John Wall

Observations from Drew/Goodman payback game

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It was fun.

At the end of the day, that’s all you can really take away from the Pyramid on the Long Beach State campus and the Drew League vs. Goodman League rematch. John Wall and Kevin Durant and Nick Young had monster dunks. There were 195 points scored. Fun is all it should be. You can’t read much into the basketball being played, which is some blacktop hoops just moved indoors for a larger crowd (and they sold out the building). It got a little more serious in the fourth quarter, more intense, but this was still street ball.

Really, this is a game where you need to see the video, and we will bring you some highlights later. All that said, here are a few observations from the game.

• Kevin Durant seems more comfortable and able to create his own shot than I remember from previous years. His handles seem smoother. We’ll see how that translates against defenses stacked against him (even the Drew League brought hard and fast doubles at him at times to get the ball out of his hands) but again he looked like the best scorer in the league. Also, when Durant cradles the ball on his drive it is impressive — his stride is so long he can cover an amazing amount of ground with the step the rules allow him. That and a steady jumper with insane range make him just a scoring machine.

This summer of pro-am games has been good to him, he’s enjoyed the grass roots style publicity.

• James Harden played with him step for step and played that kind of feisty, smart basketball you expect of him.

• John Wall was a force of nature, had 55 points and some highlight dunks. hH is still the fastest guy in the league end-to-end with the ball, he’s like roadrunner while everyone else is the coyote fast. These free flowing games are made for him, but his jumper seems steadier than it was last season, he has a confidence with it now. If that gets going and he can stay healthy next season, he could explode.

• Rudy Gay said after the game he felt like he is at 85 percent after the shoulder surgery, but he looked strong and quick out there. He had some real rust — he missed a few gimmes — but his smooth scoop shot driving to the rim was still there. He also just spun around a good defender in Trevor Ariza a few times.

• Michael Beasley fouled out with two points in a game where little defense was played. He missed a lot of layups. He was just bad.

• JaVale McGee should have dominated this game — there was nobody his size on the court. Instead he was just average. So, this was a lot like most Wizards games.

• Matt Barnes got a technical, as did John Wall, which was pretty funny. They also had trouble with the 24-second clock all night long, which was just annoying because nobody took longer than 10 second to shoot all game.

Thabo Sefolosha throws down reverse dunk in transition (video)

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Was Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha making the smart play to beat the defender or just showing off?

Either way, I’m glad he did it.

Lauren Holtkamp ends Clippers-Trail Blazers with strange foul call (video)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03:  Referee  Lauren Holtkamp looks on during a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on February 3, 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 conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Lauren Holtkamp once again created controversy with Chris Paul on the floor.

But, this time, Paul wasn’t the aggrieved party.

With the Clippers up 113-106 on the Trail Blazers, J.J. Redick held the ball to run out the final few seconds. But before the game ended, Holtkamp called a foul on Shabazz Napier.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

Napier did touch Redick’s side with his left hand just before the whistle. So, this isn’t completely inexplicable. But juxtapose this call with all the times a player is hacking away to intentionally foul and a whistle takes a while.

In case you’re wondering, the teams had already cleared the over, and the Clippers were already up on the 2.5-point spread.

John Wall has words for Kent Bazemore after flagrant foul (VIDEO)


There is history here: In Atlanta on May 3, 2015, John Wall took a hard fall after a foul by then Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, breaking Wall’s hand and effectively ending his playoffs (he did return three games later but the Wizards were all but done by then).

Thursday night after a Dennis Schroder turnover, the Hawks Kent Bazemore chased Wall down on a breakaway layup, but rather than make a play on the ball tried to stop and in the process undercut Wall, sending the guard hard to the floor. Wall bounced back up jawing at Bazemore, and quickly officials and teammates stepped between them.

Bazemore rightfully was given a flagrant I foul for that play — once in the air Wall was helpless, and Bazemore took his legs out from under him. Bazemore said it wasn’t intentional and that the two North Carolinians hugged and made up later.

The Hawks were down six at the time of this play but pulled away in the fourth for the win.

Three things we learned Thursday: Dwight Howard can go home again

Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) makes his way through the crowd as he leaves the court following a win over the Washington Wizards in an NBA basketball game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Associated Press
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The NBA is back, as is PBT with our morning recap of what you need to know from the night before around the NBA — three things we learned. This is what you missed while checking out the Pokemon statue in New Orleans.

1) Dwight Howard can go home again (at least for one game).
What has everyone been asking of Dwight Howard for years and years? Simply play hard defense, crash the boards, and let the offense come to you. Maybe Howard needed to go home for those lessons to sink in. Playing his first game for his hometown Hawks, Howard was a beast on the boards, particularly in the first half. He had seven boards in the first six minutes, and by half he had corralled 15 boards and scored nine points. He finished the night with 19 rebounds and 11 points, which included some highlight dunks.

Howard also played good defense, and the Hawks got the win at home over the Wizards. We’ll see if this Howard keeps showing up night after night, but it was a promising start.

While Howard was good, make no mistake Paul Millsap is still the Hawks best player. He finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists and was a plus 22. He took over in the second half and was part of the reason the Hawks pulled away with a 23-5 run in the fourth.

2) What spacing problems? Bulls shoot 44 percent from three in win over Celtics. Boston’s defensive game plan was the one every team is going to employ against Chicago: With Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, and Jimmy Butler on the floor, just go under all the picks and dare for the Bulls to win with jumpers. Because we all know the Bulls can’t shoot. Except Thursday night the Rondo/Wade/Butler trio hit 9-of-14 from thee, and as a team the Bulls shot 44 percent from deep. That included Wade knocking down the dagger three in a win over the Celtics.

Make no mistake, the Bulls still had shooting woes — they shot 37.3 percent inside the arc — they just got bailed out by the threes and 18 offensive rebounds. Chicago is not going to shoot from deep like this every game. Expect them to regress to the mean over the next few games. But it’s a hopeful sign for Bulls fans, this team was knocking down shots when it needed to for a night. Or, maybe it’s just the Bulls save their best games for TNT.

3) Blake Griffin is healthy and people seem to forget just how good he is. There was Reggie Miller on the TNT broadcast saying “Blake Griffin is back” as the Clippers’ forward scored 27 and pulled down 13 boards in a win in Portland. Some were expressing the same sentiment on Twitter. Their wrong. Griffin isn’t back, he’s healthy. And when he’s healthy he is an awesome force of nature who can score inside and out, crashes the boards, and is a deft passer. He’s as good as any power forward in the game when right. Remember, back in 2014 when Chris Paul had to miss extended time Griffin came in third in the MVP voting? That wasn’t a fluke.

Griffin and CP3 are healthy, and so long as they stay that way this Clippers team is one of the top four in the NBA and a real threat to at least make the conference finals. They just need to keep themselves together for 81 more games.