Monthly Archives: December 2020

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Playing without either 2020 first round draft pick, a shorthanded Knicks squad hung relatively tough with the Philadelphia 76ers through two quarters Saturday night before breaking down like Four Year Strong, and the bright spots were few and far between.

Prior to the start of the team’s first regular season home game at Madison Square Garden since last March, the Knicks announced that both Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley would not play due to injury. Each rookie sustained their boo-boos in Wednesday’s season opener; Quickley hurt his hip and is day-to-day, while Toppin sustained a strained right calf that required an MRI. He’ll be re-evaluated in 7-10 days, which, bah humbug.

But this is the NBA, where there are no excuses, so the Knicks still had to play the 76ers under normal rules. They did so while wearing their City Edition jerseys for the first time, which, if you weren’t already aware, are available for purchase! Nothing like some good old fashioned capitalism, baby. Here’s hoping any consumers who buy one of the basketball practice pinnies get the right number on both the front and back, unlike Reggie Bullock at the beginning of Saturday’s contest.

Reggie Bullock starts Knicks game with wrong number on back of jersey:

— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) December 27, 2020
The starting five was as follows: Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Reggie Bullock, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson. It was Randle who carried New York for most of the night, as Barrett struggled mightily and everyone else except for Mitchell Robinson and Cheap Alec Burks Jersey was downright bad.

Early on, Randle was rocking, hitting each of his first three shots and leading the Knicks to a hot start. But Philly kept calm, and ultimately caused Tom Thibodeau to call his first timeout only four minutes into the first quarter, with the Knicks up 10-8. Thibs loves that quick timeout.

Quick 9 points already for @J30_RANDLE

— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 27, 2020
Behind Randle and Burks, who scored 11 and 9 points in the first quarter, respectively, the Knicks played steady basketball through the first 12 minutes. At the end of the period, the score was tied 27-27.

The second quarter represented an opportunity for Dennis Smith Jr. to run the show with fellow benchman Nerlens Noel. It was an opportunity he would squander. DSJ and Noel were like an off, off Broadway show. Sure, it was taking place in New York, but nobody wanted to see it.

Midway through the second quarter, the score was tied 40-40, and Randle was doing stuff like this.

Julius Randle, the playmaker?!

— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) December 27, 2020
That play was immediately followed up by a Robinson steal that resulted in a fast break dunk, and suddenly a 9-0 run had the Knicks up by five.


— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 27, 2020
Robinson’s first foul of the evening came with 5:45 to play in the first half. He would end the half with three fouls. He’d also end the game with three fouls! Coincidentally, Mitch’s first foul marked the start of a slide for New York. The 76ers soon went on their own 11-0 run to go up by six. At the half, it was 60-55 Philly.

The 76ers came out sharper than the Knicks in the second half, going up 10 after a few minutes. Before long, the lead had ballooned to 16. The Knicks never completely let go of the rope, but their efforts certainly won’t get them into a tug-of-war contest. At one point, Mike Breen noted that the Knicks had as many turnovers as field goals in the third quarter (6 apiece). By the end of the period, the Knicks were down 86-69, RJ Barrett was 1-13 from the floor, and bloggers were beginning to think about which band they should incorporate into the first sentence of their recap.

You can’t sugarcoat a pile of crap and convince someone it’s candy. The Knicks sucked tonight, and in the end this goes down as a 20-point blowout as the team falls to 0-2 on the season. But another year, this might have wound up a 40-point loss. Who says you can’t try to look on the bright side, even when you’re locked in a pitch black room?


> Barrett was bad, but this sort of thing will happen to the 20-year-old sophomore. Overall, he looks much improved this year. Tonight’s stat line was mostly disgusting (10 points on 2-15 shooting, including 0-6 from three, plus 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 turnovers), but he did hit 6 of 8 free throws. Once again, we’re looking at bright sides in the dark.

> The only consistent offense came from Randle and Burks, who scored 25 and 22 points, respectively. Randle was mostly the good version of himself, hitting 11 of 15 shots (including 2-2 from deep) and adding 7 rebounds and 3 assists, plus 4 turnovers. Burks is the only player on the team showing a consistent ability to shoot from the outside. He shot 6-13, including 4-6 from beyond the arc.

> Besides a little flurry of fouls in quarter two, Robinson played quite well. He finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, and was very active down low.

