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BBNBA: SGA shines again, Murray ejected for getting too handsy

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Good afternoon, folks. Jamal Murray tried to make sure there would be no Tim Hardaway III. Let’s talk BBNBA.

RECAP

SGA’s big night overshadows Kanter’s 22 rebounds

It seems like every other daily BBNBA recap is headlined by another spectacular performance from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. So why would today be any different?

On Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, SGA was back to beefing up his All-Star resume for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The former Kentucky Wildcat dropped 24 points to go along with nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, and two blocks while shooting 8-12 from the floor and 2-3 from long range. After controlling a 10-point lead after the first quarter, OKC allowed Portland–who are severely undermanned due to a plethora of key injuries–to fight its way back into the game.

The Blazers chipped the lead to as few as six points down the stretch, trailing just 117-111 with roughly three minutes remaining. A 3-pointer from Damian Lillard just a couple of minutes later cut the OKC lead down to 123-120, but with only five seconds left on the clock, the comeback effort was too little too late. The Thunder pulled out the win, 125-122, and put an end to its three-game losing skid in the process.

While OKC was without regular starters George Hill and Al Horford, the Blazers were down three of its own, including C.J. McCollum, Zach Collins, and Jusuf Nurkic. The latter two typically command most of the frontcourt minutes, which has subsequently opened up a new opportunity for Portland’s backup center, Enes Kanter.

Kanter has been thrust into the starting lineup for the last week-plus, starting the last four outings for the Blazers. The one-time ‘Cat has played well in his extended minutes but was inhaling every loose rebound on Monday night as if his life depended on it. Kanter posted 13 points and an insane 22 rebounds in 32 minutes–both his rebounds and minutes set a new season-high.

Jamal Murray gets intimate, later ejected 

Jamal Murray and the Denver Nuggets were able to sneak out of Dallas with a 117-113 win over Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, but there was one incident in particular that we’re going to zero in on…

Midway through the third quarter of a tightly contested game, Murray got tangled up with Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and, for whatever reason, decided to uppercut the unsuspecting Hardaway right in his little juniors.

After a video review, the officials conferred that Murray’s love-induced actions should be deemed as a Flagrant 2 Foul (defined by the NBA as “unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent”) and he was ultimately ejected. He still finished with 16 points, three rebounds, and two assists on 7-11 shooting in 25 minutes, but was forced to watch the fourth quarter from the showers.

”There was a lot of physicality between those two [Murray and Hardaway Jr.],” Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said after the game. ”They came out very aggressive in the third quarter, which we knew they would. Hopefully it’s nothing more than Jamal getting ejected tonight and we can just use it as a learning experience.”

At the time of the ejection, the Mavericks were trailing 80-73 but it was Hardway Jr. (because, of course) who found his rhythm, scoring the next seven points for Dallas who would later take the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter. However, 30 points off the bench from Michael Porter Jr. helped deliver the dagger that put a stop to Dallas’ late rally.

Willie Cauley-Stein was back in the starting lineup for the Mavs for the second game in a row after coming off the bench in the previous two. He only registered two points and three rebounds in his 26 minutes.

Ashton Hagans makes NBA debut

Two minutes is only two minutes, but you’re not going to convince me that Ashton Hagans didn’t make the right decision by leaving Kentucky early for the NBA. But then again, hindsight is always 20-20.

The Minnesota Timberwolves rookie made his NBA debut in a 130-108 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, finding some late-game clock for his first professional minutes. He maxed out at just 2:27 of playing time and the only stat he recorded was a turnover, but it’s a tiny sign of things to come. Considering the current state of the NBA and how COVID-19 is ransacking rosters across the league, opportunities for young, unproven prospects (like Hagans) to make an early statement has never been higher. Sure, Hagans wound up going undrafted over the summer, but he was quickly picked up by Minnesota after the draft and they’ve brought him along for the ride ever since.

Outside of selfish, Kentucky fan-related reasons, it was a no-brainer, looking back, for Hagans to make the NBA leap. Another season at Kentucky surely would have improved his draft stock, but would he have improved so much as to be a first-round choice in 2021? The 2020 NBA Draft was not all that deep and franchises have been diving deep into the reserves to find players that can fulfill the eight-man minimum. I would argue that if Hagans decided to stay at Kentucky for another season, he would have only delayed this exact same start to his NBA career. He’s earning opportunities right now that he might not have in a non-COVID season. The sooner the better, in my opinion.

