Three of the games biggest stars make the list on Sunday night, but when Carmelo Anthony is in the zone he’s as good as it gets. And the Knicks are hard to beat.
Third Star: LeBron James(34 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists)
His team didn’t win, but they wouldn’t have made it to overtime if he didn’t track down a missed three and sink one of his own to send it to overtime. And his team wouldn’t even have been close enough for that three to matter if he hadn’t put up a monster line, although he did need 31 shots to get his 34 points. This was another night when LeBron was fantastic and didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates.
Second Star: Kobe Bryant(21 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds)
To everyone saying “see what happens when Kobe finally passes the ball” I would say there are two parts to an assist — making the pass and the guy hitting the shot. Kobe made a lot of unrewarded passes earlier this season. But the Lakers have basically put Kobe at the point and moved Steve Nash off the ball for the past couple games and Kobe is thriving — Kobe has more assists than shot attempts for two straight games. And the Lakers look the best they have all season. Give the man credit.
First Star: Carmelo Anthony (42 points, 5 rebounds)
The Knicks defense could not stop the Hawks all game (Atlanta shot 60 percent), but New York got the win because they had Anthony reminding everyone he is one of the best scorers on the planet. Anthony had nine three pointers on his way to 42 points. Then with 12.5 seconds left in a tie game he isolated on Josh Smith, got around him and made the game-winning layup, drawing the foul at the same time. For those of you scoring at home, that is 29 consecutive 20 point games for Anthony.
Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines
Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.
Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.
“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”
He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.
Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp
The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.
“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”
All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.
New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.
Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract
He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.
But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
The Warriors are signing veteran center JaVale McGee to a make-good deal for a chance to make the team in training camp, league sources say.
This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.
I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.
Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant
At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.
But not right now. He remains silent.
This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.