Today is Monday, October 23, 2017.
|Monday, October 23, 2017|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Grizzlies||vs.||Rockets||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
3-0 Rockets, finding defense, await Grizzlies
Sunday, October 22 at 8:52 PM (EDT)
HOUSTON -- It was an expected answer to a question that was sure to yield this precise response, with Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni offering measured praise over the promising start enjoyed by his unbeaten team with the first week of the schedule set to bleed into the second.
After the Rockets (3-0) survived a grudge match against the reigning champion Warriors, won again the next night in Sacramento, then cruised to an easy victory over an in-state rival, D'Antoni was pressed to assess where his team stood at this early stage of this season.
The Rockets were without offseason acquisition Chris Paul in their victories over the Kings and Dallas Mavericks, but the point guard's absence did little to undermine the commitment to defense.
"I like it," D'Antoni said. "Obviously, I got to like it. Nothing wrong with it in the sense of, I think we're trying to build a good defensive base. We're trying to understand where we are offensively. I wish Chris would be here so we can keep getting better.
"I'm happy, I'm happy where we're at. We got a long ways to go. But 3-0 is 3-0."
Houston will host the Memphis Grizzlies (2-0) on Monday night at Toyota Center, seeking to maintain its early defensive vigor against a team undergoing an ideological shift on the offensive end.
Gone are the halcyon "Grit & Grind" days that Memphis cemented as its identity. Now the Grizzlies are shifting to the pace-and-space model prevalent throughout the league, and while all the roster components don't perfectly fit that methodology, Memphis does rank 10th in offensive rating following home wins over the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State.
For the Rockets, that means preparing for a matchup against a division rival that could seem familiar but might not be.
"I think our mindset is getting better no matter who we play," Rockets guard James Harden said after the win over the Mavericks. "From the beginning of the game, we were locked in, and offensively we made shots. And that's going to be our blueprint, defensive stops."
Noteworthy from the Grizzlies' 111-101 win over the Warriors on Saturday was the balanced scoring, excluding the 34-point performance from center Marc Gasol, that Memphis rode to success.
The safe assumption is that if Memphis is going to thrive playing at a hastened pace, point guard Mike Conley will shoulder a significant load advancing that objective. However, Conley tallied just 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting against the Warriors, with Memphis emboldened by double-digit showings from James Ennis III plus Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers in reserve.
"We've got some guys that can do some different things coming off the bench," Grizzlies coach David Fizdale said. "That group does a good job of sharing the ball and sharing the game, and they trust each other. Hopefully that's something we can build on.
"By no means have we arrived. We've still got a lot of work to do. But that is definitely the style of play we'd like to continue to build upon."
|Hornets||vs.||Bucks||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Hornets' focus to stop Antetokounmpo
Sunday, October 22 at 5:21 PM (EDT)
MILWAUKEE -- The Charlotte Hornets will try to do something the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers haven't been able to do this season when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night at the Bradley Center.
Stop Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Milwaukee Bucks' versatile playmaker has been a terror through the first week of the season, averaging a league-best 38.3 points through three games and setting a new career high his last time out, dropping 44 against the Blazers on Saturday night in a 113-111 victory.
"He's only getting better and stronger," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said.
Perhaps that was a warning to the rest of the league, but Antetokounmpo has certainly taken his game to another level so far this season.
"The difference is I don't have (anything) to lose," Antetokounmpo said. "I play with that mentality. I don't have (anything) to lose. I'm going to keep attacking, keep making plays, I'm going to turn the ball over, I'm going to miss shots, I'm going to airball shots, but at the end of the day I have nothing to lose. ...
"I'm going to do whatever it takes for my team to get a win. You know what I'm saying? I don't have (anything) to lose. I'm going to keep playing hard, keep being humble and keep working on my craft and hopefully, I can be one of the best in the league in the future."
Making the task tougher for the Hornets is the absence of Michael-Kidd Gilchrst and Cody Zeller.
