerseys from china
to the Denver Nuggets, 116-111.

It appeared as though New Orleans had found some answers without Davis, Elfrid Payton and Darius Miller as the Pelicans opened the game with a 24-20 lead after the first quarter. But Denver stormed back in the second quarter, aided largely by hitting five of ten three-pointers in the frame, and the Nuggets built a comfortable 58-45 lead at the break.

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While the Pelicans outscored the Nuggets in both the third and fourth quarters, Denver led for the entire duration of the second half. The Nuggets greatest lead was 18 points but to New Orleans’ credit, they kept whittling away at the deficit, getting to within two points before Malik Beasley hit a backbreaking three and followed that basket with a layup.

The Davis-less Pelicans needed contributions from all available bodies tonight and they largely got good return. Jrue Holiday went for 16 points, eight rebounds and nine assists; E’Twaun Moore had 18 points on just 10 shots; Nikole Mirotic had a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards and Julius Randle led all Pelicans with 24 points, recording also eight rebounds and six assists off the bench.

But lets talk about a bunch of reserves who normally are not in the regular rotation: Jahlil Okafor (nine points, three rebounds), Frank Jackson (10 points, two three-pointers), Cheick Diallo (eight points, five rebounds) and Tim Frazier (five points, three rebounds, three assists). Alvin Gentry, in particular, was happy with effort shown during the comeback and the production by his bench.

“We fought like crazy,” said Gentry. “I’m really proud of the guys. I thought our bench did a great, great job. Cheick came in and gave us great energy. I thought Frank Jackson played tonight like we feel like he’s going to play for us for most of the season.”

Metrics 101: 10 Early-Season NBA Trends We’re Buying Into

If you’ve noticed that NBA teams are operating at breakneck speeds, you’re not alone. That’s been one of the leading talking points during the early portion of the 2018-19 campaign, and for good reason. Led by the Sacramento Kings and lightning-quick point guard De’Aaron Fox, who has helped the squad go from dead last in pace during the 2017-18 season to No. 3 in the current go-round, the entire league seems to be playing so much faster.

Teams are trying to get more possessions by capitalizing cheap nba jerseys
on transition opportunities and firing away from beyond the arc early in the shot clock. More possessions lead to more shots, which allows for larger differentiation between themselves and their opponents. It also lets every member of a rotation get more touches.

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“It definitely gives more shot opportunities for players,” Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said, per CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger, who’s one of many to write about this drastic shift. “Everybody in this league wants to shoot the ball, so it spreads out the shots and everybody gets a chance to score. … We like it. We want to play fast.”

Even beyond that, new rule changes allowing for more freedom of movement have given offensive players advantages, and that just pushes the pace up even higher. So, too, does putting only 14 seconds on the clock for second-chance opportunities.

Offense tends to have the advantage over defense early in the season, but these alterations will make the pace uptick permanent. This is a far more drastic rise than we saw last year, for example. At the end of October in 2017, the Phoenix Suns led the league in pace (107.64), while 12 squads were in triple figures. Right now, the Atlanta Hawks (108.6) are sitting in the pole position, and all but five teams have crested 100.

The league at large is using an estimated 101.5 possessions per 48 minutes, which leaves last year’s 97.3 in the dust. In fact, that’s the highest pace has been since 1985-86, back when the league was rather different from a stylistic standpoint.

Squads will slow down some, but not enough to prevent this campaign from producing gaudy per-game figures boosted by metronome-breaking tempos.

Lakers lose another tight one, falling to Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS — The scene that played out in Target Center was frustratingly familiar for the Lakers on Monday night.

A star opposing wing torched them. Late mistakes squashed the opportunity to take over a close game. They had to leave another hostile arena with a loss, this one a 124-120 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves – one of the teams they might find themselves battling for a playoff spot later this season.

To this point in the season, the Lakers (2-5) have stressed that they’re still a new team coming together. But after a second straight loss, the team’s fifth overall decided by 10 points or less, the visiting locker room felt like a restless place. LeBron James, who had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists despite not playing his best, seemed to show the first signs that the wait is wearing thin.

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“We talk about patience, but we can’t have recurrence of the same thing,” he said. “Doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different result, you know, that’s insanity. So we have to get better. We can’t just have the same mistakes over and over again.”

For the second straight game, the Lakers struggled to guard the opposing star wing. Jimmy Butler lit up the perimeter (6 for 7 on 3-pointers) for 32 points, going 5 for 5 on 3-point attempts during the fourth quarter. Some, the Lakers felt were contested well. Others were not.

Butler’s big game performance was aided by familiar shortcomings wholesale minnesota timberwolves jersey
– on the glass and sending the Timberwolves to the free-throw line. The Lakers allowed 20 offensive rebounds, including nine alone from Karl Anthony-Towns. Minnesota also made (26) more free throws than the Lakers attempted (15), which made for a 16-point difference at the free-throw line alone.

“It’s the same story,” Coach Luke Walton said. “We got to get better at the little things and one of those things is paying attention to details, following game plans. The game plan tonight: keep them off the free-throw line and defensive rebounding. And they hurt us with both of those. I don’t think we were ready mentally to start the game.”

The problems undercut an impressive return to the starting lineup for Brandon Ingram, who scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half off a return from a four-game suspension. Kyle Kuzma also had a brilliant early effort, scoring 11 of the Lakers’ first 13 points and galloping out in transition.

Lakers falter again in the stretch

The fans at the Target Center booed Jimmy Butler during his introduction, but Butler might have turned them in the fourth quarter.

With 18.8 seconds left in the game, Butler crushed the Lakers with a back-breaking three pointer to give the Timberwolves a five-point lead.

