Delonte West pushing car

Delonte West can’t attend White House ceremony, goes on Twitter rant against media

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Wow, there hasn’t really been a lot of Delonte West news this year, has there? Things have been pretty quiet. Yup, guess he’s put all that drama behi… oh. OK, maybe not.

So first off, a pretty good quote from West, who it turns out thanks to his weapons charge from several years ago, you know, the one where he had a bunch of weaponry stuffed in a guitar case strapped to his back on the highway while he was riding a three-wheeled motorcycle, that one, can’t attend the White House on Monday along with his Mavericks teammates who are celebrating their championship. (Well, kind of. The former Mavericks won’t be there, and considering how much of an impact J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler had to do with last year’s playoffs… that’s a little weird. But whatever, this happens every year.)

From the Star-Telegram:

“I’m banned from going to the White House, so I’m not going to make it,’’ West said after tonight’s 96-81 win over the New Orleans Hornets. “But I’m going home to D.C., I’m just not allowed to go to the White House.

“That’s what happens when you make bad decisions in your life. You can’t go to the White House.’’

via Full-Court Press: West wont be going to the White House.

Oh, well that’s a pretty mature and reasonable thing to say. Good on Delonte for taking responsibility for his actions. I guess he’s put all that nonsense behind him, can more effectively manage his condition, and we can all move on.

Oh. No. 

West went on a Twitter rampage Saturday night, after apparently someone in the locker room was asking questions that didn’t pertain to basketball. The tweets have since been deleted, but Mavs Moneyball captured them. They’re explicit, so consider yourself warned. Part one, and part two.

For those of you keeping score:

  • He says he has to sleep in his car because he can’t get apartment complexes in Dallas to approve him because of things they read on the internet.
  • He says he is, in fact, not our (expletive) side show.
  • Most notably, he pins the media’s portrayal of his little armed excursion on the fact that he’s making the league minimum: “Since that incident… went from starting on a 60+(win) team, supposed to make 5-8 (million) a year… now makin (league minimum). “
  • Then he starts talking about how the league minimum of $800,000 isn’t really all that much because of lawyer fees, agent fees, league fines, escrow, and his divorce settlement.
  • And finally he takes a pretty nasty shot at a media member who’s fairly respected by pretty much anyone who’s ever met him.

He then went back and apologized to the Mavericks for making it sound like he wasn’t appreciative of his contract, and said he would play for free if he had to.

Then on Saturday morning, West was back at it again. Apparently part of it has to do with someone asking about the thing about being banned and how he felt it made him come across as arrogant, when in fact he’s remorseful over his decisions. West apparently was just sad because he felt he could have made the president laugh. West did follow up by saying he doesn’t blame all the media, just a handful. For what it’s worth, the media member in question, who didn’t write the offending article, I might add, said that he wished West nothing but the best, and was clearly hurt by the comments.

So there’s that.

OK, look, I’m a media member. And the only thing worse than someone who partakes in the often-times blatantly agenda-driven pieces of media that come out, especially in sports, is someone who decides to get all holier than thou on everyone else in the industry. But this situation is really unfortunate on all sides.

West doesn’t deserve to be treated as a side show, particularly because one of the primary causes of his long-term behavior is a pretty serious mental condition that is extremely difficult to live with. West struggles with being bipolar. If you’ve had any experience with it, you know how hard that is for someone to deal with who isn’t being asked questions about their behavior all the time. And the reality is that it’s easy to make jokes about him, without considering how serious his problems are. We’re removed from athletes and rarely do we ever actually treat them as fully formed, three-dimensional, flesh and blood and mind and soul individuals, instead of cardboard cutouts on a television screen. Bloggers get nailed with that accusation more than any.

But you can be empathetic to West’s condition and what he’s gone through in his life and still say “Come on, man.” First off, no one wins with him taking this to Twitter. None. He has an agent. All he has to do is have that agent call the writer to express his thoughts. If he wants to instead set the record straight on how he feels about the White House trip, but doesn’t want to go to the same writer, he can have his pick. Most national writers are going to be all ears for an interview with a player of that nature. He’s got a better chance of having his thoughts considered in a full feature than blasting them out in 140 characters.

