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5 NBA things to know for Nov. 18
Jeff Case, NBA.com
Get up to speed on the latest NBA news, plus a quick look at some storylines and tidbits worth noting today:
1. Rockets try to keep rolling: Four high-scoring guards matching up? Check. A team (Houston) looking for eight straight wins? Check. An update on the Carmelo Anthony situation? Maybe. Thanks to their seven-game win streak, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have the Rockets as the West’s hottest team to date. They host Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum tonight (8 ET, NBA TV) in a showdown featuring two of the West’s best backcourts. Throw in some past playoff rivalries between the top players and this one should be a can’t-miss.
2. Another big night for George?: If you somehow missed it, Paul George’s return (and subsequent sizzling start to) this season for the LA Clippers has been the stuff of legend. He had 37 points in 20 minutes on Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, which came two nights after he went for 33 points in 24 minutes in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Oklahoma City Thunder bring a respectable defense into L.A. (10:30 ET, League Pass), but it seems no one has had an answer for George so far.
3. Luka keeping Dallas in thick of chase: It is early — roughly 70-games-left-in-the-season early — for any team to be thinking of playoff positioning at this point. That said, the Mavericks are two games over .500 and in four of the last five seasons when they accomplished that kind of start, they made the playoffs. Luka Doncic is driving the bus for Dallas and quietly staying in the Kia MVP chase as the San Antonio Spurs pay a visit tonight (8:30 ET, League Pass).
4. Back at it for Boston: Win streaks, like records, were made to be broken. Boston found that out yesterday in Sacramento but there’s no time to sulk. A matchup with the Phoenix Suns (9 ET, League Pass) will pit two of the NBA’s better clutch-scorers against each other. The Celtics’ Kemba Walker ranks sixth in total clutch points scored (31), while the Suns’ Devin Booker isn’t too far behind (23 points).
5. Can Conley find a rhythm?: The Utah Jazz are staying in the thick of the West chase, but may be starting to get concerned about point guard Mike Conley. Pick a stat — points per game, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, 3-point percentage, assists per game — and it is a career-low for him. A game against the Minnesota defense (9 ET, League Pass) could help him though. The Timberwolves have allowed every team’s starting guards to shoot at least 35.4% against them this season.