Well, this is certainly one way to go about winning when your team is missing two of its starters.
The Knicks came limping into Phoenix on Wednesday, with both Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton unable to go due to injuries suffered in the team’s Christmas Day loss to the Lakers.
That just meant more shots for J.R. Smith, who didn’t get the start, but played a team-high 37 minutes while also leading the team in shot attempts with 27.
He only made 11 of those attempts, but the last two he hit were big-time difference-makers that gave his team the 99-97 road victory.
It probably didn’t hurt New York’s chances that the Suns were without their starting point guard Goran Dragic for the entire second half, after Smith took him out on this flagrant foul just before halftime.
This play is not only just as bad as the one that got Dwight Howard immediately ejected in Denver on this same night, but given Dragic’s vulnerable in-air position, along with the fact that Smith had zero chance of making a legitimate defensive play here, it’s actually much worse.
The only thing that could have come of Smith making contact with an airborne Dragic was exactly what ended up happening — an injury. That’s the type of play that deserves to be ruled a flagrant-two, but instead, the officials decided it was harmless enough to allow him to remain in the game.
Tell that to Dragic, who missed the second half with a combination wrist/back/hip injury.
Smith added the proverbial insult in the game’s final possessions by hitting two very tough shots, but after watching this play a few times, it appears he shouldn’t have been able to continue to play in this game to the point where he had the opportunity to do so.
D’Angelo Russell said he used to play as Luke Walton on NBA 2K; Stephen Jackson calls that crap
“I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”
Really? NBA veteran and current analyst Stephen Jackson called Russell out on that.
I can get why Sixers management would want to bring a veteran and beloved, hard-working pro such as Ginobili in to lead and mentor a young team. Does Smith bring that same demeanor? I get that Smith in Cleveland has developed his game, and that he has matured and backed off his hard-partying ways (he gets a hall pass for the days after winning a championship), but is Smith the veteran you bring into a young locker room?
Can we move on from the ridiculous in Pennslyvania? Well, probably not until after the election, that is a battleground state.
Paul George says “I’m ready” to challenge LeBron James for supremacy in East
LeBron James is the best basketball player walking the face of the earth. The only guy who could start to challenge that supremacy the past couple of years has been Stephen Curry, and last season’s NBA Finals answered that question for now.
In the Eastern Conference, for years now it has been LeBron James and his team then a step back to everyone else — LeBron has been to six straight NBA Finals, four in Miami and the last two in Cleveland. Most pundits (myself included) think that’s going to be seven in-a-row because the Cavaliers are clear and away the class of the East.
“Honestly, I look at us challenging them. I’ve been in the East and I’ve been No. 1 with LeBron being on a team,” George told The Vertical in a recent telephone interview, harkening back to when the Pacers finished with the best regular-season record in the East in 2013-14, the season before his gruesome Team USA leg injury….
“I’ve always matched up with him like, ‘I know he can do this, I know he can do that,’ ” George told The Vertical about James. “Not in an awe fashion, but it’s more so, ‘I’m not supposed to win these games. This is supposed to be the best dude in the NBA. I’m trying to challenge him. I know what I’m up against.’ Now it’s, ‘I’m ready. I’m ready for you. I’m a veteran. I know you, you know me. Let’s meet here, let’s get this job done.’ I’m prepared. I’ve had time to figure this out. I’ve had time to lick my wounds. I’m ready.”
Good for George — this is exactly what you want an elite competitor and top player to say heading into the season. He sees Everest in front of him, and he wants to climb it.
I’m also higher on the Pacers than most; I think they are a top-four team in the East that can finish top two. They upgraded at the point with Jeff Teague, plus they added the underrated Thaddeus Young (although they will miss Solomon Hill) and depth up front with Al Jefferson. I don’t get Larry Bird pushing Frank Vogel out the door at all, but Nate McMillan is a solid NBA coach to take his place. I think the Pacers are taking a step forward this season, maybe a fairly significant one.
But they’re still not in the Cavaliers’ class.
The East is still Cleveland then everyone else. Last season Toronto won 56 games and had its best season in franchise history, and they were still a step or two below the Cavaliers. No team in the East — not the Raptors, not the Celtics, not the Pacers — are making up those steps. Unless injuries or something else unforeseen brings the Cavaliers back to the pack, the Eastern Conference once again will look like Secretariat at the Belmont.
Russell Westbrook says he will not kneel for national anthem “as of right now”
Obviously, Westbrook is leaving himself some wiggle room here. Also, if there is one NBA star you can expect to be blunt about the situation when talking to the media, it’s Westbrook (when he feels like opening up to the media, anyway).
I expect few if any of the NBA’s top stars — the guys with the biggest international brands — will join the protests. However, there certainly will be players taking part. For a league that sees itself as progressive — and has a more politically progressive fan base compared to other American sports — how the league handles this will be watched.