The Question

You asked questions on twitter, time to answer them

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Welcome to a new feature here at PBT, where we answer your twitter questions regarding basketball, food, comics and just about everything else. Well, no food questions this week but maybe in the future. Basically, if you ask it we’ll try to answer it.

I admit to stealing this column idea from Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra, so the first question ties in to an occasional HBT topic.

Q. In honor of Calcaterra, I’m contractually obligated to ask for your thoughts on Aquaman. (@hurricanept)

I know bald bloggers are supposed to stick together. And I love reading Calcaterra and his baseball brilliance, plus ability throw high and hard at Gleeman. But dude is flat out wrong about Aquaman. Maybe because Craig is stuck in the 1970s, maybe because he fears the color orange, or most likely because he loves seafood and desperately wishes he could talk to fish. He’s just jealous.

People blame Aquaman but he isn’t the problem — he is the King of Atlantis, can speak to fish and control the oceans. Those are bleeping awesome powers unless you live in Nebraska. The problem is Aquaman has been written poorly, especially back in Craig’s ‘70s. For me, the Peter David Aquaman of the 1990s flat out rocked. Anyone with a harpoon hand has my vote. He was an Arthurian warrior king on a quest. He had a mission. So, you know, that storyline died. But Aquaman can be great in the right hands.

And when they make an Aquaman movie, Adrian Grenier must play the lead or I will be disappointed.

Q. If there is a season, will the Bulls have a chance to tinker with the roster? We’re still a player or two away. (@JTILLMAN9693)

Hey, you agree with Dwyane Wade, he says you are just one player away, too. What Bulls fan doesn’t want to agree with Wade? By the way, I’d say one starter and some depth, actually, but I think we’re all basically on the same page here.

What player? Has to be a wing player who can create shots and take pressure off of Derrick Rose. If you’re up for a little gamble on health (and his recovery), maybe Caron Butler is a guy to make a run at. Also depends on who is on the trade block once we see the new CBA.

As for time to tinker, NBA post-lockout history says yes but not much. Back in 1999, training camps and free agency were condensed into one hectic month. My guess is we will see something like that again, and the front offices that come in with the best preparation and think fastest on their feet can get some steals and deals. The question becomes, is that the Bulls front office? I have my doubts, but we shall see.

Q. Are the Lakers the most annoying team in the world, or second, behind the Yankees? (@ZachLowe_SI)

Fifth. The list goes: 1) New York Yankees (I think we all agree on that, even Yankee fans); 2) USC Football; 3) Boston Celtics; 4) Manchester United; 5) Lakers (Sorry Zach).

Q. Do you see the Pistons parting ways with Ben Gordon? (@WhatRobSaid)

Frankly, that should be up to Lawrence Frank. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that.) Gordon can put the rock in the hole efficiently, and that is a valuable commodity, but he needs to be put in situations that suit his skill set (good spot up shooter, can create in isolation, works well off the ball). Nothing with Jon Kuester ever seemed to fit. So, to paraphrase John Lennon, “give Frank a chance.” But if Gordon is still square peg round hole, then you should try to move him. There will be some interest out there, but not as much as Pistons fans dream.

Q. Is it ever appropriate to wear socks with crocs? (@dailythunder)

Mario Batali does it and he seems fat and happy. So, if it makes you fat and happy — and you never want to get laid again — go for it.

Q. What’s wrong with including some provision for games missed to injury in new CBA? Like 50% pay for injured games lost? (@jazzingitup)

A couple of things, really. One is that accidents are what your insurance industry friends would call “acts of god.” Most of the time. Sometimes there are conditioning issues or whatever, but most of the time injuries are like what happened to Blake Griffin (throws down a dunk lands normally and his knee just doesn’t like it so he misses a full season). That’s part of the risk to players and should they lose money because of such a fluke?

More importantly, if a player gets paid more for playing, they will rush back and play through pain. Good you say, and you might be right if it’s the playoffs. But what if it is February against Minnesota? Do you want a player to rush back to make more money and in doing so suffer a longer term injury? It does not benefit the team.

Also, remember that for big contracts teams have insurance against injuries, so they don’t fork over all that cash.

Kobe Bryant’s 25 points not enough to upset Spurs

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs have watched helplessly as Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has tormented them for the better part of the past two decades.

Bryant did so again in his final appearance in San Antonio, but the Spurs were able to enjoy this one.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a throwback performance by Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 106-102 on Saturday night to remain unbeaten at home.

