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BBNBA: KAT is BACK!

(Ron Hoskins | Getty Images)

(Ron Hoskins | Getty Images)

Good afternoon, folks. The KAT has been let out of the bag. Let’s talk NBA.

REMINDER: Fan voting for the 2020 NBA All-Star game is now OPEN and each vote is worth TWO instead of one until Jan. 20!

RECAP

Karl-Anthony Towns returns to Minnesota lineup

15 games without Karl-Anthony Towns felt like a lifetime for the Minnesota Timberwolves. And in some sense, it was. Minny was in the midst of a seven-game losing streak before Towns went down with a knee sprain that was apparently combined with an unidentified illness (which I am learning of for the first time as I write this post). After the All-Star went down, the Wolves dropped four more games in a row and posted a 5-10 overall record without Towns.

Towns had been listed as “questionable” for nearly every game over the last two weeks. Then reports began to leak that maybe Towns wasn’t all that happy in Minnesota (and who would be?). Those rumors are going to follow KAT for however long he stays with the Wolves. We’re seeing it happen right now with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks – and they’re actually winning! But Towns finally made his way back onto the court Friday night in Indianapolis against the Pacers.

In his return, KAT dropped 27 points on 9-19 shooting to go along with five rebounds and one assist. His head coach, Ryan Saunders, limited him to 28 minutes as they ease him back into the system. Remember, Towns has never dealt with an injury that sidelined him for this long. This was unfamiliar territory for both the player and the organization. No one wants to rush him back. The Wolves ending up falling to the Pacers, 116-114, with Towns struggling down the stretch.

“The game of basketball is a very fragile thing,” Towns said following the game. “I had to take my time and had an unfortunate setback getting sick. If I could really say, I’m just so happy basketball is here for me, because it was some great therapy for me today.”

Minnesota will play the second game of a back-to-back later on Saturday and there’s a good chance he plays even fewer minutes or possibly sits out the game entirely. The Wolves aren’t all the way out of the playoff race, but they are starting with a huge disadvantage. They need Towns, but also need to stay cautious.

“I thought in 28 minutes, and he’s still trying to find his rhythm … but I’m happy with how he looked,” Coach Saunders later said.

Herro sits as Miami takes down OKC

KAT was back, but Tyler Herro sat out his second consecutive game for the Miami Heat as he deals with a minor knee injury (what is it with Kentucky guys and knee issues this season?). Without the rookie, Miami was still able to earn an impressive win against the Thunder in Oklahoma City, 115-108. Without even thinking, these are my two favorite teams to watch in the NBA right now. There’s plenty of former Kentucky players to monitor and both teams are playing at a high-level right now. It’s a BBNBA dream matchup.

Bam Adebayo finished with 21 points on 7-11 shooting from the floor in addition to his eight boards and five dimes. Miami was on the brink of running away with this game in the fourth quarter, at one point leading 105-83 with roughly eight minutes left. OKC was able to rally and cut that lead all the way down to seven with two minutes left, but could never complete the comeback.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander added 18 points, five rebounds, and eight assists for OKC. Nerlens Noel had sat out the previous six games for the Thunder due to an ankle injury but made his return as a member of the starting lineup alongside SGA. Noel contributed 10 points and six rebounds. Lastly, Hamidou Diallo recorded 11 points on a 5-12 shooting clip while grabbing six rebounds in the process. The Thunder have now lost three out of its last four games – although all three losses were against playoff teams.

Other notes

  • The San Antonio Spurs took an UGLY loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, falling 121-120. Trey Lyles posted a goose egg in the scoring column but did corral 10 rebounds and blocked two shots in 19 minutes. He missed all three of his field-goal attempts. The Spurs were up 11 entering the fourth quarter before fumbling the game away late. It was the first time since 1997 (!!!) that the Hawks have beaten the Spurs in San Antonio. It was a 21-game winning streak. Not good, Bob!

Check out the full stat sheet below.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)114-116 L @ IND279-21 (3-9)51003-328
Bam Adebayo (MIA)115-108 W @ OKC217-11 (0-0)85013-132
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)108-115 L vs. MIA185-13 (2-6)58101-1037
Hamidou Diallo (OKC)108-115 L vs. MIA115-12 (1-4)60101-423
Nerlens Noel (OKC)108-115 L vs. MIA104-6 (1-1)60130-1121
Trey Lyles (SAS)120-121 L vs. ATL00-3 (0-1)101121+519
Keldon Johnson (SAS)120-121 L vs. ATLDNP-CD----------------
Tyler Herro (MIA)115-108 W @ OKCDNP-Knee----------------
Brandon Knight (CLE)109-113 L @ MEMDNP-Knee----------------
Skal Labissiere (POR)112-120 L @ DALDNP-Knee----------------
John Wall (WAS)111-140 L @ TORDNP-Achilles----------------

TODAY IN THE NBA

3:30 (ABC): Clippers (Patterson) @ Pelicans (Miller-out)

6:00 (NBATV): Bucks (Bledsoe) @ Nets

7:00: Suns (Booker) @ Celtics (Kanter)

7:30: Pistons @ Hawks

7:30: 76ers @ Knicks (Knox, Randle)

8:00: Cavaliers (Knight-questionable) @ Bulls

8:00: Raptors @ Timberwolves (Towns-questionable)

8:30 (ABC): Lakers (Davis-questionable, Rondo-questionable) @ Rockets

8:30: Magic @ Warriors (Cauley-Stein)

9:00: Trail Blazers (Labissiere-out) @ Thunder (Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander, Noel)

9:00: Kings (Fox, Gabriel) @ Jazz

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA. Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan

1 Comment for BBNBA: KAT is BACK!



  1. trumpetguy
    2:14 pm January 18, 2020 Permalink

    Former Murray State player Ja Morant had over 1,000 fans from Murray show up at Memphis Grizz game last night. Kid is an awesome talent, getting rave reviews from everyone, and a very legit ROY candidate.