Tag: ohio

The Orlando Magic were able to hold off the Chicago Bulls, 97-91

The Orlando Magic were able to hold off the Chicago Bulls, 97-91

The Chicago Bulls have been going through a lot of drama on and off the court lately.  Not only was Fred Hoiberg relieved of his head coaching duties over a week ago, but the Chicago Bulls recently suffered their worst loss in franchise history against the Boston Celtics, 133-77.

Having a new head coach didn’t seem to make matters better as there have been reports that he would have players go through a two-and-a-half hour practice, which most of the players are against.  The Chicago Bulls would look avoid a third straight loss and a ninth straight road defeat as they battle the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center.  The Magic, on the other hand, are trying to get away from a fourth straight loss.

The Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic have seen each other a total of 116 times in the past as the Bulls won 64 games while the Magic ended up winning only 52 of those matchups.  This game will mark the first of four times that these two ball clubs will meet up during this season.  Last season, the Bulls swept the Magic in their regular-season series, 4-0.

INACTIVES:

Chicago Bulls:

-Denzel Valentine (ankle)
-Antonio Blakeney (coach’s decision; 9.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.5 APG, 42.6 FG%, 44.8 3P%, 65.7 FT%)
-Cristiano Felicio (coach’s decision; 3.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.5 APG, 56.3 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 73.7 FT%)
-Cameron Payne (coach’s decision; 6.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, 40.3 FG%, 27.3 3P%, 88.0 FT%)
-Tyler Ulis (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG)
-Chandler Hutchison (illness; 4.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.8 APG, 42.6 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 55.6 FT%)
-Rawle Alkins (G-League)

Orlando Magic:

-Timofey Mozgov (knee)
-Khem Birch (coach’s decision; 2.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.2 APG, 58.8 FG%, 100.0 FT%)
-Isaiah Briscoe (coach’s decision; 1.9 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 42.1 FG%, 100.0 3P%, 40.0 FT%)
-Wesley Iwundu (coach’s decision; 4.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 37.5 FG%, 31.8 3P%, 77.8 FT%)
-Jarell Martin (coach’s decision; 2.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.6 APG, 35.4 FG%, 21.1 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
-Troy Caupain (G-League)
-Amile Jefferson (G-League)
-Melvin Frazier (0.0 PPG, 0.3 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 FG%, 0.0 3P%)

GAMETIME:

Both the Orlando Magic and the Chicago Bulls would put up a good fight in this game as they each shot in the high 40 percents in the first half.  Nikola Vucevic scored 13 points for the Magic while hitting a three-pointer late in the second quarter.  Former Nuggets player Evan Fournier was kept to just 6 points but was able to get off two assists in the 15 minutes that he played.

D.J. Augustin also had six points but he would collect his from beyond the arc.  Aaron Gordon was only able to score three points which came from the charity stripe.  He finished the game with a total of 8 points.  Terrence Ross played the most minutes off the bench but only scored six points, hitting a trey early in the second quarter.

On the other end of the court, the 2014-2015 All-Rookie selection Zach LaVine got hot for 14 points as he shot 67 percent from the floor.  He earned three of those points from behind the arc while recording 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and one steal.  Rookie Wendell Carter helped out with six points while Kris Dunn had five points and three rebounds off the bench.  Lauri Markkanen ended up with four points, three from distance and one from the free-throw line.  Robin Lopez played 15 minutes off the bench as he had five points but it was the home team that went into the locker room with a 51-46 lead.

Both teams continued to fight in the second half but the Bulls showed more accuracy as they completed 52 percent of their shots, holding the Florida team to 35 percent shooting.  Justin Holiday, who is averaging 13 points a game this season, lit the floor up with 16 points, drilling 4 three-pointers in the process.  LaVine would cool down as he only had nine points and four turnovers.

The Orlando Magic, however, found a way to continue to pull away as Vucevic dropped 13 more points, leading the Magic to a 97 to 91 victory over the Bulls.  This victory would bring a halt to the Magic’s three-game skid.  Nikola Vucevic finished the game with 26 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and one block while Zach LaVine settled for 23 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.

So…what’s next?

The Chicago Bulls will travel over to Texas to meet up with DeMar DeRozan (24.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 6.2 APG, 48.0 FG%, 17.1 3P%) and the San Antonio Spurs (14-14) on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.  This will be the second and final game between these two teams this season.  Last time they saw each other was on November 26 when the San Antonio Spurs snuck away from the Bulls, 108-107.  During that game, DeMar DeRozan scored 21 points, pulled down 8 rebounds, and dished off 5 assists while Zach LaVine had 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists.

The Orlando Magic will host Donovan Mitchell (20.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 42.8 FG%, 30.3 3P%) and the Utah Jazz (14-15) on Saturday at 5:00 p.m.  This matchup will mark the first of two meetings between these ball clubs during this season.  The Magic ended up getting swept in the regular-season series against the Jazz last season, 0-2.

Advertisements
The Mavericks hand the Hawks a 114-107 loss

The Mavericks hand the Hawks a 114-107 loss

It’s been three years since the Dallas Mavericks have made a postseason appearance and eight years since their first and only championship.  With the 7th seed in their possession and holding onto a 14-11 record, they will look to sneak into the playoffs this year.  The last time they made the playoff, they lost in the first round to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 1-4.

The Mavericks will hope to grab a third straight victory as they host the Atlanta Hawks at the American Airlines Center.  As for the Georgia team, they were able to bring a halt to a four-game losing streak by defeating the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, 106 to 98.  The Hawks made it to the playoffs ten straight times before seeing it come to an end during the 2017-2018 season.

The Hawks and the Mavericks have met up a grand total of 75 times in the past as Hawks won 43 games while the Dallas Mavericks were held to just 32 wins.  This will be the second and final time that these two squads will see each other this season.  The last time they met up was on October 24 when the Hawks handed the Mavericks a 111-104 loss.  Kent Bazemore finished that contest with 32 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals while Wesley Matthews settled for 23 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.