Kidd-Gilchrist would have likely seen significant time opposite Antetokounmpo but first returned to practice Saturday after a two-week absence following the death of his grandmother and isn't expected to be ready Monday night.
"He's good, he's a worker," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "I really don't have any idea when (he can play a significant role again), but he's going to have to practice some for him to be ready to play."
Zeller, meanwhile, sat out the Hornets' game Friday against Atlanta and will probably be on the bench at Milwaukee, leaving Johnny O'Bryant to get extended minutes in his absence.
Zeller was a starter last season but moved to a reserve role this year after the Hornets acquired Dwight Howard. The 13-year veteran is averaging a double-double (15.0 points, 15.0 rebounds) through the first two games but there is still a bit of an adjustment period both for Howard and his teammates.
"Most (big) guys, when they catch the ball at the top (of the key) or in pick-and-roll, they're looking to get off the 3," Howard told the Charlotte Observer over the weekend. "Back when I first came in, it was look first inside-out. It's an adjustment; I get it.
"I talked to some of the guys (Friday) night: 'There are going to be points when I'm frustrated, there are going to be times when you're frustrated.' We've just got to stay patient with each other, understand it's a process and to play together."
Charlotte has had Milwaukee's number recently, winning 11 of the last 14 meetings but has dropped two in a row to the Bucks.
|Raptors||vs.||Spurs||8:30 (EDT) Preview|
Spurs, Raptors to put win streaks to test
Sunday, October 22 at 5:07 PM (EDT)
The San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors, two of the NBA's most proven and successful teams, will battle to stay unbeaten in their early-season schedules when they square off on Monday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
San Antonio, missing star forward Kawhi Leonard and point guard Tony Parker because of injuries, relied on its defense to win at Chicago 87-77 on Saturday. LaMarcus Aldridge, who has stepped up as the focal point of the Spurs' offense because of the injuries, scored 28 points and had 10 rebounds to lead San Antonio over the Bulls.
Aldridge is just the second Spurs player ever to have 25-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in the first two games of a season (Tim Duncan, 2004-05).
"I've been in a different mindset since the summer started, and that has carried over to training camp to preseason to now," Aldridge said. "My mindset coming into the season was to try to be more dominant."
The Spurs scored 23 points off turnovers in Saturday's win, which was just the 10th victory in team history at Chicago by double-digits and only the second such victory in the past 10 years. It also allowed San Antonio to snap a three-game losing streak at Chicago that was the second-longest in franchise history, behind only a four-game slide from 1986-89.
"Aldridge was just a difference maker for us with the way he scored," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after the win. "The defense in the second half and L.A.'s offense was what got us over (the hump). They moved the ball better than we did. I thought they actually executed better than we did."
With the 2-0 start to the campaign, the Spurs have had a winning regular-season record for all but 48 days since 1997, a span of 20-plus years.
Toronto heads to the Alamo City for the only time this season on the heels of a dominating 128-94 home victory over Philadelphia on Saturday. The Raptors got 30 points from DeMar DeRozan -- 23 of those in the first half -- to start the season with two straight wins.
Serge Ibaka added 21 points for the Raptors, while Kyle Lowry had 17 points, Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright contributed 14 each and Lucas Nogueira tallied 10.
DeRozan was listed as questionable prior to the game because of flu symptoms but obviously found a way through the situation. Lowry said he was not surprised that his backcourt teammate performed well despite being at less than 100 percent.
"That's what he does; I'm not shocked," Lowry said. "The man shot 16 free throws. We gave him a little more time to isolate tonight. Given the opportunity to take his time and be patient, he pretty much gets what he wants."
Lowry's 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter pushed Toronto's lead to 31 points and the Raptors cruised home. The only downer in the game for Toronto was an injury to Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas, who left the game after playing 15 minutes with a sprained ankle. He will have an MRI, according to the team.
The Raptors have defeated Chicago and Philadelphia by a combined 51 points to win their first two games.
Monday's contest in San Antonio is the first of a six-game road trip for the Raptors.
"This part or the schedule is not going to make or break our season, but it's a tough part of the year," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "The good thing is we don't have to go on long road trips after we get this one out of the way."
San Antonio beat the Raptors in both the teams' matchups last season and have a three-game winning streak against Toronto. The Spurs lead the all-time series 31-14 and are 17-4 versus the Raptors at home.
|Warriors||vs.||Mavericks||8:30 (EDT) Preview|
Mavs, Warriors both aiming to bounce back
Sunday, October 22 at 5:50 PM (EDT)
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks, losers of their first three games and humiliated in Houston on Saturday night, didn't get any favors from the league's schedule-makers by welcoming the Golden State Warriors to town on the heels of their frustrating loss.
The defending champions stand to be in an ornery mood when they enter American Airlines Center for Monday night's matchup. Golden State got throttled at Memphis on Saturday, a game that culminated with Stephen Curry getting ejected for throwing his mouthpiece in the direction of official Scott Wall in disgust over not getting a call.
Moments later, Kevin Durant got ejected for defending Curry in the eventual 111-101 loss to the Grizzlies. Curry, who scored 37 points but was in foul trouble throughout the Warriors' surprising second defeat in three games, is now waiting for the league to determine if his mouthpiece toss will net a suspension.
The point guard said he shouldn't have done it and knows it will get him fined. But he told reporters afterward that he doesn't believe it warrants a one-game sit-down.
"I've thrown my mouthpiece plenty of times and thrown it on the floor," Curry said. "It's probably not the best thing to do, but I've done it. (I) own up to it. I don't think it's a suspension or anything. My pockets will be a lot lighter for sure, though."
The league might also take a look at Durant's behavior as he exited the floor upon his ejection. He egged-on heckling Grizzlies fans by pointing to his ring finger to remind them he's an NBA champion. Some thought he had given the fans the middle finger, but not so.
Durant called it "nothing serious" and said it was all in good fun.
"I did the ring finger," Durant told reporters. "I'm sure everybody thinks I'm the angry black athlete, so I got to put my middle finger up. But nah, I put the ring finger up."
The Mavs are hopeful they'll get some of their missing backcourt back in action. Rookie of the Year candidate Dennis Smith Jr., has already missed consecutive games because of a left knee effusion, which is swelling because of fluid around the joint.
The team has called the injury "not serious," but it is clearly worrisome. Dallas also hopes to have Devin Harris back for Monday's game. The veteran reserve guard is on a leave of absence after his older brother, 38-year-old Bruce Harris, died Thursday from injuries suffered in a car crash.
Stephen Curry's brother, Seth Curry, has yet to play this season because of a left tibia stress reaction, and he will also miss Monday's game.
Dallas' biggest problem has been an inability to rebound, providing plenty of second-chance opportunities for its opponents. The Mavs have been out-rebounded by 43 through the first three games.
"A lot of them weren't really rebounds," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News. "They were loose balls that were deflected and we just didn't get to."
If Dallas can't get past Golden State, a first win could remain elusive for some time. The Mavs face a home-and-away back-to-back against Memphis, followed by games against Philadelphia, Utah and the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I think we got the hardest schedule in the NBA the first 30 games," said 39-year-old Dirk Nowitzki, who has had a rough start to the season, averaging 7.3 points on 29 percent shooting from the floor. "Hopefully, we'll get some bodies back and win enough games to stick around for the first 30 games. But it's not going to get any easier."
|Wizards||vs.||Nuggets||9:00 (EDT) Preview|
Nuggets' backcourt bracing for Wizards' 1-2 punch
Sunday, October 22 at 8:36 PM (EDT)
The Denver Nuggets gave their offense to a pair of young point guards this season, and so far the return has been incomplete.
With the release of veteran Jameer Nelson last week, Denver's offense is in the hands of 20-year-old Jamal Murray and 21-year-old Emmanuel Mudiay. It was a risky move to waive a veteran point guard, especially for a team with playoff aspirations.
