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Sunday, November 3, 2019
THUNDER VS PELICANS
Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena | Start: 8:00am AEDT
The New Orleans Pelicans finally found a winning touch Thursday against the Denver Nuggets and will look to repeat the feat when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. The Pelicans led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter vs. Denver and earned their first victory of the season with ease as Jahlil Okafor scored a season-high 26 points and Brandon Ingram had 25. New Orleans shot 53.2 percent from the field and scored 37 fast-break points. The Pelicans are 0-2 on the road thus far, losing at Toronto in their season opener and also falling at Houston. The new-look Thunder has just one victory as well, winning at home Sunday against the Warriors. New point guard Chris Paul led the Thunder in points (21) and assists (five) for the first time in Wednesday’s 102-99 defeat to the Trail Blazers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was acquired in the trade that sent Paul George to the Clippers, leads Oklahoma City with 21.6 points per game, while another piece in that trade, forward Danilo Gallinari, has scored 18.4 points. Gallinari made three 3-pointers Wednesday, while the rest of the team went 1 of 18 from distance. Thunder center Steven Adams sat out Wednesday’s game with a left knee contusion and is questionable for Saturday.
MAGIC VS NUGGETS
Venue: Amway Center | Start: 10:00am AEDT
The Orlando Magic hope to make the most of a second chance when they host the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. Such is the opportunity they are afforded with a second home game in two nights. And while that might seem like an advantage, especially when trying to erase the bad taste of a poor outing, there can be a problem: If the schedule allows, the second night’s opponent has the opportunity to personally scout the first night’s game. Such was the case Friday, when the Nuggets watched the Milwaukee Bucks walk all over the Magic in a 123-91 blowout. In a way, it was similar to what the Nuggets had endured the night before in a 122-107 debacle in New Orleans against a previously winless team. If nothing else, All-Star big men Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets and Nikola Vucevic of the Magic should be well rested for a rare head-to-head between old-school NBA big men. Each is looking for a break-out game. Jokic has totaled just 32 points in his last three outings, while Vucevic did almost as much watching (23 minutes) as playing (25) and contributed just 14 points to Friday’s home defeat.
PISTONS VS NETS
Venue: Little Caesars Arena | Start: 10:00am AEDT
The Brooklyn Nets will go for back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. Both teams will be on short rest after Brooklyn held on for a 123-116 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday and Detroit fell short 112-106 to the Chicago Bulls. The Nets will try to maintain their hot shooting from beyond the arc after marking 19 of 32 attempts (59.4 percent) from 3-point range against Houston. Taurean Prince led the way with six 3-pointers, while Kyrie Irving had five and Garrett Temple had four. Detroit has dropped two games in a row and four of its past five. One player who cannot be blamed for the skid is center Andre Drummond, who is coming off another monster performance Friday with 25 points and 24 rebounds in 35 minutes. Veteran guard Derrick Rose has enjoyed a terrific start to the season in six games off the bench. He will look to lead the second unit once again versus the Nets, but he could end up going up against Irving for at least part of the contest in a matchup of two explosive point guards.
WIZARDS VS TIMBERWOLVES
Venue: Capital One Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Minnesota Timberwolves will try to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they visit the Washington Wizards on Saturday night. But the Timberwolves will have to find a way to win without star center Karl-Anthony Towns, who will begin a two-game suspension for scuffling with Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half Wednesday. It will be tough to replace Towns, who leads Minnesota with 27.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. One of the players who could pick up more minutes is Noah Vonleh, who is averaging 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in limited time off the bench. While Minnesota has one loss to go with three wins, Washington is in the opposite situation with only one victory and three losses. The Wizards are coming off a wild 159-158 loss against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, which marked their second straight high-scoring defeat. Bradley Beal leads Washington with averages of 26.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 7.8 assists in his first four starts. Rookie Rui Hachimura also has looked good while averaging 18.0 points and 7.0 rebounds.
