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The Skip Pass: MVP candidates do MVP things

The Skip Pass will be your home on Today’s Fastbreak for insights and nuggets on each game played in the NBA. This is different from your regular game recap or box score. We want to take you inside the game and call out things you might have missed.

Focus Games: Jazz at Clippers, Wizards at Grizzlies

Other Games: Warriors at Suns, Spurs at Heat, Bucks at Pistons, Lakers at Thunder, Mavericks at Rockets

CLIPPERS 88 – JAZZ 75

CLIPPERS

  • This was an odd game where the Clippers won going away, but only one starter scored in double figures: Blake Griffin with 18.
  • Austin Rivers was terrific off the bench with 19 points on 8-11 shooting from the field. Rivers is playing anywhere from 1-3 early in the season, and his versatility really helps an inconsistent LA bench.
  • Marreese Speights took eight shots, six of them threes, in just 17 minutes. The Clippers signed him for his offense, but that many jumpers are a little concerning.
  • The LA defense was very good. The stats might not show it because there weren’t a lot of blocks and steals, but they contested well and held the Jazz to very few second chance opportunities.

JAZZ

  • The Jazz really miss Gordon Hayward. They don’t have a real creator in the lineup without him. George Hill has played well, but he’s best playing off other players. Rodney Hood can create for himself, but struggles to make plays for others.
  • Derrick Favors is working on getting his timing down. He came off the bench again and struggled, going just 1-8 from the floor. He missed several shots inside that he usually makes.
  • Dante Exum looks like he is 100 percent healthy. The speed and quickness are there again and he made some explosive moves. He’s still a little rusty, but all the potential is there that everyone loved a couple of years ago.

GRIZZLIES 112 – WIZARDS 103 (OT)

GRIZZLIES

  • Marc Gasol entered this year with 12 total three-pointers made in his career. He’s already made six this year, including four last night. As he ages, adding this as a weapon to his game makes him that much harder to guard. It has gone so far that the Grizzlies ran a set play for Gasol to take a three to tie the game at the end of regulation.
  • Zach Randolph has adjusted nicely to his bench role. He had 22 points and dominated the Wizards’ second unit.
  • With Vince Carter joining Z-Bo off the bench, the Grizzlies might have a functional second unit for the first time in years. Carter had 18 points, and all of his shots from the field were from behind the arc (5-6 from three).
  • Even with the emphasis on the three-ball, the Grizzlies remain a defense-first team that wants to grind games out. Anytime the Wizards tried to get the pace up, Memphis would slow it down and run clock. They’ll push when it is there, but they want to play games on their terms.

WIZARDS

  • Washington needs more help from the bench. Only Marcus Thornton hit double figures in this one, with 11 points. Scott Brooks is working on rotations and groups that work, but he’ll need to find something sooner rather than later.
  • Markieff Morris had a nice night with 11/7, but he was visibly frustrated at times with the lack of touches he got. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 36 shot attempts. A little more balance would go a long way for the Wizards.
  • Marcin Gortat managed to get to the line 10 times, making all 10. He got there by running the floor hard on several trips. He’s an ideal fit next to Wall because of his ability to run the floor and to roll to the basket.
  • Trey Burke didn’t get much going. Washington wants him to seize the backup PG role. If he doesn’t pick up his play, they may need to go to Tomas Satoransky behind Wall.

WARRIORS 106 – SUNS 100

WARRIORS

  • The Warriors have struggled more than expected out of the gate, but none of that is on Kevin Durant. He continued his impressive all-around play with 37 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals. At times, Durant is carrying the Warriors by himself.
  • Klay Thompson seems to be the one who has had his role most impacted by Durant’s arrival. He’s not getting shots consistently and hasn’t been able to get into rhythm. He shot just 5-15 overall and 0-6 from behind the arc. He’ll need to figure it out for the Warriors to be the team many expect them to be.

