Suns struck down, Big Apple rotation & an early seller
Phoenix wins streak snapped at 18
A streak of 18 straight wins by the Phoenix Suns was snapped Friday, Dec. 3 at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.
Phoenix dropped the game on the road, 118-96; burned by 23 points from Golden State guard Steph Curry despite 8-of-20 shooting.
Warriors forward Draymond Green flirted with a triple-double with nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists for good measure.
The Suns were led by center DeAndre Ayton’s 23 points and six rebounds along with guard Chris Paul 12 points and eight assists.
Paul shot 50% from the field but only took eight shots.
Phoenix previously beat Golden State in Phoenix for win No. 17 of the streak.
Guard Devin Booker hasn’t played since that game after injuring his hamstring.
The Suns returned home to beat the San Antonio Spurs, 108-104, Monday, Dec. 6 for perhaps win No. 1 of a new streak.
The team hosts Boston Friday, Dec. 10 to see if they can keep its winning ways.
Currently, Phoenix sits just behind Golden State in the standings for first at 20-4.
New vaccine mandates introduced by league
A rise in positive COVID tests following Thanksgiving weekend has prompted the National Basketball Association to make revisions to their previously already announced mandates.
The biggest change as of yet has been to players leaving the country.
Beginning Jan. 15, players who are not vaccinated or have not received boosters can and will not play in games in Toronto.
This even extends to players hoping to use the All-Star Weekend festivities as a time to travel out of the country for vacations.
These mandates are coming after it has been announced players will not be granted re-entry.
The only exceptions are if the player(s) agree to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
All updated mandates have come in response to a rise in players entering COVID protocols around the league.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, three players from the Chicago Bulls and four more from the Charlotte Hornets are either actively in the protocols or have been in recent days.
According to the league, 97% of the league is vaccinated while 60% have at least one booster shot.
Walker out of rotation in New York
Four-time all-star guard Kemba Walker just completed his first full week since being removed from the starting lineup and ultimately the entire rotation in one yank for the New York Knicks.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau cited the move as doing “what I think is best for the team.”
Walker signed a two-year, $20 million contract after reaching a buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The move brought a New York native to the Big Apple in the 11th season of his career.
This season, Walker is averaging 11.1 points per game, 3.1 assists per game in 24.5 minutes per game. All of which are career-lows for him.
Twelve games through November, he was averaging 10 ppg on 39% from the field and 29% from three-point range.
The Knicks are currently 12-12 and 2-3 since the lineup change.
Longtime playoff staple may be early seller
One of the more consistent playoff teams in recent memory may be headed for a rebuild.
The Indiana Pacers had made the playoffs five straight seasons before the 2020-21 season.
In addition, the team has made the playoffs nine times in the last 11 years and 25 times in the last 32 years.
Indiana has produced 19 seasons over .500 in those 32 years with 11 seasons of at least 47 wins.
The team has won 50 or more games six times with a high of 61 wins coming back in 2003-04.
The Pacers lost in the 2000 Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers and have seven losses in the conference finals since the 1993-94 season.
Indiana does have 15 first-round exits including five straight.
As a result, the Pacers have not seen much luck in the draft in terms of draft placement.
Indiana has had no picks higher than No. 10 since 1989 with only three lottery picks in the last 11 years.
Not to mention, drafting future Hall-of-Famer Kawhi Leonard 15th overall in 2011, only to draft him to San Antonio for guard George Hill.
Right now, the Pacers are 10-16 and have announced they are open to trading center Myles Turner, guard Caris LeVert and forward Domantas Sabonis.
As of now, it is unsure what the market will demand for any of the three players.