New Jersey Nets 89, Atlanta Hawks 82
Sure, you’ll probably say it’s too early to judge this sort of thing, but Billy King is looking like a shoe-in for Executive of the Year. That might sound crazy, but the Nets are .500 in the Sasha Vujacic era. Considering their winning percentage pre-Machine was .269, you have to applaud King for making a huge acquisition.
Boston Celtics 99, Indiana Pacers 88
13 straight wins for the Celtics, besting the Heat by a single game for this season’s longest winning streak. Looking at their upcoming schedule — and factoring in that the Magic are both slumping and will have to deal with adding three new players — there is a very realistic chance the Celtics will be riding a 20-game streak when they take on the Spurs on January 5.
Los Angeles Lakers 120, Toronto Raptors 110
Last week Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register wrote that “The Lakers are rarely the team that wants it more than the other in any given regular-season game,” which is hilarious to see in print and a bit of an insult to the rest of the league. Even worse, that was the case against the Raptors and Los Angeles still scored its third-most points of the season.
Houston Rockets 102, Sacramento Kings 93
Four wins in their last five games, and seven of the last 10 for the Rockets — mostly without Aaron Brooks and Yao Ming, though Brooks played 15 minutes in this one. It seems like a radical strategy, but if their other three preseason starters could suffer some injuries, Houston would probably go undefeated for the rest of the year.
Detroit Pistons 111, New Orleans Hornets 108 OT
Yikes, the Hornets. Two missing starters for the Pistons, who are still bad even if they had all their starters. And yet, a 10th loss in 15 games. Again, yikes.
Phoenix Suns 113, Oklahoma City Thunder 110
Of course the Phoenix Suns beat the Western Conference’s fourth seed with only nine players ready to play, one of which was Earl Barron. They did have two guys who are a combined 74 years old — not a joke, by the way — to lead them to victory. Makes total sense.