What you missed while watching the MLS championship be decided on an own goal…
Raptors 102, Celtics 101: Rajon Rondo sat this one out and Nate Robinson started in his place and ended with 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting — but he had just two assists. The Celtics offense just felt different.
Thing is, it wasn’t really the offense that was the issue, it was the defense. Toronto got 40 points in the paint and got sent to the line 39 times by a Celtics team that seemed to foul a lot. They just did not play well or play smart at the end.
Credit the Raptors for making the big plays. Boston had a three point lead with 20 seconds left. The Raptors got the quick two pointer so Boston now had the lead 101-100 and the ball with 12 seconds left, and they inbounded it to the free throw machine that is Ray Allen. But Leandro Barbosa poked it away from behind without fouling, Jose Calderon got it and pretty soon Amir Johnson was fouled and knocking down free throws (was that really a foul in the act of shooting?). Paul Pierce got a last look at a game winner but missed.
Hornets 75, Kings 71: Ugly game. Call it good defense by both sides if you want, but there were missed open looks, too. The lid was on the basket. Hornets shot just 32.2 percent for the game (34.5 percent if you prefer eFG%, but it wasn’t pretty either way). The Kings shot better — 38.7 percent — but got fewer offensive rebounds and turned the ball over more. The turnover ere the key, it gave the Hornets some easy buckets in transition.
Pistons 114, Wizard 110 (OT): Big game from Charlie Villanueva off the bench, with 25 points and 11 boards. He remains inconsistent (he was terrible against the Lakers last game) but when he is on he can change a game. Rip Hamilton owned this game when it mattered.
Lakers 117, Warriors 89: This one was over early, a rout in the classic sense. Pau Gasol was just all kinds of impressive —28 points on 10 of 10 shooting plus he had 9 boards. Shannon Brown continues to have really elevated his game off the bench, playing much more controlled and trusting his jumper, he had 17 on 7 of 10 shooting, plus 3 of 3 from beyond the arc.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.