New York Knicks' head coach Mike Woodson directs his team against the Orlando Magic in the first half of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York

Mike Woodson frustrated with J.R. Smith, Knicks in general


There’s a lot of frustration with the Knicks right now — they are 1-4 in their last five, the most recent loss an ugly loss at the hands of the Pacers. In those five games the Knicks have surrendered 112.9 points per 100 possession — 9.5 worse than their season average and second worst in the NBA in that stretch. It’s been ugly

All that frustrated bubbled over with stupid plays against the Pacers — J.R. Smith was the leading offender almost getting into a fight with Lance Stephenson then getting ejected in the second half. But he was joined by Raymond Felton (technical for throwing an elbow), Amare Stoudemire (technical for arguing with officials), Tyson Chandler (argued with officials but didn’t get technical) and so on.

Mike Woodson is frustrated, reports the New York Post.

Asked if he had spoken to Smith about his behavior, an angry Woodson said: “I’m not happy about how we played and how we carried ourselves professionally on the basketball court. We can’t do that. I’m not going to tolerate that. I’m just not.’’

Carmelo Anthony was not as direct but he wasn’t thrilled.

“I’ve seen guys today, guys were angry,’’ Anthony said. “Not angry but kind of upset. As a team we let ourselves down. It was kind of an embarrassment.’’

Now is when the serious contenders start to crank it up. Look at the Heat, winners of nine in a row. Look at how the Spurs dismantled the Clippers Thursday night and are 6-1 on their rodeo road trip.

The Knicks fancy themselves contenders but they need to get back to playing defense somewhere near the level they did last year — on the season they are 15th in the NBA in points allowed per possession and in their last 10 games they are bottom 10 in the league. That will not get it done. Even if their offense is clicking their defense needs to be top 10 to have a chance past the first round of the playoffs.

There’s time to fix it. And being professional is a good first step.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

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, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

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.

Kobe shotchart 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.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“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.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.