Klay Thompson

Three Stars of the Night: Golden Performances


Mama, there goes that man! Second-year head coach Mark Jackson is directing the surprise smash of the young season, as his Warriors pulled off their fifth straight road win by marching into Miami and taking down the Heat, 97-95. Beating LeBron and the boys in their own house is pretty darn impressive, but sweeping Three Stars? That’s unprecedented. Without further ado, a very golden edition of Three Stars:

Third Star: David Lee – (22 points, 13 rebounds)

With a draining travel schedule and little time to prepare for games, even the best teams are plenty capable of suffering letdowns on the road. One of the main reasons the Warriors have been able to put together such an improbable road winning streak is the consistency of David Lee. While every other player on the roster has had their good nights and their bad nights, Lee has been a solid source of at least 20 points and 11 rebounds in each of the last five games. Lee logged big minutes again tonight (38), but he’s keeping on the gas, staying aggressive and not settling, and providing much more than the “empty stats” he’s often accused of posting.

Second Star: Klay Thompson – (27 points, 7 rebounds, 5 made 3-pointers)

Usually people lose stuff when they travel (their luggage, their sanity, etc.) but Klay Thompson has found his shot on the road. After putting together a truly dreadful first month of the season (38 percent field goal shooting, 29 percent from deep), Thompson’s stroke has reverted to the mean recently. Thompson dropped a season-high 27 points with five made 3-pointers, making it the third time he’s accomplished that feat in five games. The Miami Heat practically put out a welcome mat for 3-point shooters because of their trapping defensive schemes, but after his start to the season, Thompson will take them any way he can get ’em.

First Star: Jarrett Jack – (20 points, 9-for-14 shooting, game-winning assist)

I know the Golden State Warriors are a different team with a different coach, but it still feels so wrong to go small against them. Miami may have their smallball identity set, but the Warriors beat them at their own game, often playing Steph Curry, Thompson and Jarrett Jack together in an effort to both limit turnovers and space the floor. 13 turnovers on the road against Miami on the fifth game of a road trip is about the best you can hope for, and Jack’s steady hand (1 turnover in 31 minutes) played a huge role in that. That’s all good and well, and the 20 points were a much needed boost, but let’s get down to the real nitty gritty here — Jack is tonight’s top man because he zipped a pass to Draymond Green for the uncontested, game-winning layup. Green was wide open, but credit Jack for not having tunnel vision on a night he couldn’t miss and trusting a rookie to finish the job. Responsibility and consistency: it’s not quite as fun as the havoc wreaking “We Believe” Warriors, but for now, it’s working out just fine.

Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor
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The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


It has seemed like this was it for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Bulls’ Dunleavy to see specialist after suffering setback with back injury

Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah
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CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.

However, his recovery may have hit a snag.

“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”

An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Andre Drummond’s effort after loss to Thunder

Andre Drummond
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After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.

Via Sportando:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.

Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.