What you missed while wondering why you were watching highlights of Super Bowl media day….
Hornets 97, Wizards 89: For the first time in 306 games Emeka Okafor has to sit one out, and Jason Smith steps in and tries to Wally Pip him. Smith had 20 points on 11 shots, established himself early (10 first quarter points) and helped the Hornets pull away in the second quarter (with help from David West and Willie Green).
This loss makes it 0-25 on the road for the Wizards. Circle the calendar now, their next road game: Feb. 13 at Cleveland. It’s this season’s “Toilet Bowl.” Somebody has to win. Right?
Celtics 95, Kings 90: The Kings got out in transition in the first half and put up 54 points on the Celtics. But in the second half Boston slowed the tempo and the Kings do not have the players to score against the Celtics defense when it gets set (not many teams do). Hence the 36 second half points. And the loss.
The win makes Doc Rivers the coach of the East for the All-Star Game. He’s probably not thrilled, but he’s still probably happier about having to do it than Gregg Popovich.
Trail Blazers 99, Spurs 86: THAT LaMarcus Aldridge is an All-Star. We haven’t seen that version of Aldridge consistently over the last few weeks but he absolutely dominated the Spurs front line with 40 points (on 23 shots) and had 11 boards. The other key for the Blazers — and a sign of how much more aggressive they were — was that San Antonio only got to the free throw line 15 times and hit just 8, while Portland was 21 of 24 from the line.
I remember when I thought Tiago Splitter was going to be a difference maker this season. Missed on that one.
Lakers 114, Rockets 106 (OT): No Andrew Bynum for the Lakers and you saw how much they missed him on the final play of regulation, when Pau Gasol drifted away from the paint, Lamar Odom didn’t cover and Luis Scola tied it with an uncontested layup. The Lakers need Bynum’s defense. That and you end up with Gasol playing 47 minutes and Odom 49. The Lakers looked more focused and played better basketball in spurts, but these Rockets always give the Lakers fits (remember in 2009 when without Yao Ming they still pushed the Lakers seven games in the playoffs). Kevin Martin had 30, Kobe Bryant had 32.
Ty Lawson said that wherever he signed, “they’re going to get me for cheaper than I feel I’m worth … I feel like I’m overlooked in free agency.”
That lucky team — at least in Lawson’s mind — is the Sacramento Kings.
They have reached a one-year deal with him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Lawson bounced between Houston and Indiana last season, and struggled at both stops — he shot 39.3 percent last season with a far wbelow replacement lever PER of 9.7. He was better in Indiana than Houston.
Lawson also brings the baggage of a couple of DUIs in recent years and a reputation as a partier — including showing up to practice with alcohol on his breath. That hurt is free agent prospects, and is something Lawson denied to The Undefeated.
But I’m not a person out here like everyone thinks that I’m drunk all day. No, I don’t do that. A lot of my friends, we go out and celebrate. But I’m not that person in the morning getting drunk before practice. I think there is a big misconception about what everybody thinks. That’s what I basically tell them. I keep it honest.
The Kings will start Darren Collison at the point, but Lawson should get a decent run as a backup. Lawson is a solid playmaker and has a spot up shot, when he is right.
What the 28-year-old Lawson also will get is another chance — he hasn’t impressed in his past few stops and if that doesn’t change his NBA career could end soon.
There are 1,230 NBA games in a season, and decent amount of those come down to which team executes better in a close game late. (By the way, the best teams don’t win the most close games, the best teams have the most blowouts and aren’t in as many close games.)
What that means is there are a lot of game winners, a lot of clutch shots every season. The folks at NBA.com compiled them for you, and what else do you have to do on a Sunday night but watch 13 minutes of them.
Yes, there is plenty of Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook in this one, but the clutch shot of the season belonged to Kyrie Irving.
Jason Terry has talked about reaching out to multiple teams, including contenders, during free agency before settling on the Milwaukee Bucks. When he talked about why the Bucks, he spoke of believing in what Jason Kidd was building.
There may have been another reason: Minutes.
From Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times:
Some NBA officials contend he signed with Milwaukee and rejected overtures from a handful of teams, including the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, because of potential playing time.
“He wants his minutes,’’ said an NBA executive, whose team had shown some interest in signing Terry. “He didn’t go there (Milwaukee) to sit on the bench.’’
Terry’s agent denied this, saying he wanted to be part of the Bucks.
If minutes was a key part of his decision, so what? Guys choose teams for money (usually), wins, to play with friends, lifestyle, and weather, plus other reasons — how much run they get is in that mix. It’s never just one thing. And playing time matters.
No doubt Terry will get run with the Bucks behind Matthew Dellavedova, although Giannis Antetokounmpo with the ball as point guard is what is going to make this team fun to watch.
The vultures have been circling.
Other teams have called Sacramento GM Vlade Divac since the day he took office to inquire about the availability of DeMarcus Cousins — however, only George Karl took those calls and tried to run with it. The Kings know they have a franchise player, the best traditional center in the game right now, in Cousins and that is hard to come by. While it may not be easy — Cousins has always been demanding of those around him — they need to make it work.
Enter coach Dave Joerger, the guy who had success with difficult personalities in Memphis and got that team to the conference finals a couple of times.
Cousins has this season and next on his deal, and around the league the conventional wisdom is he bolts when this contract is up (hence the trade calls). Here is what one executive told Zach Harper of CBSSports.com.
“They’re fooling themselves if they think he’s sticking around,” said one league executive. “The good news for them is his value will always be high. There isn’t a point of no return in which you’re not getting high value for him. Teams will bid against each other in the trade market. Maybe [Cousins] doesn’t go for the biggest money in free agency but you’d love to have that card to play.”
The Kings aren’t giving up on being able to keep Cousins. They hope Joerger, the Olympics experience, some winning, a new building, and a trip to the playoffs will have Cousins thinking Sacramento is his home, where he wants to stay and build something.
I’d be surprised if the Kings seriously considered any move before next summer. But if Divac and company get the sense after this contract that they may not be able to keep Cousins — and let’s be clear, up to this point the organization has given him little reason to put his faith in them, Cousins is not unreasonable here — they have to make a move. This is not Oklahoma City where they can just turn the team over to Russell Westbrook, if Cousins goes it’s a rebuild in Sacramento (for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in a decade).
Celtics fans (and the rest of you convinced Cousins is coming your way), you need to wait it out. This is not going to be some quick move this summer.
But the vultures are circling.