Murray and Mudiay haven't shot the ball well, but they are doing a decent job of taking care of it. Murray is averaging two turnovers per game and Mudiay one for the Nuggets, who are 1-1 after Saturday's home win against Sacramento.
Looking past the record, Denver hasn't scored 100 points in a game but that doesn't fall solely on the two youngsters. Center Nikola Jokic, a triple-double threat every night, went scoreless against the Kings after having just seven points in the opener against Utah.
Coach Michael Malone isn't trying to put too much on his young point guards. In fact, Murray is averaging less than 20 minutes a game and Mudiay about 23, and the offense is running through other players. But the spotlight will be on the young guys when they host the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
The Wizards (2-0) have one of the most dynamic backcourts in John Wall and Bradley Beal. They are a handful for any team, but it could be a much bigger task for Murray and Mudiay to stop. Wall and Beal are averaging 27 and 25 points, respectively, to lead the Wizards
Mudiay was expected to be the point guard of the future when he was taken seventh overall in the 2015 draft, but he has struggled with turnovers and decision-making in his two years. Murray, taken in the same spot in 2016, has moved ahead of him in the rotation.
There are still growing pains but Mudiay has been solid off the bench so far. He had eight rebounds against Sacramento.
"Just a good, solid effort," Malone said.
The Nuggets might need to be more than solid against the Wizards. They came within a Game 7 loss of reaching the Eastern Conference finals last spring and boast a young, talented squad starting with Wall and Beal.
Another young player, third-year forward Kelly Oubre Jr., has moved into the starting lineup with injuries to Jason Smith and Markieff Morris. Oubre can celebrate that Washington has picked up his fourth-year option, and he has a chance to take control of the forward position until Smith and Morris return.
Morris, who is recovering from offseason hernia surgery, has amped up his workout's and is starting to participate in contact drills.
"He did everything. He did the entire 20 minutes of one-on-one live, which was great for him," coach Scott Brooks told the Washington Post on Saturday "Playing against other NBA players is the next step of coming back ... he's tired of competing against the coaching staff and playing against us because you get false confidence playing against me and my staff. But it was good, he gave a good 20 minutes. The conditioning is pretty good, considering he's coming back from the hernia surgery."
Smith missed Friday's win over Detroit with a sprained right shoulder but is likely to return soon, possibly on the four-game Western Conference road swing that starts Monday night. Washington will test Denver's defense, which was strong Saturday night after a rough start in Utah on Wednesday.
The Nuggets held Sacramento to 36.5 percent shooting and clamped down in the third and most of the fourth.
"The effort was definitely there," said forward Paul Millsap, who is averaging 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the first two games.
|Kings||vs.||Suns||10:00 (EDT) Preview|
Following coaching change, Suns seek first win
Sunday, October 22 at 11:29 PM (EDT)
PHOENIX -- As the season commenced, Phoenix Suns managing partner Robert Sarver told local reporters that he expected a break-even record, but the team's floundering 0-3 start did little to create high expectations.
The Suns on Sunday fired coach Earl Watson three games into the regular season, the last straw being a 130-88 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
It was the Suns' second loss by 40-plus points this season, and afterward Watson questioned the team's unity, fight and leadership.
The team announced Sunday night that associate head coach Jay Triano is taking over for Watson as interim head coach. Triano's first game will be against the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Guard Eric Bledsoe summed up his frustration in a tweet before Sunday's announcement of the coaching change surfaced.
"I Dont wanna be here," it read.
Triano spent parts of four seasons (2008-11) as head coach of the Toronto Raptors. He is in his second season with the Suns after spending four years as an assistant with the Portland Trail Blazers, one when Watson was a player there.
Watson was beginning his second full year on the job after being promoted from assistant coach to interim coach when Jeff Hornacek was fired on Feb. 1, 2016. Watson signed a three-year contract as head coach on April 19, 2016. The Suns went 33-85 on his watch.
"The whole team is embarrassed," Bledsoe said after the loss to the Clippers, then shouldered some of the blame. "I think I have to do a better job of being a leader and a floor general out there.
