When the Houston Rockets used the amnesty provision on Luis Scola, it was a pretty odd move. The Rockets were obviously juggling the numbers to make offers to both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin this offseason, but it was still a little alarming to see a player of Scola’s caliber get cast aside for nothing in return but cap space.
Scola is playing this year with the Phoenix Suns, who were likely thrilled to get a proven frontcourt producer at a discounted rate, regardless of whether or not he meshed with the overall direction of the franchise. Scola hasn’t been with his new teammates very long, but it sounds like he has a pretty good grasp on the identity of the team:
“We’re not a cool team,” Scola said. “We’re not one of those teams that just gives it to somebody and he gets the game for you. We’re grinding, playing hard, playing tough. That’s the way we’re going to win games. The quicker we accept that, the better we’re going to be off.
It’s okay, Luis. I’m sure your team has lots of other great qualities So maybe you don’t have “swag or steez” like some of the other teams in league. Big deal. You can still play pretty basketball! Wait, what’s that?
“We’re not a pretty team. It’s not going to be sexy. We’ve just got to grind it. We’ve got to play hard.”
Oh. Well, then. Although you probably won’t see the Suns marketing team go with, “The 2012-13 Phoenix Suns: Not cool, pretty, or sexy”, Scola is qualified to talk about playing on teams without a star and what it takes to stay successful, because he did it for years in Houston. And he’s right, it’s not always going to be pretty. But for the Suns to compete, they’ll have to embrace a style of play similar to what the Milwaukee Bucks did last season — quick passing, quick decisions, and selfless play. The Suns just aren’t talented enough to play isolation basketball and expect it to work.
But, Luis, a little word of advice? Don’t tell any of this to Michael Beasley, king of the jab step and proud owner of a giant tattoo on his back that reads, “SUPER COOL BEAS”. That might not go over too well.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford returns Wednesday after 21-game absence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hornets coach Steve Clifford returned to practice Tuesday following a 21-game absence due to headaches caused by sleep deprivation. He will coach the Hornets on the bench Wednesday night against the Wizards.
Clifford said Tuesday when he began experiencing intense headaches back in early December it scared him so bad he decided to take a medical leave of absence. Medical tests revealed nothing wrong internally, but Clifford said doctors told him he needed to dramatically change his lifestyle and work habits – and get more sleep.
Clifford, who last coached Charlotte on Dec. 1, says he feels rested and plans to delegate more to his assistant coaches moving forward.
The 56-year-old Clifford returns to the sideline Wednesday when Charlotte hosts Washington, the start of a five-game homestand for the struggling Hornets (17-25).
Charlotte was 9-12 under associate head coach Stephen Silas during Clifford’s absence.
Jonathan Isaac in sermon: I invited my Magic teammates to hear me preach, but none came
But the Magic rookie hasn’t stayed out of the spotlight.
He delivered a sermon Sunday at his church, which put the speech online. In the talk, he mentioned his teammates.
I invited my teammates. Right? I invited my teammates, and that was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do yet. None of them came, but I took the step, and I invited them. When Doc told me, “You should invite your teammates,” I was frozen. I froze. I said, “What? I’m the rookie. I’m the youngest person on the team. I can’t tell them that I’m about to preach. What? They don’t serve the lord. What are they going to think of me? What are they going to say about me? What are they going to say behind my back?” I want to be a part of this team. I want them to love me, truly. I typed the message up, and I deleted it. I typed it, and I deleted it. I typed it, and I deleted it. And finally, I was like, “You know what? This isn’t about me. I’ve got to take myself out of the equation. I’ve got to do what god is telling me to do.”
Jonathan Isaac has reached out to me and wanted to make sure everyone knows he did NOT intend to shed any negativity on his teammates. He loves them and had this to say:
I think it’s generally worth knowing what drives players. Religion is clearly an important part of Isaac’s life. That has anchored many athletes, but it can also create a burden, as Dwight Howarddiscussed.
Religion can also unite teams – or divide them. While coaching the Magic, Doc Rivers – himself very religious – ended team prayers once he noticed Muslim player Tariq Abdul-Wahad appear uncomfortable during the Christian prayers. A former teammate said David Robinson caused a rift in the Spurs’ locker room due to his proselytizing.
There’s also something to be said for teammates backing each other. Attending Isaac’s church for a day can be about supporting him, not adhering to his religion.
Of course, his teammates are under no obligation to attend. They’re co-workers, not necessarily friends. Maybe they just didn’t want to spend there free time with Isaac. Maybe they were busy. Maybe they felt uncomfortable going to church. There’s a whole range of possible reasons for each teammate, the way it affects team dynamics – on and off the court – varying accordingly.
Based on his sermon and follow-up statement, Isaac is going about this the right way. It can be nerve-wracking to ask people to join in something. That can be a meaningful experience in and of itself.
For the Magic, this provides another lens for which to assess their chemistry and camaraderie.
Three Things to Know: Anthony Davis gives Celtics fans 45 reasons to drool over him more
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. And we didn’t even get to
1) Anthony Davis shows why Celtics’ fans drool over him, drops 45 in Pelicans win. There are executives and fans with 29 NBA teams who covet Anthony Davis and fantasize about would look like in their uniform. It’s just that Boston fans and executives are the loudest and least subtle about it. That despite the fact that Davis — a top-five NBA player who makes an impact at both ends of the floor — has three years on his contract after this one (the last one a player option) and the Pelicans are not trading him for the foreseeable future because they are not stupid (the feeling around the league is the Pelicans will re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer and go all-in with that combo). That didn’t stop Boston media from peppering Davis with questions Tuesday that basically amounted to little more than “so, just how badly do you want to come here and when can we expect you?” Davis dodged them all. As he should.
Tuesday night Davis gave Celtics fans a first-hand reminder why they want him so badly — he dropped 45 on the Celtics and led the Pelicans to a big win in the Boston Garden (his second 45+ point game, he did the same thing to the Knicks Saturday).
After a performance like that, Celtics fans would even be willing to trade Terry Rozier for Davis. Well, some of them would, not all. Some would construct a trade around Daniel Theis and think it was a fair swap.
Davis had help in this one, and not just from DeMarcus Cousins (who had 19 points and 15 rebounds). Jrue Holiday had 23 points, seven assists, and played fantastic defense on Kyrie Irving down the stretch (Irving had 27 points, but on 8-of-24 shooting). Davis, Cousins, and Holiday all had key buckets in the overtime session.
This win puts the Pelicans three games over .500 for only the second time this season, and now they head into a soft week in the schedule where (if focused) they should be able to pad their record a little. They need to. While right now the Pelicans are the six seed in the West, they are just one game ahead of the nine-seed Clippers — the race for the playoffs is on. New Orleans needs every win it can get.
2) Aaron Afflalo throws a punch (and misses) at Nemanja Bjelica, both men were ejected in actual, almost, NBA fight. Orlando’s Afflalo and Minnesota’s Bjelica had been going at it for a while in this game — both had already picked up a technical and things were getting chippy. Then midway through the second quarter, as the two men went for a rebound on a Jamal Crawford jumper, Bjelica just ran headlong into Afflalo as the Magic player looked like he was pass blocking.
That’s when a fight broke out and Afflalo threw a haymaker, which didn’t connect, then Bjelica gets him in a headlock.
Both men were ejected. Obviously.
Bjelica: "I don’t want to feel like victim here. That’s part of the game. He took a swing at me. I was just trying to protect myself & to help him, to calm him down, because he was wild. I don’t know what's wrong with that guy. If you attack me I have protect myself & my family.
Afflalo is getting suspended for this — his punch was wild and didn’t connect, but that was a punch. Bjelica may miss a game or two as well for his role.
Orlando went on to upset the Timberwolves behind 32 points from Evan Fournier, snapping a five-game Minnesota win streak.
3) Nikola Jokic had a monster night, dropping 29 points and grabbing 18 boards. This year, the center position for the All-NBA teams feels wide open. (The league still makes people pick a center for this award, which is outdated for today’s game, but that’s the rules.) Joel Embiid is in the conversation for one of those slots (so long as he plays enough games), as is DeMarcus Cousins. LaMarcus Aldridge plays more center than power forward now and has to be mentioned. So does Karl-Anthony Towns, who has started to finally focus more on the defensive end.
Just don’t sleep on Nikola Jokic.
Denver’s best player had maybe his best game of the season Tuesday night, carving up Dallas to the tune of 29 points, 18 rebounds, and seven assists. Dallas threw a variety of defenders at him and it just didn’t matter.
Much like was mentioned with the Pelicans above, the Nuggets need to rack up wins. Just 1.5 games separates Oklahoma City at the five seed and the L.A. Clippers at the seven seed. Five teams for four spots. There’s half a season to go, and injuries will likely ultimately determine who is in and who is out, but Denver can’t afford to look past anyone, and scrappy teams like Dallas can be a tough out. This was a good win for the Nuggets on Tuesday, and Jokic is why they have it.
Watch Anthony Davis score 42 points in OT win over Celtics (VIDEO)
New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis is on a bit of a tear.
Davis scored 48 points to go along with 17 rebounds on Sunday as the Pelicans beat the New York Knicks at MSG. Then on Tuesday night, Davis again went for 40+, scorching the Boston Celtics at TD Garden to the tune of 45 points, this time with 16 rebounds.
Alongside DeMarcus Cousins, who scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, Davis was the deciding factor in Tuesday’s game, helping to get early buckets in the extra time period.
The final result was impressive, and good news for the Pelicans as they continue to solidify their playoff position going into the All-Star break.
Watch the full highlights from Davis’ scoring outbreak in the video above.