Because the result is that West comes across as someone upset because he’s only making $300,000 after those expenses this year, that he’s someone who was unfairly victimized by the media when what brought about the criticism was a series of decisions on his part. It’s not that that’s who West is. His attempts Sunday morning to clarify show that. He’s not blaming everyone in the media. He was just sad and upset as being portrayed as someone who didn’t care about the trip to the White House. But it’s these brash events where he lashes out that allow for people to take an overly simplistic, undeveloped view of him and to crack jokes, instead of considering the full weight of both what he’s chosen to share about his life and his condition.

No one wins in this. Especially not West.

Warriors’ defense, Klay Thompson take over fourth quarter, earn Game 2 win

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Only one team in this series can crank up their defense enough to  win them games.

The Warriors’ offense feeds off that stingy defense — with or without Stephen Curry in the lineup, again Tuesday it was without — and the combination can lead to big runs.

Such as a 34-12 fourth quarter. It was historic, as our own Dan Feldman pointed out on twitter.

Golden State trailed by 17 at one point but came on in the fourth with a defensive energy that held Damian Lillard to 0-of-3 shooting and his entire Portland team to 26.5 percent shooting. Those miss shots fueled transition buckets and opportunities — Klay Thompson had 10 of his 27 points on the night in the fourth — and the Warriors roared back for a 110-99 victory.

Golden State now leads the series 2-0 as it heads to Portland, with Game 3 not until Saturday. The biggest question is whether Curry will play in that game, or will the Warriors use their position of strength to get him more rest (as they did in the Houston series up 2-0)?

The best player on the floor in Game 2 was Draymond Green, who finished with 17 points (on 20 shots), 14 rebound and seven assists. But that’s not where the damage he does starts — it’s on defense. His ability to defend the five, then show out high on pick-and-rolls to cut off Lillard or C.J. McCollum and take away their shots from three. With Curry out, Green also spends a lot of time as the guy initiating the Warriors offense. He crashes the boards. He protects the paint, including a key block late on Mason Plumlee. Green did it all.

Portland raced out to a lead using their vintage style — their defense wasn’t that good, but it was good enough (especially with a cold Thompson who kept missing open looks), and their offense was hitting everything. With the Warriors missing shots it was Portland using the opportunity to run — and it was the Warriors defenders doing a poor job of recognizing the shooters and closing them out. So the opposite of Game 1.

Portland was also getting buckets from Al-Farouq Aminu — 10 first quarter points — and that’s always a good sign because he’s the guy (well, him and Maurice Harkless) that the Warriors will live with shooting.

Still, you knew the run was coming. The Warriors went on a 14-2 run to make it close as the second half started to wind down. But then Portland responded with some real poise and an 8-0 run of their own. Portland was getting their buckets and had a 59-51 run at the half. They continued to hold that lead through the third quarter thanks to a red-hot Damian Lillard, who had 16 points in the quarter.

But again, you knew the run was coming — and this time it was fueled by the Warriors defense. Festus Ezeli was a big part of that, his defensive presence in the paint helped turn things around, he was setting big screens to free up Thompson and others, plus he had eight points of his own in the quarter.

When the game got tight Portland missed seven in a row down the stretch, and that sealed the Blazers fate. Meanwhile, the Warriors kept hitting shots, and the Blazers have no great options to change up the defense and alter that dynamic. Even without Curry, the versatility of the Warriors makes them tough to slow, let alone stop. 

Going home, maybe the Trial Blazers can hit some difficult shots and hold off a Warriors charge in the fourth quarter.

Or, maybe Stephen Curry is back, and the Warriors just get better.

Dwyane Wade’s determination outlasts Kyle Lowry’s buzzer beater

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade controls the ball as Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) defends during the first half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Toronto.  (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Dwyane Wade was helpless as Kyle Lowry‘s halfcourt heave sailed through the air (though Wade cocked his head back and leaned to the side, as if changing his view could alter the ball’s trajectory).

