Brooklyn Nets' Williams, Lopez and Wallace tap hands as Chicago Bulls' Robinson walks off the court in the fourth quarter of their NBA basketball playoff game in New York

Nets win Game 5 over Bulls with unbelievably good offense


On Saturday, the Pacers posted an offensive rating of 70.2 in their Game 3 loss to the Hawks.

Tonight, the Nets bested that offensive rating – on possessions they missed a shot.

Let me repeat that. Every time the Nets began a possession by missing a shot, their offense performed better than Indiana’s did overall in its last game.

Brooklyn’s offense was incredible tonight. The Nets made 50 percent of their shots, rebounded 40 percent of their misses and scored on nearly 60 percent of their second-chance opportunities.

The Nets scored 134 points, 111 of them in regulation, in Game 4. Their offense was better tonight.

Rather, their was at least more effective tonight.

No Kirk Hinrich? Sounds great to Deron Williams.

Less Joakim Noah? Brook Lopez will take that.

Brooklyn’s two biggest stars stepped up, but that was certainly in part due to the Bulls’ best defenders of those two stepping down. I doubt the Nets will care about those details, though.

In Game 4, they led by 14 points with three minutes left in regulation and lost. Tonight, they by seven points with three minutes left and surged further ahead with a game-ending 12-0 run for a season-saving 110-91 victory.

The Nets still trail Chicago, 3-2, in the series, and it will take even more mental toughness to complete the comeback – but, by Brooklyn’s standards in that department, tonight was an overwhelming success thanks to all those offensive rebounds (18 in total).

Like the Nets envisioned when they signed them to those big contracts, Williams and Lopez led them to the crucial win.

Of course, Williams couldn’t match his point-a-minute pace with Hinrich out over a larger sample, but Williams still found plenty of success in Hinrich’s absence. The Nets’ point guard had 23 points and 10 assists and captained an offense that scored 124.8 points per 100 possessions.

But Lopez actually reached the point-a-minute clip with Noah out, scoring seven in seven as, for the first time this series, Noah played fewer minutes than his previous game (28 tonight). Lopez finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds and three putbacks, including a nasty dunk on a missed C.J. Watson free throw.

Chicago’s offense, on the other hand, was fine despite struggling early, when the Bulls forced too many long 2s as they got used to playing without Hinrich. But they eventually settled in. Nate Robinson had 20 points and eight assists. Jimmy Butler scored 18 points. Carlos Boozer had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Marco Belinelli shot 4-for-5.

But the Nets’ role players stepped up, too. Andray Blatche scored 13 points, C.J. Watson added 11 points. Even the mentally shaken Gerald Wallace had 12 points, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

Given the Bulls’ injuries, Williams and Lopez excelling tonight made plenty of sense. There wasn’t a strong reason for Wallace to have such a good game other than, when the Nets play well, Wallace plays well. He’s turned into quite the frontrunner.

Late in the game, Wallace made a 3-pointer, stole a pass on Chicago’s next possession and drove for a dunk.

Yes, the Nets were playing well, alright.

Beef? Bradley Beal says he wouldn’t have re-signed with Wizards and John Wall says he wouldn’t have begged Beal back if true

Bradley Beal, John Wall
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John Wall and Bradley Beal defined their relationship this summer.

Wall: “I think a lot of times we have a tendency to dislike each other on the court.”

Beal: “It’s tough because we’re both alphas. … Sometimes I think we both lose sight of the fact that we need each other.”

It’s hard to spin those direct quotes. These aren’t anonymous sources or players venting after a tough loss. In the calm of the offseason, Wall and Beal spoke bluntly about their partnership in the Wizards backcourt.

But no matter how difficult now, Beal and Wall are trying to cast their relationship in a different light.

Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

“This is my brother at the end of the day,” Beal told The Vertical. “Nothing is going to change. If I didn’t want to be here, if we did beef, I wouldn’t have signed my contract. That’s what it ultimately comes down to.”

“And I wouldn’t have begged him to come back,” Wall interjected. “I would’ve been, ‘Don’t come back because in two years, I ain’t coming back.’ We would’ve figured something out. … I think everybody blew it out of proportion for no reason. I mean, if you look at any two great teammates, and two young, great guys, that’s talented and want to be great, you’re going to have ups and downs. Everything is not going to be perfect.”