INACTIVES:

Atlanta Hawks:

-Daniel Hamilton (coach’s decision; 1.5 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 25.0 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 50.0 FT%)
-Omari Spellman (hip; 6.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 38.6 FG%, 31.7 3P%, 75.0 FT%)
-Jeremy Lin (back; 11.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 51.2 FG%, 41.3 3P%, 84.1 FT%)
-Taurean Prince (ankle; 15.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 43.1 FG%, 36.7 3P%, 83.3 FT%)
-Miles Plumlee (knee; 4.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.9 APG, 68.2 FG%, 57.1 FT%)
-Alex Poythress (G-League; 5.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 0.8 APG, 53.1 FG%, 35.7 3P%, 47.1 FT%)

Dallas Mavericks:

-Ryan Broekhoff (coach’s decision; 1.5 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.2 APG, 35.0 FG%, 29.4 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
-Salah Mejri (coach’s decision; 1.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.3 APG, 54.5 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
-Dennis Smith (wrist; 13.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 44.0 FG%, 35.9 3P%, 66.7 FT%)
-Daryl Macon (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG)
-Ray Spalding (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG)
-Kostas Antetokounmpo (G-League)
-Dirk Nowitzki (ankle)

GAMETIME:

Both teams would start off hot as the Mavericks shot 45 percent from the field while the Hawks completed 43 percent of their shots.  John Collins scored 12 points for the Georgia team while gathering 8 rebounds and one assist.  He had help from Kent Bazemore, who offered 11 points, which included a three-pointer early in the first quarter.  Rookie Kevin Huerter had eight points while knocking down 2 three-pointers in the second quarter.  The other rookie, Trae Young, also had eight points which included two treys.  Alex Len played the most minutes off the bench but was kept to just two points.

On the other end of the floor, Luka Doncic chalked up 12 points while recording five rebounds and three assists.  2014-2015 NBA champion Harrison Barnes had 11 points while drilling 3 three-pointers in the first period.  Former Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan chipped in with 7 points, along with seven rebounds and one assist.  Dorian Finney-Smith played 14 minutes off the bench as he had five points but it was the visiting team that went into halftime with a 52-51 lead.

The Texas team would close things out in the second half as they went on a 63-55 run, completing 49 percent of their attempted shots.  During that run, Barnes continued to add to his scoring total as he put up 14 more points, which held two three-pointers.  Doncic had 12 points while grabbing 5 rebounds, dishing off 3 assists, recording one steal and one block.

As for the Hawks, they tried to stay in it as Young got hot for 16 points while shooting 57 percent from the floor.  Both Huerter and Bazemore helped out with 11 points each while John Collins contributed with 8 points.  Dewayne Dedmon scored seven points in the 18 minutes that he played in the second half but it wouldn’t matter as the Dallas Mavericks escaped with a 114-107 win.  Harrison Barnes finished the game with 25 points, 3 rebounds, and one steal while Trae Young had 24 points, 10 assists, and 2 steals.

So…what’s next?

The Atlanta Hawks will head to the TD Garden to take on Kyrie Irving (22.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.4 APG, 48.2 FG%, 39.1 3P%) and the Boston Celtics (17-10) on Friday at 7:00 p.m.  This will mark the second of four matchups between these two teams this season.  The last time they met up was on November 23 when the Celtics came away with a 114-96 win.  During that game, Aron Baynes scored 16 points, pulled down 9 rebounds, dished off 4 assists, and blocked one shot while Jeremy Lin finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 steals.

The Dallas Mavericks will head out to Arizona to battle T.J. Warren (17.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.3 APG, 51.4 FG%, 43.0 3P%) and the Phoenix Suns (4-24) tomorrow at 10:30 p.m.  This will be the second of four more times that these ball clubs will play each other this season.  October 17 was the last time they met up as the Suns won the season opener, 121-100.  Devin Booker finished that game with 35 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists while Dwight Powell had 16 points, 5 rebounds, one steal, and one block.

The Spurs are able to hold off the Jazz, 110-97

The Spurs are able to hold off the Jazz, 110-97

The San Antonio Spurs are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.  The last time they failed to make a postseason appearance was back during the 1996-1997 season, a season before they drafted Tim Duncan.  Since then, they have won five championships, the most recent one against the Miami Heat in the 2014 Playoffs.  Right now, they sit at the 13th seed in the Western Conference with a 12-14 record, hoping to grab a second straight win over the Utah Jazz at home.

The Jazz, on the other hand, are trying to make the playoffs for a third straight time, losing the last two in the Western Conference Semifinals; one against the Golden State Warriors and one against the Houston Rockets.  The Utah Jazz will hope to win for a third straight time.

The San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz have battled each other a grand total of 210 times in the past as the Jazz won 94 games while the Spurs went on to win 116 games.  This meeting will mark the second of three matchups between these two ball clubs.  The last time they saw each other was on December 4 when the Jazz blew the Spurs out of the building, 139-105.  Donovan Mitchell finished that game with 20 points, one rebound, 2 assists, and 2 steals while Jakob Poeltl had 20 points, 7 rebound, one assist, and one block.

INACTIVES:

San Antonio Spurs:

-Dante Cunningham (abdomen; 4.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, 44.7 FG%, 44.2 3P%, 90.0 FT%)
-Pau Gasol (foot; 6.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 3.3 APG, 51.2 FG%, 57.1 3P%, 72.2 FT%)
-Dejounte Murray (knee)
-Davis Bertans (personal; 7.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.9 APG, 48.0 FG%, 44.9 3P%, 93.3 FT%)
-Lonnie Walker (G-League)
-Ben Moore (G-League)

Utah Jazz:

-Tony Bradley (G-League)
-Naz Mitrou-Long (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 FG%, 0.0 3P%)
-Georges Niang (3.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.5 APG, 44.0 FG%, 38.2 3P%, 85.7 FT%)
-Tyler Cavanaugh (G-League)

GAMETIME:

The San Antonio Spurs would show dominance in the first half as they shot 50 percent from the field, limiting the Utah Jazz to 36 percent shooting.  DeMar DeRozan, who averaged 20 points a game in his first 9 years with the Raptors, got hot for 16 points in the first half of this contest.  He also had 5 defensive rebounds and 2 steals while LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in with 14 points on 78 percent shooting.  Aldridge used his 6’11” height to his advantage as he pulled down 5 boards and blocked 2 shots from going in.

Brooklyn-native Rudy Gay was kept to just three points in the half while Bryn Forbes was able to cough up four points.  Derrick White scored only two points in the 16 minutes that he played as he attempted just three shots.  Marco Belinelli, who averaged a career-high 14 points last season, played the most minutes off the bench as he scored 8 points, including two 3-pointers in the first.

On the other end of the court, the Jazz’s leading scorer this season, Donovan Mitchell, was kept completely scoreless in the 18 minutes that he played in the first half.  He did manage to grab 3 defensive rebounds while stealing the ball twice from his opponent.  Thabo Sefolosha came off the bench to carry the load as he had 9 points, shooting a perfect 100 percent from the field.  He also had a trey while Rudy Gobert helped out with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and one block.  Ricky Rubio also had seven points which held a three-pointer in the first period.  Royce O’Neale played 13 minutes off the bench as he had 5 points but it was the home team that went into halftime with a huge 54 to 36 lead.

Mitchell came out of the locker room hot as he lit the floor up with 27 points to make up for his poor performance in the first half.  He shot 53 percent from the field while hitting 3 three-pointers.  Rubio also scored more in this half as he had 19 points, finishing the game out with a total of 26 points.  Gobert added 5 more points to his scoring total while Derrick Favors had only two points, going scoreless in the first session.  O’Neale played the most minutes off the bench as he didn’t even attempt a shot.

As for the 5-time champions, Gay made up for his first-half performance as he had 20 points on 90 percent shooting.  He also had 10 rebounds, 2 assists, one steal, and one block while DeRozan saw to it that he got 12 points.  Forbes was able to get it going as he earned 11 points while LaMarcus Aldridge had just six points.  Former Portland Trail Blazers guard Patty Mills played 14 minutes off the bench as he had just a three-pointer but the Spurs were still able to hand the Jazz a 110-97 defeat.  DeMar DeRozan finished the game with 26 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, and one block while Donovan Mitchell had 27 points, 5 rebounds, one assist, 2 steals, and one block.

So…what’s next?

The San Antonio Spurs will host Deandre Ayton (15.8 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 59.5 FG%, 00.0 3P%) and the struggling Phoenix Suns (4-22) on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.  This game will mark the third of four times that these teams will battle each other during this season.  The last time they saw each other was on November 14 when the Spurs fell to the Suns, 96-116.  During that game, T.J. Warren scored 27 points, pulled down 4 rebounds, gave out 2 assists, and committed 3 steals while DeMar DeRozan finished with 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

The Utah Jazz will visit Oklahoma to take on Paul George (24.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 4.4 APG, 42.3 FG%, 35.2 3P%) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (16-8) on Monday at 8:00 p.m.  This will be the first of four matchups between these teams this season.  Last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder won the regular-season series, 3-1, but ended up losing in the first round of those playoffs to the Jazz, 2-4.

The Memphis Grizzlies overpower the New Orleans Pelicans, 107-103

The Memphis Grizzlies overpower the New Orleans Pelicans, 107-103

The Memphis Grizzlies are currently in the midst of recovering from one of their worst seasons ever as they finished last year with a 22-60 record.  Last time they had a record that bad was back in the 2007-2008 season, the year before they drafted Marc Gasol.  The Grizzlies are coming fresh off a 96-86 win that earned over the impressive Los Angeles Clippers, who are also recovering from a disappointing previous season.  The Grizzlies will look to grab a second straight win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

As for the Pelicans, their season isn’t going as they planned as they are sitting at the eleventh spot in the Western Conference with a 13-13 record.  Last year, they made the Playoffs but fell to the Golden State Warriors in the Semifinals, 1-4.  Since then, they have been without DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged twenty-five points a game in the two seasons he spent with them.

The Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Pelicans have battled each other a total of 60 times in the past as the Pelicans defeated the Grizzlies 32 times while the Pelicans captured 28 wins.  This meeting between the two teams tonight will mark the first of four times that these two ball clubs will see each other during this season.  Last season, the regular-season series between these teams were tied at two apiece.

INACTIVES:

Memphis Grizzlies:

-Dillon Brooks (knee; 6.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.9 APG, 40.9 FG%, 36.8 3P%, 77.8 FT%)
-Chandler Parsons (knee; 5.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 0.7 APG, 41.2 FG%, 30.0 3P%)
-Wayne Selden (coach’s decision; 5.8 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, 41.1 FG%, 34.1 3P%, 86.7 FT%)
-D.J. Stephens (coach’s decision)
-Jevon Carter (G-League)
-Ivan Rabb (G-League; 2.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.7 APG, 61.5 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 60.0 FT%)
-Yuta Watanabe (G-League; 1.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 100.0 FT%)

New Orleans Pelicans:

-Nikola Mirotic (illness; 18.9 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 46.5 FG%, 36.4 3P%, 83.8 FT%)
-Elfrid Payton (finger; 9.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, 47.1 FG%, 42.9 3P%, 63.6 FT%)
-Ian Clark (coach’s decision; 4.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 37.0 FG%, 31.1 3P%, 90.0 FT%)
-Andrew Harrison (coach’s decision; 3.8 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.4 APG, 31.0 FG%, 20.0 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
-Wesley Johnson (coach’s decision; 4.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.8 APG, 42.1 FG%, 43.2 3P%, 83.3 FT%)
-Jahlil Okafor (coach’s decision; 3.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.1 APG, 50.0 FG%, 100.0 FT%)
-Trevon Bluiett (G-League)
-Frank Jackson (G-League; 4.3 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 36.5 FG%, 29.6 3P%, 71.4 FT%)
-Kenrich Williams (0.8 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.0 APG, 33.3 FG%, 50.0 3P%)

GAMETIME:

Both teams made it very clear that this will not be a game that one would run away with as the Grizzlies closed the first quarter out with a 31-30 lead.  The New Orleans Pelicans  ended up shooting 55 percent from the field in the first half while the Memphis Grizzlies completed 49 percent of their shots.  Marc Gasol chalked up 12 points in the first half, earning four of those points from the free-throw line.  This would mark Joakim Noah’s second game in a Grizzlies uniform as he scored four points in his season debut against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Noah looked a little better this time around as he put up nine points on 80 percent shooting.  He also had four defensive rebounds and two assists as he came off the bench.  Mike Conley, who is averaging a career-high 21 points this season, struggled from the field as he made only 2 of his 6 shots, finishing the game with nine points.  Former Philadelphia 76ers guard Shelvin Mack played the most minutes off the bench but was held scoreless, only attempting 3 shots.