Wade was helpless as the referees swallowed their whistles despite Cory Joseph crashing into him on an inbound. (Haven’t we had enough incorrect no-calls on late inbound plays?) That led to a Heat turnover that preceded Lowry’s miracle shot.

Wade was helpless as the referees again swallowed their whistles despite DeMarre Carroll tugging his jersey on an overtime inbound. (Haven’t we really had enough incorrect no-calls on late inbound plays?) That also created a turnover and gave the Raptors another chance to tie.

So, Wade took matters into his own hands.

Wade snatched the ball from DeMar DeRozan, went to his knees to recover it and charged for a three-point play with 1.8 seconds left – finally clinching a 102-96 Miami Game 1 win in a second-round series Tuesday.

The game went to overtime on Lowry’s long-distance buzzer beater. When the shot fell, Wade dropped to one knee and buried his face in his hand. But he didn’t stay on the mat for long.

The Heat scored first eight points of regulation, and Wade (24 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) outscored the Raptors himself in the extra period, 7-6.

This is Toronto’s seventh straight Game 1 loss, including four at home the last three years with largely this group of players. But as the Raptors’ first-round win over the Pacers showed, this series is far from over. Road Game 1 winners have taken the series 53% of the time, hardly an overwhelming clip.

Toronto must better stay in front of Goran Dragic, who led Miami with 26 points. Dragic, who had 25 in Game 7 against the Hornets, had never scored so much in consecutive games with the Heat. They’re thrilled to run their offense through him more often.

The Raptors should also more resolutely attack Hassan Whiteside, who scared them away from the basket. Beyond Jonas Valanciunas (24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals), the Raptors were 8-for-20 in the paint with Whiteside in the game. It’s not so much the shooting percentage – which isn’t great – but the low number of attempts in 39 minutes. Whiteside is a premier rim protector, but he’s not invincible. That proclivity for the perimeter failed especially with Toronto’s star guard struggling so mightily.

Aside from his halfcourt highlight, Lowry scored four points on 2-of-12 shooting, including 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. More than anything, the Raptors need him to play better.

Otherwise, the shot of the playoffs will only delay the inevitable.

Kyle Lowry sends Raptors-Heat to overtime with halfcourt buzzer beater (video)

Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry makes a pass as Miami Heat's Luol Deng (9) and Goran Dragic (7) defend during the first half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday, May 3, 2016 in Toronto.  (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Kyle Lowry was 2-for-11, including 0-for-5 on 3-pointers.

Didn’t matter.

He hit the big one to stave off yet another Raptors Game 1 loss.

Video via Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated

C.J. McCollum on Warriors: ‘They set a lot of illegal screens’

Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, center, reaches for the ball between Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, top, and forward Andre Iguodala during the second half in Game 1 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, May 1, 2016. The Warriors won 118-106. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts accused Anderson Varejao of being dirty on a particular play.

C.J. McCollum says the Warriors cross the line much more regularly.

via Jason Quick of CSN Northwest:

“They set a lot of illegal screens,’’ Blazers guard CJ McCollum said Tuesday at the team’s shootaround at The Olympic Club. “They are moving and stuff. That’s the respect you get when you are champions, you get a lot more respect from the referees. You have to figure out a way to get around those screens and make it difficult.’’

One underappreciated element of the Warriors’ success is their excellent screening. Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut are two of the NBA’s best. Even the diminutive Stephen Curry wreaks havoc with his screens, leveraging his shooting ability to befuddle defenders.

Do the Warriors sometimes set illegal screens? Yup. Do they do so more than other teams? Yup. Do they do so more than every other team? Anecdotally, probably, though I’d love to see numbers.

But that’s part of Golden State’s strategy. The Warriors screeners so often straddle the line, they move it. It’s a fine line between a good legal screen and an illegal one, and Golden State dares the refs to blow the whistle.

McCollum can campaign for that to change, and his statements might cause the league to instruct referees to watch Warrior screens more closely. But even if Golden State has to harness its movement and arm extensions on picks, the team is more than capable of setting quality clean screens.