Skip Bayless’ job at ESPN2 is to get people to watch him. He’s good at it — saying often outrageous things will get people to watch to see what you will say next. (His ultimate goal is no different than this blog or anywhere else in the media, our job is to get you to read or watch or listen. There are just a number of ways to go about it.)
One of Bayless’ favorite NBA topics is that Russell Westbrook is taking too many shots away from Kevin Durant. That he should be more of a traditional point guard and defer more to one of the great scorers of the game.
Hogwash, Durant told the Oklahoman. He wants Westbrook to fire away.
“We’re worse when I take more shots (than Westbrook),” Durant said. “Like I said, that guy (Bayless) doesn’t know a thing. I don’t think he watches us. I think he just looks at the stats. And traditionally, a point guard is not supposed to take more shots than everybody else on the team. But we’re better when he does do that and he’s aggressive. And I’m better when I’m out there facilitating, rebounding, defending and being more efficient on my shots with less shots.”
The Thunder have the most efficient offense in the NBA — by a point per possession according to the NBA’s own stats — and part of the reason that works is a two-pronged attack. For the record, they take about the same number of shots per game (Durant averages 0.2 more shots per game). Durant has been more efficient as a shooter than Westbrook, but that is in part because he can pick his spots. If Westbrook defers KD will get more shots but it would be a mistake to assume they would be of the same quality. Durant’s shooting percentages would drop.
Frankly, James Harden is the guy on that team who should be getting more shots.
But the Thunder offense is not the problem (and I don’t think it will be in the playoffs, either). If it is working, don’t “fix” it.
There was a scary moment during the matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. During a change of possession, Houston’s Trevor Ariza and and Golden State’s James Michael McAdoo got tangled up and fell together on the floor.
McAdoo was under Ariza and wound up getting his head slammed into the hardwood. He was immediately taken off the floor and sent to the locker room.
The NBATV broadcast said McAdoo received stitches but did not test positive for a concussion. He is averaging 8.7 minutes, 2.9 points, and 1.7 rebounds per-game for the Warriors.
Jusuf Nurkic did not enjoy his time as a member of the Denver Nuggets. His trade to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee was a welcome change of scenery.
On Tuesday night, Nurkic got to take on his old team with huge playoff implications at stake. Portland beat the Nuggets, 122-113, moving a game ahead of their rivals in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and giving them the best tiebreaker between the two.
Nurkic was impressive, blasting his old squad with 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, adding 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
Nurkic was interviewed in the arena after the game, and he was obviously happy he helped his team while also sticking it to Denver. Speaking with Portland reporter Brooke Olzendam, Nurkic took one last shot at the Nuggets, telling them to enjoy their summer.
Nurkic quite possibly sent the Nuggets packing for the year with the game at the Moda Center on Tuesday, so he might have been the guy who helped start their summer.
Still, that is ice cold.
Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.
The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.
With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.
This is what happened next:
Morris was whistled for a foul on the play.
The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.
The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.
That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.
Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.
Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again: