Brooklyn Nets (3-4) vs New York Knicks (2-4)
7pm ET Wednesday on ESPN
The Nets improved to 3-4 Tuesday night by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-110, with 6 guys scoring in double figures, led by Brook Lopez’s 26. Defensive specialist Tom Thibodeau was brought in to teach the young T’wolves a thing or two, but they’ve still got a lot to learn, as Brooklyn scored almost at will, hitting 55.3% from the floor, well enough to overcome their 20 turnovers. Brooklyn could have some problems tonight as Jeremy Lin remains sidelined with a bum hamstring, they’ll be playing for the second night in a row, and coach Kenny Atkinson is thinking about maybe giving Lopez (20.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg) the day off, which seems dopey given that they have the next two days off and this is a game they could win.
The Knicks showed some spark last week, beating Jimmy Butler and the Bulls 117-104, as Kristaps Porzingis led the way with 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting. But the joy was short lived as the Knicks came crashing back to Earth on Sunday with a 114-109 loss to the Utah Jazz, a game the Knicks led for most of the night before giving up 36 in the fourth quarter. Porzingis had another solid game, scoring 28 on 10-of-18 shooting, grabbing 8 boards, and swatting away 2 shots. Utah’s Gordon Hayward, making his season debut, essentially won this game from the free throw line, hitting all 14 of his freebies for half his points a night when the Jazz made 13 more free throws than the Knicks. Derrick Rose’s numbers so far (16-5-5) are about on par with his previous three years, but that’s a far cry from his MVP days. The Knicks’ big problem, not surprisingly, is on defense, as opponents are hitting on 50% of their 2-pointers, and they’re getting to to the line 26 times a game.
Houston Rockets (4-3) vs San Antonio Spurs (5-2)
9:30pm ET Wednesday on ESPN
The Rockets fell into a 7-point hole in the first quarter Monday night against the Wizards, only to flip the script in the second, outscoring them 33-17 and head into the locker room at the half up 56-47. The Rockets managed the turnaround despite a brutal half of basketball from James Harden, who dropped 10 dimes, but shot 1-of-6 from the floor and made 6 turnovers. Fortunately, the Wiz were ice cold in the second quarter, hitting on just 6 of 24. Harden’s tough luck would continue well into the third, as he missed his first 4 shots, but from the 4:11 mark of the third until the end of the game, he was on fire, scoring 24 points. Washington did manage to take a 2-point lead on a pair of Otto Porter freebies in the fourth, but Harden answered with a 26-footer to put Houston up for good at 94-93. Harden appears to be adjusting to life under new head coach Mike D’Antoni, as he’s averaging a career high 31.6 points, and, more impressively, a league-leading 12.7 assists, after never before averaging more than 7.5.
With their 116-92 defeat Saturday at the hands of the Clippers, the Spurs have already lost twice as many home games this season – 2 – as they did all of last season. In addition for playing for the second day in a row, the Spurs were without Danny Green (quad) and Tony Parker (knee), and Kawhi Leonard was stone cold, hitting just 3 of 13 from the floor. The Clips jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, as Blake Griffin scored 16 of his game-high 28, and then just coasted home, with Chris Paul going just 9-8-10, and DeAndre Jordan posting 8-8, while Jamal Crawford and Marreese Speights scored 16 and 15 respectively off the bench.