LOS ANGELES — This video, via the NBA’s YouTube page, is simply titled, “The Greatness of Kobe Bryant.”
That about sums it up.
The Lakers had no business beating the Raptors the way they defended for most of the night, but Bryant made sure that after his teammates helped close the gap, he would personally dig them out of the rest of that hole himself.
Bryant made three increasingly difficult three-point shots in the final two minutes of regulation, and then drove the lane for the game-winning dunk near the end of the overtime session.
The dunk, with the game hanging in the balance, was particularly impressive. Here’s how Bryant explained it to us afterward.
“[Aaron Gray] was coming out to blitz me,” Bryant said. “I saw him coming, I just had to kind of decoy it a little bit and kind of wait for him to get his top foot and get him close enough to me where I could go around him. When that happens, it kind of becomes a screen for my defender.
“He doesn’t have the speed to really do anything, so I just kind of went around him and he wound up screening my man.”
And Bryant went flying in for the slam to win the game, essentially uncontested.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek: “We can use some more defensive players”
For all the flipping between the triangle and a more modern offense, despite ball stopping by Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks offense is 17th in the NBA for the season. Not good, but the middle of the pack, right around Oklahoma City, Miami, and Memphis — all playoff teams (or potential ones in Miami’s case).
The reason the Knicks season ends in seven games is their defense — 25th in the NBA. Put the triangle in (and get players who fit the system) or don’t, but that’s not the end of the court where the Knicks need to improve. And while system matters on defense, the fact of the matter the Knicks roster is loaded with poor and/or indifferent individual defenders.
“I think if you look at our defense this year, we can use some more defensive players,” Hornacek said. “[Management] will look at that. [General manager] Steve [Mills] and [president] Phil [Jackson] and those guys will look at whatever can help us out. We know we need some help there.”
Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Now comes the time for action.
The Knicks are going to have a Top 10 draft pick (currently sixth) plus max-player money in free agency. Also, they are looking to move Anthony this summer (he has a no-trade clause so he will have to agree to it). All of which is to say they have a chance to reshape this roster into one that will have more of a defensive focus. Or any defensive focus for that matter.
It will be interesting to see if the Knicks target more defensive minded free agents this summer, ones who might fit the triangle offense such as Thabo Sefolosha, or to a lesser extent Tony Allen. It’s going to be a fascinating summer in New York.
Master P says Pelicans should hire him as assistant coach: ‘I’m serious’
Percy Miller was with the Hornets before the 1999 season and the Raptors before the 1999-00 season. But he was cut in the preseason both times.
These were mostly publicity stunts. Still, the rapper could actually play a bit. NBA quality? He long insisted yes, though his music career provided a convenient and lucrative excuse for sidetracking his basketball ambitions.
Yet, now, the New Orleans native says he wants back in the NBA with the Pelicans — in a different role.
But if he is, would it be a good idea? Probably not. The Pelicans have real issues integrating Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and they need devoted coaches, not passing entertainers, to solve this.
Would it be fun? Heck yeah.
Pistons’ D-League team wins on buzzer-beater unlike any you’ve ever seen (video)
Duke freshman forward Harry Giles has announced that he will enter his name in the 2017 NBA Draft.
At his best, Giles is an athletic power forward who plays with skill and energy. But we didn’t see much, if any, of that player during 11.5 minutes per game in just 26 contests at Duke.
Medical testing will define everything for Giles. He’s projected to go somewhere in the middle of the first round, but that’s a wide range with so much uncertainty about his knees.
Helping Giles: Joel Embiid‘s success after entering the NBA with major red flags about his health. Even though Embiid is again injured, he was so good while on the court for the 76ers. That’s a favorable recent comparison for Giles.