Good morning, folks. COVID is running rampant across the league. Let’s talk BBNBA.
13 postponements through four weeks
I’ve tried my best so far as to not mention the ongoing pandemic throughout my BBNBA posts, hoping to make this feel as “normal” as possible, but also knowing that it could all come crashing down in the blink of an eye.
While it hasn’t happened that fast, exactly, 13 games have already been postponed as we reach the four-week mark of the 2020-21 NBA season. Most of them have come within the last week or so–nine postponements since Sunday–as cases are piling up across teams such as the Washington Wizards (who now have six confirmed players that tested positive for the coronavirus). On Friday night, Karl-Anthony Towns announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 just half-an-hour after his Minnesota Timberwolves matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies was postponed due to positive tests and contact tracing.
The NBA has said time and time again that they do not intend on shutting down the season and a report by ESPN that came out Friday afternoon backs up that claim, but at what point does this become too difficult to navigate? How many games will have to get postponed before severe action is taken? The NBA somewhat expected this, and that’s a reason why they only announced the first 36 games of the season so they can work in these postponements during the spring. But in that same ESPN article, it states that the NBA isn’t all that surprised by the COVID issues–when it sure as hell seems like they should be.
“Other officials whom ESPN spoke with in recent days emphasized that the situation remains incredibly fluid, but they also weren’t surprised by these issues or postponements,” Baxter Holmes of ESPN wrote.
If they weren’t shocked, why did the NBA completely alter its COVID-19 protocols earlier in the week? Why are they just now laying down strict no-guest measurements? Shouldn’t that have always been a thing? The league might not be “surprised” by all of these postponements, but there is absolutely zero chance this is how they envisioned the first month going down. It has been handled poorly, to say the least.
It’s becoming more and more evident that a bubble environment might be necessary to finish out this season at some point, whether that happens in the playoffs or sometime sooner. For now, I’m going to try and enjoy the hoops while we have them.
SGA leads OKC to comeback win in OT
Now back to actual basketball.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to be one of my favorite players to watch this season and someone I think we should all be seriously looking at as an All-Star candidate for the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Friday night against the Chicago Bulls, SGA rallied his squad from down 22 points in the second half to force an overtime period that they would easily control, leading to a 127-125 comeback win.
Gilgeous-Alexander was excellent all night long, finishing with a BBNBA-high (and career-high) of 33 points on a 13-19 shooting clip (3-5 from beyond the arc) to go along with five rebounds and 10 assists in over 43 minutes of action. At one point during the fourth quarter, the Bulls held a 95-87 lead, but SGA scored 12 of his 33 points in that frame alone to bring his squad back and force the extra period. SGA hit the biggest shot of the night for the Thunder, as well, a beautiful and-1 score in the lane that tied the game up at 118 with just 16 seconds left in regulation.
The win pushes OKC to 6-6 on the season.
Quickley with another career-high in scoring
Friday night marked back-to-back games setting a new career-high in scoring for Kentucky Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley.
The former Wildcat poured in 23 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers, just two days after he dropped in 19 points against the Brooklyn Nets. Quickley shot 9-17 from the field and 3-7 from beyond the arc while adding five rebounds and four assists to his stat line. Unfortunately, the Knicks couldn’t beat a hampered Cavaliers squad, falling 106-103.
Julius Randle posted 28 points, six rebounds, and six assists for the Knicks, who rattled off a 16-0 run during the third and fourth quarters to take a four-point lead before falling flat down the stretch. Andre Drummond finished with 33 points and 23 rebounds for Cleveland while Cedi Osman added 25 points as they handed New York its fifth consecutive loss after a promising 5-3 start. The Cavs were without three starters due to injury: Kevin Love (calf), Darius Garland (shoulder), and Collin Sexton (ankle).
Kevin Knox made two triples for the Knicks in his 17 minutes, finishing with six points and four rebounds while Nerlens Noel was swatting away everything in sight, recording six blocks in just 17 minutes to go along with his four points and four boards. This one made me stand up from my couch and scream; it brought me back to his days defending the rim as a Wildcat.
Nerlens Noel has 6 blocks off the bench for the Knicks tonight. This was a major block at the rim on JaVale McGee. He went down hard but he seems OK now. He's helped key this Knicks comeback, now tied after 3 quarters, at 80. pic.twitter.com/ovy8h6JS6M
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) January 16, 2021
(He was fine after the fall, don’t worry)
Other notes from across the BBNBA
The two teams in Los Angeles waltzed to easy victories against their respective opponents on Friday night, highlighted with a 38-point win by the Clippers over De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings, 138-100. Fox contributed 14 points and three assists in 23 minutes as the Clips burst ahead to a 20-point lead during the third quarter that would only balloon from there.
Meanwhile, Anthony Davis and the Lakers made light work of the New Orleans Pelicans, 112-95, also running away with the win in the second half. AD added 17 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks to his stuffed line as the Lake Show exploded for a 42-15 run across 15 minutes after trailing by 15 points in the first half. Eric Bledsoe came off the bench for the first time this season with the Pellies as he recovers from a minor eye injury, contributing seven points and two assists.
Willie Cauley-Stein continues to execute his role with the Dallas Mavericks to perfection after recording his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the Mavs 112-109 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Check out the full stat sheet below.
[table id=641 /]
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
5:00 (NBATV): Rockets (Cousins, Wall-out) @ Spurs (Johnson, Lyles)
6:00: Magic @ Nets
7:30: Hornets (Monk, Richards, Washington) @ Raptors
8:00: Pistons @ Heat (Adebayo-questionable, Herro-questionable)
8:00: 76ers (Maxey) @ Grizzlies
10:00: Hawks (Rondo) @ Trail Blazers (Kanter)
Pacers @ Suns (Booker): POSTPONED