Over the lockout, there have been a lot of very good stories about what NBA players are doing to keep busy while they wait for news on when the season is going to start. Here’s the latest one of those stories, a lengthy and interesting profile of LA native Brandon Jennings’ Summer basketball regimen by SI’s Lee Jenkins. Jennings has been playing basketball wherever and whenever he can this summer, and is regaining some of his street-ball legend status in the process:
Jennings has become the union’s underground ambassador, appearing in more pickup games than Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. “Where they hooping?” he tweets in the morning, with a hashtag for his location. He considers all offers, and if he chooses one, he tweets the address in case anybody wants to stop by…
…The score was kept on a hand-operated flip board. Kids shot at the open basket when action shifted to the opposite end. Players kicked the ball when they got mad and peeled off their shirts when they got hot. AIS won the first two games easily, with Jennings at three-quarters speed, but was tied at 10 in game three. “F—!” Jennings yelled, before heaving a full-court pass for a layup, drilling a 35-foot step-back jumper, then pulling up for a 40-foot clincher. “Next,” he said. After one more game, not as close, he hopped back on his low rider and pedaled into the darkness, past the softball players warming up for their beer league, all the way to his aunt Marsha’s house for dinner.
Jennings had a rough sophomore season. His three-point percentage went way down last season, he had fewer assists per game than he did his rookie year, and he didn’t improve his sub-par scoring efficiency very much while being the point guard for the NBA’ s worst offensive team. Maybe a summer full of 40-foot bombs, playground scoring explosions, and off-the-head passes will boost Jennings’ confidence going into next season, and help him become a true NBA lead guard after suffering a bit of a set-back last season.
James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.
He didn’t even rank second – or third.
Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.
What happened to the Houston star?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.
“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”
Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.
But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.
The Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, 113-109, and now the series heads back to Texas with the Rockets in the lead, 3-1.
Houston and OKC played a weird game, with Nene scoring 28 points off the bench for the Rockets and serious mischief in the final moments. The end of the game included a purposely missed free throw by Steven Adams that allowed Russell Westbrook to grab a quick 3-pointer and a missed call when James Harden shoved Alex Abrines out of the way like an NFL tackle.
While the Rockets didn’t shoot a stellar percentage from 3-point range — just 31.5 percent — they still knocked down 11 buckets from deep. Part of that action was a play run for Sixth Man of the Year candidate Eric Gordon that included a little semi-Pistol action, and a stagger screen that allowed Gordon to work his way free.
I picked this play to go over this week because it exemplifies just how committed to the 3-point shot the Rockets are. Plus, Gordon ran around three screens just to get this one bucket, which is always fun to see.
Watch the full video breakdown above.
Marcus Smart and Jimmy Butler had to be separated during the Celtics’ Game 4 win over the Bulls after Smart pushed Butler, who was hounding him defensively in the backcourt.
As far as the Marcus Smart situation goes, he’s a great actor. Acting tough, that’s what he does. But I don’t think he’s about that, and I’m the wrong guy to get in my face. So, he needs to take it somewhere else because I’m not the one for that.
Was that their first run-in? Butler:
That’s the first time. Last time, too. We’re not going to sit here and get in each other’s faces like that. Like I said, he’s not about that life. So, he’s calming down.
The Bulls, who’ve lost two straight to allow Boston to tie the series 2-2, is angling for any edge. Butler tried to intimidate Smart on the court, and the Chicago wing might actually rattle the too easily shakable Smart with his postgame comments.
The irony: Some might say Butler, who did come up hard, lost touch with his roots as he entered stardom. I don’t buy that, at least not majorly.
But even if both – or neither – are posturing to any degree, this will be a matchup to watch in Game 5.
Jess Kersey, who officiated more than 2,200 NBA games, including being part of 19 NBA Finals, passed away over the weekend, losing his battle with cancer at age 76.
Kersey was a well-respected official who feared nothing. Maybe the most remembered image of Kersey is him trying to break up a fight between Mitch Kupchak and Hakeem Olajuwon, essentially trying to tackle Olajuwon with his head in Olajuwon’s chest and his arms wrapped around him. Kersey got in the middle of everything if that was what was required.
Our thoughts go out to the Kersey family for their loss.