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The Tip Off – January 27, 2020 NBA Basketball Recap

Miss your NBA fix last night? In three minutes or less, TDC’s The Tip Off gives you the brief rundown of the standout stat lines, exciting finishes and some rarities that went down on the hardwood last night. On a busy evening where you miss the live action and/or the scintillating thrill of NBA Twitter scrolling, we have done the work for you and compiled notable lines and events.

Spend three minutes reading this every day to keep up with the Association and have enough knowledge and nuggets to be in the loop with casual fans as well as the ability to toss out a few specific stats and oddities an avid fan may have missed.

B-ball Date: 1/27/2020 as reported by Aram Hanessian, video by Sam Shin

Honor Roll

  • The Rockets were missing James Harden and Russell Westbrook last night in Utah, so obviously that meant they had to switch to a more egalitarian system where everybody who is left shares the load. Not quite. Eric Gordon put on his best impersonation of the Rockets’ two stars last night, except he was efficient. Gordon scored 50 points on 14/22 shooting, 6/11 from three, and 16/20 from the free throw line to lead the Rockets over the Jazz 126-117.  
  • With 5:42 left, Minnesota was up 22 on Sacramento, and with 2:49 left, the lead was still 17. In the final 2:49 though, Sacramento scored 21 points, including 12 from Buddy Hield on 3 threes and all three free throws after being fouled behind the line –  this sent the game to OT, where they won 133-129. For the game, Hield had 42 points on 14/24 shooting, including 9/14 from three and was +19. 
  • Bam Adebayo had his third triple-double of the season last night in the Heat’s 113-92 win over the Magic. Bam also apparently had a thing for round numbers as he went for 20 PTS, 10 REBS, and 10 ASTS. That is only the 15th time ever a player put up exactly a 20/10/10 game. 
  • Kind of an average Luka Doncic night, but he’s so ridiculous that on an average NBA night, that’s good enough for the Honor Roll. Luka had 29 PTS, 11 REBS, and 5 ASTS in Dallas’ 107-97 win in Oklahoma City.   

Quirks of the Night

  • The Minnesota/Sacramento game was wild on so many levels. First, the comeback. As noted above, the Kings were down 17 with 2:49 left in the game. Since 96-97, teams down 17+ with under 3 minutes to go had been 0-8,378. 0-8,378! Even forgetting the huge blown lead, the Timberwolves were doing historic things. They  went 23/46 from deep in their loss. That is the first time in NBA history a team has ever taken at least 45 threes, made at least half of them, and lost (although to be fair, it’s only the third time a team has taken that many and made half). 
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers won a road game last night the old fashioned way. They only took threes on 24% of their possessions, which ranks in the 5th percentile of all games this year per Cleaning the Glass. Their team free throw rate (the number of three throws they took per 100 possessions) was only 10.4%, which ranks in 9th percentile of all games this year. Despite the low amount of attempts from three and the free throw line, the Cavs won by 15. That combination has only happened six times prior to last night in the last five years, and only twice on the road. 

Needs Improvement

  • Last year, Khem Birch stepped in admirably at backup center for the Magic playoff push. He was efficient, blocked shots and hit the offensive glass. This year, injuries to Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu have forced Birch into the starting lineup at the 4. It’s not going well at all. Birch’s usage is under 10%, which is in the 5th percentile for bigs per Cleaning the Glass. The problem is he’s also not making those shots. His eFG% is under 48%, 11th percentile for bigs. His rebounding and shot blocking numbers are also way down. Last night in Miami, Birch was his new-normal self. He played 26 minutes, but only took 4 shots for 7 points (3 of which were in the 4th quarter with the Magic already down 20) to go with just 4 rebounds and was -18. 
  • I don’t have too many great insights on this one except to say that the Detroit Pistons are still somehow in the Eastern Conference playoff “race” and got blown out at home by the Cavs. I guess this “Needs Improvement” point can be directed at either the Pistons or the entire East outside the top-6, whichever you prefer. 

NBA Twitter Table Talk

  • The Kobe tributes kept coming. Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves took an 8-second violation to start the game in Minnesota by placing the ball at the free throw line, the place where Kobe passed Jordan on the all-time scoring list.
  • Of course Sacramento’s comeback included the first ever “throw it off the rim and run after it” intentional missed free throw that actually worked.

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