Setting a franchise record in any statistical category in the NBA is no doubt something to be celebrated. But when you do it in an area that’s traditionally dominated by big men, for a franchise that’s had two of the greatest frontcourt players of this era, it’s even more impressive.
Allow me to introduce you to Nikola Vucevic, who scored a career-high 20 points and pulled down a franchise record 29 rebounds for the Orlando Magic in their overtime loss to the Heat on Monday.
You can see how active Vucevic was in the clip above — granted, the Heat aren’t exactly known for their dominant presence inside, and opposing team’s bigs regularly go to town on this season’s version of the defending champs.
But 29 rebounds is a [bucket] load, and in fact, that number has been matched or exceeded only twice in a game since the 1985-86 season.
Kevin Love hauled in 31 rebounds against the Knicks back in 2010, and Kevin Willis equaled the 29 back in 1991. That’s it; no one else besides these two has achieved the feat at any time in the last 27 years.
Add all that to the fact we’re talking about a team that had several seasons of two of the most dominant big men we’ve seen in the past couple of decades in Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard, and you’ve got something really special.
That’s what Vucevic was on this night, shattering the Orlando franchise record of 28 set by O’Neal back in 1993.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.