He added about the woeful start, "It happens, but not to this point."
The Suns will play their third home game against Sacramento. They lost the season opener to Portland by an embarrassing 124-76, the largest margin ever in an NBA season opener. Phoenix then fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 132-130 on Friday when rookie Lonzo Ball was one assist short of becoming the youngest player in NBA history to post a triple-double.
Sacramento (1-2) is coming off a 17-point loss at Denver and will play its third road game in four nights.
The Suns are the second-youngest team in the league in terms of average age, with four players still 20 and another 19. Watson tinkered with the lineup this season, putting power forward Marquese Chriss on the bench and starting two small forwards, TJ Warren and rookie Josh Jackson.
Phoenix is shooting 39.7 percent from the floor and is getting outrebounded by 10.7 per game. The Suns shot 38 percent from the field and were outrebounded 52-36 by the Clippers. Opponents are shooting 51.5 percent.
Sacramento, which traded DeMarcus Cousins last February, remade its roster around veteran newcomers George Hill and Zach Randolph and top draft pick De'Aaron Fox.
The Kings had similar woes in their 96-79 defeat at Denver. Though Fox had 18 points off the bench, the Kings shot 36.5 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 58-39.
"We settled on first shots that were somewhat contested and somewhat open instead of driving the basketball," Kings coach Dave Joerger said. "I thought they pushed us around with their physicality. We were undersized at just about every position.
"We have to hit first. We have to have that mindset. We have to cut hard and create plays and help teammates score. Our guys have great hearts and they are trying to do the right thing. It's a good learning tool."
Fox, the fifth player taken in the 2017 draft immediately after the Suns selected Jackson, has entered off the bench in all three games and is averaging 13.7 points, 5.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds in just more than 26 minutes per game. He plays behind Hill, who is also averaging 13.7 points.
Kings third-year center Willie Cauley-Stein has averaged 11 points and 9.7 rebounds in his first three games as the full-time starter. Guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (ankle) has missed all three games and is considered questionable for Monday.
Bogdanovic was part of the package the Suns sent to Sacramento in order to move up in the first round of the 2016 draft and select Chriss. Bogdanovic has not played in an NBA game.
|76ers||vs.||Pistons||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Simmons, Sixers looking for first win
Sunday, October 22 at 4:52 PM (EDT)
Ben Simmons reinforced during the first week of the season why the Philadelphia 76ers made him the first pick of the 2016 draft. That still hasn't translated into any victories.
Simmons recorded double-doubles in each of those games and just missed a triple-double by two assists at Toronto on Saturday. That didn't prevent the Sixers from getting blown out by the Raptors, 128-94. Philadelphia, which lost its first two games to the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics, will try again to break into the win column with a road game at the Detroit Pistons on Monday.
"To me, (the stat line) looks great but I'd rather have a win, honestly," said Simmons, who is averaging 15.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists. "I'd rather have three wins than double-doubles."
Simmons missed all of last season after breaking his right foot. Now healthy, the 6-foot-10 playmaker is creating matchup problems for opposing defenses.
"I'm not really paying attention to what the numbers say. I think I know what the stats say below me (on the sheet) but when you're coaching and feeling the game, you're feeling that he has the ability to be incredibly special," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "You feel like immediately that the stuff he does on the floor is very unique. His size and burst of speed and his ability to get to the rim and take hits, all those things are kind of wrapped up more to me in athleticism."
Philadelphia should get a boost on Monday from the return of center Joel Embiid. He didn't play against the Raptors because he hasn't been cleared to play back-to-backs after undergoing knee surgery in March. He's averaging 14.5 points and 13.5 rebounds.
"I knew the first three games were going to be difficult," Brown said. "I knew coming into this building (at Toronto) on a back-to-back was going to be difficult. But you're certainly not expecting it to be that margin of a deficit. I give Toronto credit but we've got a lot of work to do. We look forward to getting Joel back in this and continuing to learn how to play the group."
