Amare Stoudemire says nobody ever taught him defense

Leave a comment

The Knicks are not a defensive powerhouse, but that was to be expected with Mike D’Antoni as the coach and Amar’e Stoudemire as the star, right? Stoudemire did make a spectacular block on Stephen Jackson at the end of the Bobcats game, and he’s done that to others, but plays like that are simply a counterbalance for a number of other defensive lapses.

And whose fault is it that Stoudemire is a less-than-stellar defender? Well, not his because nobody really taught him how until Alvin Gentry. That’s what Stoudemire told the Daily News (via Slam), when discussing his lackluster defensive reputation.

“It was fair,” he said. “I was never taught defense. I just never was taught it in high school and also in the NBA…”

“I’ve got to give it to Alvin Gentry,” Stoudemire added. “He really implemented some strategies that were helpful to me. I took what I learned last year and carried it over to this year.”

Just for the record, the Suns defensive efficiency (points given up per possession) was worse under Gentry then it had been under any D’Antoni team. Maybe Gentry taught defense better, the Suns certainly didn’t play it better under him. But why should we let pesky little facts get in the way of a good insult.

And that comment was pretty much a slap to Mike D’Antoni. Intended or not. Those two had a pretty frosty relationship in Phoenix that was warmed by necessity this summer — the Knicks needed a star after LeBron looked elsewhere and Stoudemire “needed” a max deal. So far the reunification has worked as the Knicks are 8-8 and not an embarrassment. That’s a big step forward. Not the goal but a step in the right direction rather than into a hole, for a change.

Winning has a way of making things like this blow over, and the Knicks (if they can keep this pace up) are winning just enough for that to happen. But let’s not pretend that the light of how to play defense came on for Stoudemire under Gentry. We watch Knicks games, we’re not sure that light has ever really come on, just flickered now and again.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
1 Comment

Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

Leave a comment

The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

Leave a comment

Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

Leave a comment

In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.