As if it weren’t hard enough to be an Minnesota Timberwolf, the Wolves’ point guards seem to have a particularly tough lot in life. Dust off jokes about Minny’s one-time glut of PGs if you must, but these days, the point man is practically endangered in Minneapolis.
Jonny Flynn is still recovering from hip surgery, Luke Ridnour is out with a strained hamstring, Martell Webster (an off-guard capable of covering ball-handling duties in a pinch) just had surgery to repair a herniated back disc, and even Wayne Ellington is out of action with a bruised thigh.
Sebastian Telfair is really the Wolves’ only ball-handler or distributor…and in yesterday’s game against the Kings he had a single assist in almost 40 minutes. Telfair is capable of holding down the fort until the team’s more capable point guards are healthy again, but the circumstances currently demand that he play entirely too many minutes. That’s no good. Telfair’s effectiveness and efficiency will dip when he’s thrust into such a high-minute, high-usage role, and the best answer for the Wolves — unless they can just pop Flynn’s hip back into place — is to get Telfair a little help.
According to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Wolves are looking to add Sundiata Gaines to back up Telfair. Minnesota has worked out a number of other prospects capable of filling in minutes at the point, but Zgoda reported that Gaines impressed the Wolves most. In order to free up a spot for Gaines, Minnesota has waived former first round pick Maurice Ager, a shooting guard who just hasn’t turned all that many heads since being drafted in 2006. Gaines is a much more natural fit for a reserve point guard, as he put up solid scoring and assist numbers for the D-League’s Idaho Stampede last season before doing well in limited minutes for the Utah Jazz. He also hit some big shot, but you probably didn’t hear about that.
Gaines doesn’t have much of a shot at playing time once Ridnour and Flynn are healthy again, but a stint with the Wolves could be a nice way to boost his NBA stock. Regardless, this is the right decision for the Wolves right now. Ager wasn’t helping much, and though Gaines is more of a stopgap than a notable addition, he makes sense for Kurt Rambis’ team right now.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.