Detroit (2-1) is coming off a 111-107 road victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday. The Pistons rallied from a 21-point deficit, outscoring the Knicks 60-43 in the second half.
"Everything changed in the second half," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "The whole defense changed the entire second half. We finished up the game well."
Forward Tobias Harris has been the Pistons' top player in the early going, averaging 24.3 points and 6.3 rebounds. He pumped in 31 points at Madison Square Garden.
"We didn't get discouraged," Harris said. "We were able to make shots at the end but the biggest thing was the defense."
Another encouraging development for the Pistons has been the play of point guard Reggie Jackson. Slowed by a knee injury last season, Jackson is averaging 16.7 points, 6.7 assists, 2.0 steals and just 1.7 turnovers. He had seven points during the fourth-quarter rally at New York.
"He was attacking the basket and then you put the ball in his hands and he makes all seven free throws, finished out the game really, really well," Van Gundy said. "The thing for us is Reggie's making so much greater effort at the defensive end of the floor. That's the biggest change."
The Pistons will be playing their second regular-season game at their new home, Little Caesars Arena. They defeated the Charlotte Hornets in their first outing there on Wednesday.
|Sunday, October 22, 2017|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Lakers face test against Pelicans' big men
Saturday, October 21 at 8:20 PM (EDT)
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers don't have the personnel to match up well against strong post teams, and they'll face two of the best big men in the NBA when they host the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on Sunday evening.
The Pelicans (0-2) feature power forwards Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in their starting lineup. Davis, Cousins and point guard Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder were the only NBA players to finish in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding last season.
Davis averaged career highs of 28 points and 11.8 rebounds in 75 games last season, his fifth in the NBA. He also finished second in the NBA in blocked shots at 2.2 a game.
Cousins, who was traded to New Orleans from the Sacramento Kings in February, averaged a career-high 27.8 points in his seventh NBA year, while also pulling down 10.6 rebounds last season.
Davis opened this season with 33 points and 18 rebounds in a 103-91 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. Cousins had 28 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks.
In a 128-120 loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Friday, Davis had 35 points and 17 rebounds and Cousins had 35 points, 14 rebounds and four steals.
"We've just got to continue to grow from here," Cousins told The Times-Picayune after the Golden State loss, in which the Pelicans led by 15 in the first half. " I think we're in a good place."
Cousins was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Saturday for directing "inappropriate language" at a fan on Wednesday.
The Lakers (1-1) were overcome by a 31-10 deficit in second-chance points in their season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday. Behind 29 points and 12 rebounds from Blake Griffin and 14 points and 24 rebounds from DeAndre Jordan, the Lakers were no match inside against the Clippers.
"They killed us on second chance points," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.
Sunday's game will also feature an intriguing point guard matchup between ex-UCLA players Lonzo Ball of the Lakers and Jrue Holiday of the Pelicans.
Ball, the No. 2 overall draft pick last June, was unremarkable in his NBA debut against the Clippers, but was impressive and appeared more comfortable in a 132-130 victory at the Phoenix Suns on Friday, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
"I just had to do what I had to do to get the win," Ball told the Orange County Register. "I had to shoot more shots, so that's what I did. It doesn't take me long to learn."
Ball is sure to make the Lakers a speedier team, which should improve their fast-break capabilities. Transition defense has been an area of focus for the Pelicans.
"We've been fine in half-court defense, even against Memphis we were fine, but we've just given up a lot of transition buckets," Davis said. "Our biggest key is just making sure we don't give up anything in transition."
Holiday wasn't at UCLA when Ball was, but he's familiar with what he brings to the game.
"The Lakers, of course, have Lonzo pushing the ball," he said. "We've got to be ready for it."
Crabbe delivers late, lifts Nets over Hawks
Sunday, October 22 at 9:23 PM (EDT)
NEW YORK -- Allen Crabbe's minutes may be restricted due to a preseason ankle injury, but there is not a restraint on giving him the green light to shoot.