Mitch not giving up on the play

— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 27, 2020
> Let the record show that this Knox dunk happened, even if it didn’t matter at all:

Cleared for takeoff

— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 27, 2020
> It was a balanced effort for Philly, led by Cheap Joel Embiid Jersey (27 points), and followed by Cheap Tobias Harris Jersey and Cheap Seth Curry Jersey (17 points each), plus Cheap Ben Simmons Jersey (15 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks).

> Payton and DSJ were both garbage. Honestly, just look up their numbers for yourself if you must.

> Despite getting absolute trash from the point guard position, Frank Ntilikina was kept chained to the bench until finally coming in with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter and the game already decided. So much for the theory that Thibs was giving DSJ all the minutes tonight and Frank all the minutes tomorrow against Milwaukee to keep everyone’s legs fresh or something.

Whatever’s going on with Ntilikina is weird, but at the same time, it’s up to him to show he deserves time on the floor. In two minutes tonight he recorded no stats, and the one shot he took was ugly.

The entire evening was summed up quite concisely by fomalhaut: ‘This game is not fun to watch.’

The Knicks are back in action against the Bucks at home Sunday night at 7:30. That one might be a schedule loss.

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond stuffed Cheap Ben Simmons Jersey, collected the loose ball and started dribbling up the court, right in front of the team’s executive row. Drummond then snapped a pass to a streaking Darius Garland, who bounced it behind his back to Larry Nance Jr. for a reverberating two-handed dunk.

As Nance swung back and forth on the rim, Drummond gleefully skipped to center court while general manager Koby Altman, the architect of this hard-playing and selfless bunch, looked up at the scoreboard in anticipation of a replay.

This fast break is EVERYTHING. 😍

— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) December 28, 2020
That moment encapsulates the Cavs’ remarkable start to 2020-21. They are having fun.

On the second of a back-to-back, following a double-overtime thriller in Detroit the night before, the Cavs outclassed — and toyed with — the Philadelphia 76ers, winning their third straight game to open the season, 118-94. It’s their first time starting 3-0 since 2016-17.

The Nance slam early in the second quarter had everything head coach J.B. Bickerstaff ingrained this offseason. Defense. Team ball. Fast-paced offense. Joy.

It also gave the Cavs a 19-point lead — their biggest at the time. But Cleveland kept adding on, boosting its advantage to 26 in the third quarter, and then to 28, and then 30 and finally 32 early in the fourth, before emptying the bench and cruising to the victory.

“It’s fun to watch. Credit to these guys for buying in,” Bickerstaff said. “But when we put this together, we just feel like it’s the right way to play the game. It’s not something that’s unique or special by any means. It’s the way the game should be played and trying to play the game as purely as you can. And that’s what the guys have bought into, playing agenda-less basketball. And that’s when you see the results of the chemistry, the camaraderie and all of those things.”

The Cavs had every excuse not to bring it Sunday night. Weary after a lengthy and emotional game in Detroit. Playing without rookie Isaac Okoro, who is dealing with a sprained foot. Using their third different starting lineup in as many games. Kevin Love limping to the locker room early in the second quarter. The undefeated Sixers — even without All-Star center Cheap Joel Embiid Jersey — in town.

But that’s not these Cavs. They don’t make excuses. They don’t pout. They don’t give in. They push back against adversity, take a next-man-up mentality and fight.

Prior to the game, Bickerstaff called Sunday night a test, the latest in a season dotted with them. The Cavs passed. Again.

“Our guys found a way to compete, they found a way to play hard and play together,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s the goal every single night.”

Drummond scored a team-high 24 points to go with 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three steals.

“It’s necessary,” JaVale McGee said of Drummond’s contributions. “We don’t get 3-0 if Dre isn’t playing the way he’s playing.”

Collin Sexton, the team’s leading scorer, added 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He also had three assists and three rebounds. Garland continued his second-year transformation with 14 points and seven assists. Cedi Osman matched that point total off the bench, hitting 5-of-8 from the field.

With the offense humming all night, the Cavs had five players score in double figures, 31 assists on 48 made shots, a 52.7% shooting night from the field and all 13 players that entered tallied at least two points. They also had 13 steals, six blocks and held the Sixers to 41.8% shooting, continuing their stunning defensive rise.

“A lot of the things that we’re doing now have been very surprising for me,” Drummond said. “Especially our defense and changing our entire scheme from what it was last year and with the addition of me and JaVale McGee, just making our jobs a lot easier and making the guard’s jobs a lot easier. Holding everyone accountable. Our defense is incredible. We are all on one string defensively and offensively we find great ways for guys to score and everybody is sharing the ball. It’s a lot of fun being out there.”

