As preseason predictions start to creep out, the Houston Rockets are becoming a popular dark horse pick in the West. The Lakers are the Lakers, but if anyone has a shot at knocking them off, it may well be Houston if Yao Ming can stay healthy.
In part that prediction is based on Kevin Martin becoming an elite sharpshooter that feeds of Yao inside and the slashing of point guard Aaron Brooks. If things go according to plan, Martin should have to create fewer of his own shots and have a lot of open looks.
“I’ll be back to my pre-wrist-injury form. I’m feeling better, more like I was before the injury. That was the main goal, to get back there. My goal when I got traded was to fit in with a great group of guys, not try to be that person that came in here thinking he was going to take every shot. That fitting-in phase is definitely over. Now I’m ready to get back to being myself.
“Nobody has seen the real me yet. I’m ready to take off.”
Martin has spent the summer in the gym with friend-of-this-blog David Thorpe, the head honcho at the Pro Training Center in Florida. He said Martin is ready.
“He worked hard, but the biggest thing is he is totally healthy and back to being a really, really athletic player,” Thorpe said. “He looked like a 21-year-old the way he was running and jumping and sprinting. The results were phenomenal. He never shot like this. He never had a better summer shooting the ball than this summer. I’m more hopeful than I ever have been before about him shooting the 3.
Martin also had one of the better lines of the summer. The rumors persist that if Denver gets serious about moving Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets will be in and Martin will be part of the trade bait.
Martin is willing to bargain with GM Daryl Morey.
“If Houston wants Carmelo that bad,” Martin said, “on Halloween, if I’m still here, I’ll dress up as Carmelo.”
Watch Jonathan Simmons’ chasedown block on Stephen Curry
While the Spurs were running the Warriors out of Oracle Arena — a 129-100 Spurs win — Simmons had a fantastic chasedown block on Stephen Curry. It was one of the plays of the game (most of the rest came from Kawhi Leonard).
Simmons had 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting off the bench for the Spurs in the win, which included a poster dunk on JaVale McGee late. Just to put some icing on the win.
Iman Shumpert in concussion protocol after collision with Porzingis
Late in the third quarter of Cleveland’s blowout opening night win over New York, the Cavalier’s Iman Shumpert lowered his head and tried to drive the lane, where he collided with Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis. It looked like Shumpert’s head hit Porzingis’ hip and elbow.
Shumpert instantly went to the ground, then needed help to come off the court. He was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, the team announced. Apparently, Porzingis is a rock.
A source questioned whether Shumpert would be available for either of the Cavs’ next two games, Friday in Toronto and Saturday against Orlando at The Q. To play, Shumpert would need to be symptom free, pass a series of tests, and show no symptoms after each test.
There is no set timeline with a concussion. In the short term, this will mean more DeAndre Liggins on the court until Shumpert returns.
The Cavs are already without rookie backup point guard Kay Felder, who suffered a concussion during practice last Friday when he ran into Chris Andersen.
What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.
LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.
But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.
Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.
After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.
The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.
In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.
Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.
For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.
Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.