OKC @ CHI: James Harden finally got to start, just not with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who rested. Unfortunately, Harden shot 2-17. Better now than next week. With Eric Maynor at the point and a thin bench, the Thunder seemed to be conceding this one, but Serge Ibaka (24 points, 8 rebounds) and rookie Perry Jones III (14 PTS in 20:27) kept them close.
The Bulls used a tight rotation; four starters played 33 minutes or more but Kirk Hinrich left early with a groin strain, so Nate Robinson took over as PG and rookie Marquis Teague played a probably unscheduled shift. Carlos Boozer was outstanding, with 24 PTS, 12 REB, 5 AST and 2 STL, and Luol Deng (21) also played well.
PHO @ GSW: Stephen Curry is a tremendous risk-reward draft pick. His latest ankle injury was a fluke; he got stepped on from behind. I believe that he’s being held out strictly as a precaution and will play opening night. Andrew Bogut (ankle) is another story; the latest reports are vague about his availability. Both players are certainly unlucky; the “injury-prone” label fits. Even without those two stars, the Warriors scored 107 points and used 15 players. Harrison Barnes (16 PTS, 7 REB) won this internal SF battle over a quiet Brandon Rush, but the war for minutes isn’t over.
Lackluster is the word for the Suns, who offered only token defense and had a few players disappear at both ends of the floor. Marcin Gortat was 8-8 from the field, 3-3 at the line for 19 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Luis Scola (16) was OK, and Markieff Morris added 15 off the bench, but there were some poor-to-awful lines from Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley, among others. Wesley Johnson had zero points and five personal fouls in less than 13 minutes.
October 24 Games
NYK @ BRK: The Knicks are a little shorthanded for this local rivalry. Amare Stoudemire and J.R. Smith are very hard to replace. Ronnie Brewer has a great opportunity to cement the SF job if he is 100% healthy. In his first game back from knee surgery, the defensive specialist didn’t score in 16 minutes, but he should improve. With Carmelo Anthony now the PF — Amare’s knee cyst will take at least three weeks to heal — coach Mike Woodson seems committed to going small, using Jason Kidd at SG. Sharpshooter Steve Novak and rookie forward Chris Copeland are in line for extra burn off the bench.
In another of those differences between fantasy and reality, we don’t care if Brook Lopez can’t guard other centers, as long as he scores and occasionally rebounds. I’m a bit concerned about PF, which I thought would be shared by Kris Humphries and Mirza Teletovic. Neither has had a great camp, and I’m not sure why. C.J. Watson could be a sneaky fantasy pick in deeper leagues; though he shot 1-8 in his latest, he did get 32 minutes off the bench and will see time at both guard spots. That’s not great news for MarShon Brooks or his owners.