SUNS

  • On a night where Devin Booker couldn’t get much going, T.J. Warren filled the gap with 26 points. Warren’s game is a throwback with a lot of mid-range jumpers off the dribble, which seems to catch opponents off guard.
  • Eric Bledsoe was excellent all night on the offensive end. He attacked the basket repeatedly and finished with 21 points and six assists. Most importantly, he got to the FT line nine times.
  • Marquese Chriss was impressive in short minutes. He’s always around the ball, making things happen. Fellow rookie Dragan Bender really struggled. Kevin Durant scored on him on back-to-back possessions, and Bender wasn’t seen the rest of the night.

SPURS 106 – HEAT 99

SPURS

  • LaMarcus Aldridge took the night off to rest, which seemed to free Pau Gasol to have a big night. Gasol scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds. Aldridge and Gasol occupy many of the same spots on the floor. They have to take turns when both are out there, and the offense can struggle because of it. This is something that has many wondering if the best lineup is starting Dewayne Dedmon and bringing Gasol off the bench.
  • Patty Mills had another good game off the pine with 18 points. He’s outplayed Tony Parker by a wide margin early in the season.

HEAT

  • This game went how many Heat games will go this year. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside were excellent. Justise Winslow chipped in, but they didn’t get much from anyone else.
  • Miami does play extremely hard. They get after opponents on defense and chase every loose ball. This will keep them in many games they probably shouldn’t be in.

PISTONS 98 – BUCKS 83

PISTONS

  • Workmanlike performance from Detroit. They hit the boards, defended well and got a lot of good looks inside. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Andre Drummond had his first 20/20 game of the year with 20 points and 23 rebounds. Something tells me it won’t be his last.
  • Tobias Harris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both had nice offensive nights. They enjoy running the break together and have developed good chemistry.

BUCKS

  • The Bucks will struggle to win when Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker can’t hit shots. They combined to shoot just 11-32 from the floor. For a team that has very few offensive options while Khris Middleton is out, that won’t get it done.
  • Speaking of missing Middleton, the Bucks shot only 4-17 from distance. That’s not going to cut it.

THUNDER 113 – LAKERS 96

THUNDER

  • Russell Westbrook came in to this game looking at a potentially huge scoring night. He got an efficient 33 points, but also played facilitator with 16 assists. He grabbed 12 rebounds to complete the triple-double.
  • Enes Kanter dominated inside with 16 points on 8-11 shooting in just 22 minutes. Westbrook found him repeatedly for easy buckets against the Lakers’ porous interior defense.

LAKERS

  • Brandon Ingram returned from a minor knee injury to score nine points of the Lakers bench. Ingram is a work in progress, but all the raw ability is there for him to be a superstar.
  • Julius Randle was rolling early, as he dominated rookie Domantas Sabonis. Randle was able to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim several times. He also had nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in his Draymond-lite roll for the Lakers.

ROCKETS 93 – MAVERICKS 92

ROCKETS

  • On a night when his shot wasn’t falling, James Harden showed why he’s such a great fit for the Mike D’Antoni offense. He got to the line 12 times (including for the game-winning FT) and had seven assists. He’s going to be a handful with the way the Rockets space the floor.
  • The other Houston starters struggled some in this game, but were picked up by good performances off the bench. Nene and Sam Dekker combined for 20 points off the bench and gave the Rockets a lift when their energy sagged.
  • Houston again defended better than expected. Without natural defenders it is all about effort for the Rockets, and they have played with plenty so far this year.

MAVERICKS

  • No Dirk Nowitzki for the second straight game as he is getting over an illness. Get well soon, Dirk! Your team needs your offense.
  • The Rockets made Wesley Matthews the primary offensive option by forcing the ball out of Harrison Barnes’ hands. Matthews was happy to oblige with 25 shot attempts. He hit a game-tying three in the waning seconds, but shot just 3-15 overall from behind the arc.
  • Seth Curry drew his first start of the year. He didn’t commit any fouls this time out, but had no impact with a 0-3 shooting night.

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