New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin drives to the basket against the New Orleans Hornets in the second half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York

Linsanity runs into Hornets nest, Knicks winning streak ends

22 Comments

There are people saying that Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin can’t coexist.

But in the final minutes of the first loss in the Linsanity era Friday night, the Knicks really needed Carmelo Anthony. They needed a second player who can create his own shot (or a shot for others). They needed a second player who does not shrink in the big moments. It’s at moments like the final minutes of a close game where Lin and Anthony could be the kind of combo that wins New York a lot of games.

They lost this one. To the team with the second-worst record in the league. Linsanity is not dead, but it is not infallible either. New Orleans knocked off the Knicks 89-85. New York did not get above .500 on the season, falling to 15-16.

Knicks fans, if you want to blame someone, blame Spike Lee for wearing Jeremy Lin’s high school jersey to the game. He was overlooked then, too.

Actually, blame the turnovers.

Lin had nine of the Knicks’ 21 turnovers on the night. On his first possession of the game, Lin threw a bounce pass at Amare Stoudemire’s feet in transition and turned it over. On his second possession he was forced left and drove the lane but missed the layup (Tyson Chandler cleaned it up for the putback). On his third possession he drove from the top of the key down the lane but lost control, tried to jump-save it and threw it away to the Hornets. On his next possession he drove the lane but lost control and it went off his knee out of bounds.

It was that kind of night for Lin and the Knicks.

The Hornets played about as well as a poor team suffering a rash of injuries could be expected to play. Trevor Ariza led New Orleans with 25 points and every Hornets starter was in double figures. The Hornets made 7-of-12 3-pointers as well.

New York still had its chances. The Knicks cut the lead to four midway through third quarter, but by the start of the fourth it was 10 points again.

In the fourth, an Iman Shumpert step-back three and an Amare 18-footer cut the lead to five with 8:21 left and we had a game. It was close the rest of the way, but this time Linsanity was not enough.

When Lin was cut off on the drive the entire offense had to reset, costing precious time. That is why they needed Anthony. Or J.R. Smith (who can create shots — only for himself, but they are shots). The Knicks’ attack lacked diversity and the Hornets took advantage.

That happens. But it is far from the end of Linsanity in New York.

What Lin has brought to New York is hope, and on the court what he brought was freedom and creativity. For a night, that got lost, blinded by the Hornets’ Mardi Gras uniforms (or something). There is work to do, to integrate Anthony and Smith into the offense.

But there is potential there, and Lin adds hope that it can be worked out. This was one ugly, off night against a bad team. Despite what some New Yorkers think, Lin could not turn water into wine or the Knicks into consistent winners all by himself.

What matters is how the Knicks bounce back and play their next game. How Linsanity on the court evolves as the talent gets added back onto the roster. There is an opportunity there. The old Knicks squandered that. We’ll see what the Lin Knicks do.

Draymond Green says he didn’t talk much with Kevin Durant during playoffs

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder hugs Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors after losing 96-88 in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 2016 in Oakland, 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Thunder players were reportedly bothered by the relationship between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green last season.

The Warriors recruited Durant throughout the year, but that got complicated when Golden State met Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.

But Green says the players didn’t cross a line.

Green (hat tip: Erik Horne of The Oklahoman):

Me and KD weren’t really talking during the playoffs. During the playoffs, it’s a little different. More is at stake. So, we weren’t talking much, and that’s normal. So, I heard something come out where they said, “Oh, Kevin Durant and Draymond was talking during the playoffs.” They were lying. But if that’s what they want to believe, if that makes them feel better about themselves — and when I say “them,” I’m talking about whoever, whoever’s saying it — then believe it. But they’re wrong.

If Green and Durant kept their distance during the postseason, that seems reasonable.

Durant’s former co-workers shouldn’t have a right to dictate his friends outside work, but when there’s direct competition, it’s a little different. It’s fair to ask Durant to separate himself from Green then.

There’s still no perfect solution. Durant’s and Green’s prior relationship opened the door for questions. But suggesting Durant and Green never should have bonded in the first place is unrealistic.

So, there’s little left to do but hope Durant and Green handled it was well as Green said they did.

 

Enes Kanter on claim nobody wants to play with Russell Westbrook: ‘Wrong!!!’

SAN ANTONIO,TX - MAY 10:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates with Enes Kanter #11 after a win against the San Antonio Spurs in game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 10, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.  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 Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kevin Durant might have left the Thunder, in part, because he grew tired of playing with Russell Westbrook.

But does that mean nobody wants to play with Westbrook?

Presented with that claim, Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter refuted it strongly:

Of course, many players want to play with Russell Westbrook. He’s a great player and even better competitor. People want to be around someone so maniacal about winning and capable of delivering.

But there’s an obvious difference between Kanter and Durant. It’s much easier for a pick-and-roll big man than a superstar wing to play with Westbrook.

Westbrook tends to over-dribble, and he can be selfish. I’d understand Durant preferring a team with more ball movement like the Warriors.

Kanter doesn’t have the cachet to pick any team at any salary like Durant did. Of his options, Kanter is probably genuinely happy to play with Westbrook. And the Thunder should be happy to have Westbrook (as long as they do). His strengths far outweigh his flaws.

No scoring star seamlessly blend with each other. Even LeBron James and Dwyane Wadeclose friends and one an elite passer — struggled to mesh early in their Heat days. It’s just hard when there’s one ball.

So, it’s unfair to kill Westbrook for this drawback to his game. Maybe he’d click better with another star who’s more aggressive than Durant. And it’s not even as if Westbrook and Durant failed together. Oklahoma City won a lot of games with those two.

Plenty of players would sign up to replace Durant as Westbrook’s partner in crime.

Report: Amar’e Stoudemire wanted to play for Suns next season

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the Phoenix Suns looks at the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 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 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
3 Comments

Amar’e Stoudemire — despite spending more time and having more success with the Suns — signed with the Knicks to retire.

Why not Phoenix?

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Stoudemire was linked to the Suns last year, but a return never happened.

It didn’t make more sense now. Phoenix already has 15 players, the regular-season roster limit. John Jenkins and Alan Williams have unguaranteed deals, but why waive one for Stoudemire? The Suns are semi-rebuilding, and Tyson Chandler already serves as a veteran big.

There’s a reason Stoudemire retired rather then sign somewhere. Maybe nobody wanted him.

But it’s also only July, and teams are still filling out their rosters. If Stoudemire wants to keep playing, he might have opportunities later, especially after the trade deadline. He’s just 33. There’s now reason to believe his retirement won’t stick.

Thunder renounce Derek Fisher

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 25: Oklahoma City Thunder Derek Fisher #6 runs up the court against the San Antonio Spurs during Game Three of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 25, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
1 Comment

Derek Fisher is already stumping for his second head-coaching job.

Fisher has done plenty since retiring as a player — getting hired by the Knicks, getting fired by the Knicks and in between being attacked by Matt Barnes and finding another controversy about player relations.

All the while, Fisher counted against the cap for the Thunder, his last NBA team.

Oklahoma City finally renounced him to sign Alex Abrines.

Albert Nahmad of Heat Hoops:

This is one of my favorite salary-cap quirks, explained in further detail here.

These are becoming fewer and further between, because teams are using cap room more frequently as the salary cap skyrockets. Gone are the days of a team operating above the cap for a dozen straight years.

There’s also even less utility in old cap holds now that a player must have played the prior season for a team to be used in a sign-and-trade. (Not that these holds were useful except the rarest of occasions prior, anyway.)

Fisher’s quick transition from playing to coaching helped make this an exception, allowing this weird (and trivial) transaction.