Michael Redd, the same as he ever was

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Michael Redd used to be the center of all things Milwaukee Bucks, but those days are long gone. Injury after injury and rehab after rehab rendered his fully functional return a pipe dream, while his bloated salary handicapped a franchise on the rebuild. Fair or unfair, many among the Bucks faithful hold Redd’s health against him, and the frustration both internally and externally regarding his unfortunate streak of injuries is undoubtedly significant.

In that frustration, I only ask that we not forget that Redd is one of the NBA’s classiest acts, and that as irritating as it is to think of him rehabbing his leg instead of helping his teammates (or even instead of sitting on the bench with them during their brief playoff run), it bugs Redd himself more than you know. Basketball may not be everything to Michael Redd, but you’d better believe that he cares about playing and not playing, leading and not leading, and willing the Bucks to victory or watching them be burdened by his very presence on the roster.

He never chose this path. He didn’t get busted on a criminal charge, face legal allegations of any kind, or divide a locker room with an over-the-top persona. Redd just played basketball. He made mistakes, surely, but the marks held against him are often for events largely out of his control.

I’m not saying you can’t dislike Michael Redd. That’s your business. But hate him? For being injured of all things? That’s beyond petty. His poor health may have crippled the Bucks, but the NBA has far more compelling villains than a humble, professional, former second rounder who carved out a spot for himself in the NBA by expanding his game and sharpening his skill.

Skill he probably won’t be using to help Milwaukee this season, even as he eyes a potential return in February…so long as the Bucks will have him. He’s not forcing his way into any discussion or any rotation. Redd knows that this team is no longer his, and yet his words ring only with hope and humility. Redd’s not throwing a tantrum, not demanding attention, and certainly not making a fuss over the Bucks’ decision to move on. He’ll just play if they need him, and sit if they don’t. Basketball is a passion, but in this case, it need not be a production.

It’s a pity that this is what Redd’s career has been boiled down to. That this is the fate of the man who, about six years ago — before he became a semi-household name and before his own injuries marred his career — shared this exchange with Scoop Jackson of SLAM:

Before each game, he lays his hands on the ball. Rubs them across David Stern and Spalding. And prays. And while most players ask the Lord for 30, not to get embarrassed by Tracy McGrady (who has found ministry through Redd), or a victory so they can maintain home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, Michael Redd prays for health. And nothing more than that.

“When I grab the ball before every game,” he says, “I pray that nobody gets hurt.”

“Nothing else?” I ask him.

“Nothing else.”

This is how he gets down.

It’s how he still does, I’m sure. That prayer means something far more specific now than it ever did then, but the man uttering the words is the same. Redd was a terrific scorer for a long time, but even though he doesn’t cock back his signature jumper these days, he’s no more worthy of hate now than he was six years ago. He’s the same man, even if he’ll never be the same player.

Cory Joseph drains game-winning three at buzzer for Raptors (VIDEO)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Cory Joseph made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Toronto Raptors an 84-82 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

Kyle Lowry scored 27 points for the Raptors, who before Joseph’s 3 had not led since early in the first quarter.

Joseph took DeMar DeRozan‘s pass in the corner and nailed the winning shot. He finished with 12 points as Toronto won its fourth straight despite tying a season high with 22 turnovers

Bradley Beal scored 20 points for Washington, which lost its fourth straight despite allowing its fewest points of the season.

John Wall added eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, but missed a pair of late free throws that opened the door for Toronto to win in regulation.

With 3.0 seconds left following those misses and a timeout, DeRozan got the ball, drove toward the baseline and kicked the ball out to Joseph in the left corner. Joseph rose and sank his 3-pointer as time expired.

Washington failed to hit a field goal over the final 4:24 to fall to 1-8 in its last nine regular-season games against Toronto. The Wizards did sweep the Raptors in the first round of last season’s Eastern Conference playoffs.

Toronto trailed by as many as 10 before Lowry’s 3-pointer from the left wing tied it at 70-all early in the fourth.

