Kobe goes Phil Jackson, says Cleveland, Denver are NBA's best

2 Comments

bryant.jpgKobe Bryant in an interview is just like Kobe on the court — he comes off as this spontaneous and off-the-cuff guy, but he is practiced and studied. Exactly like his game. And he has learned well from Phil Jackson — often he has a second message hidden in his words.

Keep that in mind as you check out Kobe’s interview on the Dan Patrick Show.

Best team I’ve seen this year?  It’s gotta be Cleveland or Denver.  Those are the two teams that we’ve faced this season that have given us problems.  (Host: What about the Mavericks as of late?)  They played us really, really well.  We just played them recently obviously and they play very well against us.  That’s still kinda in the starting process of them adjusting to having those two pieces.  Caron (Butler) didn’t play when we played them but they’ve been on a roll since the trade.”

Notice he doesn’t mention his own team. And throws in a top team from the West, even though the Lakers beat them on Sunday playing just 18 minutes of good ball. Pump up the competition, feed their egos. Slap your own team a little with the fact you don’t include them in the list.

Of course, Patrick was required to ask the “hey, you going to leave LA question” when that answer has been plainly obvious to everyone who knows Kobe. If you want to win a title, you’re going to leave this Lakers roster to go play for the Knicks?

“No.  No.  No.  In this situation the challenge is winning championships. (Host: Do you have to get to six championships?)  That has nothing to do with it.  For me it’s about winning as many as you can.  I’ve been fortunate enough to win four and every year it’s a new challenge to try to win that one.”

Russell Westbrook scores most points ever in triple-double, 57

AP Photo/John Raoux
Leave a comment

Russell Westbrook led a double-digit comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Been there done, that.

Westbrook hit a defining buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Been there done, that.

Westbrook posted a historic triple-double. Been there, done that.

All three in one game?

That’s a new level for Westbrook, who lifted the Thunder to a 114-106 win over the Magic tonight while posting an incredible stat line: 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

James Harden scored 53 in a triple-double just this season, and Westbrook has already one-upped that record.

This MVP race is one for the ages.

Russell Westbrook’s 3-pointer caps incredible Thunder comeback, send Magic game to OT (video)

Leave a comment

The Thunder trailed the Magic by 21 points in the second half and 14 points midway through the fourth quarter.

Russell Westbrook capped the incredible comeback with this 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

This becoming the norm for Oklahoma City.

NBA: Timberwolves got away with key late foul in win over Pacers

Leave a comment

Paul George expressed extreme dismay after the Pacers’ loss to the Timberwolves last night — the latest cause for concern in Indiana with its biggest star just one season from free agency.

But perhaps George wouldn’t have sounded so disillusioned if that game featured correct officiating down the stretch.

Minnesota’s Kris Dunn got away with fouling Jeff Teague by disrupting the Pacers guard’s speed/quickness/balance rhythm with 21.6 seconds left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Dunn (MIN) makes contact to Teague’s (IND) arm that affects his SQBR and causes him to lose control of the ball.

Because the Timberwolves were in the penalty, a correct would’ve sent Teague — who’s making 86% of his free throws this season and 84% for his career — to the line. He would’ve had two attempts to build on Indiana’s two-point lead.

Instead, he forced an off-balance shot, which Minnesota rebounded. Ricky Rubio drew a shooting foul on a 3-pointer on the other end, and his three free throws lifted the Timberwolves to a 115-114 win.

The two-minute report featured a few other missed calls: George getting away with pushing off then Wiggins getting away with fouling George on a possession where George missed anyway, Andrew Wiggins getting away with a travel on a possession where Minnesota turned the ball over anyway. But those were effectively wash’s. Dunn’s uncalled foul was the one of consequence — especially if it contributes, even in a small way, to George’s exit from the Pacers.

Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.

That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.

Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.

Sumner:

Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:

Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.

Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.

His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.

A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.

But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.

If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.

Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.