When the Raptors traded away Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks this summer, the team not only rid themselves of a large contract that would hinder their rebuilding project, but they successfully performed an exorcism of sorts of a demon that’s haunted the team since 2006.
Bargnani never lived up to being the number one overall pick in the draft, from either a talent or a leadership standpoint. And with injuries limiting his ability to contribute over the past two seasons, he became the face of failure for a franchise that has finished out of the playoffs for the last five years.
Dealing Bargnani gave Toronto a fresh start, but it also meant that a player who has historically not performed well under pressure was suddenly thrust into the top media market in the U.S., and one that isn’t exactly known for extending patience or kindness to underperforming professional athletes.
But Bargnani is far from the main man in New York; that’s Carmelo Anthony’s role. And Anthony says that there can’t possibly be any pressure on his new teammate, because for the most part, it all falls on his shoulders.
“There ain’t no pressure on him,’’ Anthony said. “You come in and do what you got to do and play ball. All the pressure’s on me. It should be easy for him. It should be an easy transition for him, adjusting. Just do it the right way, it should be easy for him.’’
Anthony’s right to a certain extent, in that the Knicks will go largely as he goes. But there is one area where Bargnani could potentially receive a ton of criticism.
In this very same report, Anthony says he’d be fine sliding over to the three (small forward) position to play alongside Bargnani. The only problem is that Anthony has proven to be a far better player at the four (power forward) spot, which unintentionally puts plenty of pressure on Bargnani to produce when they’re on the floor together — especially if we see a dip in Anthony’s production.
John Wall goes coast-to-coast, behind-the-back for lefty dunk (VIDEO)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) —Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.
The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.
Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.
The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.
Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.
Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.
The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”
Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.
“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”
Kawhi Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for the Spurs down the stretch of regulation to force overtime, then in OT hit a corner three with 7.2 seconds left to tie the game at 108-108. Leonard finished the game with a career playoff high of 43 points.
It wasn’t enough. Because in those final seconds Marc Gasol did this.
The 110-108 Memphis win ties the series at 2-2 as it heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. I might not want to sit next to Gregg Popovich on the flight home.
While Gasol hit the big shot, he never gets the chance if Mike Conley isn’t every kind of amazing through the clutch parts of this game. Conley finished with 35 points, and that includes a floater in the lane that forced OT (although Leonard got a pretty good look to end it in regulation and just missed). I’m surprised the Spurs switched on the pseudo pick on this play.
The Spurs struggled to get stops down the stretch, mostly because they had David Lee and Tony Parker both on the floor and Memphis did a good job getting switches onto those defenders. Spurs starting center and best defensive big Dewayne Dedmon missed the game due to an illness, and that ended up mattering.