NBA Week 4 Preview: Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden, LeBron James and Lakers, Young Stars Highlight the Top NBA Games This Week

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets, USA - 19 Apr 2017 Taj Gibson and James Harden 19 Apr 2017
arry W Smith/EPA/Shutterstock


The NBA season is in full swing and teams are starting to separate themselves in the standings. The Lakers, Celtics, Jazz, Rockets, Heat, and Bucks have all been off to good starts this year, and some of those teams will be tested this week.

Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are facing off against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night in a game on ESPN, while LeBron James and the Lakers will face off against a depleted Warriors team after that, also on ESPN. Even though the Warriors are without players like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, a win here for the Lakers would be another notch for them as they try and stay atop the conference.

Harden and Leonard will face off in a big game for both teams, while on Thursday night, Kristaps Porzingis will be back in New York to face the Knicks for the first time since being traded. Young star Luka Doncic has played like an MVP-level player so far this season, and he’ll get a chance to show that off to the nation in the TNT game at 8 pm.

Other players like Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, rookie Ja Morant, Mike Conley, and Nikola Jokic also will be in action for national games this week and weekend. Check out the full NBA schedule at NBA.com.

Here’s a look at the full national TV schedule:

  • Wed., Nov. 13 LA Clippers vs. Houston Rockets at 7:30 PM on ESPN
  • Wed., Nov. 13 Golden State Warriors L.A. Lakers at 10:00 PM on ESPN
  • Thu., Nov. 14 Dallas Mavericks vs. New York Knicks at 8:00 PM on TNT
  • Thu., Nov. 14 Brooklyn Nets vs. Denver Nuggets at 10:30 PM on TNT
  • Fri., Nov. 15 Utah Jazz vs. Memphis Grizzlies at 8:00 PM on ESPN
  • Fri., Nov. 15 Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors at 10:30 PM on ESPN
  • Sat., Nov. 16 Brooklyn Nets vs. Chicago Bulls at 6:00 PM on NBA TV

(Some stats and records below are as of Monday, November 11)

Here’s a look at some of the top stats, players, and storylines to keep an eye, all info courtesy of the NBA:

Rookies to Watch:

  • Ja Morant, Grizzlies (pictured, below): The rookie leader in scoring (18.9 ppg) and assists (5.5 apg) is the NBA’s only qualifying player averaging at least 18 ppg/5 apg in fewer than 30 minutes. Morant and Memphis host Utah on Friday on ESPN.
  • Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, Heat: The undrafted Nunn (16.6 ppg) and Herro (13.1 ppg) are averaging nearly 30 points combined during Miami’s 6-3 start.
  • RJ Barrett, Knicks: Barrett is one of nine qualifying players averaging at least 15 ppg/5 rpg/3 apg/1.25 spg. He leads New York against Dallas on Thursday on TNT.
  • Eric Paschall, Warriors: The 41st pick in the 2019 NBA Draft is averaging 22 ppg on 52.1% shooting from the field in five starts. He is set to face childhood friend Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz tonight. Golden State is also on ESPN twice this week, visiting the Lakers on Wednesday and hosting the red-hot Celtics on Friday.
  • Rui Hachimura, Wizards: The first Japanese player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft (13.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) has recorded two games with at least 20 points on the heels of a double-double in his debut.
  • PJ Washington, Hornets: Washington (13.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg) has made 17 threes in 10 games, shooting 48.6% from deep. He hit 33 threes in 35 games at Kentucky last season.
Maccabi Haifa Basketball, Memphis, USA - 06 Oct 2019 Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins, center, talks with guards Ja Morant (12) and Dillon Brooks in the first half of an exhibition NBA basketball game against Maccabi Haifa, in Memphis, Tenn 6 Oct 2019
Brandon Dill/AP/Shutterstock

Familiar Matchups:

  • Thursday: Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavericks visit the Knicks on TNT. New York defeated Dallas 106-102 in Week 3.
  • Friday: Mike Conley leads the Jazz into Memphis to face the Grizzlies on ESPN. Conley is the Grizzlies’ franchise leader in games played, points and assists.

Paul George to Return?: The Clippers’ Paul George is closing in on making his season and team debut. Last season, George finished third in voting for both the MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards. The six-time All-Star became the second player to average at least 28 ppg/8 rpg/2 spg in a season, joining Michael Jordan (1988-89). The Clippers visit the Rockets on Wednesday (ESPN) and the Pelicans on Thursday.

Fun Figures:

  • At 6-3, the Suns are off to their best start since the 2009-10 season (8-1). Two of 6-3 their three losses came by one point.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is the first Buck to score at least 30 points in five straight 30 games since Marques Johnson in 1978.

Throwbacks:

  • Nov. 14, 2009: Ten years ago this week, the Bucks’ Brandon Jennings scored 55 points against the Warriors in his seventh career game.
  • Nov. 15, 1960: Fifty-nine years ago this week, the Lakers’ Elgin Baylor scored 71 points against the Knicks – an NBA record at the time.

Upcoming Dates to Watch:

  • Nov. 23: Jimmy Butler and the Heat take on the 76ers in Philadelphia.
  • Nov. 27: Kyrie Irving and the Nets are in Boston. Anthony Davis and the Lakers meet the Pelicans in New Orleans.
  • Dec. 11: Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers visit Toronto.
  • Dec. 12 & 14: NBA Mexico City Games 2019 presented by Nike, with Mavs vs. Pistons (12th) and Spurs vs. Suns (14th).

Milestones to Watch:

  • LeBron James, Lakers: Needs 10 steals to pass Derek Harper for 14th place in NBA history. Also needs 45 rebounds to reach 9,000 for his career.
  • Rajon Rondo (Lakers) and Russell Westbrook (Rockets): Rondo (6,975) and Westbrook (6,960) are closing in on 7,000 assists – a mark achieved by 17 players.
  • James Harden, Rockets: Needs 39 points to reach 19,000 for his career. DeAndre Jordan, Nets: Needs 33 rebounds to reach 9,000 for his career.

Trivia Time: Houston’s James Harden has 81 career games with 40 or more points. Who are the only four players with more such games? The four players with more 40-point games than James Harden are Wilt Chamberlain (271), Michael Jordan (173), Kobe Bryant (122) and Elgin Baylor (88).

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