So far, so good for Rockets and Wolves, but not for Thunder

So far, so good for Rockets and Wolves, but not for Thunder

By BRIAN MAHONEYAP Basketball Author

Houston, Minnesota and Oklahoma Metropolis have been the three Western Convention groups that loaded up for runs at Golden State in the summertime.

Thus far, so good for the Rockets and Timberwolves.

“They’re good. Each of these groups are actually good,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford mentioned.

So is Boston, which additionally made huge modifications over the summer season and is an NBA-best 9-2 with 9 straight victories regardless of dropping Gordon Hayward for the season in its opener.

The Thunder are going to wish a little bit longer.

The Rockets (Eight-Three) are tied with the Warriors atop the West, with the Wolves (7-Three) only a half-game again and driving their first five-game successful streak since early 2009 into their sport at Golden State on Wednesday night time.

Manner down towards the underside of the West standings have been the Thunder, who’re simply Four-6 with three straight losses after falling 94-86 in Sacramento on Tuesday.

Regardless that they’ve barely had Chris Paul on the ground, the Rockets’ different acquisitions, together with Luc Mbah a Moute and PJ Tucker, have given them extra versatile gamers who can defend a number of positions. And James Harden is maybe the NBA’s most harmful offensive participant, rating within the high three in scoring and assists.

In Minnesota, newcomers Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford have supplied sufficient scoring round Karl-Anthony Cities and Andrew Wiggins that the Wolves are rolling even with out but taking part in typical Tom Thibodeau protection. They’re 4 video games over .500 for the primary time since 2007.

Clifford’s crew has seen each up shut. The Rockets routed the Hornets 109-93 and the Wolves beat Charlotte 112-94.

“I might say this: To have an opportunity towards Golden State, you’ve gotten to have the ability to rating. These two groups actually can rating,” Clifford mentioned.

“(The Wolves) are taking part in 4 guys on the market that may make you look dangerous on a regular basis after which they bring about Crawford off the bench. They’ve firepower plus they execute, after which Houston clearly, particularly as soon as they get their guys again, they’re related.”

Oklahoma Metropolis’s protection has been wonderful, simply behind Boston for fewest factors per sport within the league, however the offense is not the place it’ll most likely get to after including Carmelo Anthony and Paul George, who mixed to go Eight for 33 in Sacramento. The Thunder began are Zero-5 in convention play and blew an 18-point halftime lead in a loss to Boston.

“It is good to battle now. That is our first yr collectively,” George informed reporters after that sport.

“It is a long term. We’ll be advantageous.”

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50-50

The 2 gamers who’ve scored 50 factors in a sport this season – and the NBA’s lively leaders in 50-point video games – match up Thursday when LeBron James leads Cleveland into Houston to face James Harden and the Rockets.

James scored 57 factors in Washington final Friday. Harden had 56 together with 13 assists in simply 35 minutes two nights later in a victory over Utah.

That was James’ 11th 50-point sport, which tied Allen Iverson for sixth in NBA historical past. He’s three behind Rick Barry for a spot within the high 5.

Harden has six 50-point video games.

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COMING UP THIS WEEK:

– Lakers at Boston, Wednesday. The Celtics attempt for his or her 10th straight victory after they host their longtime rivals.

– Oklahoma Metropolis at Denver, Thursday. Russell Westbrook had maybe the signature efficiency in his MVP season final time he performed in Denver, hitting the successful Three-pointer on the buzzer to cap a 50-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist night time that gave him a file 42nd triple-double.

– Miami at Utah, Friday. Higher hope the surface pictures are falling, as a result of it will not be simple to get something inside with Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside round.

– Memphis at Houston, Saturday. The Grizzlies already personal two victories over the Rockets.

– Lakers at Milwaukee, Saturday. Lonzo Ball has incessantly been in comparison with Jason Kidd, and now he performs towards Kidd’s crew that has added Eric Bledsoe in a commerce with Phoenix.

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STAT LINE OF THE WEEK

Kristaps Porzingis, New York: With a career-high 40 factors, eight rebounds and 6 blocked pictures on Sunday towards Indiana, the 7-foot-Three ahead grew to become the primary Knicks participant with no less than 40 factors, 5 rebounds and 5 blocks since Patrick Ewing on March 7, 1995, towards Boston.

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Extra AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

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Comply with Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney

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