This was one of those nights when a number of guys could have made the three-stars list — Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds; Carlos Boozer had 24 points and 13 rebounds; Ty Lawson with an impressive 26 points; and there were others in consideration. Even Andray Blatche.
But in the end, these three are pretty hard to beat.
Third Star: Kyrie Irving (28 points 11 assists)
It was great just to see him back out on the court, he is just fun to watch. His quickness was far too much for Chris Duhon and Darius Morris to handle, and the Lakers rotations — which have been slow — he made look glacial. Irving got shots at the rim on the drive, he got step back threes, and he hit 11-of-21 plus added seven assists. Without him he Cavaliers offense was ugly, but with him they were good enough to beat the Lakers.
Second Star: Kobe Bryant (42 points 5 rebounds, 2 assists)
Kobe put up a lot of points… which isn’t that good for a Lakers team that needs victories. The Lakers are 1-10 when he scores more than 30. But Kobe really had no choice because the offense was sputtering — and when that happens Kobe is fearless about taking on more of the responsibility himself. The key is that while Kobe was gunning he was efficient — he hit 16-of-28 from the floor — which is part of what kept the Lakers within striking distance (a gap they never closed).
First Star: Carmelo Anthony (45 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists)
In what has been his best season (so far), this was maybe Carmelo Anthony’s best performance. He was a force. Not only did ‘Melo score big, it was when he scored — 15 in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks complete the comeback and get the win (behind Jason Kidd’s three pointer). Anthony did it pretty much every way imaginable — he was draining threes, getting into the lane, and doing almost all of it in the flow of the offense. It’s far, far to early to say who is going to be the league MVP, but Anthony has played his way into the discussion.
Stan Van Gundy on slumping Pistons: “We’re just bad all the way around”
If the playoffs started today, the Detroit Pistons would be out golfing. Or fishing. Or partying in Cabo. The point is, they would not be playing.
Which is stunning — this was a 44-win team a year ago that seemed on the rise and is anchored by Andre Drummond in the paint. This year they’re four games below .500 and lost five of their last six, including back-to-back losses to the Nets and Bulls the last two days. In the month of March, the Pistons have been outscored by 4.4 points per 100 possessions. They are now tied with the Bulls 1.5 games back of the Heat for the last playoff slot in the East.
Stan Van Gundy, you’re coach and GM in Detroit, what do you think of all this? (Via ESPN’s Nick Friedell)
“The message I gave them is, ‘Look, we got 10 games left,” he said. “And if we don’t change the way we’re playing, this is going to get really, really ugly.
“We didn’t defend at any point in the second half. We didn’t defend much in the first half, either. Just really disappointing. We were 33-33, got tied, back to .500 after that New York game [on March 11], ran into a buzz saw in Cleveland [three nights later], and that’s it. We haven’t bounced back. It’s like we took that one hit and have not recovered at all. Have not played a decent game since then. This is six bad games in a row.”
“Right now, we don’t have a lot of life in us, and we got to find some by Friday,” Van Gundy added. “It’s just not one position, either. We’re just not playing. We’re not. We’re just bad all the way around.”
The Pistons have what should be winnable games against Orlando and New York coming up on the road, followed by an important matchup next Tuesday against Miami. Detroit needs wins now, because their schedule the rest of the way is about as tough as Miami’s, but Chicago has a soft finish to the season that could see them string together wins (maybe, Chicago has its own issues).
Whatever happens the final 10 games, Van Gundy and his team have some serious assessing to do this summer, some trades to make, they need to figure out what works and go with it. Because this season did not work.
Timberwolves to unveil new logo at final home game
The Minnesota Timberwolves begin a new chapter in their franchise history by unveiling a new team logo as part of Fan Appreciation Night at Target Center on Tuesday, April 11. The Wolves will conclude the home portion of their regular season schedule that evening by hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7 p.m.
The logo will be unveiled during a special halftime show and all fans in attendance will receive a commemorative t-shirt with the new identity featured.
While the new identity won’t fully take effect until the 2017-18 season, the unveiling marks only the fourth identity in the franchise’s 28-year history. The announcement is also the beginning of an eventful summer as the Wolves brand continues to evolve. There will be several future announcements regarding the unveiling of the new team uniforms, new court designs and additional events throughout the coming months.
I’m glad these uniforms are coming out next year. I always enjoy when a style change coincides with a team changing on the court, and it seems the Timberwolves could truly do that.
Shaq on flat-earth claim: ‘I’m joking, you idiots’
The Earth is flat. Would you like to hear my theory?
The first part of the theory is, I’m joking, you idiots. That’s the first part of the theory.
This world we live in, people take things too seriously. But I’m going to give the people answers to my test. Knowing that I’m a funny guy, if something seems controversial or boom, boom, boom, you’ve got to have my funny points on, right? So now, once you have my funny points on, that should eradicate and get rid of all your negative thoughts, right? That’s what you should do when you hear Shaquille O’Neal’s statement, OK? You should know that he has funny points right over here, and what did he say? The guy had, boom, boom, boom. Add the funny points. You either laugh, or you don’t laugh. But don’t take me seriously. When I want you to take me seriously, you will know by the tone of my voice that I’m being serious.
Shaq is excellent at drawing attention to himself. The only surprise is that he didn’t keep this ruse up longer.
If Irving is pulling our collective legs to put the focus on him, at least credit the Cavaliers guard for maintaining the story longer. That Shaq lasted only a few days is revelatory.
Earl Watson, amid UCLA rumors, says ‘main focus’ is with Suns
“There’s no doubt that I love my school,” Watson said. “It took me out of a poverty situation and gave me hope. The school is an amazing place. I feel like it saved me. But I also feel like (former Memphis coach) Hubie Brown saved me in another way. Playing for the Utah Jazz, they were there during a difficult part of my personal life and they helped me a ton. And then, of course, the San Antonio Spurs, after the death of my brother, the love they gave me is what I needed most, and that love is genuine. So you have different points in your life where people and groups come into your life and none of them are family and they impact you for the positive.”
At the same time:
“I’m more focused on creating value for our (organization), to give management and ownership many options to build a championship contender here,” Watson said. “What I mean by that is, building the value of the young players so that their value and their game and their confidence give them the option to be financially secure in this league when they become free agents; giving our ownership the option to build around them or give ownership and management the option to make moves because their value is so high to put us in contention quicker. That’s all I can do is build value. The winning will happen. There’s a lot of questions with our program, but one thing I do realize is these players are playing amazing for their age. I love them, they’re like my little brothers. My main focus is here.”
There’s little evidence Watson is a good NBA coach. He’s 31-73 in a season and a half in Phoenix, and his players have looked especially undisciplined.
That said, the Suns are very young. Maybe they’d look even more undisciplined under another coach.
Watson’s player-development experience could suit him well for college. As little as he’s done to prove he’s a good NBA coach, he hasn’t done much to prove he’s a bad NBA coach, either.
If Alford bolts, Watson’s history with UCLA probably warrants an interview if he wants it. But if I were the Bruins, I’d also consider other candidates.