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NBA Roundup: Lance Stephenson and the Pacers Keep Winning

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Indiana improved to 8-0, the Clippers edged out the Timberwolves, and more from a busy NBA Monday.

NBA Roundup: Lance Stephenson and the Pacers Keep Winning

Here are the biggest takeaways from a busy Monday night of hoops in the NBA:

Lance Stephenson and the Indiana Pacers are legit

With their 95-79 win over the Memphis Grizzlies last night, the Pacers moved to 8-0 on the season. Maybe the biggest difference between this year's Pacers team and last year's version is the early emergence of Lance Stephenson. The fourth-year guard notched a triple-double last night (13 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists) and has improved his play across the board. He's increased his scoring while also drastically improving his outside shooting (51% from three, up from 33% last year). His rebounding and playmaking are also improved as well. Paul George made a big leap last year, and it appears that Stephenson is doing the same thing.

Tommy Dee wrote a nice breakdown of Stephenson and the improvements he's made (. We have to see if he can sustain this level of production, but he's showing no signs of slowing down at the moment. With Stephenson and George on the wings and Roy Hibbert and David West on the interior, this Pacers team is built for success.

Games of the Night

There were two games that stood out last night. The first was the double-OT thriller between the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. Some pretty silly sat lines were registered in this one. Dwight Howard finished with 18 points, 24 rebounds and five blocks in 45 minutes. Jeremy Lin led the team with 31 points in 46 minutes off the bench. James Harden threw in 26 points and 10 assists of his own. Rudy Gay threw in 26 points and 10 rebound of his own. Toronto overcame a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime. Gay hit a three at the buzzer to force a second overtime, but Harden scored seven in the second frame to seal the win.

The second was a close contest between the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Clippers got strong performances from Blake Griffin (25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists), Chris Paul (23 points, 11 assists, four steals) and a huge lift off the bench from Jamal Crawford. Those were enough to hold off a run by the Timberwolves in the fourth quarter. Kevin Martin poured in 30 for Minnesota, Nikola Pekovic chipped in with 25/10, and Kevin Love had another monster game with 23/19 (and seven assists). 

Stat of the Night

It isn't as much a single stat, but more a cumulative stat to show how awesome Kevin Love is this season. Via the NBA Stats Twitter account:

class="twitter-tweet">

Per Elias, @KevinLove is the 1st player to total 210+ points & 120+ rebounds in the 1st 8 games of a season since Moses Malone (’83-84)

— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) November 12, 2013 >

I'd say that's pretty good.

GIF of the Night

Like I said earlier, Jamal Crawford and his 18 points off the bench were huge for the Clippers. These were the three coolest that he scored (via SB Nation):

Odds and Ends

- The Boston Celtics find themselves in first place in the Atlantic Division after their 120-105 win over the Orlando Magic. It should also be noted that the Celtics are 4-0 since Jordan Crawford entered the starting lineup. The C's are tied with the Philadelphia 76ers at 4-4, just like everyone predicted after the first week.

- The San Antonio Spurs have quietly remained the best team in the West early on this season. Other teams grabbed headlines (and continue to do so), but the Spurs just continue to go about their business. No more Gary Neal? That's fine, Patty Mills is ready to step in as the backup point guard. Need more depth at shooting guard? Let's bring in Marco Belinelli on a cheap contract. Oh, and we're also going to win even when we rest our aging vets Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili from time to time. This team is amazing in their consistency.

- Don't look now, but the Portland Trail Blazers might have something going on. They improved to 5-2 with their win over the Pistons last night. LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 22/8 early on, Damian Lillard is still keying the offense from the perimeter and Nic Batum fills in whatever the team needs. The biggest piece for them just might be Robin Lopez. He put up 17/10 last night, and his activity on the defensive end will help take some pressure off Aldridge down low. Just wait until they can add rookie CJ McCollum to the mix.

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