Kobe Bryant, Grant Hill

Nash calls Kobe’s 48 against the Suns “one of the best performances” he’s seen


By now you’ve surely heard about Kobe Bryant’s 48 points he put up in a win over the Suns on Tuesday. You likely are also aware that Bryant is playing through torn wrist ligaments in his shooting hand, and that perhaps he’s been shooting too much, to the detriment of this Lakers team.

The fact that you are thinking it is probably one of the reasons for Bryant’s most recent streak of domination.

In the five games since that fateful 6-for-28 shooting performance in Denver, Bryant has averaged 36 points per game, while shooting better than 51 percent from the field. But the pinnacle came in the performance against Phoenix, and Steve Nash was as impressed as anyone with what he saw.

“It’s one of the best performances I’ve seen,” Nash said after Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “Not only because he had 48 points, but I thought Grant [Hill] guarded him incredibly well. He still made just shot after shot — contested and difficult shots. It was incredible.”

Hill actually did a decent job on Bryant to start the game, as Suns head coach Alvin Gentry was quick to point out.

“Grant guarded him the first eight minutes and he had four points,” Gentry said. “The last three minutes of the quarter he had 13. Obviously once you get a guy going like that, he gets in a comfort zone.”

Bryant has said that it’s personal when it comes to the Suns, and ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande took it a step further by speculating that Bryant’s ire might be directed specifically at Nash:

Kobe keeps saying how much he hates the Phoenix Suns.

But there’s almost nothing left from the Suns teams that knocked the Lakers out of the first round of the playoffs in 2006 and 2007. The coach is gone, the general manager is gone, every other player is gone … there’s even a different guy doing tricks in the gorilla suit. The only one who remains is Steve Nash. The same Steve Nash who won the Most Valuable Player award over Bryant in 2005 and 2006.

“I don’t like them,” Bryant said of the Suns. “Plain and simple, I do not like them. They used to whip us pretty good and used to let us know about it, and I. Will. Not. Forget. That.”

If it is personal for Bryant, Nash certainly wasn’t willing to add anything to that internal fire Bryant already has burning for the Phoenix organization.

“I don’t know what to say about that,” Nash said. “I don’t know what his thought process is there. He had a great game, so if it’s personal, it was very, very ‘personally’ great.”

Nash said after Tuesday’s game that Bryant is “the best player in the world.” He stood by that assessment on Wednesday, while specifically giving Kobe the edge over LeBron James.

“I didn’t change my mind over night,” he said. “I mean, LeBron’s neck and neck with Kobe. But Kobe just, time and time again, has proven what he can do. He’s a finisher, he’s a scorer, and he’s a great competitor.”

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.