The Atlanta Hawks were definitely expected to struggle on Friday night when they found out that Josh Smith would be missing in action for Game 3 against the Boston Celtics. They didn’t really feel his absence in the first half, however, thanks to Tracy McGrady turning back the hands of time once he was summoned from the bench.
The former scoring champion looked like the T-Mac of old in the first half, showing nifty pull-up jumpers, sweet spin moves and generally doing everything people remember him doing during his prime — including a slick dunk around Mickael Pietrus — before needing to be helped off the court with an apparent ankle injury after scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds in less than 17 minutes of playing time.
When he injured his foot, McGrady shot a three-pointer and came down awkwardly on Rajon Rondo’s heel as the Celtics point guard attempted to close out on the jump shot. It wasn’t a dirty play, but it wasn’t easy to watch McGrady go down clutching his leg after a solid first half, either. The always-excellent @cjzero posted video of the incident on Youtube.
The Hawks led the Celtics 40-38 at halftime, thanks largely to McGrady’s play along with solid play from Joe Johnson, but things could easily fall apart if T-Mac is unable to return in the second half due to the sprained ankle. Atlanta is already missing Smith, Al Hoford and Zaza Pachulia due to injury.
Watch Hassan Whiteside beat the Pistons at the buzzer with tip-in (VIDEO)
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.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.
Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.
Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”
Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.
Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.
“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.
Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler is a smart dude. He’s spent years of offseason work turning himself into a max-level player, and that shows he knows not only how to work but how to attack the game of basketball.
He’s also smart enough to know he shouldn’t go poking the bear when it comes to two future Hall of Fame players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
When asked whether the Cleveland Cavaliers star or the Golden State Warriors scorer was the toughest matchup in the NBA, Butler made sure he wasn’t adding any kind of blackboard material to rile up either player.
Butler, on if LBJ is toughest guard: "If I say he is, then next time I play Durant, he's going to try to score 60. You're not gonna get me."