As for the Pelicans, Anthony Davis tallied 6 points in the first quarter and 13 points in the second quarter.  He shot 73 percent from the field while pulling down six rebounds, committed one steal, and preventing three shots from going in.  Julius Randle, who averaged 19 points for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, scored 13 points while Jrue Holiday chipped in 12 points.  E’Twaun Moore played 11 eleven minutes off the bench but only had two points to show for it as the home team walked into the locker room with a tight 60-58 lead over the Memphis team.

The Grizzlies would take it upon themselves to close things out as they sparked up a 49 to 43 run, limiting the Louisiana team to just 36 percent shooting.  JaMychal Green scored 13 points off the bench while New York-native Kyle Anderson had 12 points.  Both Green and Anderson had a three-pointer in the third quarter while shooting 71 percent from the field each.  Marc Gasol and Mike Conley would be limited to just three points each but Conley would take his from the charity stripe while Gasol had a trey.

Randle tried his best to keep the Pelicans involved with 13 points, along with 9 rebounds and 2 steals.  But it wouldn’t help that he had two turnovers.  Davis, who has averaged a double-double in all but one of his seasons (his first season), was kept to just six points on 20 percent shooting.  But he did have 5 rebounds, 3 assists, one steal, and one block in the final 17 minutes that he played.  Holiday helped out with 8 points but it was Memphis Grizzlies who pulled away with a 107-103 win.  JaMychal Green finished with a season-high 24 points, along with 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a season-high three 3-pointers.  Julius Randle had 26 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

So…what’s next?

The Memphis Grizzlies will host LeBron James (28.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 6.6 APG, 52.5 FG%, 36.9 3P%) and the Los Angeles Lakers (15-9) on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.  This game will mark the first of three times that these two teams will fight each other this season.  They tied the regular-season series up two apiece last season.

The New Orleans Pelicans will travel to Michigan to take on Blake Griffin (24.9 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 5.0 APG, 46.4 FG%, 36.2 3P%) and the Detroit Pistons (13-9) on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.  This will be the first of two times that these squads will see each other this season.  The Pelicans were able to sweep the Pistons last season in their regular-season series, 2-0.

The Chicago Bulls push through the Oklahoma City Thunder, 114-112

The Chicago Bulls push through the Oklahoma City Thunder, 114-112

The Chicago Bulls are currently trying to avoid an 8th straight loss as they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the United Center.  The last time the Bulls suffered an 8-game losing streak was last year when they lost a total of 10 straight.  They are tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the worst record in the East at 5-20 and at risk of missing the playoff for a second straight time.

As for the Thunder, they are coming fresh off a 114-112 win against the Brooklyn Nets, all thanks to Paul George, who nailed a clutch 3-pointer to secure the win.  They are looking for their 5th straight victory.  The Thunder and the Bulls have played each other a grand total of 151 times in the past as the Thunder won 74 games while the Chicago team pulled out 77 wins.  This will mark the first of two matchups between these ball clubs this season.  The Thunder swept the Chicago Bulls last season in their season series, 2-0.

INACTIVES:

Oklahoma City Thunder:

-Andre Roberson (knee)
-Deonte Burton (coach’s decision; 3.5 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.4 APG, 44.4 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 83.3 FT%)
-Raymond Felton (coach’s decision; 4.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.8 APG, 35.2 FG%, 17.9 3P%, 88.9 FT%)
-Abdel Nader (coach’s decision; 1.2 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.1 APG, 50.0 FG%, 0.0 3P%)
-Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (2.5 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 0.3 APG, 33.3 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 66.7 FT%)
-Tyler Davis (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 0.0 FG%)

Chicago Bulls:

-Kris Dunn (knee; 9.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 7.0 APG, 30.8 FG%, 25.0 3P%)
-Bobby Portis (knee; 10.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 41.5 FG%, 27.3 3P%, 55.6 FT%)
-Denzel Valentine (ankle)
-Antonio Blakeney (coach’s decision; 9.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, 44.0 FG%, 44.8 3P%, 63.6 FT%)
-Cristiano Felicio (coach’s decision; 3.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.6 APG, 56.8 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 77.8 FT%)
-Tyler Ulis (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG)
-Rawle Alkins (G-League)

GAMETIME:

The Chicago Bulls would have control in the first half as they completed 57 percent of the shots they put up, limiting the Oklahoma City Thunder to 46 percent shooting.  The 2018-2018 All-Rookie selection Lauri Markkanen scored 16 points while knocking down four 3-pointers.  He also had 3 rebounds while Zach LaVine contributed with 13 points, 3 defensive rebounds, and 6 assists.  He was able to drill a trey midway through the first session while Ryan Arcidiacono had a 3-pointer in the first period.  He finished the game with just those three points.  Robin Lopez played the most minutes off the bench as he chipped in with 10 points.

On the other end of the court, Steven Adams put up 17 of Oklahoma City’s 62 points while pulling down 5 rebounds but had three turnovers.  Paul George scored 16 points which included a 3-pointer before the first quarter expired.  He shot 63 percent from the field in the first half but struggled overall as he only made 6 of his 16 shots attempted in the game, ending with 38 percent shooting from the field, lowest of all five Thunder starters.

Russell Westbrook recorded 9 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals while Terrance Ferguson was held scoreless in the 14 minutes that he played, attempting only two shots.  Former Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder played the most minutes of all the reserves in the first half as he gave eleven points but it was the home team who went in the break with a 70 to 62 advantage.

The Thunder would not give up, though, as they came out of the locker room to spark a 50-44 run, including a big 29-17 run in the third period.  During that time, Westbrook added 15 more points to his scoring total while knocking down two 3-pointers.  He also collected 7 more rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals but had 7 turnovers.  George would start to see his shooting decline as he only scored three points, earning them from beyond the arc just one minute into the third.

MARKKANEN SAVES THE DAY:

With 34 seconds left in the game and the score being 109-108 in the Bulls’ favor, Dennis Schroder would complete a driving layup to give the Thunder a one-point lead.  That would force the Chicago team to call a timeout.  Out of the timeout, Justin Holiday would drill a huge three-pointer off of a Lauri Markkanen assist, giving the Bulls a 112-110 lead.  Four seconds out of a Thunder timeout, Russell Westbrook would drive the ball in the paint for a layup, tying the game up at 112 apiece.  But Markkanen respond as he made a driving layup with only four seconds left in the game to allow the home team to regain the lead.  Paul George would attempt a three-pointer after a Thunder timeout but would fail to convert as the Bulls hold off the Thunder, 114-112, bringing an end to their seven-game losing streak.

