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Talking Buckets with Mo Mooncey
Some of you may be tired from staying up on Sunday night watching the Super Bowl, but for those of you like myself, seasoned in the art of watching US sports live, it was just another late night. I must admit to not knowing much about the NFL (besides the fact a fella called Tom […]


Some of you may be tired from staying up on Sunday night watching the Super Bowl, but for those of you like myself, seasoned in the art of watching US sports live, it was just another late night. I must admit to not knowing much about the NFL (besides the fact a fella called Tom Brady is basically their version of LeBron), but that's okay because I'm here to talk buckets.Before we get into the list of this week's winners and losers, I do have to mention Stephen Curry. While *some* on the Heat Check panel disrespected The Chef's abilities, naming no names, I never doubted him. The two-time MVP has averaged 41 points per game over the last seven days while shooting 58 per cent from the field and 51.2 per cent from downtown, including a 57-point explosion against the Mavericks. 2:55 Steph Curry recorded the second highest scoring game of his career as the Golden State Warriors were beaten by the Dallas Mavericks. However, his week did also include a defeat to the mighty Boston Celtics and the Warriors could only split their two-game stretch against the Mavs, so he does not quite cut it.Let's move on to the official list.Winners - Utah JazzThey might have taken a loss at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, or should I say at the hands of Nikola Jokic, who dropped 47 points in last weekend's Heatcheck watchalong, but the Salt Lake City squad bounced back and picked up right where they left off before their 11-game winning streak was derailed. Over their four games this week they tightened their grip on the best record in the league, now 19-5 after going 4-0. 2:03 Highlights of the Utah Jazz against the Denver Nuggets in Week 6 of the NBA. Rudy Gobert remains the best defender in the league according to defensive rating statistics, with Royce O'Neale and Mike Conley also proving to be efficient on that side of the floor. Donovan Mitchell has averaged 26.8 points per game whilst shooting 46.2 per cent from the field over the stretch, with Bojan Bogdanovic contributing 22 points a night thanks to shooting an impressive 53.6 per cent from behind the arc. Losers - Indiana PacersThe Indiana Pacers fired coach Nate McMillan after yet another first-round playoff exit last year, citing his 17-36 playoffs record in the official statement, before then replacing him with Nate Bjorkgren. All credit to Bjorkgen, the Pacers started the season playing fantastic basketball; led defensively by Myles Turner, who has been blocking shots at a historic rate, and offensively by Domantas Sabonis, who is the most underrated star in the NBA right now.Having said that, the past seven days have shown Indiana still has a way to go to compete in the East. The week started with a 119-110 loss to an Embiid-less 76ers side and ended with a three-game losing streak. That began with a 20-point beating at the hands of the Bucks, a nail-biter against the Pelicans and a loss to the Jazz which slumped the Pacers record to 12-12 on the season. 1:46 Highlights of the Philadelphia 76ers against the Indiana Pacers in Week 6 of the NBA. The lone bright spot was the midweek result against the Grizzlies as six players scored in double-digits, but Sabonis' supporting cast need to step up more consistently on the offensive side of the ball if they want to hang with the top echelon of teams in the Eastern Conference.Domantas was visibly frustrated at the end of Sunday's game against the Jazz, throwing his towel to the floor in anger. Hopefully that's the spark the Pacers need to get back on track.Winner - Lonzo Ball After hearing his name in trade rumours, while his little brother continues soaking up all of the media's love, Lonzo bounced back this week. Over the past four games, he has averaged 17 points (50 per cent from the field, and 55.6 per cent from downtown) to go along with 5.3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1.3 steals. Not superstar numbers, but encouraging for the guard who's struggled to find consistency early in his career.Back in 2018 I predicted that 'Zo could turn into an All-Defence calibre guard and he showed that again this week, with his contest on Myles Turner at the rim winning the game for the Pelicans.Starting at 00:58 below, the play really demonstrates his defensive IQ.With just 12.5 seconds left on the clock, coach Stan Van Gundy instructs him to guard the ball handler TJ McConnell. Lonzo does a great job going under the screen and then stunting to make Myles Turner pause and consider his options before driving, giving Steven Adams time to recover back to his man. 1:20 Highlights of the New Orleans Pelicans against the Indiana Pacers in Week 7 of the NBA. Image: Lonzo Ball's last possession defense on Myles Turner Turner decides to drive to the hoop with just six seconds remaining, and Lonzo knows as a 6'11 center who averages 1.1 assists per game he's doing it to try and score the game-winning bucket. He's not going to be making a LeBron-esque pass to a shooter.Lonzo also recognises that Turner is significantly more mobile than Steven Adams who's guarding him, so Adams will likely get beaten off the dribble. Watch how 'Zo then leaves TJ wide open to get back into the paint to contest the shot.The contest itself is a thing of beauty and something that all players should watch. He rises completely vertically in the air, not swinging his arms to try and get the highlight block, but just doing enough to alter the shot so that it misses.That's a winning play. Image: Lonzo Ball's last possession defense on Myles Turner But as always, the Sky Sports NBA fans are the real winners. Get at me on Twitter with your thoughts on this week's column @TheHoopGenius
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