Building off of that topic just a bit more, Karl-Anthony Towns has been out the last five games for Minny following a positive COVID-19 test. As a result, Wolves’ backup forward Jarred Vanderbilt has seen an influx of minutes to start his third NBA campaign. Vando has started all five games that KAT has sat out, averaging 10.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 1.2 blocks in just a hair under 24 minutes per outing. On Monday against the Warriors, he recorded 12 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks. He’s shooting just a shade under 58 percent from the field, too.

Other notes from across the BBNBA

Bam Adebayo led the BBNBA in scoring on Monday night as he posted 26 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in an 85-96 loss to the new-look Brooklyn Nets, who had the entire Big Three in the starting lineup. Tyler Herro is still sidelined with neck spasms and his return is currently unclear.

Tyrese Maxey and the Philadelphia 76ers were surprisingly beaten by the Detroit Pistons, 119-104, who currently holds the worst record in the entire NBA. Maxey finished with 17 points (6-12 shooting), two boards, two dimes, and three steals in 21 minutes off the bench.

Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers put it to my Cleveland Cavaliers, coming away with a 115-108 victory. AD finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and three blocks, but it was LeBron James’ 46 points, eight rebounds, and six assists that spelled doom for the Cavs. LeBron poured in 21 of his points in the final period as the Lakers remain undefeated on the road at 10-0.

We can’t go through this entire post without at least acknowledging the presence of NBA Legend, Kobe Bryant, who lost his life in a horrific helicopter crash exactly one year ago today. It was a moment in my life–and many others, I’m sure–where time stood still for more than a few seconds. I vividly remember getting into my car as I was about to leave my apartment when a few Twitter notifications began to roll in on my phone. Actually, it was a retweet from our own Matt Jones, who retweeted the news about Kobe that TMZ had broke from its social media channels. Kobe never had a massive impact on my life directly, but he directly influenced the people I looked up to growing up and still do as a young adult. I sat in my car for about 10 minutes in silence before I called my dad, just so I could try to talk out and process the news. I remembering feeling my eyes swell up, but I don’t remember the tears pouring over. It was one of those moments where you were sure it couldn’t be real, and 365 days later, it still doesn’t feel real.

How does a larger-than-life figure die so young?

Check out the entire stat sheet below, and let’s all have a good day.

STATISTICS

PlayerResult PointsFG (3FG)Reb.Ast.StealsBlocksTOs+/-Mins.
Bam Adebayo (MIA)85-98 L @ BKN2610-19 (1-1)105013-335
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)125-122 W @ POR248-12 (3-4)96123+132
Anthony Davis (LAL)115-108 W @ CLE175-16 (0-3)104333-536
Tyrese Maxey (PHI)104-119 L @ DET176-12 (2-3)22301-721
Jamal Murray (DEN)117-113 W @ DAL167-11 (2-4)32003-125
Enes Kanter (POR)122-125 L vs. OKC135-10 (0-0)223202-132
Jarred Vanderbilt (MIN)108-130 L @ GSW125-8 (0-0)52222-2424
Hamidou Diallo (OKC)125-122 W @ POR115-8 (0-0)32200+821
Willie Cauley-Stein (DAL)113-117 L vs. DEN20-3 (0-0)31100+1726
Mychal Mulder (GSW)130-108 W vs. MIN20-2 (0-2)11100-314
P.J. Washington (CHA)108-117 L @ ORL21-6 (0-2)64002-2123
Ashton Hagans (MIN)108-130 L @ GSW00-000001-32
Nick Richards (CHA)108-117 L @ ORLDNP-Ankle sprain----------------
Malik Monk (CHA)108-117 L @ ORLDNP-Coach's Decision----------------
Darius Miller (OKC)125-122 W @ PORDNP-Coach's Decision----------------
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)108-130 L @ GSWDNP-COVID-19----------------
Tyler Herro (MIA)85-98 L @ BKNDNP-Neck spasms----------------
De'Aaron Fox (SAC)@ MEM POSTPONED------------------
Keldon Johnson (SAS)@ NOP POSTPONED------------------
Trey Lyles (SAS)@ NOP POSTPONED------------------
Eric Bledsoe (NOP)vs. SAS POSTPONED------------------
Wenyen Gabriel (NOP)vs. SAS POSTPONED------------------

TONIGHT IN THE NBA

7:30 (NBATV): Clippers (Patterson) @ Hawks (Rondo)

8:00: Wizards @ Rockets (Cousins, Wall)

9:00: Knicks (Knox, Noel, Quickley, Randle) @ Jazz

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR