How do the Knicks rebound from this?

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Tyson Chandler slowed to let a potential defensive rebound bounce in front of him. Seeing an opportunity, Tyler Hansbrough surged from behind and knocked the ball off Stoudemire as Hansbrough fell out of bounds. The ball bounced off Chandler and over the baseline, and though it next hit the knee of Hansbrough, who was then out of bounds, the officials gave the Pacers the ball.

Before New York could protest, the Pacers had another offensive rebound, Roy Hibbert made a left-handed hook shot, and Indiana took a 2-1 series lead with its 82-71 win tonight.

Whether the Knicks know it or not, this series is getting away from them.

Teams shooting 35 percent or worse from the field had been 2-81 since the beginning of this season, but the Pacers became the third team to win in those circumstances for one big reason (REBOUNDING) and two smaller reasons (3-pointers and the Knicks’ offense being nearly as abysmal).

Indiana outrebounded New York, 53-40, allowing the Pacers to turn the ball over more than the Knicks and still attempt nine more shots. Hibbert (24 points and 12 rebounds) came up big, but it was really a total team effort. Rank the starters by rebounds, and the Pacers have the top two spots and five of the top six, and the Knicks have the bottom four.

1. Pacers (Roy Hibbert, 12)

1. Pacers (David West, 12)

3. Knicks (Iman Shumpert, 9)

4. Pacers (Paul George, 8)

5. Pacers (Lance Stephenson, 7)

6. Pacers (George Hill, 6)

7. Knicks (Tyson Chandler, 5)

7. Knicks (Carmelo Anthony, 5)

9. Knicks (Raymond Felton, 3)

10. Knicks (Pablo Prigioni, 0)

New York’s starters played more than Indiana’s but that underscores the point: The Pacers – big, physical and aggressive on the glass – have a stronger identity than the Knicks right now. New York is still tinkering, which is a dangerous state this deep into the playoffs.

The Knicks were an OK rebounding team during the regular season – ranking 19th in offensive rebounding, 4th in defensive rebounding and 18th overall – but Indiana (fourth offensively, sixth defensively and first overall) has exposed New York’s relative size deficiencies.

The Knicks’ latest adjustment, giving Amar’e Stoudemire nine minutes, didn’t go so hot. With him on the floor, Indiana had more offensive rebounds than New York had defensive rebounds.

Another key for for the Pacers was 3-point shooting. Although they shot just 30.3 percent from beyond the arc, a mark that would have ranked last in the league during the regular season, they made seven more 3s than New York. That’s because the Knicks crowded the paint, allowing Indiana to take 22 more 3-point attempts than New York. Even at a below-average clip, 3-pointers are very valuable due to being worth 50 percent more points than other shots, and the Knicks erred by strategically allowing so many 3s.

Staying on the Pacers’ 3-point shooters will be a relatively easy adjustment for New York going to Game 4, but how do they fix the rebounding? And there’s the Knicks’ offense.

New York looked looked especially horrid offensively at times tonight, but in their lowest moments, the Knicks found the most unlikely saviors.

Their only points on their first seven possessions came on a 20-foot Chandler jumper, his longest made field goal as a Knick.

In the final 6:47 of the third quarter, J.R. Smith was the only Knick to make a shot – and it’s not like he was lighting it up, shooting 2-for-5 in that span – until Stoudemire made a tip-in with six seconds left (a basket that didn’t count until a replay review between the third and fourth quarters overruled a shot clock violation called prior to the basket) and then made his first 3-pointer since Jan. 21, 2012.

Otherwise, Carmelo Anthony (21 points on 6-of-16 shooting) kept them afloat . No other Knick scored double digits.

But the patchwork offense eventually ripped at the seems. The Knicks made only one shot in the first 9:58 of the fourth quarter, and by then, the Pacers’ lead had swelled to 16.

On the other hand, Paul George made his mark while producing shooting just 4-of-17 and committing five turnovers. He had eight rebounds, eight assists (a difficult feat in a game when his teammates shot just 38 percent) and five steals while playing quality defense on Melo.

This isn’t the tidy series the Knicks need, and that’s why the Pacers’ leg up seems even bigger than their 2-1 series lead.

Kobe Bryant says he didn’t even have NBA League Pass until a month ago (VIDEO)

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What has retired all-time NBA great Kobe Bryant been doing with his time? A little of this, a little of that. Apparently that doesn’t include watching non-national NBA games.

Speaking with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and Michael Smith on SC6, Bryant revealed that he went to go watch a little NBA while he was getting a workout in at his house and realized he didn’t have the NBA package hooked up on his cable.

Via Twitter:

I don’t know if I totally buy this. On one hand, Kobe is a busy guy and he did spend two decades living and breathing the NBA night in and night out. I would expect that after all that time he might want some kind of relief.

