Summer League notes: Archie Goodwin continues to impress for Suns

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LAS VEGAS — After Saturday’s action at Las Vegas Summer League, we’re down to four teams and three games left in tournament play before the event wraps up on Monday.

The Suns are still around, and were expected to be considering the amount of players with real NBA rotation experience that they brought to town. Kendall Marshall, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, and P.J. Tucker all played plenty last year for Phoenix during the regular season, but it’s a rookie who was a late first round draft pick that is the one creating a buzz.

Archie Goodwin is just 18 years old, but has acclimated to playing at the professional level very quickly. And his skill set, while still raw, seems perfect for the uptempo offense that new Suns coach Jeff Hornacek has promised to install for the upcoming season.

Goodwin had another strong summer performance Saturday, finishing with 20 points in 28 minutes, while making all five of his field goal attempts — including two from three-point distance — while getting to the line for 10 free throw attempts.

“I just try to find contact wherever I’m going, and just try to finish through it,” Goodwin said afterward. “I know it’s really not a problem for me to get by that first guy because I have a quick first step, I’m long, and I use my athleticism. It’s just a matter of me absorbing the contact and finishing, and trying to get fouled and get to the line.”

It takes a level of acumen to know what to do with that athleticism once you get into the lane, without ending the play out of control, or by committing a turnover or an offensive foul.

“I know when to attack and when to kick it (out),” he said. “I’ve been getting a lot better at that as well. In high school it was just so easy for me to go score. But once you get against bigger guys, bigger stronger guys, you have to figure out the whole game.”

Hornacek likes what he’s seeing out of Goodwin so far, but is cautious with his optimism at this early stage.

“Our style that we want to try to do is run and push the ball, and that’s good for him the way he plays,” Hornacek said of Goodwin’s game. “He can get out in the open court and make plays. In the half court he’s got to work on defensive stuff, but that’ll come as he learns players, and what other players like to do.”

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Additional notes from Saturday’s action:

– The Raptors team that the Suns knocked off had some stellar performances as well. Quincy Acy was a monster inside on both ends of the floor, and finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. And diminutive guard Dwight Buycks consistently got to the rim for buckets inside, and finished with 28 points of his own.

– The D-League Select team had been playing well this Summer League, but their Cinderella story came to an end on Saturday as they were eliminated by the Bobcats in the quarter-finals, even though Cody Zeller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sat this one out for Charlotte.

– The Warriors came back to beat the Lakers in the nightcap, thanks to a big game from Kent Bazemore, who finished with a game-high 26 points.

– In the final four on Sunday, Miami will face Phoenix at 3 p.m. local time, followed by the Warriors taking on the Bobcats at approximately 5 p.m. The winners will face off in the championship game Monday night.

Sacramento King’s Ty Lawson denies violating DUI probation

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DENVER (AP) — Sacramento Kings point guard Ty Lawson has denied that he violated his probation in a Colorado drunken driving case by drinking and failing to complete community service.

Lawson and his attorney Harvey Steinberg made the assertion Thursday during a brief appearance in a Denver courtroom. In addition, Steinberg said Lawson wanted his vehicle equipped with an interlock device that would test him for alcohol consumption so he could prove he’s not drinking.

The judge agreed and plans to hold a hearing in May before deciding whether the former Denver Nugget should get a more severe punishment.

Probation officials allege Lawson tested positive for alcohol three times in the past six months.

He was arrested twice on drunken driving charges in 2015, first in Denver and then in Los Angeles.

Shocking news: Carmelo Anthony still doesn’t like triangle offense, wishes they played previous way

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Can we just start another Triangle vs. pace-and-space argument with the obvious: It doesn’t matter what offense the Knicks run when their defense is this bad.

New York has the fifth worst defensive rating in the NBA this season, and it’s been slightly worse since the All-Star break. The Knicks as a team don’t show much effort on that end of the court, they are the worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA, and they are fourth worst at creating turnovers. If you don’t get stops and just try to outscore teams, even if your offense is good you don’t win consistently.

Whew. Okay. All that said, the Knicks offense isn’t that good, it’s been pedestrian most of the season. There is talent there — Carmelo Anthony can still get buckets, Kristaps Porzingis is a rising star and scoring machine, Derrick Rose has his moments, and there are role players who can knock down shots. Part of the problem has been the push-and-pull between Phil Jackson (with friend Kurt Rambis as an assistant coach) pushing for the triangle, vs. coach Jeff Hornacek wanting to run a more modern offense. Right now the pendulum has swung back toward the triangle, with that set to be the offense next season.