It showed Sunday when Crabbe produced 20 points, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 4:37 remaining in the fourth quarter as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Atlanta Hawks 116-104.
Crabbe played 25:38 but was highly productive when he was on the court. He struggled to get into rhythm as a starter Friday in a win over Orlando but was willing to be a reserve Sunday and thrived by hitting 7 of 12 shots and four of Brooklyn's 11 3-pointers.
None was bigger than the one he hit down the stretch.
Atlanta tied the game at 99-99 when Marco Belinelli hit a 3-pointer with 5:37 remaining. After DeMarre Carroll blocked Dennis Schroder's layup with 4:42 remaining, D'Angelo Russell grabbed the rebound and made a nifty cross-court pass to Crabbe.
"They give me the green light to shoot the ball, so it's not going to hurt me to get them up," said Crabbe, who scored a combined 21 points in his first two games. "The basket looks bigger and bigger after each one I make."
Crabbe finished the play by hitting a left corner 3-pointer as two defenders closed out on him. He started a game-ending 17-5 run and for good measure hit another 3-pointer 50 seconds later as the Nets (2-1) became the first team since the 1988-89 Portland Trail Blazers to score at least 115 points in each of their first three games.
"I saw the defender move back a little bit," Crabbe said. "At first I was kind of hesitant. I didn't think I was going to shoot it, but then it was like, 'Why not shoot it, it's not like they're going to get mad for shooting the ball.' I just shot it."
Crabbe produced his 12th career game with at least 20 points, and his two big shots occurred after the Nets missed 15 of their first 17 shots in the fourth quarter and blew a pair of 16-point leads in the third.
"His minutes aren't at a peak where I think it will go, so to avoid him sitting for longer stretches, we thought it was a good idea to bring him off the bench, and he was on board," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "He was like, 'Last game I was sitting on the pine a little too long.' So, it was kind of a coach-player decision, and it worked out tonight. He got his rhythm going."
Besides the efficient Crabbe, four others reached double figures for the Nets, who shot 47.1 percent from the floor.
Carroll added 17 points while Russell collected 16 points and 10 assists for his fourth career double-double. Caris LeVert also added 16 while reserve Trevor Booker contributed 14.
After blowing a 20-point lead Friday in Charlotte, the Hawks struggled to get a shooting rhythm and shot 34 percent, their fifth-lowest percentage since coach Mike Budenholzer took over in the 2013-14 season.
Belinelli led the Hawks with 19 points, and Schroder added 17. Kent Bazemore contributed 16, but he and Schroder were a combined 0 of 7 from 3-point range.
"We started the game real aggressive on offense and defense," Belinelli said. "Then I don't know why in the third quarter, end of the second, too, we stopped moving the ball. We stopped playing defense altogether, so we can't do that."
Schroder shot 5 of 22 and injured his left ankle with 3:37 remaining while getting fouled by LeVert on a drive to the rim.
The Hawks trailed by double digits for the final 4:15 of the third and the Nets held a 91-77 lead going into the fourth. Atlanta then made seven of its first 11 shots in the fourth before Crabbe's tiebreaking shot.
"Our group in the fourth quarter I thought was probably the most together group," Budenholzer said. "They were really doing everything that they could to get back in the game."
NOTES: Hawks G Dennis Schroder told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he likely will sit out the Hawks' Monday game at Miami due to a bone bruise in his left foot, but he doesn't think the injury is serious. ... Brooklyn F DeMarre Carroll is the only player who played under both coaches in Sunday's game. Carroll was in Atlanta for Mike Budenholzer's first two seasons when Nets coach Kenny Atkinson was an assistant there. ... Nets G Caris LeVert made his 27th career start and fourth against Atlanta, his most against any opponent. ... The Hawks made 33 of 36 free throws, finishing at better than 80 percent for the third consecutive game. ... Hawks C Miles Plumlee (strained right quad) missed his third straight game. ... Rookie C Jarrett Allen's four blocks matched the most by any Nets reserve from last season.
