Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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As Mr. Fred Rogers used to sing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”

That is, unless you’re the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Last Thursday, Dec. 2, they were on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, who were without their star Ja Morant. The Thunder were demolished so badly that it actually set a new record for the largest margin of victory in NBA history. The final score was 152-79– a 73-point win.

OKC was the first victim of the “Lowlight” section this season, but they honestly deserve to be in there for the rest of the year for losing a professional basketball game by 73 points.

Now that we’ve witnessed the NBA’s most embarrassing defeat, perhaps we should examine the games in the second and third slots.

On Dec. 17, 1991, the Cleveland Cavaliers took down the visiting Miami Heat by 68 points, 148-80. Mark Price shined for the Cavs as he chipped in 18 points and 11 assists.

Coming in at number three is the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trailblazers matchup on Feb. 27, 1998. The Pacers defended their home court by 65 points, 124-59. Mark Jackson led the way for Indiana, as he had 18 points, seven assists, and hit four three-pointers in five attempts.

Here’s the thing. Teams win and lose. Some games are close, while others are blowouts.

However, a team not showing up is probably better than losing by 30+ points. Or maybe we can learn once again from Mr. Rogers, “Often out of periods of losing come the greatest strivings toward a new winning streak”.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

Did you know that the Utah Jazz were actually called the New Orleans Jazz from 1974-1979? The birthplace of jazz is the New Orleans, so the name went hand-in-hand. But, due to high amusement tax and a lack of investors, they eventually moved to Salt Lake City.

Fast forward to 2021, and the Jazz are feasting on opponents as usual.

Donovan Mitchell is still doing wonders for his team, averaging 24.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.7 steals per contest. Having a yearly Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Rudy Gobert is another advantage. Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanović are always threats from beyond the arc, as well as 2021 Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson.

The 16-7 Jazz are locked in third place in the Western Conference standings since the 20-4 Phoenix Suns and 20-4 Golden State Warriors are tied for first. The Grizzlies are 2.5 games behind Utah.

The Jazz had a golden opportunity in last year’s postseason but lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the Conference Semifinals. If they can’t get it done, maybe going back to New Orleans wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Lowlight

The New York Knicks were in the “Highlight” section last year; now, they’re going to get the “Lowlight” treatment. Why? Because they’re a mess.

I remember a few years ago when Charles Oakley was arrested at a Knicks game in Madison Square Garden and then temporarily banned afterward. Oh yeah, Oakley played for them for about ten years. He reportedly got into an altercation with Knicks owner, James Dolan.

In the present day, New York wants to throw out another player of theirs: Kemba Walker. The Knicks are 11th in the Eastern Conference, holding down a 12-12 record, and are coming off a three-game losing streak.

While one of their newer acquisitions, Evan Fournier, is compiling 13 PPG with a 38.5% three-point shooting average, Walker just isn’t what he once was. The all-time leading scorer for the Charlotte Hornets is completely out of New York’s rotation.

However, things should get better for the Knicks. Once Dolan sells the team, maybe Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Trae Young will purchase them. After all, he did own them in the playoffs.

Random Stat

Every team needs a solid playmaker. Otherwise, it would be like getting a project in school without the teacher giving you directions. How would you know what to do?

Recording his 60th career triple-double on Monday, Denver Nuggets’ superstar center Nikola “The Joker” Jokić has surpassed Boston Celtics’ legend Larry Bird for the eighth most triple doubles in NBA history.

James Harden is next on the list with 62, so Jokić should pass him in no time. Other than Wilt Chamberlain, who is sixth with 78 triple-doubles, “The Joker” is one of the greatest playmaking big men we’ve ever seen. Averaging almost seven assists at the center position is mind-boggling.

Did I forget to mention that Jokić was the 41st pick in the 2014 NBA Draft? How about that he’s on pace to have the highest P.E.R., or player efficiency rating, in an NBA season?

The 26-year-old continues to impress every game, and his prime isn’t even half over. If he really wants to shut up the haters, though, imagine if he breaks the triple-double record. Russell Westbrook holds the top spot with 189 and counting.

Denver really struck gold with “The Joker.”

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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