Kobe Bryant

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Where Andrew Bogut’s one arm is better than the Lakers

Leave a comment

What you missed while watching the Jib Jab year in review video

Bucks 98, Lakers 79: The Milwaukee Bucks came into this game averaging 100.2 points per 100 possessions — the worst offense in the NBA. They were without Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden. They were on the second night of a back-to-back. They had to play a Laker team whose defense has gotten better since Andrew Bynum’s return.

So can you explain that score to me? For one night the Bucks offensive rating was 119.5 points per 100 possessions.

Kobe Bryant was so frustrated he got ejected late (I think he can afford the coming fines). There are a litany of excuses the Lakers could use — looking ahead to the Heat, first game back after a long road trip, it’s been raining for days in Los Angeles and that throws everybody in the city off — but they just didn’t care.

And credit to the Bucks who did. They fought for rebounds and grabbed the offensive board on 39.4 percent of this missed shots. Earl Boykins dropped 22 and was a force in the fourth. Boykins provided some of the shot creation (mostly for himself, not others) and outside shooting the Bucks will miss with Jennings out. At least for one night.

Dallas 105, Magic 99: Entertaining game as both teams were on fire for stretches — Dallas a little more so shooting 46 percent from three on the night. And that’s what happened most of the night, Dallas was just a little bit better at most things.  When did Caron Butler learn to hit the three like that? He is shooting 43 percent on the season from beyond the arc, quite the jump from 29 percent last season or 32 percent for his career.

Stan Van Gundy is still experimenting — Hedo Turkoglu started and Brandon Bass came off the bench — but JJ Redick seems to thrive with this new look and find more space to shoot (he had 21). Dwight Howard played fantastically — he has had 20 or more rebounds in three straight — but overall the Mavs were just a little better.

Thunder 99, Bobcats 81: Two teams headed in opposite directions. If you haven’t noticed over the last 10 days to two weeks, Kevin Durant has his swagger back. He is an efficient scoring machine again. Proof? He had 32 points on 8-of-13 shooting and was 14-of-16 at the free throw line Tuesday.

Meanwhile, how desperate is Larry Brown in Charlotte? Kwame Brown started.

Nets 101, Grizzlies 94: Sometimes the box score can’t really tell you what happened in a game. And sometimes it tells you the Nets shot 52.6 percent, the Grizzlies 39.8 percent, and that is all you really need to know. Sasha Vujacic had 16 on 6 of 8 shooting.

Bulls 121, Sixers 76: When Kurt Thomas has 12 points and 5 blocks, you know it’s a thumping. This is the fourth game in a row the Bulls have won by as much as 17 points. This time it was against a Sixers team that had been playing pretty well of late but they took Tuesday off to finish their Christmas shopping, apparently. Sixers coach Doug Collins pretty much gave up on his guys in the fourth. The Bulls are 8-3 since Carlos Boozer returned.

Warriors 117, Kings 109 (OT): Oh, the Kings were so close to a win. The Kings were up 16 with 9 minutes to go and yet a Warriors team on the second night of a back-to-back went on an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter and a 5-0 run to close out the game and send it to overtime. Vladimir Radmanovic had the open catch-and-shoot three to send the game to extra time. NBA teams need to find a new level of execution late in games and the Kings get worse when pressured that way. They turned the ball over or missed good looks. They twice fouled guys taking threes late in the game. Just bad execution.

Really? Online petition started to change name of Durant, Oklahoma, to Westbrook.

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder stands on the court in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
7 Comments

Durant, Oklahoma, is a city of just more than 15,000 people in the southern part of the state. It is the capital of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and it was named after its Choctaw founder, Dixon Durant.

But some people in Oklahoma are not high on the name Durant, lately. Kevin Durant decided to bolt the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors this summer, and some Thunder fans feel betrayed. Understandably. Durant was well within his rights, but if you’re a Thunder fan and you’re not hurt by this it would be strange.

Still, you have to hope what follows is satire. It reads like it.

Oklahoma’s Ryan Nazari created a Change.org petition asking the city of Durant be renamed the city of Westbrook. As in Russell Westbrook. The guy who signed a contract extension to stay in Oklahoma (for just one extra year, but still). Read the petition below and tell me it doesn’t sound like satire.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the great state of Oklahoma has been betrayed. As many of you know, Kevin Durant has left our state, torn out our hearts, and left our beloved Oklahoma City Thunder in depleted shape. All of this after even being offered a cabinet position for the State of Oklahoma. It is because of this heinous action that I believe the State of Oklahoma has a responsibility to change the name of the City of Durant to Westbrook, the man who is loyal, whom we believe in, and who will lead our team to glory. Yes, it is understood that the city Durant was not named after the evil Kevin Durant, but it is just another hideous reminder of what happened to our community.”