Wiggins, Wolves steal Anthony's Thunder
Sunday, October 22 at 11:19 PM (EDT)
OKLAHOMA CITY -- It was supposed to be Carmelo Anthony's first game-winner for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Instead, Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins spoiled the Thunder's celebration by launching a game-winning 3-pointer of his own, releasing the ball just as time expired to trump Anthony's late triple and give Minnesota a 115-113 win over Oklahoma City in front of a shell-shocked crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"Whatever the circumstances are, you just have to find a way to win," said Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau, whose team beat the Utah Jazz 100-97 on Saturday. "I thought the last two nights we did that.
"The main thing for us, we have to concentrate on improving. ... If we're building the right habits, I think good things will happen."
Minnesota forward Taj Gibson knew he had to work quickly after Anthony's 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left, running the baseline to get the ball inbounded to Wiggins.
Wiggins dribbled up the court, freed up by a screen set by Karl-Anthony Towns at midcourt. With the nearest Thunder defenders hanging by the 3-point arc, Wiggins banked the shot in and was quickly swarmed by his teammates.
"He's been hitting that shot, weirdly enough, the whole offseason and in practice," Towns said. "The only thing that came through my mind was if I didn't catch (the inbounds pass), just to set a screen to get someone open. I'm glad I was able to capitalize on it."
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook thought Towns' screen that set up Wiggins' game-winner wasn't legal.
"I ain't looked at it, but it looks like it," Westbrook said. "I haven't seen it, but it looks like it is (illegal), just based on just a conversation we had in the locker room."
Thunder center Steven Adams said, "It came down to probably three plays before that. ... Those were more controllable than that last play. I would call that a Hail Mary sort of play, and he made it.
"Those plays before that, it just came down to discipline, to boxing out. ... We've got to control that better and it would've led to a different outcome."
Westbrook, who scored 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, hit a game-tying bucket with 29 seconds left. Towns answered by sinking a layup with 8.9 seconds remaining to tie the score.
That set the stage for Anthony, who finished with 23 points, for what he thought would be the game-winner. Instead, it was one-upped by Wiggins' prayer of a shot.
To even reach the final seconds, the Thunder had to claw back from several 13-point deficits thanks to another off-kilter offensive performance through the first three quarters.
The Timberwolves looked fresh, coming off a day's rest after a win over the Jazz on Friday night while the Thunder (1-2) appeared to lack energy on their second night of a back-to-back.
"Our energy level, that's something we can control, that and how aggressive we come out and play," Thunder guard Andre Roberson said. "That we've got to bring every night, no matter how we feel or what's going good for us. We've always got to have that. Going forward, we've got to come out of the gates better."
As sensational as Westbrook was in the fourth quarter, it was the effort of center Steven Adams and the Thunder bench that kept the team in the game as the rest of the offense struggled to find a rhythm.
Adams was instrumental in the first half, scoring 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field. The big man helped the Thunder outscore the Timberwolves 36-26 in the paint in the first half.
The Thunder bench, led by Jerami Grant and Raymond Felton with 12 points apiece, scored 28 points on the night.
Despite those efforts, the Thunder dug a hole early, facing a 13-point deficit midway through the first quarter as the Timberwolves picked up easy baskets.
Wiggins led the way for Minnesota (2-1) with 10 points in the first quarter, and he finished with 27 points. Towns also had 27 points for Minnesota. Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague scored 19 points.
Adams grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Westbrook handed out 10 assists. Paul George scored 14 points for the Thunder but sank only 6 of 20 shots from the floor.
NOTES: After spending part of last season with the Thunder, F Taj Gibson returned to Oklahoma City as a member of Minnesota's starting lineup and put together a 11-point, 10-rebound performance. ... G Raymond Felton had his best game as a Thunder player, scoring 12 points. ... Thunder G Andre Roberson airballed two free throws in the second half, missed all four of his shots from the floor and wound up scoreless. ... Oklahoma City G Russell Westbrook finished five rebounds shy of his 81st career double-double.