Zach LaVine finished the game with 25 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals but had a career-tying nine turnovers.  Russell Westbrook scored 24 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, dished off 13 assists, and committed a season-tying 4 steals.  Those stats would complete his triple-double (109th of his career; 5th of the season) but had a season-high 10 turnovers.

So…what’s next?

The Oklahoma City Thunder will host Donovan Mitchell (20.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.5 APG, 42.7 FG%, 29.2 3P%) and the Utah Jazz (13-13) on Monday at 8:00 p.m.  This meeting will mark the first of four matchups between these two teams this season.  The Thunder would win the regular-season series against the Jazz, 3-1, before losing to them in the first round of the playoffs, 2-4.

The Chicago Bulls will host Kyrie Irving (22.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.4 APG, 48.5 FG% 39.2 3P%) and the Boston Celtics (14-10) on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.  This will be the second time that these two teams will see each other this season as one more game lies ahead of them.  The first time they met up each other was on November 14 when the Celtics handed the Bulls a 111-82 blowout loss.  During that game, Jaylen Brown scored eighteen points, grabbed six rebounds, gave out three assists, and committed one steal while Shaquille Harrison had sixteen points, six rebounds, one assist, and four steals.

The Trail Blazers top the Suns with a 108 to 86 victory

The Trail Blazers top the Suns with a 108 to 86 victory

The Phoenix Suns currently hold the worst record in the league at 4-20 and things haven’t gotten any easier as they are now without their up-and-coming Devin Booker.  They are on their way to tying their longest losing streak of the season at seven games if they don’t win tonight.  Believe it or not, they have not had a winning streak yet this season.

The Portland Trail Blazers, on the other hand, are trying to avoid a fourth straight loss, which would mark their longest losing streak this season.  The Trail Blazers and the Suns have battled each other a grand total of 254 times in the past as the Suns won 135 games while the Oregon team was kept to 119 victories.  Tonight will be the first of three times that two ball clubs will go against each other this season.  The Suns got swept last season against the Trail Blazers in the regular-season series, 0-4.

INACTIVES:

Phoenix Suns:

-Devin Booker (hamstring; 23.5 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 6.7 APG, 43.9 FG%, 31.3 3P%, 84.2 FT%)
-T.J. Warren (ankle; 17.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 51.1 FG%, 45.0 3P%, 84.6 FT%)
-Ryan Anderson (coach’s decision; 3.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 31.7 FG%, 20.6 3P%, 78.6 FT%)
-George King (G-League)

Portland Trail Blazers:

-C.J. McCollum (ankle; 21.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.4 APG, 46.4 FG%, 36.1 3P%, 82.9 FT%)
-Anfernee Simons (2.2 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.2 APG, 33.3 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 25.0 FT%)

GAMETIME:

The Portland Trail Blazers would set the tone early in this game as they outscored the Phoenix Suns in the first quarter, 34 to 9.  This would not be the first time the Suns were held to just nine points in the first quarter as the Sacramento Kings had the same effect on them during the December 4th matchup.  The Suns would lose that game by seventeen points.  In this game, though, Troy Daniels scored ten points off the bench as he had two three-pointers in the second quarter.  Josh Jackson helped out with eight points on fifty percent shooting.  Overall, the Suns would complete thirty-eight percent of their shots in the first half while the Portland Trail Blazers completed fifty-five percent.

Damian Lillard got hot with twenty-one points for the home team while knocking down three three-pointers in the first quarter.  He also had five rebounds, six assists, and one steal.  Jusuf Nurkic chipped in seven points on only thirty-eight percent shooting.  Seth Curry was kept completely scoreless while Al-Farouq Aminu had five points.  Jake Layman played the most minutes off the bench as he had seventeen points while the Trail Blazers went into halftime with a commanding 62 to 41 advantage.

The Suns would come out of the locker room with a sense of urgency as they scored forty-seven points in the second half, twenty-seven in the fourth quarter.  Rookie Elie Okobo dropped nine points while hitting a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter.  De’Anthony Melton scored seven points off the bench while both Josh Jackson and Richaun Holmes had six points each.

The Trail Blazers would make sure to keep fighting as Zach Collins scored ten points in the eighteen minutes he played off the bench.  Evan Turner had six points off the bench while Lillard was limited to four points but his play wasn’t really needed for the rest of the game as the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Phoenix Suns a 108-86 loss, tying their longest losing streak this season at seven games.  Damian Lillard finished the contest with twenty-five points, five rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and one block while Troy Daniels had a season-high fifteen points, along with three rebounds, and one assist.

So…what’s next?

The Phoenix Suns will host Josh Richardson (19.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 41.1 FG%, 39.9 3P%) and the Miami Heat (9-14) tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m.  This will mark the first of two meetings between these two teams this season.  Last season, the Miami Heat swept the Suns in their regular-season series, 2-0.

The Portland Trail Blazers will host Karl-Anthony Towns (21.3 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 49.1 FG%, 41.2 3P%) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-12) on Saturday at 10:00 p.m.  This will be the third of four times that these two teams will battle each other during this season.  The last time the Trail Blazers and the Timberwolves saw each other was on November 16 when the Timberwolves defeated the Trail Blazers, 112-96.  Andrew Wiggins finished that game with twenty-three points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block while C.J. McCollum had eighteen points, one rebound, two assists, and one steal.

The Warriors knock off the Cavaliers, 129 to 105

The Warriors knock off the Cavaliers, 129 to 105

This would have been one of the most hyped matchups of the season but with LeBron James being gone, it’s just another game for the defending champions.  Tonight, the Golden State Warriors will visit the Quicken Loans Arena to battle the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers.  The Warriors are facing difficulties of their own, though.  They are currently trying to recover from their two only losing streaks this season; one being a four-game losing streak and another one being a recent two-game skid.

Even though they are still without Draymond Green, who is missing his ninth straight game due to a toe injury, the Warriors were still able to get past the Atlanta Hawks, all thanks to Stephen Curry, who outscored the Hawks in the first quarter by himself, 18-17.  This meeting between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers will mark the first of two games between these teams this season.  The Warriors swept the regular season series against the Cavaliers last season before sweeping them in the NBA Finals.

