According to the Associated Press, Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko says there’s a “50-50 chance” he’ll be able to play in games two and three of Utah’s series against the Los Angeles Lakers.
When healthy, Kirilenko is one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA. With his outstanding athleticism and wingspan, Kirilenko is capable of matching up with any offensive player on the ball, and he’s a great help-side defender as well. Carlos Boozer is a great offensive player and rebounder, but he’s not the kind of defender that Kirilenko is.
On NBA Playbook, Sebastian Pruiti has some screenshots illustrating how Boozer’s poor help defense on Kobe Bryant made it easier for Kobe to hit some crucial baskets down the stretch. If Kirilenko was in the game instead of Boozer, Milsap, or even C.J. Miles, there’s a distinct possibility he could have made life tougher for Kobe down the stretch of game one. (To be fair, there’s also a distinct possibility Kobe would have made the shots anyways. He’s good.)
Bryant looked human for long stretches against the Thunder in round one. Age and injury may have played a part in that, but remember that the Thunder had a lot of defenders with quick feet and the length necessary to bother Bryant on the perimeter. C.J. Miles and Wesley Matthews aren’t as good defensively as Sefolosha and Durant are, and Utah’s two best big men are undersized power forwards who aren’t known for their help defense.
Kirilenko might not be the defensive answer for Utah, but he gives them a better chance of slowing Bryant down than anyone currently suiting up for the Jazz does. Kirilenko or no Kirilenko, Jerry Sloan is going to have to find some way to make life tougher on Kobe if he doesn’t want to lose yet another series to a Phil Jackson team.
With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
You can watch the video of his speech below:
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Bulls acquired Dinwiddie in a trade with Detroit last month and waived him three weeks ago. He spent two years with the Pistons and appeared in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 13.3 minutes.
The Bulls announced the move Thursday.