Then again, to think that Kobe doesn’t have multiple assistants that would have handled that sort of thing already is sort of silly. The only benefit here is Kobe trying to sell that he’s just relaxing and not paying attention to the league too much, which is hilarious.

Kobe, we all know who you are by now. You’re watching the league, man. You’re Kobe. We get it. You didn’t suddenly turn into The Dude.

Let’s just hope Kobe’s League Pass works right off the bat. We all know how much of a hassle it can be.

Damian Lillard dismisses playoff expectations as pressure, says it insults regular people

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The Portland Trail Blazers have had a disappointing season thus far. The team is just 34-38 before their game with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and they’re battling it out for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with the Denver Nuggets.

This comes as after expectations rose greatly following the 2015-16 campaign which saw the Blazers finish 44-38, good enough for the No. 5 spot in the West.

Portland has looked better after trading Mason Plumlee to Denver in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, but it might be too little too late. Meanwhile, team leader Damian Lillard isn’t bowing to the idea that last season’s good fortune raised the bar so much that it put undue pressure on his team.

Speaking with Sporting News, Lillard said he thinks the idea is really more about pressure vs. challenges.

Via SN:

Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don’t get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.

Look at the Wizards, they were kind of on the same wave as us. Didn’t even make the playoffs while we did. Now this year they’re the second-best team in the East. The adversity made them better. It can make us better, too. What I come from and my background made me who I am. As comfortable as I am with the good times, I’m also comfortable in adversity. Yeah, I might feel some type of way when somebody comes for me or says my name. But when it’s all said and done, it ain’t gonna rock me.

This is interesting to hear an NBA player say out loud. One, because I’m not sure I entirely believe it. You can have pressure without it having to be something that threatens your overall wellbeing.

Then again, maybe we’re arguing linguistics here. There’s definitely a different emotion from, say, trying to make sure you make rent and aren’t evicted to the street vs. trying to make the NBA playoffs. If one emotion is being defined as pressure, it makes sense to call the other a challenge.

It’s also interesting to hear an NBA player speak in those kinds of terms. There are a few guys around the league who seem to be relatively grounded and give out quotes like this from time-to-time. The absurdity of the NBA — playing games, making millions, and having folks worship you — would easily bend reality for most of us.

In any case, the challenge of making the playoffs for Portland is not going to be an easy one to overcome. Going into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the Trail Blazers are a game behind Denver for the final spot.

Portland will face Denver on Tuesday, March 28 in perhaps their most important game of the season.

Kobe Bryant’s “Musecage” is like if Sesame Street had an NBA film room (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant’s video “Musecage” aired on ESPN on Sunday, and it’s one of the craziest things I’ve watched on an NBA broadcast. That includes watching Kobe’s own alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Someone on Twitter called it a “drug-fueled Muppet nightmare” but that’s selling short how remarkable the video was. In it, Kobe delivered a message about finding motivation as a young basketball player alongside a talking “Lil’ Mamba” puppet.

But here’s where it gets good: this video was made true to Kobe’s own person. Despite the happy, glockenspiel-laden background music with puppet accompaniment, Kobe’s message in “Musecage” was to use the dark part of your psyche as motivation to conquer your enemies.

I’m dead serious.


It doesn’t get any more Kobe than that.

The first video ends with Kobe’s advice to Lil’ Mamba, who goes off to become strong by using the dark musings as his fuel. Meanwhile, the second video talks about — and I’m not kidding — tactics James Harden and Russell Westbrook use to defeat their opponents in the pick-and-roll.

It’s like if Sesame Street was also a film room session.

Needless to say, all 10 minutes of Musecage are incredible. I don’t mean that in any sarcastic way, either. Bryant has been working on his Canvas series for a while, and his message shines true to the person we’ve known for the last two decades.

Use your happy feelings to push yourself? No! Use self-doubt as a motivator to Jawface your way through to six championship rings.

He debuted the original episode on Christmas Day, and it too had a kid-friendly feel.

I literally cannot wait for the next edition in this series.

Mark Cuban on Blake Griffin’s fall vs. JJ Barea: “We sent flowers to his family, condolences”

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The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers got into a bit of a scuffle the other night during their game. Clippers big man Blake Griffn and Mavericks PG JJ Barea tussled, with Barea earning a Flagrant 2 and an ejection for putting his hands on Griffin’s neck and pushing him to the ground.

It really was a sight to see, whether Griffin flopped or not.

Meanwhile, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was asked about the incident and responded with some heavy sarcasm that feels par for the course.

Via Twitter:

Griffin does have a bit of a reputation for acting and flopping, and Barea is hilariously undersized compared to him. Then again, the throat is a vulnerable area. Who knows if the fall was real or fake?

I’m just glad Cuban has a sense of humor about it.