NBA Game Notes 10/30/23: Nets/Hornets, Mavs/Grizzlies, Magic/Lakers




  • The Nets forced a Hornets timeout 1 minute and 54 seconds into the game, largely in part because of Ben Simmons. As I discussed in my Nets/Mavs recap from October 27, Ben Simmons continues to look aggressive on both ends. He deflected a pass out of bounds, and has been a force in the paint, particularly in transition, along with finding shooters.
  • Lonnie Walker has been impactful even with inconsistent jump shooting. Had a couple nice defensive plays, and had 3 assists too midway through the third quarter.
  • JT Thor is one of the few young players that needs results more than process improvement in the NBA. If Thor can become a 35+% 3 point shooter, he becomes a valuable forward off the bench. His 3 point shooting will determine how long his NBA career is.
  • Despite inefficiency, Theo Maledon had several hustle plays that led to free points for Charlotte, including a dive for a steal leading to an assist from the ground, then got a nice and-1 in the fourth quarter at the rim. 
  • This was an outstanding bounceback game for Mark Williams after being dominated and silenced by Jalen Duren in his prior game. He came back with 100% shooting and dominated a matchup with minimal interior defense with Nic Claxton out. Despite having two capable ball-handlers, it feels like Williams still hasn’t been fully maximized as a straight P&R roll-man, but rather still punishes defenses on cuts at the rim. 
  • Defensively, Williams got burned on some drives, but his impact on jumping contests on the perimeter were valuable. He changed the arc of shooters, and was overall difficult to shoot over. Cam Thomas did well against him though, being able to easily get to his spots with changes of speed and hesitations. The main reservation I have with his defense this game was that while he was manning an extreme drop defense against screens, he often found himself out of position, particularly in the second half. 
  • Speaking of Cam Thomas, yet again another masterclass scoring performance from Cam Thomas. He plays like a 2000s guard with the amount of score-first opportunities he puts himself in, particularly in isolation, and is one of the few guards to truly make it work. His scoring volume allows for others to have off nights (like Dinwiddie had), and not suffer for it. 
  • Mikal Bridges had another strong shot-making game, both in isolation and in using screens. The arc of Bridges’ career from being an off-ball player for most of his time in Phoenix, to being a capable first option has been fascinating. The angles, timing, and way he uses his length, particularly on screen sets, has helped him make this jump.
  • This was an ideal 3&D showing for Dorian Finney-Smith. 19 points on 7-12 shooting with a steal and 2 blocks, DFS had his fingerprints all over this game on both ends.
  • Despite the loss, Brandon Miller’s performance was strong and looked like a game you would want to see out of your #2 pick. From the highlight chasedown block to his jump shooting, along with 9 rebounds and 2 assists, Miller was one of the lone bright spots in this game. 
  • Lastly, and I hate to go out on a negative note, Lamelo Ball struggled in this game and at times didn’t seem to be mentally invested. Between poor shot selection to lackluster effort on defense, he was rather invisible in this game. As a cornerstone piece, he needs to be better with more effort. Granted, he is still shaking off rust, he needs to be a stronger leader on-court. 