In a surprise to nobody, Anthony prefers the pace-and-space style offense, and wish the team would just stick with just one offense, as he told the New York Post.

“Early in the season, we were winning games, went on a little winning streak we had. We were playing a certain way. We went away from that, started playing another way. Everybody was trying to figure out: Should we go back to the way we were playing, or try to do something different?…

“I thought earlier we were playing faster and more free-flow throughout the course of the game,’’ Anthony said. “We kind of slowed down, started settling it down. Not as fast. The pace slowed down for us — something we had to make an adjustment on the fly with limited practice time, in the course of a game. Once you get into the season, it’s hard to readjust a whole system.”

Anthony may not need to worry about the Knicks offense next fall as he may well not be with the team.

The question for the Knicks is, how many free agents can they draw willing to play in the triangle? Of course money talks, but guys with options will consider the system and how they fit in it.

Spain’s national coach said both Gasol brothers, Ibaka, Mirotic all want to play in EuroBasket

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Spain is the defending EuroBasket champions, the best team in Europe (they won the Bronze medal in Rio after two consecutive silver medal Olympics). Which shouldn’t be a surprise when you consider the talent pool: Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Nicola Mirotic, Ricky Rubio, Sergio Rodriguez, and a host of top international players who were in the NBA (Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos-Navarro, and on down the line).

Spain could bring a loaded team to the tournament, their coach Sergio Scariolo said in a radio interview, transcribed at FIBA.com.

“Pau has also told me he’s coming,” Scariolo said. “All of them want to see how they finish the season. For them to say that they’re looking forward to coming and asking what we’re going to do is a first good step, but then we have to wait and see how they end the season – the physical status of those that have to take part in the play-offs. We have to wait until then to have a definite idea but the pre-disposition of all of the players is very good.”

“We’ll begin training on 28 July and we’ll have to change our way of playing with respect to the last two years when Marc hasn’t been here,” Scariolo said. “We’ll have to incorporate him. It’s an important readjustment and there are many things that we’re working on.”

“(Nikola) Mirotic and (Serge) Ibaka have confirmed their availability,” Scariolo said to Onda Cero radio. “Obviously there is a different status and situation, but all of the players have confirmed to me their availability, although with certain provisos. Each has his own circumstances and own situation, but the availability of all is very good.”

Scariolo will have to choose between Mirotic and Ibaka if both want to play, they are both naturalized Spanish citizens, and only one of those can be on the roster.

That said, Spain heads into EuroBasket this summer as the team to beat. So long as all those players decide they are healthy enough to play.

Stan Van Gundy on slumping Pistons: “We’re just bad all the way around”

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If the playoffs started today, the Detroit Pistons would be out golfing. Or fishing. Or partying in Cabo. The point is, they would not be playing.

Which is stunning — this was a 44-win team a year ago that seemed on the rise and is anchored by Andre Drummond in the paint. This year they’re four games below .500 and lost five of their last six, including back-to-back losses to the Nets and Bulls the last two days. In the month of March, the Pistons have been outscored by  4.4 points per 100 possessions. They are now tied with the Bulls 1.5 games back of the Heat for the last playoff slot in the East.

Stan Van Gundy, you’re coach and GM in Detroit, what do you think of all this? (Via ESPN’s Nick Friedell)

“The message I gave them is, ‘Look, we got 10 games left,” he said. “And if we don’t change the way we’re playing, this is going to get really, really ugly.

“We didn’t defend at any point in the second half. We didn’t defend much in the first half, either. Just really disappointing. We were 33-33, got tied, back to .500 after that New York game [on March 11], ran into a buzz saw in Cleveland [three nights later], and that’s it. We haven’t bounced back. It’s like we took that one hit and have not recovered at all. Have not played a decent game since then. This is six bad games in a row.”

“Right now, we don’t have a lot of life in us, and we got to find some by Friday,” Van Gundy added. “It’s just not one position, either. We’re just not playing. We’re not. We’re just bad all the way around.”

The Pistons have what should be winnable games against Orlando and New York coming up on the road, followed by an important matchup next Tuesday against Miami. Detroit needs wins now, because their schedule the rest of the way is about as tough as Miami’s, but Chicago has a soft finish to the season that could see them string together wins (maybe, Chicago has its own issues).

Whatever happens the final 10 games, Van Gundy and his team have some serious assessing to do this summer, some trades to make, they need to figure out what works and go with it. Because this season did not work.