If you weren’t watching today — you know, because you have a job and limited love for Lithuanian basketball — you missed the Linas Kleiza show.
Kleiza dropped 30 points on China going 14 for 22 from the floor, and he did it all without taking a three. With the game close midway through the fourth quarter Kleiza took over and dropped 10 straight on China, his own personal little 10-3 run, and that decided the game.
Kleiza had been a solid part of the Denver bench a couple years ago, but left for a season to play in Greece for Olympiakos (along side Josh Childress, who returns to the Suns this season).
Now he comes back to the NBA with the Euro-styled Toronto Raptors and with a more rounded game, he said in an interview run on Canada’s Slam sports. Oh, and there are subtle digs at Denver in there.
“I just felt it was a good move by me to improve my career and improve as a player,” Kleiza said of the move to Greece. “I had a big role on a very big team, a very good team. That kind of helped improve all my skills and allow me to show what I wasn’t able to do in Denver.
“In Denver I was a role player and I did it pretty good,” he said of his spot on the roster backing up superstar Carmelo Anthony. “But coming back here and showing I could do a lot more things I’m not just that player that I was in Denver. That’s why I want to go back to Toronto and prove myself all over again. Show people that I was a better player than I was in Denver.”
In post-Bosh Denver, the role is there to be carved out as a top scorer, as a go to guy. If he can create it. Leandro Barbosa will be directing the offense and there will be Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan will be getting theirs, too. But Kleiza’s inside out game could fit well with a team that will be up-tempo and with motion in the offense.
It’s hard to predict what Toronto will look like this season, but an improved Kleiza could find himself in the role he felt blocked from getting in Denver.
The #DriveByDunkChallenge has been a fun distraction this summer. If you don’t know what it is, it essentially involves NBA players jumping out of their cars to dunk on regular folks on community basketball hoops.
Players like Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown have led the charge in the social media video fad, and now it appears that Houston Rockets guard James Harden is setting a new trend.
That trend? Doing the #DriveByDunkChallenge from dang boat.
I can’t think of anything more baller than dunking on somebody from a speed boat, so congrats to Harden for winning the NBA offseason.
I suppose it will take some time to get used to seeing Gordon Hayward in a Boston Celtics jersey. This photo is the first step on that journey.
In a photo posted to Hayward’s Instagram on Wednesday, many of us got our first look at the former Utah Jazz forward in his new digs.
Specifically, the new Celtics Nike jersey in green with the GE patch on the left shoulder.
There are still some serious doubts about whether the Celtics will be able to unseat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, but perhaps they won’t need to wait for long. Rumors are starting to trickle in about LeBron James leaving Ohio, so maybe by the time we are used to seeing Hayward in Celtics green next season they will have less competition out east.
It appears as though Houston billionaire Dan Friedkin will have some competition if he decides to bid for the Rockets. Namely, former NBA big man Dikembe Mutombo.
Mutombo played in the NBA from 1991-2009, ending his career with five seasons in Houston. The franchise apparently made an impact on the Hall of Fame center, as he is apparently looking to buy the franchise per an interview with USA Today.
Speaking with Adi Joseph over at FTW, Mutombo would not give out names of his partners but said that he will be able to make a bid in the coming weeks.
“I’m putting together a group to buy the Houston Rockets, and we’re getting close,” he said. “Getting close in the next couple weeks, maybe I’ll have a chance. Lot of people, lot of people and good people with a lot of money.”
With Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the team, it certainly would be interesting to get another NBA player as part of team ownership in this league.
The NBA’s top-10 highlight packages have been pretty enjoyable. This one is oddly specific – but still dizzyingly fun.