Today, Thunder coach Scott Brooks is getting lots and lots of praise for leaving his bench (with Kevin Durant) out on the court throughout the fourth quarter. Some see it as a rebuke of Russell Westbrook, some as Brooks asserting his authority.
Not from where I sit. To me it’s more simple and pragmantic — he made the move that gave his team the best chance to win Game 2. He saw what was happening on the court and stuck with the guys that had played the best for the Thunder all game. He rode the hot lineup.
That’s not gutsy so much as smart. It may not have been easy considering the athletic talent on the bench, but it is what good coaches do.
The Thunder bench scored 50 points, was 16-of-23 shooting and +21 for the game. They were not playing great defense but they were running more cohesive offensive sets that the Mavericks were struggling to stop. There was no message that needed to be sent to the starters other than that — the bench guys are getting it done.
James Harden showed everyone why he is this team’s Manu Ginobili/Lamar Odom, bringing scoring (23 points) and some swagger off the bench. Not to mention the best beard in the NBA. I think his beard had three points and two boards Thursday night.
Eric Maynor is one of the best backup point guards in the league, he has games like this fairly often. Brooks know what he has and throughout the season has used Maynor more than many coaches use their backup point.
In his postgame comments, Brooks kept saying variations of the same thing, “We were increasing the lead.” He noted he had done it before during the regular season.
Not all coaches would have done it. Some would have stuck to their rotations and had the stars back in at the 6 minute mark of the fourth. But the best ones ride the hot hand.
This wasn’t about messages to Westbrook or some master plan of control. It was winning and evening the series. Simple as that.
And because his moves made to win the game worked, Brooks deserves credit.
Hornets’ coach gives savage, frank assessment of Willy Hernangomez
When Willy Hernangomez was not getting much run with the Knicks this season, especially as injuries opened up space in the front line rotation, there were questions as to why. Then the #freeWillyHernangomez movement popped up.
Eventually, Hernangomez was traded to the Hornets where… he barely plays. He’s gotten more than 10 minutes just once since coming to Charlotte.
“If you were in one place and didn’t play much, if you want to play more in the next place, I’d say work harder and kill myself,” Clifford said at the Hornets shootaround at the Players Association’s midtown headquarters. “The reality is he wasn’t playing here for a reason. He’s got to change things…
“He’s not up to speed on what we’re doing to play a lot,” Clifford said. “It’s been a little bit of a struggle for him. He’s smart, but he’s not this high-flier, phenomenal, natural athlete able to make up ground. He’s got to be on top of things, especially on the defensive end. If he’s not detailed defensively, he’s not that [athletic] guy…
“To be an every-night player, and I’ve told him this, he’s got to improve his shooting,” Clifford said. “He is right now, in my opinion, a back-to-the-basket player who can pass. But the reality is his passing doesn’t come into play until they have to get close to him and know he’s not going to knock down a shot. And he’s not a knockdown shooter.”
Just to be clear he’s got to put in a lot more effort, become smarter on the defensive end, and improve his shooting. That’s a healthy off-season checklist.
Hernangomez has another year on his contract at a very reasonable $1.5 million before the Hornets have to make any kind of decision on him, which means whoever is the new GM in Charlotte he will choose to keep Hernangomez around. For now. He flashed potential his rookie season with the Knicks, when asked to play strictly to his strengths, but Clifford and the Hornets — and basically every other team in the NBA — is going to ask more of him.
Clifford was clear, as no doubt he has been clear to Hernangomez (Clifford is as straight a shooter as the league has). The ball is in Hernangomez’s court.
Glen “Big Baby” Davis denies drug charges while eating Popeyes on a charter plane
Last month, former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis was arrested last month at a hotel in a suburb of Baltimore by Jimmy McNulty and Lt. Daniels with 126 grams of marijuana and more than $96,000 in cash, according to a police report. He has been charged with possession and intent to distribute.
Davis has declared his innocence in the best denial video ever — eating Popeyes chicken and flashing cash and a championship ring.
I have no idea whether Davis is guilty or not, I was not at a Hampton’s Inn outside Baltimore last month. The court system will sort that out, that is what it’s there for.
But I know a brilliant video when I see one. This is it.
Report: Michele Roberts to seek second contract as players’ union head
Michele Roberts entered the NBA’s player union in a tumultuous time — long-time union president Billy Hunter had been ousted in a rancorous fight, the union felt adrift, and negotiations with the NBA on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement were looming (and players felt they had been screwed in the last CBA, following the lockout).
Roberts, the first female head of a professional sports labor union, settled things down. She cleaned up the union finances and made them more transparent to players, she worked hard to establish relationships with the players, and while she rattled some sabers with the NBA in negotiations, she also worked in a non-combative way with Adam Silver and team (unlike the Billy Hunter/David Stern relationship) and got a deal done the players liked without a lockout or labor mess.
With an original four-year agreement set to expire in September, Michele Roberts plans to seek a new contract as the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, sources tell ESPN…
Roberts had strongly considered staying in the NBPA’s executive director role for only the length of her original contract — and expressed that to the union’s senior membership — but has recently decided to pursue a longer tenure, sources said.
NBPA president Chris Paul played a significant part in Roberts’ hiring in July 2014 and he has built a strong working relationship with Roberts.
Roberts also has a good relationship with the star-heavy executive committee of the union — CP3, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and others — making it likely she gets a new deal.
As for what’s next, at the front of that list Roberts is working with Silver and others on reforming the NBA’s one-and-done rule (it was supposed to be part of the CBA negotiations but was too big and complex an issue to fold into that timeline).
Neither the owners or players can opt out of the CBA for four more years (and if neither side does it runs a couple more beyond that) so labor peace will continue in the NBA for a while.
Isaiah Thomas rewarded on epic flop with offensive foul call vs. Heat
Why do NBA players flop on defense? Because it works.
While there is less of it than there was a couple of years back — when the NBA made a big show about calling more flops and warning (then eventually fining players a pittance) for the move — it still exists. Case in point, this impressive one from Isaiah Thomas of the Lakers on Tyler Johnson of the Heat Friday night (hat tip AminElHassavag at NBA Reddit).
Was there a little contact, sure, but Thomas fell back like he was shot by the second gunman on the grassy knoll. He exaggerated the contact, which is the definition of flopping. Thing is, he got the call (the ref who made the call, from his position, might only have seen the contact and not necessarily the extent of exaggeration, but that’s where the other officials need to step in).
Not that everything went Thomas’ way Friday night.