Good morning, folks. So far, so good… Let’s talk NBA Bubble.
Officially three days into the Bubble, we are now to the point where all 22 teams have played at least one regular-season seeding game. Across these three days, we’ve seen widespread protests against racial and social injustice supported by players, coaches, and referees control the pre-tipoff spotlight. On Saturday, all 10 teams that played participated in the same demonstrations from the previous two days; arms were interlocked, “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts were worn, and various social messages were written across the backs of jerseys while the national anthem echoed in the background.
Throughout the day, ESPN play-by-commentator Mark Jones consistently brought up how Breonna Taylor was shot eight times by Lousiville police in the comfort of her own home and how the officers have still not been arrested.
I did not expect any broadcast to be this forward discussing police brutality, but major kudos, Mark Jones. pic.twitter.com/XAdG2btyjh
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) August 1, 2020
Before tipoff of the Toronto Raptors-Los Angeles Lakers game, the two sides kneeled throughout the duration of both the United States and Canadian national anthems.
“Honestly to think about it, I was on my knee for over four minutes,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry told ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “To think that a police officer could do that for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Doc Rivers said it, about two minutes, and now we done it for eight [minutes] tonight and I indented my towel. It’s a sad moment. I think we did a great job of understanding what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We’re using our platform, and my shirt says a lot.”
Players for both Raptors and Lakers kneel during American and Canadian anthems. LeBron sings O Canada.
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) August 2, 2020
Over the course of the first three successful days in the Bubble, there have been a select group of individuals who have elected to stand for the anthem–notably San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. On Saturday, Miami Heat center Myers Leonard offered up his explanation as to why he chose to stand. He explained that the decision had him torn prior to, but he went out of his way to say that he doesn’t see kneeling for the flag as disrespectful.
Having known @MeyersLeonard for years, can say he doesn’t have prejudice bone in his body. He agonized, cried at times about not kneeling with teammates. His brother served in Marines, so it was a painful decision. I asked him if he still views kneeling as disrespectful to flag: pic.twitter.com/02YzUUtw3R
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 2, 2020
Leonard came to his decision after long conversations with Heat teammates Jimmy Butler, Udonis Haslem, and Andre Iguodala along with former Portland Trail Blazers teammates Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Even the players who have chosen to stand understand the underlying and most important message: this isn’t about the American flag, it’s about addressing the systemic issues that continue to ravage this country.
Murray sits as Heat dominate
Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray was listed as questionable with an injured hamstring leading into his matchup against the Miami Heat on Saturday and just before tip, he was officially ruled out. Murray sat out the first two exhibition games for the Nuggets, but he did make an appearance in the third and final one earlier this week. However, the tightness in his hamstring proved too difficult to play through. The Nuggets were also without two fellow starters, Gary Harris and Will Barton. With a depleted roster, Denver couldn’t keep up with Miami’s hot scoring.
Behind 22 points, nine rebounds, and six assists from former Wildcat Bam Adebayo, Miami was able to cruise to a 125-105 win over Denver. The Nuggets actually held a slight 57-56 lead at the intermission but were outscored by 16 points in the third quarter. Adebayo went 7-12 from the field and 8-10 from the free-throw line.
”I think we really locked in and got stops in the second,” Bam Adebayo said, according to the Associated Press. ”It always helps to make shots, don’t get me wrong. But we started playing a lot harder in the second.”
Heat rookie Tyler Herro dropped in seven points and five rebounds on 3-7 shooting.
Blowouts were the theme of the day
Miami opened up Saturday with a 20-point win and almost everyone else followed suit. The Oklahoma City Thunder knocked around the Utah Jazz by a final score of 110-94 before the L.A. Clippers did the same to the New Orleans Pelicans, 126-103. To cap off the evening, the Raptors used a vicious fourth quarter to take out the L.A. Lakers 107-92. So let’s quickly talk about what went on.
The Thunder continue to look like a team that could make some serious noise once the playoffs begin. They took the Jazz to work, shooting 53 percent from the field while holding a 24-point halftime lead that ballooned to 26 by the time the fourth quarter started. These two teams were actually supposed to play on March 11, the night the NBA was suspended, however, that game was canceled right before tipoff once it was discovered that Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
In the win for OKC, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander impressed (again), posting 19 points, two rebounds, six assists, and three steals on 6-12 shooting. Even more impressive, though, were the short minutes burst that Hamidou Diallo received. The one-time ‘Cat took full advantage of his 20 minutes, adding nine points and four rebounds while making both of his attempts from beyond the arc. Backup center Nerlens Noel snagged six rebounds and swatted four shots in his 17 minutes of action.
As for Anthony Davis, he’ll look to put his Saturday night performance in the rearview. He was out of sync all evening long, managing a mere 14 points and six rebounds while shooting just 2-7 from the floor (two made field goals tied Davis’ season-low). The Lakers as a unit shot a season-low 35.4 percent overall. If Toronto needed any more justification that they are still the defending NBA Champions, they earned it last night.
Other notes from the Bubble
- Indiana Pacers forward TJ Warren popped off for 53 points in a 127-121 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
- Clippers forward and former Louisville player Montrezl Harrell lost his grandmother on Saturday after leaving the Bubble back on July 17.
- The NBA did not allow Jimmy Butler to wear a blank jersey.
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||125-105 W @ DEN||22||7-12 (0-0)||9||6||0||0||4||+19||28|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)||110-94 W vs. UTA||19||6-12 (2-5)||2||6||3||0||2||+15||32|
|Anthony Davis (LAL)||92-107 L @ TOR||14||2-7 (1-3)||6||3||1||3||0||-17||35|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||110-94 W vs. UTA||9||3-6 (2-2)||4||1||1||0||2||+1||20|
|Tyler Herro (MIA)||125-105 W @ DEN||7||3-7 (1-4)||5||2||0||0||1||+2||20|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||110-94 W vs. UTA||3||1-1 (0-0)||6||0||0||4||2||+6||17|
|Patrick Patterson (LAC)||126-103 W vs. NOP||3||1-6 (1-5)||3||1||0||0||0||-10||21|
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||105-125 L vs. MIA||DNP-Hamstring||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Rajon Rondo (LAL)||92-107 L @ TOR||DNP-Thumb||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TODAY IN THE NBA BUBBLE
2:00: Wizards @ Nets
3:30 (ABC): Trail Blazers (Gabriel) @ Celtics (Kanter)
4:00: Spurs (Johnson) @ Grizzlies
6:00 (NBATV): Kings (Fox) @ Magic
8:30 (ABC): Bucks (Bledsoe) @ Rockets
9:00: Mavericks (Kidd-Gilchrist: day-to-day) @ Suns (Booker)
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