Tyson Chandler sees home loss to San Antonio as a turning point for the Dallas defense

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Last Friday, the San Antonio Spurs went into Dallas and rocked the Mavericks on their home court. The final margin was just six points after a late-game flurry from the Mavs, but the Spurs were in control throughout. San Antonio put together an impressive offensive showcase, as the Spurs’ “Big Three” combined for 80 points on just 61 shot attempts. Every Maverick run was met with an equal or superior response, and though Dallas was able to execute a few strategies that were effective on a micro level, the game was ultimately a defensive failure.

Maverick center Tyson Chandler still sees the value in such a letdown, though. In an appearance on The Ben and Skin Show on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio in Dallas, Chandler reflected on the Mavs’ poor defensive performance of late, and how their reached something of a nadir in the game against San Antonio:

“…we were going into a stretch where we had been playing some bad basketball defensively and it went right into the San Antonio game. Sometimes it takes a wakeup call like that so you can say okay we can’t win that way and we have to get back to the things that we saw in training camp and that’s the way that we’re going to win. Even though they hurt sometimes when you take a loss it’s actually better for the team.”

Transcription via Sports Radio Interviews.

Chandler could be right. I’m sure the loss to Spurs was a wake-up call in a sense; if nothing else, it was a crystallization of the Mavs’ regression on defense that was impossible to ignore. It also definitely served as some kind of alert for Chandler on a personal level, as the Maverick center fouled out after just 22 minutes, finishing the game with only three points and five rebounds. That’s not quite good enough for a big game against one of the top teams in the league (and a rival, to boot).

Yet Dallas followed up their bounce-back win over Golden State with another poor defensive effort against Minnesota. Anthony Randolph, who has spent most of this season riding the bench for the Knicks and then the Wolves, dropped a career high 31 points on Chandler’s Mavs on Thursday night while shooting 14-of-20 from the field. That’s not exactly indicative of a defense that’s fully woken up from its in-season nap.

Perhaps that outing was an aberration for the new, post-Spurs-loss Mavs, but we have every reason to be skeptical. Dallas has been trending downward defensively since January, and though Chandler once had his team performing at an elite level on that end, they have yet to really recapture that early season magic.

Frank Vogel says Paul George is best two-way player in game

Paul George, John Wall
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The moniker of the “best two-way player” sounds more like something an agent made up to gain a little leverage contract negotiations. It’s a nebulous concept. It’s an intentional dig at whomever is perceived as a better player, suggesting they don’t play enough defense.

But it’s part of the NBA lexicon now, and Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel thinks he has the best two-way player in the game in the resurgent Paul George. Tuesday night George dropped 40 points on Wizards and Vogel said this after the game, via the Washington Post.

“It’s tough to quantify in words,” Pacers Coach Frank Vogel said. “I mean, he just does so much. He’s capable of going for 40, carrying the offensive load and being the best defensive player on either team. He’s a special player, and the best two-way player in the game. We’re a different team with him out there.”

Paul George’s return to an elite level of play is one of the best stories of this young NBA season — for nine straight games now he has scored at least 25 points, he has pushed the Pacers to a 9-5 record with a top 10 NBA offense and defense. Tuesday night John Wall talked about how George’s improved jumper has made him a far more dangerous, more difficult to guard player. And he’s still a lock-down defender.

But George is not the best two-way player in the game — that’s Stephen Curry. George does not have the offensive impact that Curry brings to the Warriors, plus Curry has developed into a solid NBA defender. Curry gets steals, plays smart, and is a positive on defense, plus he’s the best offensive player in the league right now.

That doesn’t make the return of Paul George any less fun, any less good for the game. It’s great to see George back. Whatever you want to call him.



Kobe Bryant “not really worried” about his shooting after 1-of-14 night

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Sometimes a picture can tell the story better than words.

That’s why above you can see all of Kobe Bryant‘s shot attempts against the Warriors Tuesday, a night where he went 1-of-14 from the floor (and “facilitator Kobe” had two assists). If you want another picture, here is Kobe’s shot chart for the game.

Kobe shot chart vs. Warriors

On the season, Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall, 19.5 percent from three, and he has a career low true shooting percentage of 41.5 percent. It’s hard to watch. On a team that is supposed to be developing their young stars, Kobe took as many shots as D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle combined. Laker coach Byron Scott is good with Kobe doing whatever he wants.

But Kobe is worried about his shooting performances, right? Not so much. From Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

If Kobe can figure out the Lakers’ system this season, he will be in a club of one.

I could go on a longer rant here, but the bottom line is this is just a sad spectacle to watch. And there’s a lot of season left to watch it.

Kobe Bryant: Warriors can make run at record 33-game win streak

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Pat Riley compared the Warriors backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to one of the legendary guard tandems the game has ever seen — Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. Two Hall of Famers who led the 1972 Lakers to an NBA title.

That West/Goodrich team also won 33 straight games that season.

The Warriors are off to the fastest start in NBA history at 16-0 after destroying the hapless Lakers on Tuesday night, and the question of “when will they lose?” Kobe Bryant thinks these Warriors could get to that legendary 33 mark, as he told Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“Yeah, they could do it – because they’re good,” Bryant said afterward. “It’s a very young league, and they’ve managed to put together a team of extremely intelligent players and extremely versatile players, and great shooters. And so I see no reason why they couldn’t continue to extend (the record).”

The Warriors are not even halfway there and have shown some flashes of one-game vulnerability of late (a rough game against the Nets, for example). They have an upcoming seven-game road trip with a couple back-to-backs where they likely stumble at least once.

Then again, look at their next dozen opponents: Suns, Kings, Jazz, Hornets, Raptors, Nets, Pacers, Celtics, Bucks, Suns, Bucks, Jazz. Teams such as the Raptors and Pacers are certainly playing well, but there is no team on that list that makes you step back and say “that’s a loss.” Get through that dozen and the Warriors are at 28-0 and the Lakers’ record is within shot. The Warriors are not going to stop doing what they do — if the wearable science tells them Curry needs a night off, he’ll sit — but if they can get close, for a team trying to establish a legacy of greatness this would be a step in that direction.

The 16-0 mark already is.

Nick Young wears Gilbert Arenas’ old shoes during game (PHOTO)

Nick Young, Devin Harris
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In a disastrous Lakers season, one thing can be counted on (besides Byron Scott saying absurd things about Kobe Bryant): Nick Young will always be able to lighten the mood. He brought some levity to the Lakers’ blowout loss to the Warriors on Tuesday night with a blast from the past: a pair of gold shoes formerly worn by his ex-Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas.

These shoes, like Swaggy, and like Gilbert before the injuries and the guns, are awesome and should be celebrated.