A Long December
After a pleasing start to the season, the Minnesota Timberwolves are 0-for-December, and lost to the Warriors on Monday. Minnesota’s December schedule has been pretty tough overall, but the 11-game losing streak now includes losses to West cellar dwellers New Orleans and Golden State, so the Wolves really aren’t helping themselves. In fact, this dry spell has turned Minnesota into one of the cellar dwellers: the Wolves are three games out of the No. 8 seed and only four games out of the worst record in the conference.
Karl-Anthony Towns continues to put up absurd offensive numbers when he plays (he’s missed the last few games with a sore knee) and Minnesota’s offense has been about league average this month. But the defense is pure garbage, giving up 119 points per 100 possessions in December -- worse than even the no-defense, no-guilt Wizards. A decent defense and solid offense fueled Minnesota’s strong-ish start, but this feels more like reality. Towns is a straight-up bad defender at this point -- don’t feel pity for him, for he is part of the problem. You can likely build a decent defensive team around him, but Minnesota hasn’t figured out how.
Free Robert Covington.
Hawks 118, Cavaliers 121
Sixers 125, Pistons 109
Raptors 115, Pacers 120 (OT)
Wizards 121, Knicks 115
Bulls 95, Magic 103
Jazz 104, Heat 107
Spurs 145, Grizzlies 115
Nuggets 113, Suns 111
Pelicans 102, Blazers 94
Rockets 113, Kings 104
Wolves 104, Warriors 113
There are no games on Tuesday!
It’s true: the Cavaliers traded Jordan Clarkson to the Jazz for Dante Exum and some seconds. Clarkson in the right context could be a nice fit for a team that really does need every little spark it can get in the spring, and the team won’t miss Exum. (Fans will!) So it’s a net win for Utah if Clarkson positively impacts a single playoff game, which he likely will if the Jazz get two rounds. The margins are pretty slim in the West, so these dinky little trades help. Utah has been pretty good lately, too, despite a loss to Miami on Monday. They will be around in April in a real way. We’ll see if G League signing Rayjon Tucker will end up being a bigger deal for Utah.
I put together a list of the 15 best basketball shots of the decade, from Ray Allen to Dame Lillard (twice!) to Dearica Hamby to Arike Ogunbowale (twice!) to Kris Jenkins and on. The snubs that I got the most feedback about: Mississippi State’s Morgan Williams ending UConn’s 111-game win streak with an overtime buzzer beater, Aaron Harrison’s shots to beat Michigan and Wisconsin in 2014, and Nick Young’s instant meme shot.
Ricky O’Donnell on the gems keeping the Raptors’ title defense alive.
Enes Kanter says the Canadian government worked with him and the Celtics to make sure he could safely travel to Toronto for a Christmas Day showdown despite Turkey’s warrant for Kanter’s arrest and extradition.
On The Athletic, Sam Amick dives deep on the things good ol’ Uncle Dennis supposedly asked the Lakers during the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes, unintentionally swirling the rumor pot about what the Clippers gave him.
Mike Sykes defines the decade in sneaker culture. If you’re at all interested in the shoe game, you have to subscribe to Sykes’ newsletter. It’s great, consistently.
We will have a brief Christmas Day newsletter.
Be excellent to each other.