Only two games on the slate on TNT Thursday, but we still managed to find three stellar performances nonetheless. And they all had dominant offensive performances.
Third Star: DeAndre Jordan (21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, 8 rebounds, in 28 minutes)
I was a bit disgusted with the way DeAndre Jordan handled himself on the bench late during Wednesday’s win over the Spurs, but it would be difficult to find any flaws in the way he performed in Portland on Thursday. Jordan was a dominant scorer from the low block, showing patience and solid footwork when making his moves to the basket. His athleticism was under control on this night, and he even hit five of his seven free throw attempts — which raised him to 38.5 percent now from the line for the season.
Since there are no embeddable highlights available from this game at the moment, go ahead and watch Jordan prank some folks with a large fake spider at Venice Beach. (Yeah, I don’t know, either.)
Second Star: Kevin Durant (24 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks, game-sealing Dirk dagger)
The Bulls are one of the better defensive units in the league, so even without Derrick Rose, they’re still able to stay close with elite teams like the Thunder. OKC’s attack was balanced all night, until the fourth quarter came along and Kevin Durant decided it was winning time. Ten of Durant’s 24 came in the final period, none prettier than the one-legged fadeaway with under 20 seconds left that effectively sealed it.
First Star: Jamal Crawford (25 points on 9-of-17 shooting in 28 minutes off the bench)
Anytime a player returns to the place he played the previous season as a member of the opposing team, and leads his new team to victory while scoring more than everyone else in the building — and hearing the boos from the home crowd in the process — I’d say that’s a pretty stellar performance.
Rajon Rondo: You couldn’t name three players on 2015-16 Kings, but I led NBA in assists
“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation,” Rondo says in response. “I mean, last year — I hate to keep talking about last year — but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game.”
Nike, meanwhile, is expected to present its initial NBA jersey designs to retailers beginning this week. The company said it doesn’t plan to produce sleeved jerseys, a style debuted by Adidas in 2013 that received mixed reviews from players and fans.
Whether or not sleeves were introduced for ad space, uniform advertisements are still coming. The ads can fit on standard jerseys, no problem.
At this point, there’s just little to no upside for sleeved jerseys.
Nostalgia will treat sleeves better than present-day evaluations, but until we look back wistfully on this mostly failed experiment, good riddance.
Report: Carmelo Anthony twice asked to meet with Phil Jackson, who will get around to it soon
That affair should’ve provided a sense of Jackson’s communication skills. This latest episode only reinforces it.
The Knicks were in New York on Thursday, when Rosen’s article was published. They played in Toronto on Sunday and returned home for a game yesterday. That’s plenty of time for Jackson and Anthony to talk.
Why hasn’t it happened yet?
Isaiah Thomas on pace to break modern-era fourth-quarter scoring record
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Thomas said. “It just surprises everybody else.”
It shouldn’t any longer.
Boston has won seven of eight, and in that span, Thomas has scored most of the Celtics’ fourth-quarter points. He has pushed his fourth-quarter scoring average to 10.1 for the season – putting him on track to break the modern-era record.
Kobe Bryant scored 9.5 fourth-quarter points per game in 2006, the most in the previous 20 years (as far back as NBA.com has data). The leaderboard:
Russell Westbrook is also on track to surpass Kobe and join this rarified air. LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade are the only other players to average even eight fourth-quarter points per game in a season over the previous 20 years. Not even Michael Jordan (7.1 in 1997, 7.3 in 1998) did it.
Boston’s offense has blasted into the stratosphere with Thomas on the court in the fourth quarter, scoring 122.1 points per 100 possessions. However, the Celtics allow even more with him on the floor in the final period (122.8 points per 100 possessions). The 5-foot-9 point guard has limits.
But where those limits exist when it comes to his clutch scoring – we haven’t found them yet.