While Rudy Gay moving to the Sacramento Kings was the headline news of the big seven-player trade agreed to Sunday and completed Monday, the swap also sent Kings starting point guard Greivis Vasquez back east to the Toronto Raptors, elevating Isaiah Thomas — who had been sensational off the Sacramento bench this season — back to the starting lineup. And in his first start of the season against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, the third-year dynamo wasted no time in making Kings general manager Pete D'Alessandro and head coach Mike Malone look like they'd made the right choice.
Thomas began the game on fire, scoring 10 points in the first six minutes to push the Kings to an 11-point advantage and imbuing the Sacramento offense with the sort of electricity for which he's become known as one of the league's top reserve scorers and playmakers. By the midway point of the first quarter, he'd canned two 3-pointers, set up a Jason Thompson jumper, darted into the passing lane for a steal that led to a runout layup, and blown past Dallas point guard Jose Calderon on this quick little hesitation move:
(It's also always nice when the help defense actually hurts.)
The 24-year-old Washington product showed there was more to his game than bursting to the rim and pulling up from long-distance, though — check out this second-quarter contest of an attempted dunk by Mavericks center Bernard James:
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A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out.
C : DraftExpress . Mike Schmitz offers an in-depth video scouting breakdown of Nikola Mirotic, a 2011 first-round pick who has become one of the top players in Europe and who may or may not be the stretch-four of the future for the Chicago Bulls. If you've heard his name but never really seen him play, this offers a nice encapsulation of the strengths and weaknesses in his game.
PF : Cavs: The Blog . Kevin Hetrick would like to know what the heck happened to Uncle Drew's ability to get buckets during the 2012-13 All-Star break: "Suddenly last February, Kyrie Irving became a run of the mill, volume chucker."
SF : Rufus on Fire . Elsewhere in "What's wrong with our point guard's offense?" news, Ben Swanson takes a look at Kemba Walker's slow start to the season, what's changed in the Charlotte Bobcats triggerman's offensive output and how Steve Clifford and company might get their table-setter back on track.
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After a pair of blowout wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic late last week, the New York Knicks suffered their worst defeat of the season on Sunday, a 114-73 drubbing at the hands of the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Celtics that stands as the most lopsided result in the NBA this season (eclipsing a 38-point Los Angeles Clippers win over the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls) and the third-worst loss at Madison Square Garden in franchise history (trailing a 50-point beating by the Dallas Mavericks in 2010 and a 43-point defeat by the Charlotte Hornets back in 2002 . The visiting Celtics dominated the Knicks from the opening tip of the Sunday afternoon matinee, scoring the first 12 points of the game, leading by 17 points midway through the first quarter and needing just over 11 minutes to open up a 25-point cushion that was never seriously threatened.
The ball movement and open-3-pointer-hunting of the wins over Brooklyn and Orlando was replaced by isolation, stagnation and bricks. The defense, which had at least been passable against the Nets and Magic, was once again virtually nonexistent. Jordan Crawford and Jared Sullinger looked like All-Stars; Amar'e Stoudemire scored 17 points on seven shots but gave it all back (and then some) on the other end; Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton and just about everyone else on the New York roster looked like they'd rather be doing anything in the world than wearing a Knicks uniform.
Considering they were wearing the team's new orange alternate jerseys , maybe that makes some sense. Those tank tops seem to be cursed, with the Knicks losing all six times they've worn them this season — their premiere, to a Rose game-winner on Halloween ; their home debut, to a Spike-dapping Kevin Love; to the San Antonio Spurs, in J.R. Smith's horrendous return ; to the Atlanta Hawks, in a game that led coach Mike Woodson to say it was like his team was "not even trying right now" ; to the New Orleans Pelicans, despite star Anthony Davis playing just 10 1/2 minutes and leaving with a broken hand ; and to Boston, in a game that completely erased any momentum from the previous two wins and has the team and its fans right back on the brink of a meltdown.
There is, however, some good news — the Knicks don't have to wear the orange uniforms anymore, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post :
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