Utah Jazz v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

Spurs have all the answers in win over Jazz


The San Antonio Spurs beat the Utah Jazz 106-91 Sunday in Game 1 of their first round series, behind 28 points and 8 assists from Tony Parker. The Spurs have taken a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.

For San Antonio, it was a way to wipe clean the memories of last year’s embarrassing first-round loss to the Grizzlies and get a win in the first game on their home floor. They lead throughout the game and while Utah hung in there, the Spurs busted it open in the third, and were able to close the game out when the Jazz had cut the lead to ten in the fourth.

For the Jazz, it could have been much worse. They showed that they can hang, but thy also have several talent issues which are likely to restrict them from being able to get past San Antonio and may keep it from being a competitive series. Jazz coach Ty Corbin made a serious error in starting Josh Howard over DeMarre Carroll, who had given the Jazz a serious lift over the past several weeks. Howard came out and badly missed his first two shots, and the stage was set.

The Jazz face an interesting dilemma against San Antonio. Their strength is in their frontcourt, but the Spurs are more than willing to bring double-teams. The Jazz kicked out to shooters but Gordon Hayward and Devin Harris missed open looks on the perimeter. As a result, the Jazz offense stalled. The bigger problem, though, may be that Tim Duncan was able to play Al Jefferson to a standstill, and Paul Millsap didn’t dominate in his matchups versus Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair. Millsap has 20 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks… and it still wasn’t enough. The Jazz honestly have to run all their offense through Millsap to get the pressure off Jefferson and spread the floor.

For San Antonio, just about what you would expect. Tony Parker dominated his matchup against Devin Harris, getting in the lane and hitting soft runners and jumpers, and Manu Ginobili owned Gordon Hayward, getting whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. He made several great plays, dishing over his shoulder to Tim Duncan and getting out in transition for dunks (including one miss, but we won’t talk about that). The Spurs’ perimeter bench attack didn’t even get involved that much outside of Stephen Jackson’s 14.

Basically, the Spurs won in just about every phase of the game. Turns out they’re the better team, funnily enough. Utah showed some things to suggest they might be able to steal one if they can get hot, but the Spurs showed that there is no let up from them against a weaker opponent. It’s just Game 1. But every indication is that there will be no upset this year.

The Spurs are in the space they need to be.

Kobe Bryant went from DeMar DeRozan’s idol to his friend

Kobe Bryant, DeMar DeRozan
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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan was 16 when he was invited to Kobe Bryant‘s camp for the top 25 American high school shooting guards.

A friendship grew between the youngster who would become an All-Star for the Toronto Raptors and the player who would become the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

DeRozan talked at length Sunday night about Bryant, who announced on The Players’ Tribune that he’ll retire after the season, capping a 20-year NBA career.

“The knowledge that he tended to give me every time I got the chance to be around him, especially at a young age, carrying over to the league, it was definitely an honor,” DeRozan said after the Raptors’ 107-102 loss Sunday night to Phoenix. “I tried to listen as much as possible, soak in as much as I could all of the time. It’s crazy how much time flies.”

Bryant was DeRozan’s favorite player while growing up in Compton, Calif.

“I’ve tried to emulate and learn so much from him ever since I was a kid, watching every single game growing up in Los Angeles, having a chance to get with him and learn from him, from conversations even when I was in high school from playing against him, completing against him, being in big games with him,” said DeRozan, who scored 29 points in Sunday’s loss. “It’s definitely a sad, sad day, but he’s been in the game a long time.”

Bryant’s announcement came just before the Lakers’ game against the visiting Indiana Pacers. Fans at the game received a letter of thanks from the 37-year-old player in a black envelope embossed with gold.

Bryant has struggled mightily with injuries the past several years, and is shooting a career-worst 32 percent this season.

“It don’t matter. That man has five rings, 17 all-stars, MVP,” DeRozan said. “There’s nothing he hasn’t done. It’s just father time catching up with him, injuries catching up with him this past year. People will appreciate it when he’s away from the game.”

DeRozan has his favorite Kobe memory – Bryant scoring 81 points against Toronto in 2006. DeRozan, who would join the Raptors as a rookie three years later, said he felt as if he was playing a video game watching the high-scoring spectacle unfold on TV.

DeRozan is in his seventh season with Toronto. He can’t imagine playing 20 years.

“Especially playing at a high level, doing the things he was doing … people don’t understand how hard that is,” DeRozan said. “Even now, a lot of us find ourselves tired (on) back-to-backs. It’s tough. It’s really tough. To do it 20 years at a high level, you have to give that man every credit in the world.”

Hornets’ Al Jefferson out 2-3 weeks with strained calf

Al Jefferson
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The Hornets have been playing well of late, going 7-3 in their last 10 and outscoring opponents by 6.3 points per 100 possessions. They are solidly in the playoff picture out East, in the six slot right now.

This is not going to help matters.

The team announced that an MRI confirmed center Al Jefferson will be out two to three weeks with a strained left calf muscle, suffered during Charlotte’s 87-82 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Jefferson missing a few weeks due to injury at some point during the season is an annual event, like the Rose Parade or the Head of the Charles Regatta — but this year the Hornets are better prepared to deal with it. This is the deepest Charlotte team in recent memory.

Tyler Hansbrough, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky will get more run — plus Spencer Hawes may be back in the rotation — and if they can step up the Hornets will not slow down much.

This season the Hornets defense has been downright stingy when Jefferson is on the bench, giving up 94.2 points per 100 possessions (which is 10 better than when he is on the court). However, the Hornet offense and rebounding efforts are stronger when he plays.

PBT Extra: How did Thunder, Pacers move up in PBT Power Rankings?

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As they do every Monday during the season, the PBT Power Rankings came out and while the top three remained the same there were some climbers.

Specifically, the Thunder at No. 4 and the Pacers at No. 5.

Why they are there is the latest PBT Extra topic with Jenna Corrado. The simple answer is they are both excellent teams. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all playing like Top 10 players.

PBT Podcast: We’re back talking Kobe, 76ers, Warriors, Pistons, more

Kobe Bryant
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The ProBasketballTalk NBA podcast is back.

Sure we’re a month into the season, but we’re going to get this podcast rolling again and you can expect us on each Monday and Thursday, with a variety of guests talking everything around the NBA.

Today NBC’s own Dan Feldman joins Kurt Helin to talk Kobe Bryant‘s retirement announcement, and what that means both for the Lakers going forward this season and beyond, but also what that could mean for Byron Scott’s future as the Lakers’ coach.

We also delve into the “showdown” between the Lakers and Sixers on Thursday, talk about the job Brett Brown is doing there as coach (a good one), we talk some Warriors, some Draymond Green, Pistons, Spurs and Pacers to round it all out.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.