“I thought it was great,” San Antonio point guard Tony Parker said. “It was a great game, fans were into it. It felt a little bit like the old days in the playoffs, Spurs and the Lakers.”

Kawhi Leonard added 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Spurs win their 28th straight home game to open the season. The Spurs’ 37th straight home victory dating back to last season was surprisingly difficult.

Bryant had 16 of his 25 points in the third quarter, going 3 for 6 on 3-pointers in guiding the Lakers to an 81-79 lead entering the fourth.

“I watched him growing up,” said Lakers guard and San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson, who finished with 21 points and four assists. “I watched him kill the Spurs.”

San Antonio has trailed for only two minutes in the fourth quarter at home this season, but the Lakers led for all but 23 seconds in the opening seven minutes of the period.

Bryant finished 9 for 28 from the field, but was 7 for 18 in a dynamic second half that electrified a pro-Bryant crowd.

“It’s like watching Michael (Jordan),” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “I was just watching. It was great. It was great. We made some mistakes. He took advantage of it. He’s fantastic.”

After rising to drain a 3-pointer with Leonard squarely in his face contesting the attempt, Bryant turned to an injured Tim Duncan on the bench and shrugged his shoulders.

“He was like, `No way,’ and I was like `Dude,’ ” Bryant said. “What could I do? I miss the easy ones and make some B.S. like that. I don’t even know what to tell you. It was Tim’s version of a yell, so it was a strong whisper.”

The Lakers trailed 101-99 lead after trading 3-pointers following Bryant’s improbable shot, but the Spurs’ were able to hold Los Angeles to just three points in the final 2 minutes.

“Missed defensive assignments,” said Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, who had 12 points. “They executed their offense to perfection. We were young and that’s an excuse I could give you.”

Bryant had a sore right shoulder, but he was not about to miss one last game against his fiercest rivals. He has faced the Spurs 90 times in the regular season and postseason, his most against any opponent.

TIP-INS

Lakers: The Spurs honored Bryant with a 3-minute video. The Spurs’ Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all paid tribute to Bryant’s competitiveness along with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Bryant walked over to the Spurs’ bench prior to tipoff and hugged Popovich, sharing a few words with San Antonio’s longtime coach.

Spurs: San Antonio’s 12-game lead in the Southwest is the largest ever since the division was formed in 2004-2005. … In addition to Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs were also without Matt Bonner. The reserve forward suffered a left calf strain Friday against Dallas, which was just his 20th game of the season. … Pop star Selena Gomez sat courtside, wearing a Tony Parker jersey.

 

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below:

Report: Clippers’ Austin Rivers has broken hand, out 4-6 weeks

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup past D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 105-93 win at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the next few weeks as he recovers from a broken hand stemming from an altercation with an equipment manager. Now, the Clippers have lost backup point guard Austin Rivers to the exact same injury, albeit not in the same circumstances, obviously.

The loss of Rivers isn’t as devastating as the loss of Griffin, but given the Clippers’ lack of depth, it’s certainly not ideal. Now, Chris Paul‘s only backup is Pablo Prigioni.

Warriors hold off late Thunder run to remain undefeated at home

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For once, a marquee matchup involving the Golden State Warriors lived up to its billing. Their much-hyped meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs were anticlimactic blowouts nearly free of drama. And for the first half on Saturday night’s 116-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seemed like the defending champions were headed for another snoozer. They led by as much as 20, and completely outmatched the Thunder on both ends of the floor.

But the Thunder rallied behind a surprising defensive effort in the second half and some solid play from Enes Kanter. Plus, you know, Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 40 points and gave the normally unflappable Draymond Green fits defensively. They tied the game at 104 before Golden State pulled away.

Despite the huge first-half lead, the Warriors weren’t their usual selves. Stephen Curry shot 1-for-8 from behind the three-point line, and triple-double machine Draymond Green scored just nine points. Golden State’s most consistent player was Harrison Barnes, who has probably read the speculation that the Warriors would have to dump him to land Durant this summer. He hit three three-pointers and shot 8-for-14 overall on the way to 19 points.

The Warriors’ bench carried them for stretches, outscoring Oklahoma City’s reserves 42-17.

Despite the Thunder’s late run, this was a statement win for the Warriors. They sent the message that, even when they aren’t in total control from start to finish, they can still pull away from other elite teams. The Thunder have given them the toughest challenge of any team they’ll likely have to face in the late rounds of the playoffs this spring, and it’s to their credit that they took the first-half punch and came back to make it a game. But the Warriors are on a different level from the rest of the league, and they showed that clearly on Saturday.