Be clear about this — the Knicks earned their victory over the Spurs. For the first time seemingly in memory, the Knicks pushed an elite team into their game. The Knicks hit their shots (ones provided by unusually poor defense from the Spurs, but the Knicks hit them). They made the plays. It’s a signature win for a young Knicks team and they should celebrate it.
But at the end of this game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made the move of a wise coach with a veteran team that has some scratching their heads, as Henry Abbott at TrueHoop pointed out.
With 3:10 left in a game in New York, the Spurs down by ten and the game a longshot, but decidedly undecided, Popovich summoned from his bench three players who had not taken off their sweats all night: Chris Quinn, Ime Udoka and Tiago Splitter. They were to complete the Spurs’ comeback — or not, as it turned out — teamed with Matt Bonner and Gary Neal.
Sitting on the Spurs’ bench: Some of the greatest clutch performers in NBA history, including Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. With the best players out there playing, maybe this was about to become three minutes for the ages. The Spurs have come back from bigger deficits in less time.
After this game, the Spurs hopped on a plane and flew to Boston, where they face the Celtics tonight. A back-to-back as games 34 and 35 in a long 82-games season. A regular season which is followed by what really matters — the playoffs.
It comes back to what the Celtics showed last season, going 11-11 in their last 22 but getting rested and healthy for the playoffs — then making a run all the way to Game 7 of the NBA finals. What really matters for veteran teams is taking care of themselves and reaching the playoffs in good condition.
If that means not throwing everything into a longshot at a comeback in early January, then so be it. Fans may not love it, the league may not love it, but it’s the reality in a six-month long regular season.
Draymond Green goes down, Rockets rally to spoil Warriors ring night 122-121
Draymond Green is not the best player on the Warriors. He’s third or fourth best, depending on what you think of him vs. Klay Thompson.
But Draymond Green is the most important Warrior — what they do defensively does not work without him (and their small ball playmaking suffers as well). Without him, they are not the same.
That was on full display Tuesday night in the season opener — the night the Warriors got their 31-diamond rings and the latest banner went up at Oracle Arena. Green tweaked his knee in the third quarter and did not play in the fourth, and that’s when the Rockets outscored the Warriors 34-20 to come from behind and steal a win, 122-121.
Kevin Durant almost saved the day for Golden State with a baseline jumper as time expired — the referees called it good, but an official review showed the ball was still in his hands when the buzzer went off.
James Harden had 27 points and 10 assists to lead the Rockets. However, the real story was their revamped bench outplaying the Golden State bench — Eric Gordon looked like the sixth man of the year with 24 points, P.J. Tucker had 20 and shot 4-of-6 from three, and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14.
The Rockets made their final push in this one with Chris Paul sitting on the bench. CP3 sat the final four-and-a-half minutes of the game, and the Rockets thrived with Gordon, Harden and an old-school (meaning, like last season) offense. After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni said that Paul was out there “playing on one leg” due to his knee problem, and Paul could miss more time.
Golden State was also without Andre Iguodala, who tweaked his back lifting weights over the weekend, according to coach Steve Kerr. Not having Green or Iguodala hurt the Warriors defense, especially against an elite offensive team.
Kevin Durant’s game winner waived off, he didn’t get shot off in time
Down one with 10 seconds to go, the Warriors were able to get Stephen Curry a good look at a three but he missed it. The ball was volleyballed around a little, and Durant got a hold of it and took a 15-footer along the baseline that the referees on the court ruled a game-winner — but when reviewed it left his hand a fraction of a second too late.
It was the right call. And this is a big boost for the Rockets as they try to find their identity going into a long season.
The Warriors’ championship rings have 31 diamonds in them (VIDEO)
Tuesday night meant the return of NBA basketball, and of course what we all wanted to see: the Golden State Warriors.
In the second game of the evening, the Warriors squared off against the Houston Rockets. Before the teams tipped, the Warriors received their championship rings in front of their hometown crowd at Oracle Arena.
Wearing special Nike hoodies with the phrase “The Champions” on the back, the Warriors received their rings to a standing ovation.
Perhaps the best part of the ceremony was finding out the official gemstone count in the rings. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, the rings have 31 diamonds in them.
The Golden State Warriors' 2017 NBA championship rings. Designed by Jason of Beverly Hills. 11 carats, 36 blue sapphires, 31 diamonds pic.twitter.com/iGrcCRWd7J
It was the first game for Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland against the Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Irving spent the first six years of his career in Cleveland before being traded to the Celtics over the summer.
Of course, there was no love lost between the two teams nor between Cavaliers fans and Irving. Boston won the opening tip which Irving gathered, prompting a round of boos from the audience at The Q.
Perhaps more interesting was that the Cavaliers had a tribute video lined up for Irving but decided not to run it.
According to multiple reports, the video was set to run during a floating point in the game, but the operations folks in Cleveland never found the right time.
Another report from Cleveland.com has said that the aforementioned video had set off a few Cavaliers players.
According to team spokesman Tad Carper, multiple Cavs officials, including majority owner Dan Gilbert, chose not to show the video because “we were expecting to run it at a floating opportunity based on the right moment, and we felt that moment never presented itself.”
Carper said the decision to cancel the video was not “directly” tied to the gruesome ankle injury to Celtics guard Gordon Hayward with 6:50 left in the first quarter, either.
A source with direct knowledge of Cavs’ players thinking told cleveland.com that several inside the Cleveland locker room were upset Monday upon hearing that a video was planned.
The video would have upset some inside the Cleveland locker room? I wonder which ones.