Over the last two years, the Cavs have been on the other side of these laughers, with the opponent having fun at their expense.

If the first three games are any indication, those days are finally over.

Injured stars

Love, who was questionable going into the game because of a nagging calf injury, signaled for a sub early in the second quarter. Love was trying to make a post move before limping to the bench. While being examined by two members of the team’s training staff, Altman walked over for a chat. Eventually, Love limped gingerly to the locker room. He was ruled out for the rest of the game with what the Cavs are calling a calf injury.

The 76ers were without leading scorer Embiid because of tightness in his back. Embiid is averaging 28.0 points, 12.0 rebounds in the first two games.

Up next

The Cavs will host the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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The Philadelphia 76ers are looking a little different recently as they look to move on from a disappointing 2019-20 season. The team has made a lot of additions that they hope will help Ben Simmons and Cheap Joel Embiid Jersey move forward on offense.

They are also counting on the continued progression of a certain youngster who continues to catch the eye of his team and that is Cheap Shake Milton Jersey.

The young man had 19 points in Tuesday’s preseason win over the Boston Celtics and he looked very poised. He was able to run the team’s second unit and the pick-and-roll game with veteran big man Cheap Dwight Howard Jersey was encouraging to see.

“It’s been great,” Howard said of Milton. “He’s been really eager to listen and learn. I like how disciplined he is coming out of the pick-and-roll. He’s an awesome scorer so I’m super excited about playing with him in the pick-and-roll. He’s been doing a good job of getting downhill and making plays for himself and other people. So I think that pick-and-roll of me and him will be deadly. Especially with the second unit.”

If Milton can continue to take big steps forward such as this one, it will allow the Sixers to feel comfortable with being able to rest both Simmons and Embiid and still be able to receive some production. Howard will continue to produce as he always has and he will be somebody who the Sixers can count on, but if Milton can continue to progress, it will make a huge difference.

Another young Sixers guard, Cheap Tyrese Maxey Jersey, received some time on Tuesday and he had eight points and three assists in the fourth quarter. After a shaky start, he made a few floaters and he was a big reason why Philadelphia was able to hold off Boston late.

“I really like young fella,” Howard said with a smile. “When he first came in the game, I thought he was kind of moving a little bit too fast. They were pressuring them a lot. In a timeout, I kind of pulled them to the side I just told him to slow down. It’s okay to be fast, but don’t be in a hurry. Don’t allow the defense to dictate where they want you to go. No, you’re the ball-handler, you’re the point guard, you control everything on the floor, just slow down and read the game.”

The tough start can be attributed to the fact that he only had two practices with the team after battling COVID-19 and he then did not play until the fourth quarter. For him to bounce back in an impressive way is something that stood out to Howard.

“He went back out there, he slowed down,” the veteran added. “He started making plays, he got a couple of floaters off, some good passes. He got the offense running smoothly. I really like where his head is at. He’s very eager to learn, very disciplined, he’s always in the gym working. I’m very happy to see the progress that he’s had in such a short training camp but also having no type of summer league or anything like that.”

The Sixers now head to Indiana to face the Pacers on Friday to finish up the preseason.

As the Philadelphia 76ers continue to evaluate potential trade packages to acquire Houston’s James Harden, the question of whether the team would consider moving two-time All-Star Ben Simmons in exchange for Harden has been a central focus.

After previously reporting that Philadelphia was open to dealing Simmons, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said the team is not considering trading Simmons.

“We are not trading Cheap Ben Simmons Jersey,” Morey said, per Charania. “He is an important part of our future.”

Morey’s statement falls in line with an earlier report from The Athletic’s Sam Amick, who reported that Simmons “remains off-limits” in any potential Harden deal, and that the team preferred to let new coach Doc Rivers work with the current roster.

Harden made his preseason debut on Wednesday, scoring 12 points with four assists in 21 minutes. Afterward, when asked about reports that the former MVP has requested a trade, Harden responded: “Right now I’m just focused on being here.”

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Harden’s list of desired destinations is limited to contenders, with Philadelphia among a group that included Miami and Brooklyn. Houston is also engaging with those teams to try and reach a deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

On Wednesday, reports surfaced about Harden’s outsized role in the decision-making for Houston, from personnel decisions to the extracurricular traveling, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Among other issues, Harden reportedly pushed for the departures of former coach Kevin McHale and teammates Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.

Harden, 31, has two years remaining on his contract, plus a player option for the 2022-23 season. The former MVP won the NBA scoring title for the third straight year last season, averaging 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game.