The flaws in that logic:

Beal was a restricted free agent. The Wizards weren’t letting him go.

Wall is locked up for three more years. It’s in his best interest to have the best teammates possible in that time, whether or not he stays in Washington past 2019. The Wizards had no way to replace Beal with a similar-caliber player.

So, maybe Wall and Beal are completely cohesive. But even if they aren’t, circumstances dictated they continue their basketball partnership.

I believe last summer’s interviews exposed a rift that was forming somewhat beneath the surface. Their honest assessments in the open, Wall and Beal can now go about repairing any cracks in the foundation.

There’s an mostly unavoidable tension between a team’s two leading scorers. That they’re both guards who want to handle the ball makes it only more difficult.

But if Wall and Beal acknowledge their problems, they can try to work past them and win together.

Manu Ginobili: ‘I gave my right one for the Spurs. I can say it. I can really say it’

San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) poses for photos during Spurs Media Day, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Manu Ginobili missed weeks last season due to a testicular injury.

Once you finish wincing, let’s share a good laugh.

Casey Keirnan of News 4 San Antonio asked Ginobili whether he’s familiar with the phrase “I’d give my left…”


I gave my right one. I gave it all. I gave it all. I gave my right one for the Spurs. I can say it. I can really say it. True.

Why again did we anoint Tim Duncan THE franchise icon in San Antonio? I don’t think he ever made that level of sacrifice to the Spurs.

Report: Timberwolves declining Adreian Payne’s fourth-year option

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 7: Adreian Payne #33 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots a basket against Mitch McGary #33 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter of the preseason game on October 7, 2015 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Thunder defeated Timberwolves 122-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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A few players – Mitch McGary, Jordan Adams and R.J. Hunter – had their rookie-scale-contract team options declined as their teams waived them this offseason. Another player, P.J. Hairston, had his third-year option declined last fall.

But only one player that we know of so far from the 2013 and 2014 draft classes remains on a team but won’t finish his rookie-scale deal:

Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne, the No. 15 pick in 2014.

Minnesota will decline his $3,100,094 team option for 2017-18, a decision that will become official Tuesday.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN:

Payne will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Timberwolves can re-sign him, but only at a starting salary up to $3,100,094. Any other team can offer up to the max.

Payne probably won’t be worth $3,100,094 next summer. He’s a stretch four without 3-point range and a long 2-point jumper that is expectedly inefficient. He doesn’t move well enough in any direction, including vertically, to defend well. The concern on him coming out of Michigan State – that he relied too heavily on beating up on younger players – looks valid. Payne will be a 26-year-old free agent.

But $3,100,094 is a small amount against a large salary cap. Is it really worth letting Payne hit the open market without seeing what he does this season first?

This is the problem the Pacers ran into with Solomon Hill. They declined his $2,306,019 2016-17 team option, and he had a breakout year. He signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Pelicans this summer as Indiana could do nothing but watch.

I don’t expect Payne to duplicate Hill’s emergence, but the Pacers obviously didn’t see it coming with Hill, either. As long as Payne remains on the team, it’s probably worth Minnesota buying itself an extra year of potentially cheap labor.

If Payne develops, he could be an irreplaceable bargain. If he doesn’t, it won’t cost much to waive him – especially because the Timberwolves can stretch him.

Even if the odds are against that plan bearing fruit, the upside is high enough to justify exercising the option.

But Minnesota apparently feels differently. Barring a sudden change of plans in the next few days, Payne will be on an expiring contract.

Kobe Bryant says he was nearly late to final game, because was busy editing short stories

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 13:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waves to the crowd as he is taken out of the game after scoring 60 points against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on April 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Already eliminated from the playoff chase, the Jazz weren’t focused for Kobe Bryant’s final game. They ceded 60 points to the over-the-hill superstar.

How locked in was Kobe?

Kobe via Thu-Huong Ha of Quartz:

“I was actually at the office until 4 or 4:15 editing a bunch of short stories, and lost track of time,” Bryant told the Wall Street Journal’s Dennis K. Berman. “And I looked at my watch, ‘Oh…I better go home. I got my last game to play.’”

Kobe clearly summoned a will to compete by the time he reached the arena. That was a sendoff for the ages.

But this is another sign he was ready for the next chapter in his life.