INACTIVES:

Golden State Warriors:

-DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles)
-Draymond Green (toe; 6.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.2 APG, 44.4 FG%, 22.2 3P%, 66.7 FT%)
-Damian Jones (pectoral; 5.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 71.6 FG%, 64.9 FT%)
-Damion Lee (G-League; 5.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 0.2 APG, 43.4 FG%, 41.4 3P%, 80.0 FT%)

Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Sam Dekker (ankle; 6.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 45.8 FG%, 38.5 3P%, 80.0 FT%)
-Kevin Love (toe; 19.0 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, 32.3 FG%, 29.2 3P%, 81.8 FT%)
-David Nwaba (knee; 6.1 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, 42.4 FG%, 22.7 3P%, 67.6 FT%)
-Ante Zizic (knee; 3.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.4 APG, 50.0 FG%, 62.5 FT%)
-J.R. Smith (personal; 6.7 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.9 APG, 34.2 FG%, 30.8 3P%, 80.0 FT%)

GAMETIME:

The game would be held somewhat close in the first half as the Cleveland Cavaliers shot forty-nine percent from the floor while the Golden State Warriors completed fifty-one percent of their shots.  Former Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood scored fifteen points while hitting two three-pointers early in the first quarter.  Rookie Collin Sexton contributed with twelve points which held three three-pointers while Tristan Thompson chipped in five points, eight rebounds, and one assist.  Larry Nance played sixteen minutes off the bench as he had nine points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block.

As for the Warriors, Stephen Curry got extremely hot as he chalked up twenty-five points while knocking down six three-pointers in the process.  He also had three defensive rebounds, four assists, and one steal while Kevin Durant earned ten points for himself.  Durant was also able to drill a three-pointer in the second quarter while grabbing five defensive rebounds, dishing off five assists, committing one steal, and blocking two shots.  Four-time All-Star Klay Thompson was kept to just six points on twenty-nine percent shooting while recording three defensive rebounds.  Jonas Jerebko played the most minutes off the bench but only had six points while the Cavaliers went into halftime with a 64 to 58 advantage.

The Warriors would hit the Cavaliers with a huge 71 to 43 run in the second half as they shot fifty-four percent from the field, holding the Ohio team to forty percent.  During that run, Curry continued to put up a shooting display as he had seventeen additional points, nine coming from beyond the arc and the other eight from the free-throw line.  He also had six defensive rebounds and three assists while Durant put up fifteen points with three three-pointers in the third period.  Thompson would make up for that tough first half he had as he scored ten points with two three-pointers in the fourth.  Jerebko played twelve minutes off the bench as he had only five points which included a three-pointer late in the third.

On the other end of the court, both Thompson and Sexton had nine points apiece while Tristan Thompson saw to it that he got eleven rebounds.  The second round pick in the 2015 draft Cedi Osman scored seven points while knocking down a three-pointer early in the third quarter.  George Hill would be held scoreless in the eleven minutes that he played.  Jordan Clarkson played the most minutes off the bench as he put up seven points but it wouldn’t matter as the Golden State Warriors defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 129-105 final score.  Stephen Curry finished the game with forty-two points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal while Collin Sexton had twenty-one points, two rebounds, and three assists.

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers will host Buddy Hield (18.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 47.5 FG%, 41.8 3P%) and the Sacramento Kings (12-11) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.  This will be the first of two times that these ball clubs will face each other this season.  Both teams tied the regular season series last season at one apiece.

The Golden State Warriors will visit Wisconsin to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo (27.6 PPG, 13.2 RPG, 6.0 APG, 57.8 FG%, 11.5 3P%) and the Milwaukee Bucks (15-7) on Friday at 9:30 p.m.  This game will be second and last one that the Bucks and Warriors will play against each other this season.  The last time they fought each other was on November 8 when the Milwaukee Bucks handed the Warriors a 134-111 blowout loss.  During that game, Eric Bledsoe scored twenty-six points, grabbed four rebounds, dished off six assists, and committed one steal while Klay Thompson finished with twenty-four points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks.

The Denver Nuggets survive the Toronto Raptors, 106-103

The Denver Nuggets survive the Toronto Raptors, 106-103

The Toronto Raptors not only the hottest team in the East but they are also the best team in the league right now, grasping a 20-4 record.  The only teams they have fallen to were the Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons, and Boston Celtics.  They will look grab their ninth straight victory as they host the Denver Nuggets.  If they do so, this will tie their all-time longest winning streak which they set last season.

The Denver Nuggets, on the other hand, are hoping to earn their sixth straight win, coming fresh off of a close 113-112 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers.  The Nuggets and the Raptors have seen each other a grand total of 44 times in the past as the Nuggets won 26 games while the Raptors were kept to just 18 games.  This game will mark the first of two times that these two ball clubs will face each other during this season.  Last season, these teams split the season series at one apiece.  Both teams will look to set the tone tonight.

INACTIVES:

Denver Nuggets:

-Will Barton (hip/core; 16.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 57.1 FG%, 55.6 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
-Michael Porter (back)
-Isaiah Thomas (hip)
-Jarred Vanderbilt (foot)
-Brandon Goodwin (coach’s decision)
-Tyler Lydon (coach’s decision; 2.3 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.0 APG, 75.0 FG%, 75.0 3P%, 50.0 FT%)
-DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell (G-League; 1.2 PPG, 0.7 RPG, 1.0 APG, 30.0 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 50.0 FT%)
-Thomas Welsh (G-League; 1.3 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.5 APG, 66.7 FG%, 50.0 3P%)

Toronto Raptors:

-Lorenzo Brown (coach’s decision; 2.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 37.8 FG%, 22.7 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
-Greg Monroe (coach’s decision; 3.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.4 APG, 51.5 FG%, 0.0 3P%, 50.0 FT%)
-Malachi Richardson (coach’s decision; 1.3 PPG, 0.8 RPG, 0.0 APG, 27.8 FG%, 26.7 3P%, 66.7 FT%)
-Jordon Loyd (G-League; 4.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 0.3 APG, 100.0 FG%, 100.0 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
-Norman Powell (shoulder; 5.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.9 APG, 47.6 FG%, 40.9 3P%, 75.0 FT%)
-Chris Boucher (G-League; 4.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 0.0 APG, 50.0 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 66.7 FT%)

GAMETIME:

The Denver Nuggets would have complete control in the first half as they shot fifty percent from the field, limiting the home team to forty-three percent.  Nikola Jokic chalked up fourteen points while grabbing five rebounds and dishing off ten assists.  Jamal Murray helped out with twelve points as he was able to drill two three-pointers in the process.  Juan Hernangomez earned himself seven points which included a trey early in the first period.  Malik Beasley played the most minutes off the bench as he had eight points including two three-pointers in the second quarter.