As of this writing, he had reached his goal of having more than 1,000 people sign on.

Maybe it’s satire, but it’s more creative than burning a jersey.

Obviously, the name of the city is not changing. If people want to live in Westbrook, they should move to Maine.

Way too early look: Who could make up USA’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic basketball team?

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21:  Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan and Kyle Lowry #7 of United States stand on the podium after defeating Serbia in the Men's Gold medal game on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty Images
5 Comments

Let’s start with the obvious: This is an exercise in futility. There is no way to predict accurately what the 2020 USA men’s basketball team headed to the Tokyo Olympics will look like. There will be injuries that sideline guys. There will be contract situations where key guys decide it’s in their best interest to sit out. Plus, there could be a guy just now entering his junior year of high school who we don’t know well yet but in four years will be a clear choice for the team.

Now that we’ve gotten through the tedious disclaimer, let’s have fun:

What will the 2020 USA Basketball team look like?

First, it will have a bit of a business attitude — Gregg Popovich is coaching now. Not that Mike Krzyzewski ran a college party Team USA, far from it, but with Popovich’s demeanor and the scare put into the 2016 team (and some improving world powers, such as Canada), expect the USA to be a little more focused next time around.

For the roster, who from the 2016 gold medal team in Rio returns for more gold? At the top of the list: A 31-year-old Kevin Durant will be back for one more run (and to climb on top of the USA Olympic scoring list). He will be the unquestioned team leader. The alpha. It will be his team.

After that? Young stars who want one more go at it such as Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, and Klay Thompson will seriously consider a return. Maybe Jimmy Butler. Those guys will have a leg up having Olympic experience and a commitment to the program.

After that, some big names that passed on Rio are going to suit up in Japan. There will be far less defection of top talent this time around — the fears around Brazil will be gone, and NBA players wanting to sell more shoes in Asia will be eager to sign up. I expect you will see Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, and maybe James Harden decide they are in for the next round. LeBron James said he felt left out and may consider a return, but he will be 35 years old with 17 NBA seasons on his body by that point, does he want to put his body through an international curtain call? Probably not.

Rounding out the roster, expect a few guys from this year’s USA Select Team — the team the Olympic squad practiced against in Las Vegas at the start of camp — to make the leap up (as Kyrie Irving and others did this year).

Who? That’s the hardest thing to predict, it depends on development. Guys to watch include Victor Olidipo, Justise Winslow, Devin Booker, Brandon Ingram, and Jabari Parker — some of them will be ready to make the leap.

One clue to the 2020 roster: Players that you see in China for the 2019 FIBA World Cup will be more likely to make the 2020 team. (Yes, the World Championships are now the year before the Olympics, welcome to more of FIBA’s wisdom, as is the fact the Cup qualifiers fall during the NBA/Euroleague seasons.) Guys from the select team now that head to China in three years and perform well in that setting will likely have the USA across their chest in Japan.

Whatever team we send will have the most talent in those games. The question is will that be enough?

Check out the Cleveland Cavaliers Top 10 plays from last season

2 Comments

With athletes such as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on the team, you know the Cleveland Cavaliers Top 10 plays of last season were going to have some special moments.

Yes, the block by LeBron and the stepback three by Irving that sealed the first Cleveland title in 52 years are on top of the list.

But there are some other ridiculous Irving handles and even a Timofey Mozgov dunk in there (a $64 million dunk, apparently).

Watch Spurs’ Dejounte Murray throw off-the-backboard alley-oop to himself in pickup game

Washington guard Dejounte Murray, center, dribbles the ball past Mount St. Mary's center Taylor Danaher (50) as Washington forward Marquese Chriss, right, watches duirng the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Leave a comment

Just a suggestion for rookie Dejounte Murray: Don’t do this in front of Gregg Popovich. You may not like his reaction.

That said, the Spurs needed to get more athletic this off-season — landing Pau Gasol certainly didn’t help that cause — so enter first-round pick Murray, who pulled this off in a recent pickup game.

Murray is going to be brought along slowly in a backcourt where Tony Parker and Patty Mills will be splitting time at the point. Murray is more of a combo guard and is going to have to shoot a lot better than he did in college (28.8 percent from three) to get some run. But this is a situation where the Spurs can groom him, bring him along slowly, and see if they have another draft steal.

He’s certainly got the athleticism.