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Around the NBA in five minutes: Watch out for Iso Zo and the hot New York Knicks

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New York comes in to Detroit winners of three straight

New York Knicks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NBA is simply the best professional sports league in the world (yes, I checked), and unsurprisingly there’s quite a lot to cover. Although we’re mostly obsessed with the Detroit Pistons here, it never hurts to take a closer look at the competition. Here are some notes from around the NBA.

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The Knicks should not be slept on

The Pistons host the New York Knicks on Tuesday, and while the Knicks are just 7-14, they have played much better recently, beating good teams such as the Pelicans, Celtics and Grizzlies, and nearly beating the Trail Blazers as well. Heck, the Knicks are on a three-game winning streak heading into Detroit.

The Knicks are a young team with some promising players, and that’s likely to be an issue for them this season. Even without Kristaps Porzingis (likely out for season with an ACL tear), they may have just a little too much talent to pull off a proper tanking in order to potentially get a top-4 or top-5 draft pick.

Trey Burke is very much in the middle of his NBA rebirth, Tim Hardaway Jr. can win you some games by himself (and also lose you some games by himself), Enes Kanter is an effective rotational big, and as I mentioned, there are several young, fairly talented players with much to prove playing a lot of minutes on this team. That leads me into highlighting an undrafted rookie shooting guard who is receiving lots of pub early in the season — Allonzo Trier. Trier is fourth on the Knicks in scoring and has been doing all around impressive stuff so far this season:

In Friday’s impressive victory over the Pelicans, Zo poured in a career-high 25 points (on an efficient 9-of-12 shooting), grabbed eight rebounds, dished out four assists and knocked down three 3-pointers. He’s just the fourth undrafted player in league history to tally at least 25/8/4 in a single game. It was the third time he’s topped the 20-point plateau this season. Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Atlanta’s Trae Young, who were both top-5 picks, are the only rookies with more 20-point performances.

Trier is just the second undrafted rookie in NBA history with 225-plus points, 50 boards and 30 dimes through the first 20 games of his debut campaign.

The Hornets and Magic are pesky so far — will they stay that way?

The Hornets (9-10) lost a tight one to the lowly Hawks Sunday night. Kemba Walker had an off game (22 points on 23 shots) but Malik Monk showed up and met his quota for playing one good game every other week, hitting seven treys en route to 26 points. Guard Jeremy Lamb, one of those guys in the league for what seems like the last decade (but is only 26 years old), has been having a career year.

No, I’m not trying to talk you into becoming excited about the Charlotte Hornets. But, yes, Kemba needs to be freed or given something legit to work with besides just getting all of the most mediocre role players in the world next to him. Still, the Hornets look like a 7th or 8th seed — and are still very much worth a watch just to see Kemba Walker. Earlier in the season the Hornets looked dreadful, so I guess being pesky is a real step up.

The Orlando Magic (10-10), led by Nikola Vucevic, beat the Lakers Sunday. Vucevic continues, season after season, to be one of the best players in the league that no one pays much attention to. He’s averaging a career best 19.8 points per game and is shooting a career best 55-percent from the floor. On Sunday he scored 31 on the Lakers, who, weren’t all that interested in playing good individual or team defense.

Of course, this is a contract year for Vucevic. We’ll see how long he remains unnoticed when he’s getting paid next year.

Luka Doncic and the 9-9 Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks began the season slowly, but have picked it up in recent weeks with several quality wins. The Pistons don’t play Dallas until January (twice!), for your information. Until then, it just seems right to slobber all over 19-year-old Luka Doncic, who is leading Dallas in scoring and three point percentage.

Text book pump fake:

Always, always, keep your head up, kids (and adult league vets)!

That Carlisle humor:

That’s against the rulezzz, Mr. Harden

Yeah, us Pistons fans sure did see enough of the Rockets over the past several days. Yuck! We don’t really have to pay any attention to them until they bow out in the second round of the playoffs in 2019.

Anyway, some more good news, if you will (besides the split Detroit earned) — not only did the Rockets lose another game (to the Cavaliers no less), but James Harden was punished twice for this free throw violation. Take a look:

Makes me smile.

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Let us know what you’ve noticed in the NBA recently in the comments below.