As for the Canada team, former San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard got hot for sixteen points on sixty percent shooting.  He also had four defensive rebounds and two assists while Pascal Siakam chipped in eight points.  Kyle Lowry, who is averaging fifteen points a game this season, was held scoreless in the eighteen minutes that he played.  Danny Green had a three-pointer early in the first quarter while Serge Ibaka collected five points, two rebounds, one assist, and one block.  Jonas Valanciunas played ten minutes off the bench as he scored six points while the Nuggets went into halftime with a commanding 59 to 47 lead.

The best team in the league would bounce back, though, as they sparked a 56 to 47 run, shooting forty-nine percent from the field.  During that run, Leonard added eleven more points to his scoring total, including a three-pointer midway through the third period.  Ibaka earned ten more points, along with three defensive rebounds and one assist.  Lowry would still struggle as he was only able to hit a three-pointer and two free throws, ending the game with five points.  Fred VanVleet played the most minutes off the bench but was kept scoreless.

On the other end of the court, both Murray and Jokic scored nine points each.  Murray would go on to collect three defensive rebounds and three assists while Nikola Jokic had six rebounds, five assists, and two steals.  Paul Millsap would only have two points, ending the game with six total.  Beasley played fourteen minutes off the bench as he had seven points which held a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter.

DOWN-TO-THE-WIRE:

With only forty-one seconds left, the Raptors would have a 101-100 lead.  Nikola Jokic knocked down a twelve-foot jump shot with forty seconds left to put the Denver team up by one.  After a missed two-pointer and a missed three-pointer by Danny Green, the Raptors would have no choice but to foul after Juan Hernangomez grabs the defensive rebound.  He would make his second free throw after missing the first one, giving the visiting team a 103-101 lead.

Coming out of a timeout with only seven seconds left in regulation, Kawhi Leonard would drill a jump shot to tie the game up at 103 apiece.  After a timeout called by the Nuggets, Serge Ibaka ended up committing a costly foul away from the ball, sending Jokic to the charity stripe.  He was able to knock down his free-throw, giving them another lead.  Once they got the ball back, Leonard would commit the intentional foul, sending Nikola Jokic right back to the line.  He was able to knock down both of his free throws.  With time running out, Kyle Lowry would be forced to attempt a pull-up three-pointer but would not make it as the Denver Nuggets hold on to be the Toronto Raptors, 106 to 103.

FINAL RESULTS:

Nikola Jokic finished the competition with twenty-three points, eleven rebounds, fifteen assists, and two steals while Malik Beasley had fifteen points, two rebounds, and one assist off the bench.  Kawhi Leonard had twenty-seven points, eight rebounds, and two assists while Delon Wright scored nine points off the bench, as well grabbing three rebounds, dishing off two assists, and committing two steals.

So…what’s next?

The Denver Nuggets will travel down to Florida to take on Nikola Vucevic (21.0 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 55.3 FG%, 40.9 3P%) and the Orlando Magic (11-12) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.  This will mark the second and final time that these teams will see each other this season.  The last time they played each other was on November 23 when the Nuggets handed the Orlando team a 112 to 87 loss.  During that game, Trey Lyles scored twenty-two points, grabbed two rebounds, and dished off one assist while Terrence Ross finished with eighteen points and one assist.

The Toronto Raptors will host Joel Embiid (27.0 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 3.5 APG, 46.8 FG%, 30.1 3P%) and the Philadelphia 76ers (17-8) on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.  The matchup will mark the second of four times that these two teams will meet up this season.  The last time they saw each other was on October 30 when the Canada team escaped with a 129-112 win.  Kawhi Leonard finished that game with thirty-one points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals while Joel Embiid had thirty-one points, eleven rebounds, four assists, and one block.

The Los Angeles Lakers hold off the Phoenix Suns, 120-96

The Los Angeles Lakers hold off the Phoenix Suns, 120-96

The Phoenix Suns are dead last in the Western Conference, tying the Cleveland Cavaliers for the worst record in the league at 4-18.  They will look to avoid a fifth straight loss as they battle the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.  The Lakers, on the other hand, are looking pretty decent after a 0-3 start to the season, holding onto a 13-9 record.  Their current win-loss percentage is 59.1%, marking the first time they had a fifty-percent win-loss percentage since the 2012-2013 season.

The Suns and the Lakers have battled each other a grand total of 308 in the past as the Suns won 130 times while the Lakers went on to pull out 178 victories.  This game between the Suns and the Lakers will mark the second of four times that these two ball clubs will meet up this season.  The last time they played each other was on October 24 when the Suns fell to the Lakers, 131-113.  Lance Stephenson finished that game with twenty-three points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and two steals while Devin Booker also had twenty-three points, along with seven rebounds and seven assists.

INACTIVES:

Phoenix Suns:

-T.J. Warren (ankle; 17.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1.3 APG, 51.1 FG%, 45.0 3P%, 84.6 FT%)
-George King (G-League)

Los Angeles Lakers:

-Rajon Rondo (hand; 8.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.5 APG, 45.5 FG%, 42.9 3P%, 50.0 FT%)
-Alex Caruso (G-League)
-Isaac Bonga (G-League)
-Johnathan Williams (G-League; 3.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 0.7 APG, 57.9 FG%, 20.0 FT%)

GAMETIME:

The Los Angeles Lakers would have control most of the first half as they shot fifty percent from the field, keeping the Phoenix Suns to thirty-eight percent.  Kyle Kuzma lit the floor up with eighteen points while hitting two three-pointers in the second quarter.  Brandon Ingram helped out with thirteen points while recording three rebounds and two assists.  He also had a three-pointer, which he drilled early in the second period.  Three-time NBA Champion LeBron James was kept to just twelve points but did have three rebounds, four assists, and one block.  Lonzo Ball was limited to just two points.  Josh Hart played ten minutes off the block but was held completely scoreless as he only attempted three shots.

