NBA DAILY DRIBBLE: Victor Oladipo is playing like an All-Star

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NBA results, December 11, 2017

Toronto Raptors 102 – Sacramento Kings 87

Boston Celtics 91 – Detroit Pistons 81

Indiana Pacers 126 – Denver Nuggets 116

Minnesota Timberwolves 97 – Dallas Mavericks 92

New Orleans Pelicans 131 – Philadelphia 76ers 124

New York Knicks 111 – Atlanta Hawks 107

Three things that happened in the NBA today

1. Victor Oladipo continues to ball

The Indiana Pacers have played three games in four days. In a span of less than a week, they’ve now won three straight games. It’s now apparent that the Pacers aren’t the lottery team they were projected to be. They’re a legit Playoff team out in the East.

It’s also clear that Victor Oladipo is Indiana’s new All-Star. After toiling in Orlando for three years, he spent a year playing behind Russell Westbrook in OKC before he came home. Now that he’s home, he looks recharged and is breaking out in front of his hometown crowd.

The former Indiana University Hoosier is averaging 23. 6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 in 25 starts this season. In the past three games that average has ballooned to 35.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists. The latest game was probably his best.

Against the Denver Nuggets, Oladipo dropped a career-high 47 points, towing the Pacers to a win in OT. It wasn’t just the volume of points, but the timing was key as well. He scored on a high-looping layup to tie the game in regulation. Then he took over in OT scoring five straight points to help the Pacers pull away.

Oladipo is making the case for the All-Star game not only via stats but with big moments to boot.

2. New Orleans guards step up

The New Orleans Pelicans have been known in the past two years as the team with the most dominant front court in the league. It’s a well-earned reputation as the Pels have both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins patrolling the paint. Unfortunately, with that notoriety, their back court is often forgotten. It’s been Jrue Holiday who’s been carrying most of the load in the wings in the past two years.

Now, things are different. New Orleans took a flyer on Rajon Rondo and he’s been a productive member of the team this year. Against the Philadelphia 76ers, it was Holiday and Rondo who starred for the team.

Holiday led the Pelicans in scoring with 34 points. He added five boards and five assists to lead the New Orleans back court.

Rondo did what he does best. He set up the rest of the team with 18 assists. He also scored 13 points and stole the ball five times.

It was an all-around offensive performance from the Pelicans as they scored a season-high 131 points. Without Joel Embiid on the floor, Cousins and Davis asserted themselves. They combined for 52 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. But it was the effort of their guard duo that put them over the top in this game.

3. The Raptors are quietly moving up the East

Without peeking, try to figure out where the Raptors rank in the East.

I’ll wait.

RIGHT?!?

The Raptors have snuck up on everyone and are now second in the East. After some jostling between the Cavaliers and the Pistons last week, the Raptors have firmly taken hold of the second spot in the conference.

They’ve done that behind a six-game winning streak. Their latest win was a blowout over the Sacramento Kings. DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points, 13 in the third quarter to lead the Raptors to the win.

There’s been a lot of hoopla around the Celtics, Cavaliers, Sixers and Pacers out in the East. But the Raptors have been consistent in November and are looking like the top Playoff contenders that they usually are.

Did an NBA superstar get ejected today?

No. But Kevin Thompson was added to the Knicks line-up as an honorary member and got to live out a dream today.

Awesome.

Photo from Getty Images

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