Carmelo sees himself as a wing, highlights Knicks challenge

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The challenge is pretty clear in New York — when both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire have played in a game the past two seasons, the Knicks are 31-40. The two stars have not meshed.

Which brings us to ‘Melo speaking with Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com Friday and talking about the Knicks and his Olympic experience. In London he played a lot of four, would we see that in Madison Square Garden this year?

‘I’m a wingman & everyone knows that. But it’s an extra incentive (to play the 4)… It gives us more weapons.”

Anthony was dangerous at the four in the Olympics as part of the USA’s small-ball lineup because he could step out and hit the three, he can put the ball on the floor to create a shot, and he is dangerous in the post. The versatility of his game makes him a tough matchup at the four spot.

But that’s not where he plays when Stoudemire is on the court. Then ‘Melo is a wing and that’s where he played with the Knicks last year — 35.4 percent of his shot attempts came in isolation sets (via MySynergySports). He did post up for 13 percent of his shots (and shot 43 percent, which was better than his 37 percent in isolation) but like he said, he’s a wingman. Everyone knows that. Right?

The Knicks need to use ‘Melo more at the four, they need to take advantage of that versatility. They also need to have Stoudemire at the four and running some pick-and-rolls with Raymond Felton. Stoudemire is very effective as the roll-man (he shot 60 percent in that spot last year and got 13 percent of his shots that way). The Knicks need to run more Felton/Stoudemire action, what was at one point Mike D’Antoni’s bread and butter play.

But Mike Woodson had the offense running through his wingman ‘Melo. You can’t run a high pick and roll if Anthony is pounding the ball on the wing. They could go small with ‘Melo at the five and Amare at the four, but that would be a D’Antoni thing to do. Plus, then you’re not using one of the two best defensive centers in the game in Tyson Chandler (and the Knicks need his defense in the paint).

If the Knicks can get Anthony and Stoudemire to play together they can move on to that second tier in the East (they still are not hanging with the Heat). But I need to see it first, because the evidence so far says the Knicks two stars don’t mix.

LeBron James says he has scratched cornea, could sit Saturday vs. Wizards

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With time running down in the third quarter, LeBron James went hard to the basket for a layup, and the shot was contested by Jeremy Lamb, who ended up poking LeBron in the eye on the play.

It isn’t intentional, but it looks painful.

 

 

That blow could have LeBron sitting out Saturday night when the Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards in Cleveland. From Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

LeBron James said he suffered a scratched cornea in his right eye in Friday’s 112-105 win over Charlotte after being examined by a Hornets team physician.

James, who scored 32 points in 40 minutes, could not keep his right eye open during his postgame interview session and said his vision was blurry… Summing it all up, James said “if coach decides to give me a game off (Saturday), it’s not because I’m resting. It’s because I’m banged up.”

He was treated by the Hornets’ team doctor who administered eye drops, but the Cavaliers will make the call closer to game time depending on how LeBron is feeling.

The Cavaliers are 0-6 without LeBron this season. They also have just a one-game lead over the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. (Boston beat Phoenix on Friday, despite Devin Booker dropping 70, and they have a key game with the Heat on Sunday.) That said, the Cavaliers are two games up in the loss column on the Celtics, which is a decent lead, but the Cavs need to start winning consistently.

And beating a hot Washington team will not be easy even with LeBron.

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.