As for the struggling Suns, former Orlando Magic forward Trevor Ariza scored eleven points on fifty percent shooting.  He also had three treys in the first quarter while earning four defensive rebounds, one assist, and four steals.  Josh Jackson chipped in eight points while Deandre Ayton put up six points.  Devin Booker had six points, as well, but went down with a hamstring injury in the second quarter and would not return.  Elie Okobo played the most minutes off the bench but was kept scoreless as the Lakers went into halftime with a 61 to 46 advantage.

The California team would close things out in the second half as LeBron James scored ten more points while hitting a three-pointer late in the third quarter.  He also had three defensive rebounds and four assists while rookie Moritz Wagner contributed with ten points of his own.  On the other end of the court, both Troy Daniels and Richaun Holmes scored nine points off the bench each but it wouldn’t mean much as the Los Angeles Lakers go on to defeat the Phoenix Suns, 120-96.  Kyle Kuzma finished the game with twenty-three points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block while Richaun Holmes settled for a season-high fifteen points, along with one rebound, a career-high four steals, and a season-high four blocks.

So…what’s next?

The Phoenix Suns will host Buddy Hield (18.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 47.3 FG%, 41.1 3P%) and the Sacramento Kings (11-11) on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m.  This game will mark the first of four times that these two teams will clash with one another this season.  Last season, the Suns won the regular season series against the team, 3-1.

The Los Angeles Lakers will stay at home as they host Demar DeRozan (23.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 6.0 APG, 48.2 FG%, 18.2 3P%) and the San Antonio Spurs (10-12) on Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.  This will be the third of four times that these teams will see each other this season.  The last time they met up was on October 27 when the Spurs handed the Lakers a 110-106 loss.  During that game, DeRozan scored thirty points, grabbed twelve boards, gave out eight assists, committed two steals, and blocked one shot while LeBron James finished with thirty-five points, eleven rebounds, four assists, and two steals.

The Houston Rockets hand the Chicago Bulls a tough loss, 121 to 105

The Houston Rockets hand the Chicago Bulls a tough loss, 121 to 105

The Chicago Bulls are en route to their longest losing streak this season, hoping to avoid a fifth straight loss as they battle the Houston Rockets in Texas.  The Bulls are currently holding onto a 2-9 record on the road.  The Rockets, on the other hand, are still trying to work things out as they look for their second straight victory.  The Houston Rockets have a 4-5 record at home.

The Houston Rockets and the Chicago Bulls have played each other a total of 137 times in the past as the Rockets won 69 games while the Bulls were kept to just 68 wins.  This meeting will mark the second and final time that these two teams will match up this season.  The last time they played each other was on November 3 when the Houston team survived the Bulls, 96-88.  During that game, James Harden scored twenty-five points, grabbed one rebound, dished off seven assists, and committed four steals while Zach LaVine had twenty-one points, four rebounds, four assists, and one steal.

INACTIVES:

Chicago Bulls:

-Tyler Ulis (G-League; 0.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG)
-Bobby Portis (knee; 10.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 41.5 FG%, 27.3 3P%, 55.6 FT%)
-Rawle Alkins (G-League)
-Kris Dunn (knee; 9.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 7.0 APG, 30.8 FG%, 25.0 3P%)
-Denzel Valentine (ankle)

Houston Rockets:

-Brandon Knight (knee)
-Carmelo Anthony (13.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 0.5 APG, 40.5 FG%, 32.8 3P%, 68.2 FT%)
-Zhou Qi (ankle; 2.0 PPG, 0.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 100.0 FG%)
-Vincent Edwards (G-League; 3.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.0 APG, 50.0 FG%, 50.0 3P%)

GAMETIME:

The Texas team would have full control in the first half as they shot forty-nine percent from the field, limiting the visiting team to thirty-nine percent.  James Harden would be the only player to score double-digits in the half as he got hot for twenty-three points, knocking down four three-pointers in the process.  He shot sixty-four percent from the field while recording three defensive rebounds, three assists, and one steal.  Clint Capela helped out with seven points and eight rebounds while Chris Paul had five points, two rebounds, five assists, and one block.  Paul had a three-pointer late in the beginning period as James Ennis was kept to four points.  Eric Gordon played the most minutes off the bench as he scored nine points, including a three-pointer in the second quarter.

As for the Bulls, Zach LaVine chalked up fourteen points on sixty percent shooting.  He also had a trey in the second period while grabbing four rebounds and committing two steals.  Illinois-native Jabari Parker chipped in ten points while jumping up for five boards.  Both Justin Holiday and Wendell Carter earned themselves six points.  Lauri Markkanen played twelve minutes off the bench but was kept to just a three-pointer late in the first quarter as the Houston Rockets went into their locker room with a 56 to 46 lead.

The Houston Rockets would finish the job in the second half as they went on a 65 to 61 run, although both teams shot fifty-one percent from the field each.  James Harden would cool down as he only had seven points in the second half, earning six of them from beyond the arc and one from the charity stripe.  Capela would pick up the load as he warmed up with eleven points, shooting a high eighty percent from the field.  P.J. Tucker chalked up eight points while Chris Paul had seven points.  Paul had eight more assists to add to his stat column.  LaVine continued to add to his scoring total, putting up seventeen more points but it was the Houston Rockets who stuck around to hand the Chicago Bulls a 121-105 loss.  James Harden finished the game with thirty points, six rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and one block while Zach LaVine had twenty-nine points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks.

So…what’s next?

The Chicago Bulls will head to Indianapolis to battle Bojan Bogdanovic (16.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 4.7 APG, 44.0 FG%, 34.5 3P%) and the Indiana Pacers (13-10) on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.  This game will mark the second of four times that these two ball clubs will meet up this season.  The last time they played each other was on November 2 when the Pacers crept away with a 107-105 win.  During that game, Victor Oladipo scored twenty-five points, pulled down fourteen rebounds, dished out five assists, committed two steals, and prevented a shot from going in while Antonio Blakeney had twenty-two points and three rebounds.

The Houston Rockets will travel to the Target Center to clash with Karl-Anthony Towns (20.6 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, 48.7 FG%, 39.6 3P%) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (11-12) on Monday at 8:00 p.m.  This will be the first of three times that these two teams will battle each other during this season.  The Rockets would sweep the regular season series against the Timberwolves last season, 4-0.