Follow the nightmare of Ricky Rubio and some sunken Wolves

Intense day in which the Pelicans surprised the Bucks, the Kings the Raptors and the Hornets the Pacers. The Ciippers continue at a high level.


Said Stan Van Gundy, after what for now is the great game of the Pelicans this season, that for many minutes he saw what he really wants his team to be. It may sound advantageous, because it was the day that everything came out, but it is obvious that it should be. And that after a disastrous streak of a win in nine games, Louisiana have finally won two in a row. And beware, it is one thing to overcome the very poor Wizards and quite another to impose, with crushing sections, the Bucks themselves (131-126 final). And of course, since this season almost everyone loses to almost everyone, the Pelicans are just two wins from eighth place out of eighth in a West where many engines are idling. And it's the year of play in, so even those borders are blurred ...

Indeed: in the first half, the Pelicans played as well as they can play, the reverse side of the team unmotivated, flat in attack and porous in defense that they have been during almost all this first leg of the season. At halftime they were winning 68-45, and late in the third quarter they were 93-65, just before a furious reaction from the Bucks, who linked 3-20 in just three minutes and led to 98-89. But Van Gundy's men scored the final five points (103-89 late in the third quarter), including the sequence that showed the Bucks it wasn't their night: Giannis missed alley-oop, Melli hit a triple from the corner. Budenholzer's men scored 81 points in the second half and lost, the first team to experience something like this since 1979.

Van Gundy counted on Melli because he left JJ Redick out of the rotation. Without him, a specialist in low hours, the Pelicans equaled their 3-point record: 21 (21/48) to 13 (13/35) for the Bucks, who suffered the conversion of Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe into Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson: Lonzo hit seven 3s (tied for career high) with a brilliant 7/13). Bledsoe, revenge against his exes, went from 6 (7/14) for the first time since 2018. That aim opened new options in attack for the Pelicans, with Steven Adams giant in the zones (20 rebounds) and Zion Williamson on his best night as facilitator: 21 points, 9 rebounds and, eye, 7 assists. Brandon Ingram had 28 points for a team that may be waking up in time. Or that he simply lived off a lousy first half from a sleeping rival, who plays back to back today in Charlotte and who, even so, was squeezed in the second half looking for the comeback. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 9 points at halftime and finished with 38, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Khirs Middleton finished 16 + 8 + 8 for Bucks who completely lost the thread during many stretches of a dire first half.


The Kings also react. Like the Pelicans, a corpse a few days ago in the West, the Californians are in full swing: three victories in a row and a very competitive tone (8-10 now) after winning with much merit and final troubles to some Raptors that go wrong again: 7-12 with three losses after winning five games out of six.

The Kings made 55% of their shots and commanded a brilliant first half that was followed by an end of much suffering. The Raptors defense forced 9 losses in a fourth quarter in which the game went from 105-112 to 116-117. Only Harrison Barnes (26 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) kept the Kings afloat until the excellent rookie Ty Haliburton appeared, who after missing six triples scored the seventh, 44 seconds from the end and to make it 116-120. Then the Kings made the necessary free throws. Haliburton finished with 10 points, 6 rebounds and 11 assists, Fox with 24 points and 4 assists, Hield with 22 points and 5 triples and Whiteside added 16 points and 9 rebounds from the bench. In the Raptors, 32 points and 4 rebounds from Siakam, 17 and 6 assists from Lowry and 26 + 5 + 6 from VanVleet. But things don't quite work out.


Another game in which there was surprise was in the Hornets-Pacers, the second duel between both teams in three days and different signs this time, with a very good victory for Carolina's, who are around the playoffs level in their best version. And they survived a final charge from the Pacers, who rallied nine points in the last and took the lead. Then the game of triples came out tails. One of Lamb put them ahead (102-103) with 90 seconds left and then they scored two Rozier and Graham (108-103). Malcolm Brogdon (21 points, 8 assists) scored (108-105) and, after loss, the Hornets had the triple to tie in the last attack, but missed.

Domantas Sabonis finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists, Myles Turner scored 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds but the Hornets were more team: 14 points and 10 assists from Graham, 19 points from Rozier (9/17 in triples between the two ), 16 + 6 + 7 from LaMelo Ball (0/6 in triples), a bit of everything from Gordon Hayward (11 + 8 + 6) and a great game from PJ Washington (19 + 9 + 3), a key player, for their potential, in the growth of these Hornets.


The worst team in the League, the Wizards (3-12 now) lost again incontestably, increasingly unstitched. There are four defeats in a row since their break by COVID and a progressive regrouping: Hachimura, Bertans (0 points, 0/6 in triples) and Wagner returned but Ish Smith, Troy Brown and Avdija were still out. The Hawks (10-9 now) took a slice: +23 in the third quarter and control of the local comeback attempt in the last quarter, in which Trae Young added, just in case, 18 of his 41 points (with 5 assists and a 5/9 in triples) .

It was an ugly game, full of nerves, techniques (9) and three expulsions, including those of Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook (26 + 6 + 4), who spent the night fighting. The Hawks controlled Bradley Beal, who played one of the worst games of the season and stayed at 26 points with 0/8 on 3s. There is no light on the horizon for these Wizards.


Two revelations (each in its own way from the East), played in New York, where the Knicks defense froze Collin Sexton (17 points on 18 shots) and left Darius Garland (24 points, 4 / 6 in triples) on a day that was too discreet by Andre Drummond (4), Taurean Prince and Larry Nance and in which he contributed what Jarrett Allen could (15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists). The Knicks had the production of what is their hard core in this so far worthy season: 16 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists from Julius Randle, 24 points from RJ Barrett and 25 with 5 rebounds and 5/8 from 3 from Immanuel Quickley. .


Match without much history between a very depleted Magic (8-12 already) and Clippers at full speed (15-5), increasingly solid and with a more threatening aspect. After 26-26 of the first quarter, the locals only got 64 more points. In the second half they opened with an 11-0 run to get to three… but lost 11-28 the rest of that third quarter. Thus, it is impossible to break his black streak against the Clippers, who have not won since November 2013 (14 losses in a row). Only Terrence Ross (24 points) was at a good level. Vucevic stayed at 10 points and 6 rebounds with 4/13 shooting, Fournier at 8 points with 13 shots, Anthony at 6 points with 10 shots… a disaster. In the Clippers, great game and final rest for Kawhi Leonard (24 points) and Paul George (26 + 9 + 5), well accompanied by Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris.


There was no surprise: the Wolves-Sixers was exactly what it looked like it was going to be. The Sixers, one of the best teams in the NBA, continue without losing with their typical quintet (11-0 now, 14-6 total), the Wolves continue to accumulate losses (4-14). You could not expect a feat from the Wolves, who received Joel Embiid, who is at the pace of MVP, without Karl-Anthony Towns, who is still out due to COVID, and Naz Reid. Without a pure pivot in front, Embiid played at ease: in 27 minutes he added 37 points and 11 rebounds, accompanied by Ben Simmons (11 points, 7 assists), Seth Curry (2 points), Shake Milton (13) ... 444 444

The Wolves weathered the first half (48-53) and sank in the second (46-65). Anthony Edwards, the No. 1 in the draft, started with 15 points on 5/13 shooting. D'Angelo Russell returned with a soulless 14 points (1/7 on 3s, only 4 assists) and Beasley scored 22 points on another night in which Ricky Rubio could not get out of the labyrinth in which he himself has assumed he is: 4 points and 4 assists with 2/6 in shots and 4 turnovers for the point guard of El Masnou.

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