What you missed while pouring out a 40 for Nate Dogg…
Bulls 98, Wizards 79: And with that score, the Bulls move into first place in the Eastern Conference.
The game itself was pretty much all Bulls, they took an early lead on a 20-5 run (despite Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah being out), although the Wizards made a bit of a second quarter push behind Jordan Crawford (15 points in the quarter). But the Bulls defense tightened up in the second half and held Washington to 35 points for the final 24. Which seemed fitting because their defense is why they are on top in the East.
Some individual performances of note. JaVale McGee had 12 blocked shots, including a few out on the perimeter as he chased down blocks all over the place. (The Bulls grabbed the offensive rebound on 38.5 percent of their missed shots, which may have had something to do with McGee chasing down blocks.) Keith Bogans hit 5-of-10 from three and dropped 17 points for his best game of the season.
Pacers 119, Knicks 117: A pretty entertaining game, so long as you are not a coach in charge of either of these teams’ defenses. Second game of a home-and-home and you didn’t really see a lot of changes from the Pacers win Sunday. The Knicks don’t play defense but when they moved the ball and ran in transition they could outscore the Pacers. Tyler Hansbrough had 30, 15 in the third quarter when it looked like the Pacers would pull away. The Knicks fought back, had some questionable execution down the stretch and that opened the door for a dramatic Danny Granger game winner.
Hawks 110, Bucks 85: Joe Johnson was knocking down the jumper (8-of-15 on shots outside the key according to the shot chart, he finished with 36) and when he and his teammates are hitting from the outside they can beat anyone. The Bucks offense still sucks.
Trail Blazers 104, Mavericks 101: Dallas started out 11-11 from the floor and shot 74 percent in the first quarter — yet never led by more than 8 and it was just three after the first quarter. Close game at the end and the Mavericks had looks to tie but could not knock down shots like they could at the start. Big win for the Blazers playoff push.
Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.
Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.
Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.
“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”
He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.
The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.
Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.
He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.
“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”
All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.
New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.
JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.
He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.
But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.
I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.
At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.
But not right now. He remains silent.
This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.
In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.