GRIZZLIES VS SUNS
Venue: FedExForum | Start: 11:00am AEDT
A 3-2 record might look fairly innocuous but the Phoenix Suns are turning heads with their start to the season, and their next challenge is on the road Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Both defeats were by just one point and they came against predicted Western Conference contenders in the Nuggets and Jazz. The Suns are getting it done even after center Deandre Ayton was suspended for 25 games for the presence of a diuretic in his system. The Suns will enter off a 121-110 victory at Golden State that is better known for the game where Steph Curry broke his left hand. Devin Booker scored 31 points in that one for the Suns and has averaged 24.4 this season with 6.0 assists. The Grizzlies picked up their first victory Sunday by scoring 134 points in overtime against the Brooklyn Nets, but they came back to get thumped 120-91 at Los Angeles against the Lakers. Moving on from Marc Gasol and Mike Conley has been difficult, as expected, but Memphis rookie Ja Morant continues to raise hope for the future with 17.5 points per game, including 30 against the Nets. Heading into play Friday, the Grizzlies were last in the NBA with a 32.0 shooting percentage from 3-point range.
BUCKS VS RAPTORS
Venue: Fiserv Forum | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Toronto Raptors hope to increase their winning streak to four games, but they will have to do so against one of the deepest teams in the Eastern Conference when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. The Bucks are looking for their second win in as many nights after cruising to a 123-91 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 29 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in the victory. He poses a defensive challenge for any opponent, including Toronto, which has won three straight games over the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons. Pascal Siakam is off to a terrific start for Toronto, as he is averaging 28.0 points and 9.2 rebounds in his first five contests. Kyle Lowry (21.6 points) and Fred VanVleet (17.0) will look to win the backcourt matchup against the Bucks. Toronto is 1-1 on the road this season, while Milwaukee owns the same record at home. The teams met in the conference finals last season, with the Raptors falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven series before winning the next four games and setting the stage for their first championship.
WARRIORS VS HORNETS
Venue: Chase Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT
It’ll be Terry Rozier vs. D’Angelo Russell at the point when the Charlotte Hornets visit the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. Both teams will display a new look, but neither a winning record, when the clubs meet for the first time since 2009 in a head-to-head in which neither Kemba Walker nor Stephen Curry will be on the floor. The greener-pasture-seeking Walker was traded for Boston’s Rozier in the offseason, while Curry handed his ball to newcomer Russell after breaking his left hand earlier in the week. The Hornets are coming off a win at Sacramento, and benefit from having two days off in sunny California since that game. Meanwhile, the Warriors will be playing the second night of a rare home back-to-back at their new home, which has been a cozy stop for each of their first three visitors this season. Golden State has lost those three games by a combined 47 points. Coincidentally, that’s exactly what the margin of victory was the last time they hosted the Hornets across the bay in Oakland. Curry outscored Walker 25-9 in the 137-90 shellacking last March.
TRAIL BLAZERS VS 76ERS
Venue: Moda Center | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The Philadelphia 76ers will look for a different result when they visit Portland for the second straight season without Joel Embiid on Friday night. The Trail Blazers handed the 76ers their most lopsided defeat of the season last December when big men Jusuf Nurkic and Meyers Leonard combined for 23 points and 15 rebounds in the void left behind by Embiid, who watched with a sore left knee. This time, he’ll be seated having been banished for two games for wrestling with Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns on Wednesday night. The good news for the 76ers: They’re better equipped to deal with an Embiid absence this season now that they employ Al Horford. And they won’t have to deal with either Nurkic (still rehabbing a broken leg) or Leonard (traded to Miami) this time around. The Trail Blazers also don’t blink when their starting center is out; they’ve import Hassan Whiteside in the Leonard deal. Without Embiid for the first two stops on their week-long Western swing, the 76ers figure to find their next four games (at Portland, Phoenix, Utah, Denver) much more difficult than the four against Boston, Detroit, Atlanta and Minnesota that has produced their 4-0 record.