Here’s what we learned Monday in the NBA now that we’re no longer distracted by baseball:
The Clippers picked up their second straight blowout victory, both coming off of playoff teams from a year ago, making easy work of the Washington Wizards in a 136-104 win at Staples Center.
Their balance is really impressive — nine players scored at least 10 points Sunday — and you can tell that they’re playing with a lot of confidence and trust in one another. And those traits were even more pronounced against the backdrop of the Washington Wizards, a team playing with all the joy of a Morrissey song.
The Wizards are coming off a weekend when their stars, John Wall and Bradley Beal, went public with gripes about teammates who are worried about getting shots — criticism that seems aimed at Otto Porter Jr., Washington’s other core piece.
And just for fun, the Wizards are getting ready to add center Dwight Howard to the mix once he returns from an injury.
Washington is a total mess — their defense is broken and they play with a fair amount of disdain for one another.
At a certain point, you wonder what’s to gain by keeping this group together. While the Clippers have a roster built for trades (they’ve got so much depth), you wonder if a contender will try to pick the carcass of the Wizards for help.
Austin Rivers gets a tribute
Surrounded by media from Los Angeles, former Clippers guard Austin Rivers answered questions about his time with L.A. — the highs and lows — and about his new team (more the lows).
During the game, the Clippers showed a tribute video on the scoreboard, thanking him.
And afterward, Rivers said he appreciated the video — one he deserved after some memorable moments in his four seasons with the Clippers. He had memorable playoff moments against San Antonio, Houston and Portland. He improved each season he was in town.
If you think the Clippers should’ve ignored all of that, you’re probably focusing more on his last name than his actual play.
The Thunder gets a win
Of all the teams struggling early this season, Oklahoma City’s shoddy play might be the most worrisome — their defense missing Andre Roberson just like it did last season.
Sunday, the Thunder beat Phoenix — a win they had to have — but their problems are real. They need big production from question marks, players like Nerlens Noel and Terrance Ferguson, and they need Russell Westbrook to fall out of love with contested three-point shots (zero attempts on Sunday).
Enough of the other teams in the West are off to slow starts, teams like the Rockets, so that getting back into things isn’t an impossibility, but they’ve definitely dug themselves a hole.
The Cavaliers get a new coach
Early on Sunday, Cleveland fired coach Tyronn Lue after an 0-6 start to the season.
Lue, who won an NBA title with the Cavaliers, lost his job, not because he’s a bad coach, but because he reportedly wouldn’t keep veteran players J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver out of the rotation.
The notion that Cleveland was going to be competitive this season was always a long shot, and the Cavaliers should have to answer why they didn’t simply make a change before the season.
Lue will get another shot, and it’s better that he got canned now with just six extra losses on his resume than the countless more Cleveland is sure to undergo this year.
Line of the weekend
Kevin Durant: 34 points 11-20 FG, 10-11 FT, 8 rebounds, 6 assists