Four games were on the docket Monday, with the headliner being Houston and Dwight Howard returning to L.A. to play the Clippers.
Early foul trouble for Dwight (three in the first quarter) diminished his minutes and production —he played under seven minutes in the first half — and enabled the Clips to produce an offensive explosion in a 137-118 victory.
Chris Paul had 17 assists to go with 23 points, while the Clippers’ two sharpshooters, J.J. Redick (26 points) and Jamal Crawford (21 points), did their thing as well. With Dwight (13 points, nine rebounds, one block) muted, no Rocket stepped up to fill the void as James Harden’s numbers (15 points, five assists, 6-for-16 shooting) were pedestrian, though forward Omri Casspi had one of the better games of his career (19 points, nine rebounds, four assists).
Minnesota went into Cleveland undefeated at 3-0, but a Kevin Love trey attempt at the buzzer missed, and Cleveland handed the T-Wolves their first loss of the season, 93-92.
C.J. Miles of all people led the Cavs in scoring with 19 points in 18 minutes off the bench, while Kyrie Irving had a solid, well-rounded effort with 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Love had 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, but made just eight of 20 shots from the field. Kevin Martin led Minnesota with 23 points.
The Warriors went into Philly and ended the 76ers’ undefeated run, 110-90 as Steph Curry had his second career triple-double and Andre Iguodala, drafted by the 76ers ninth overall in 2004, scored 32 points. This was Iggy’s first 30-point game since scoring 33 on April 3, 2010 — a ridiculous effort that also included eight rebounds, 11 assists, and 5 steals. Michael Carter-Williams (18 points, six rebounds, four assists) struggled from the field as she shot just 4-for-17. Evan Turner (18 points, seven rebounds) led Philadelphia.
Finally, the Grizzlies used a balanced scoring attack to defeat Boston, 95-88, in Memphis. Marc Gasol (14 points, eight rebounds), Conley (15 points, eight assists) and Randolph (15 points, seven rebounds) led the Grizzlies, while Jeff Green scored 22 for the Celtics.
The Michael Jordan Award — Stephen Curry — 18 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, 5 steals, 1 block, 2 treys, and 7-for-16 shooting. It was Curry’s second career triple-dub, his first was a monster effort his rookie year against the Clippers (36/10/13). Curry enjoyed his best season as a pro last year, averaging 22.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 45.1% and setting an NBA record for long bombs in a single season — 272. He’s shooting 53.1% so far this year.
The Nikoloz Tskitishvili Award — Kelly Olynyk — 4 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 free throws made, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 0 treys, and 1-for-8 shooting with 4 turnovers and 3 fouls in 24 minutes. Olynyk was the 13th pick of the draft last June out of Gonzaga. The long-haired forward-center has shown flashes of being a solid contributor both in the preseason, as well as the Celtics third game of the regular season when he posted 15 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes against the Pistons. He tallied 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks last season at Gonzaga.
The Allan Houston Hollow Man Award — Francisco Garcia — 14 points, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 free throws made, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 2 treys, and 5-for-9 shooting in 21 minutes. The aging journeyman shooting guard/small forward is still making a go of it at 32 years old in his ninth season. After four games, he’s averaging 13.3 points, which would be a career high. But in true Hollow Man fashion, has grabbed just six total rebounds and dished out only four assists in 102 minutes. He has twice averaged better than 10 points per game (12.3 in 2008 and 12.7 in 2009).
No. 1 Overall Woes – Anthony Bennett has had a historically bad start to his pro career after being the surprise No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft. He has taken 15 shots in four games, but none have gone in. Despite being a 6-8, 256 pounds, eight of his 15 shot attempts have been from behind the 3-point arc. He doesn’t have an assist yet, and is averaging three rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game. Bennett was a one-and-done at UNLV last year where he averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds, while making one trey per game (37.5% from distance, 53.3% overall).
Todd Robinson is the publisher of Speedburner on Sports. Click here to read more of his articles.