Clearing physicals and lining all the ducks in a row can take some time, but newly acquired forward Rudy Gay has been cleared to play for the Raptors against the Clippers on Friday night. In addition, Memphis forwards Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis have all been cleared for the Grizzlies in their tilt against the Wizards tonight as well. Detroit Pistons point guard Jose Calderon, however, is not expected to play Friday night.
Update: Rudy Gay will play for Toronto tonight. All players have passed physicals, trade has been finalized.
Gay playing tonight comes as a bit of a surprise, as the initial word indicated that he wouldn’t suit up for the Raptors until this Sunday. We knew Toronto was embracing more of a “win now” philosophy, but I guess that means right now. Toronto is 6 1/2 games back of the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference, and with Boston losing Jared Sullinger, they’re expected to make a push for it. That means every game from here on out counts, so having Gay available for a matchup against a tough team like the Clippers certainly helps.
It’s always interesting to see how high usage guys play in their first couple of games with a new team. Gay is obviously out on the court to score, but the only teammate he’s used to playing with is point guard Kyle Lowry. Gay and Lowry are said to be great friends, so the chemistry there may ease Gay’s transition a bit. Still, with Calderon gone, it will be interesting to see how the Raptors move the ball offensively and space the floor.
After an ugly loss to Oklahoma City last night, Memphis can use the fresh legs of Prince, Davis and Daye in the second game of a back-to-back. One thing to keep an eye on is how Memphis finds minutes for Ed Davis. A lot of people think that Davis might eventually end up being the best player in this deal, but head coach Lionel Hollins will have to do some minutes juggling to give him a decent amount of burn.
Friday was already a big night for the NBA with 24 teams in action, but a few faces in new places should make it even more entertaining.
LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry
“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”
“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”
LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.
Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)
But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:
Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.
That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.
The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.
Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to the league:
Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.
But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.
Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.
Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)
Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.
The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.
It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.