Scott Brooks

No grand conspiracy, Scott Brooks just rode hot hand

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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.

Carmelo Anthony says he can play at high level 4-5 more years

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp

Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.

He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:

In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”

“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.

The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.

Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.

Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.