Longhorns in the NBA: Thompson helps Cavaliers gain first win, Tucker steps up in losses

Abhishek Mukund

The NBA season continues with intriguing storylines across the board. The Milwaukee Bucks have yet to register a loss, the Golden State Warriors scored 92 points in one half, and four teams have yet to win their second game. Let’s take a look at a couple former Longhorns stuck on teams that haven’t seen favorable results so far:

Tristan Thompson

Former Longhorn Tristan Thompson proudly proclaimed that although LeBron James would no longer don the wine and gold, the road to the NBA finals still runs through Cleveland. That didn’t appear to be the case after the Cavaliers started the season 0–6 and fired head coach Tyronn Lue, and likely won’t be the case going forward despite the Cavs notching their first win of the season Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks in a 136-114 route.

Thompson finished the night with 11 points, 13 rebounds and four steals in just under 30 minutes of play. That production ties his season high in rebounds, his season high in steals, and proved to be his second-highest point total of the season as well.

The Cavaliers are going to struggle to find wins going forward, especially with the injury to All-Star forward Kevin Love. Players such as Thompson are going to have to step up every night, or Cleveland will find itself being the worst team in the league. This could also be viewed as a moment for Thompson to shine. The loss of Love and the departure of James could give him a pronounced role in the offense this season and may bring his level of play back to par. The Cavaliers will look to get a win streak going with a game against the red-hot Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

PJ Tucker

After winning more than 50 games in four of the last five seasons, the Houston Rockets find themselves in a bit of a hole in the start of the 2018-2019 season. The Rockets have won just one of their six games so far. A mix of injuries affecting key players such as All-Star guard James Harden and a two-game suspension for Harden’s backcourt mate, Chris Paul, have contributed to the rocky start. The circumstances have forced head coach Mike D’Antoni to play his bench players more often than he has in the past.

Texas alum PJ Tucker is one of those players who have been asked to answer the call. Tucker’s minutes have increased on average from 27 last season to 35 this season. Tucker’s stats are up nearly across the board. He’s also shooting better while taking more shots.

It’s still not enough. Tucker had an average game in Tuesday night’s 104-85 blowout loss at home against the Portland Trail Blazers. He managed eight points and eight rebounds in 34 minutes. The Rockets will need more from him if they hope to save the season.