Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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Welcome back to Diehlman at Halftime! It’s been a few weeks since we last had a conversation. I hope you guys had a Merry Christmas and finished off your semesters strong.

The NBA always has something going on, doesn’t it?

Steph Curry broke Ray Allen’s three-point record two weeks ago at Madison Square Garden. LeBron James just surpassed 36,000 career points (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record is 38,387). The Brooklyn Nets are in the process of getting point guard Kyrie Irving back on the court as a “part-time player” (this is because he’s unvaccinated; New York state law is preventing him from playing home games, so he can only play for the Nets on the road).

Heck, it’s also time for All-Star voting.

Finally, Klutch Sports, the agency that represents Ben Simmons, actually tweeted that people should vote for Simmons for the All-Star game! He hasn’t played a single game this season, but sure. Let’s do that.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

Hold up. Stop the presses.

You’re meaning to tell me that the Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t a bottom-feeder this year? Pinch me because this doesn’t seem right.

Minnesota is ninth in the West with a 16-18 record. Ignore the sub .500 record; to them, that’s called progress. What’s more impressive is that they’re only 1.5 games out from fifth place!

The “Big Three” of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards are averaging 65.3 points per game. The Timberwolves haven’t had the greatest success recently.

For example, they traded Andrew Wiggins, a former number one draft overall pick, to Golden State to acquire Russell. Wiggins seems to have found a better situation for himself since he’s not being called upon to be “the man,” as that’s Curry’s job. Jimmy Butler couldn’t wait to leave the Timberwolves in 2019 when he was traded to Philadelphia.

But there is a bright side. Towns can hit three-pointers so well for a big man, averaging 42.6%. Minnesota is tenth in the league for defensive rating.

Do I think the Timberwolves are going to make a deep playoff push? No. The future is full of twists and turns, though. Maybe a surprise is in store for them.

Lowlight

John Milton was an English poet in the 17th century. Believe it or not, the title of his most famous work best summarizes the Los Angeles Lakers: “Paradise Lost.” Although California can be seen as “paradise” because of its beautiful weather and fun beaches, the Lakers are “lost” in mediocrity.

The purple and gold are 17-18 in the Western Conference, having lost five of their last six games. A few more losses could put them in a position where they’re on the outside of the play-in tournament looking in.

Anthony Davis will be sidelined for about four weeks due to a knee sprain. Their embarrassing Christmas Day loss at home to Brooklyn certainly didn’t help matters.

LeBron James got “put on a poster” by Nets’ center Nic Claxton; it was also an and-one. The Lakers’ comeback attempt at the end was too little too late.

Despite Russell Westbrook dropping a triple-double, he shot an abysmal 4-20. Fans are already giving up on the Westbrook experiment, and there were concerns at the beginning of the season about the roster’s old age.

Los Angeles needs to get it together if they want to contend with teams like Golden State and Phoenix.

Random Stat

While we’re on the subject of Los Angeles, I might as well throw in a cool stat for you.

On Thursday, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Lakers on the road. This was the last game the Lakers would be playing at Staples Center since the arena was renamed Crypto.com Arena (trust me, no one will call it that).

To celebrate the occasion, Spurs’ forward Keita Bates-Diop rained 30 points on the Lakers while shooting 100% from the field, including a trio of three-pointers.

This is only the fifth time since 2000 where a player scored at least 30 points and had a perfect field goal percentage in a game. The other four were Dwight Howard, Thomas Bryant, Domantas Sabonis and Nikola Jokić.

Bates-Diop’s stats aren’t that impressive, partly because he only averages 14.8 minutes per game. However, going into a road game and shooting that well is nothing to sneeze at. And he did this off the bench!

All of the San Antonio starters had less than 25 points. At just 25-years-old, Bates-Diop should try and make a case for more minutes. Hopefully, his effort against L.A. wasn’t a fluke.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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