  • 3.5 minutes in, Suggs has forced two possession changes by chasing down loose balls and hitting it off of Lakers.
  • 2:02 Suggs poke loose 2Q for turnover on Reaves*?
  • Cutting dump offs for Magic
  • Outstanding half for both D’Lo and AD. Both carried the offense
  • 8:36 3Q assist by Suggs
  • 6:34 Fultz score Lakers breakdown
  • This was a big defensive game for Christian Wood. So much that he made playing with Davis work positively. For someone who has gained a reputation of bad defense, Wood has been more positive more often in these first 4 games than he was in Dallas on that end. 
  • 3:23 Fultz abusing confused defense
  • Paolo played timid and let the Lakers’ game plan of sagging off get to him as a scorer. Only 2 drawn free throws when his bread and butter is foul-drawing is a recipe for losing his minutes when the shot isn’t falling
  • Anthony Davis was the best player on the floor all night on both ends. In my preview, I wrote about how exploiting the Lakers on cuts would be one way to limit their interior defense, but the Lakers had answers for much of the Magic’s offense.
  • Jalen Suggs was arguably the MVP of this game. While he missed the last shot that would have tied it up, he saved numerous possessions and won many defensive possessions as well. As the shooting continues to develop and become more consistent, Suggs could embrace being a Marcus Smart role; something every championship-caliber team needs.
  • D’Angelo Russell had a much needed breakout game, going for 28 points on 10/14 shooting with 8 assists; he was the best guard on the floor all night, and made several important shots to fend off the Magic.
  • Gary Harris should have been closing the game for Orlando given yet another hot shooting night. With how timid Paolo Banchero played and how his jumper wasn’t falling, Harris could have played over him or Fultz. I understand why Mosley went with the starters, but he should have rewarded the better play instead of the most traditionally dependent lineup that was rolled out last night.
  • Jonathan Isaac had some good defensive plays, but the shots against him fell more than most games. Part of this is that a lot of his shots defended were against the Lakers’ 3 best players, but also just a bit of unluckiness.


  • Grant Williams got hot from 3 early
  • 9:07 1Q Grant deflection on P&R following made 3 on the other end
  • Grant Williams vs Marcus Smart trading 3s
  • 2:59 1Q Awful Hardy D around Tillman screen
  • Hardy looked rusty in his season debut. Somewhat expected after missing preseason time with an ankle injury, but the forced shots were worrisome, along with some rough defensive possessions. Hardy needs to be efficient offensively and smarter defensively to positively impact the Mavs going forward.
  • 1:11 1Q Smart missed 3 Luka D
  • Several Tim Hardaway Jr self-created looks and makes, which is a bit of a new look for the Mavs and THJ.
  • Really strong start to the second quarter from Derrick Jones Jr with Josh Green as the other starter out with him. While the 3 point shooting from that stretch doesn’t feel repeatable, he got another hot streak in the third quarter where he made another pair of threes and got two and-one drives. The Mavs were victims to players that do not shoot threes going off randomly on them last year, so it’s nice to see the tables be turned in the Mavs’ favor in game 3.
  • The Mavs let Xavier Tillman take as many threes as he wanted, taking 0 guarded jump shots all night, which amounted to 0-5 from 3 and a 3-14 performance. The Grizzlies have struggled scoring from 2 early in the year, and this game was no different.
  • Big bounceback game from Desmond Bane, which I hinted at in the Grizzlies/Wizards recap was likely coming after an extreme slump from 3 for his standards. He was active and looked like his best form. However, the Grizzlies’ injuries are still too much for even a great game by him, Jaren Jackson, and Marcus Smart to overcome.
  • David Roddy also had a pick-me-up game, finally looking more comfortable on both ends without almost any mistakes.
  • In a game that undoubtedly messes with his psyche every meeting against Desmond Bane, Josh Green looked the most confident in any of the games he has faced his fellow 2020 NBA Draftee. He didn’t hesitate to shoot, he was aggressive attacking the rim, and was responsible for helping stop a late Memphis comeback attempt with a 3. Per usual, he won multiple 50/50 balls, and did dirty work to help the Mavs win the game as he filled in for Kyrie Irving in the starting lineup.
  • Dwight Powell had another good game, recording 4 blocks for the 3rd time in his career. All of his blocks came against Jaren Jackson Jr. In 3 games so far, Powell may have found his perfect contribution level for this team as a reserve big man.
  • The Mavs dominated in P&R ball-handling situations against switches and in isolation. This of course is largely in part because of Luka Doncic, an elite talent in both areas, but the team as a whole executed their gameplan of simply hitting and taking the open 3 when it was there, and capitalizing against collapsed defense with extra ball movement. Just 3 games, so hard to get carried away, but this team looks much more bought in and well-coached than at most points of last season.