Washington answered with a 10-2 run before Toronto scored the next seven points, with Lowry’s 3-pointer off DeRozan’s kickout making it 80-79.

After DeRozan and Lowry each missed shots with a chance to take the lead, Wall and DeRozan traded free throws. But Wall missed a pair next, setting up the final sequence.


James hits game-winner, Cavs edge Nets (VIDEO)

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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James made a running hook shot with a second left and scored 26 points, giving the Cleveland Cavaliers a 90-88 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night.

After Joe Johnson‘s three foul shots tied the game with 15.2 seconds left, the Cavaliers called timeout and took the ball at midcourt.

James took the inbounds pass, dribbled to the top of the key before cutting to the right of the lane and hitting a hook shot over Brook Lopez, the Nets’ 7-foot center.

James scored 10 points and added a key steal late in the game to help Cleveland (13-4) remain unbeaten at home in nine games.

Kevin Love also scored 26 points for Cleveland, which played a sluggish first half and didn’t take its first lead until midway through the third quarter.

Lopez led Brooklyn (4-12) with 22 points. Johnson added 17 for the Nets, who fell to 1-10 on the road.

Tristan Thompson‘s basket with 1:13 remaining gave Cleveland an 86-85 lead and James made two free throws with 16 seconds left, but Johnson was fouled by J.R. Smith attempting a 3-pointer.

Johnson hit all three foul shots, but James made sure the Nets’ strong effort fell short.

James helped Cleveland rally from an 83-76 deficit in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and a three-point play before the Cavaliers took the lead on Thompson’s basket with 2:44 remaining.

Brooklyn built the lead to double figures in the second quarter and led 50-44 at halftime. Cleveland took its first lead at 61-60 on Love’s 3-pointer midway through the third. Matthew Dellavedova‘s 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers a 69-68 lead going into the final period.

Mo Williams scored 14 points for the Cavaliers while Thompson had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Thaddeus Young had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets.


Scott Skiles says he would not have traded Tobias Harris to Magic

Tobias Harris, O.J. Mayo
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Back at the start of the season in 2012 and into early 2013, Tobias Harris was buried on the bench in Milwaukee — glued there by coach Scott Skiles. At the trade deadline that February, the Bucks sent Harris to Orlando  — where he blossomed into a quality forward that is part of the Magic’s future.

The Magic now coached by Scott Skiles.

Did Skiles want Harris moved at the time? No, he told Journal Sentinel (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“He was pretty mature as a person even then,” Skiles said of Harris, who left Tennessee after his freshman year to enter the NBA draft. “In camp he got sick; he fell behind.

“At that time, we just felt (Luc) Mbah a Moute was a better defender and (Mike) Dunleavy was a better offensive player, and Tobias didn’t get as many minutes. But we were high on him.

“Not that anybody would have listened to me, but if I would have still been the coach, I would not have been for moving Tobias. That’s for sure, if somebody would ask my opinion.”

Skiles was under pressure to win back then in Milwaukee (he was let go at the end of the season) so you can’t be surprised he was playing the veterans he trusted over the young player who would be making mistakes.

Skiles trusts Harris now; he’s giving him more than 30 minutes a night. While he’s played some small four to start the season, Skiles has switched the lineups and now has Harris starting at the three (Channing Frye is at the four). In that role he has averaged 18 points through two games, Harris has looked more comfortable. We’ll see if that sustains, but you know Skiles is giving him a chance.


DeMarcus Cousins out for Kings vs. Warriors Saturday

DeMarcus Cousins, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
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As if Golden State was not already a prohibitive favorite Saturday night.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games for Sacramento with a strained back and that will continue Saturday. Our old friend Bill Herenda tweeted it first.

Not only are the Kings 1-6 without Cousins, but they were also on their way to beating Charlotte Monday until Cousins had to leave the game.

Golden State will likely be without Harrison Barnes in this game after spraining his ankle in the last game. Expect Andre Iguodala to get the start, or if interim coach Luke Walton doesn’t want to mess with the bench rotation he could go with Brandon Rush.