The Lakers fell to 2-5 with a 124-120 loss to the Timberwolves, cheap minnesota timberwolves jersey
while Minnesota improved to 3-4. Butler, whose trade demand has soured his relationship with the organization and Timberwolves fans, scored 32 points, 20 of them in the second half.

James missed his first five shot attempts but then began scoring at a much more efficient rate. He finished the game with 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting with 10 rebounds and seven assists.

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The Lakers started a unit they hadn’t tried before.

Brandon Ingram started at shooting guard while Kyle Kuzma began as the Lakers’ power forward. It was Ingram’s first game back from a four-game suspension, and while Lakers coach Luke Walton played coy early in the day about whether Ingram would start, Ingram knew all day he wasn’t coming off the bench.

As the game closed, the Lakers struggled to even get a shot off. James dribbled the ball off his foot on one possession. On another, Taj Gibson blocked a shot as it left Kuzma’s hands with the Lakers down two points in the game’s final minute.

Later, Gibson also blocked Josh Hart at the rim, but knocked the ball out of bounds.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Is the Tom Thibodeau era winding down?

om Thibodeau’s tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves could come to an early and rocky end if the Wolves prove to be disinterested early in the year and fall out of playoff contention quickly.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a 2-3 start this season, and things could turn ugly quickly for head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau.

Golden State Warriors’ All-Star Draymond Green recently said, “The league does not emphasize defense anymore.”
With new NBA rules implemented this year including resetting the shot clock to 14 seconds on an offensive rebound rather than resetting all the way to 24 seconds,Wholesale nba jerseys
the league is pushing more offense. And it’s working; through the first five games, 29 of 30 teams are averaging over 100 points.

However, the offensive explosion has not impacted the Minnesota Timberwolves all that much. Former No. 1-overall picks Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins continue to struggle under coach Tom Thibodeau, watching their respective scoring averages decrease over the past year. Owner Glen Taylor has invested over $300+ million in the two players, and if they are not reaching their full potential on the court, the blame will fall solely on Thibodeau.

Thibodeau was cast as a defensive wizard following his days with the Chicago Bulls, but since moving to Minnesota none of that defensive mojo has transitioned over with Thibs.

The Timberwolves gave up 106 points per game in 2015-16 and when Thibodeau joined the following season, that numberactually increased to 106.7 points per game. Last season, the Wolves again had an increase in points allowed to 107.3, and through five games this year it has ballooned to 115.6 a game. Clearly, Thibodeau has not exactly been a defensive whiz thus far in Minnesota.

Additionally, Thibodeau does not exactly develop young players. Shabazz Muhammad was a legitimate sixth man prior to his arrival, averaging 10.8 points under Sam Mitchell in 2015-16. This number dropped to 9.9 in Thibodeau’s inaugural year before Muhammad fell out of the rotation entirely and was eventually released.

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Thibodeau has also alienated players. Three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner Jamal Crawford signed last year to provide a veteran presence in the locker room

Sneak Peek: Clash of the Eastern Conference Titans

For the Milwaukee Bucks, everything is going according to plan.

It’s not just the new schemes. Sure, the Bucks’ 5-out approach to offense has led them to a top-10 offensive rating, while also boasting top-5 placements in points scored, threes taken, threes made, Wholesale nba jerseys
and assists. And yes, the Bucks’ straight-up strategy on defense (where they abandon the midrange to seal off the rim and arc) is paying early dividends in the form of a top-3 defensive rating, as well as top-5 results in opponent field goal percentage, opponent three point percentage, defensive rebounding, and blocks. But it’s not all about the numbers (even though it could be).

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It’s not even just the new personnel. The biggest names from last season (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon) are where you’d expect them to be, but the middle of the roster has been greatly expanded. Brook Lopez, Ersan Ilyasova, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo have come in and contributed, meaning other players like Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, Thon Maker, and Sterling Brown have simply not been asked to do as much. It turns out that having more capable players makes your team more capable as a result!

But there’s to how everything has changed. The team is having fun, and it’s quite obvious. Mike Budenholzer is renowned for his use of positivity in his coaching, and it appears to have fundamentally altered the chemistry of the roster. The ball is getting moved around for open looks, and whoever is open is shooting. The rotation goes ten-deep; after the top three shot-takers (Giannis, Khris, and Eric), the next seven players are averaging 13 minutes (or more) and five field goal attempts (or more) per game. It’s downright egalitarian!

The paint is cleared out on offense and packed in on defense. Big men actually box out to create space for others to corral rebounds. The green light is universal. Everything is groovy!

But then again, the NBA isn’t a vacuum. Other teams are finding success early on, and one of those teams is coming to visit on Monday night.

Milwaukee vs. Orlando: Steady As She Goes

The stats don’t lie. The Milwaukee Bucks are officially the best team in the NBA, after trouncing the Orlando Magic to the tune of a 113-91 victory.

It was Halloween Night at the arena, and Bucks fans were served up quite a scare. In the first quarter, Bucks everything-man Giannis Antetokounmpo took an Aaron Gordon elbow to the head, cheap milwaukee bucks jersey
and Giannis was extremely slow to get up. Usually, the combination of “Giannis” and “elbow” results in this image, but the sight at Fiserv Forum on Saturday night was far more jarring.

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Thankfully, the night did not include any more bad news about Giannis’ well-being, though it wasn’t without further ups and downs. Giannis was able to return to the court in the second quarter, but at halftime Mike Budenholzer let him know that the medical staff needed further evaluation…and Giannis was not pleased.
No further reports about Giannis’ status came through until Katie George confirmed that he had returned to the bench and was available to play again. By that time, the Bucks’ lead had ballooned beyond 20 points, and Giannis’ return would not be necessary.