Who says veteran players don’t have motivation in the preseason?
Paul Pierce lobbied to stay in the game then knocked down a 19-foot jumper with 8 seconds left to give the Boston Celtics 104-101 win over the Knicks in Madison Square Garden Wednesday night.
Why would he do that for a preseason game?
“I got an 11 o’clock reservation I had to make,” Pierce said. “I didn’t want to stay any longer than I had to, you know what I’m saying? It’s my birthday.”
Birthday party dinner reservation in Manhattan? That will get you focused on the task at hand. But it wasn’t just Pierce.
“I didn’t plan on extending them and then they wanted to stay in there, they were having fun. Paul said he wanted to win, it was his birthday,” said (Celtics coach Doc) Rivers, who along with Jermaine O’Neal also celebrated a birthday.
Pierce and the Celtics starters staged a fourth quarter comeback against the Knicks bench — Mike D’Antoni did not have his starters in during the end of the game. Then again, nobody on the Knicks was having a birthday.
Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.
He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:
In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”
“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.
The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.
Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.
Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.
General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.
McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.