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Lakers, Clippers and Mavericks are NBA’s Best at Quarter Mark

We’re a quarter of the way through the NBA season and few things are becoming clear. For starters, the marriage of LeBron James and Anthony Davis is going swimmingly. LBJ has been reborn as a power guard (point forward?) and is leading the league in assists with 10.9 per game, while still averaging 25.7 points and 7.2 rebounds — only James Harden (once) and Oscar Robertson (four times) have ever bested those numbers for a whole season, but LeBron is eight years older than each of them ever were when they last did it.

Giannis Antetokounmpo just keeps getting better. He has improved on last season’s averages in points, rebounds, steals, and two-point percentage while playing fewer minutes. The only bad thing you can say about his game is that his three-pointer needs work and his free-throw shooting has gone MIA, falling from 72.9 to 58.6. But who cares? Because the Bucks have the best record and point differential in the league, as well as the season’s longest winning streak.

Luka Dončić is legit, like, he’s having probably the greatest season ever by a 20-year-old, as he displays a combination of court awareness and basketball smarts unheard of in a guy his age. He’s so good he’s got the Mavs on pace to win 50+ games.

Tuesday, Dec. 3
Dallas Mavericks (13-6) vs New Orleans Pelicans (6-14)
7:30pm ET on TNT
The Mavs have won seven of their last eight games, and no win was bigger than the one over the Lakers, 114-100, that snapped LA’s 10-game winning streak. Luka Dončić led the way once again with a 27-10-9, and is now averaging 30.6 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 9.6 apg. When LeBron was 20 he averaged 27-7-7. The Pels head into this matchup riding a five-game skid, losing most recently 107-104 to OKC on a night when the Thunder took 26 free throws to the Pelicans’ 10.

Portland Trail Blazers (8-12) vs Los Angeles Clippers (15-6)
10pm ET on TNT
Carmele Anthony silenced the snickering for at least a spell by being named NBA Player of the Week for the first time since March 2014, as he averaged 22.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 57.4 percent from the floor and leading the Blazers to wins over Chicago, OKC, and Chicago a second time. The Clips have won eight of nine, most recently a 150-125 dismantling of the Wizards in which Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Montrezl Harrell and Lou William combined for 110 points.

Friday, Dec. 6
Denver Nuggets (13-4) vs Boston Celtics (14-5)
8pm ET on ESPN
The Nugs are coming off an ugly 100-97 overtime loss to the Kings in which they blew a 17-point halftime lead. Nikola Jokić managed just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting for Denver and the team hit just 14 of 21 free throws. The Celtics beat the Knicks Sunday, 113-104, as Jayson Tatum went 30-6-7 with a pair of blocks and a pair of steals.

Los Angeles Lakers (17-3) vs Portland Trail Blazers (8-12)
10:30pm ET on ESPN
The Lakers had their 10-game winning streak snapped by Luka Dončić and the Mavs, falling 114-100, despite LeBron posting a 25-9-8 with four steals. The Lakers making just 2 of 27 from beyond the arc may have played a factor in the loss. Let’s be honest about Carmelo’s PoW award: it was a lifetime achievement/welcome back prize. Over those same three games, Dame Lillard outscored, outrebounded and outassisted ‘Melo.

All stats through Monday, courtesy of Basketball Reference