Nate Robinson isn’t sure why teams overlook him, but he’s sure he likes Brian Shaw

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When Nate Robinson catches fire, there is no better show in the NBA. What playoff quarter was more entertaining than his 23-point fourth quarter in the first round of the playoffs against Brooklyn in Game 4, when Robinson single handedly forced overtime? He’s the shortest player in the NBA, a fan favorite everywhere and he plays with a chip on his shoulder fans love to see.

It’s why Robinson was a natural fit for the new “Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: Uncle Drew Chapter 3” commercial — Robinson’s personality and game are a perfect match in that setting.

But Chicago didn’t bring him back after that playoff run. Like Golden State before them. Or Oklahoma City before that. Boston traded him before that, as did the Knicks eventually.

For all the love fans have for Robinson, organizations do not. Coaches crave consistency and see Robinson as boom or bust night to night. Robinson told ProBasketballTalk he’s not sure why teams marginalize what he can do.

“I don’t know. I’ve been hearing rumors about different things but I don’t know,” Robinson told ProBasketballTalk. “I know all I know how to do is be Nate Robinson, I don’t know how to be anybody else…

“You go from team to team and some coaches may like you and some coaches may not like you for whatever reason. But for me I just use everything for motivation. A coach saying one thing about me and not wanting to play me when I come to work every day, I take my job serious, I have fun at what I do but I’m never late, and you can always count on me. I don’t miss games, I don’t miss practices….

“I just feel I get looked over a lot. People pass judgment. That’s just part of life. I just learned to grow with it, I don’t use it as an excuse.”

You can decide for yourself which former coach he is talking about.

But you can see the coach’s side as well Robinson is as likely to come in with the second unit and shoot a team out of a lead as extend it — the fearlessness that makes him so great when he’s on seems to make him oblivious to the nights he is cold. He knows the next shot is going in, so he is going to take it. Fans love that. He’s very popular as a teammate.

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But it’s not for every coach — what Robinson wants in a coach is someone who is straight up with him. He thinks he’s got that with Brian Shaw, the well-traveled assistant now in the big chair in Denver.

“Coach Shaw, he loves hard workers so I know he’s going to love me. I know it,” Robinson said. “I’m not asking him for no minutes, I want to earn every bit that I get. I’m going to be the kind of player I am and push this team where it needs to be….

“It seems like he’s been around coaching for a long time. He played on great teams with great players, he was a great player as well. He does things the right way and he’s honest. That’s one thing I love about him. I’ve been around other coaches who have been dishonest to me over the years, said things than done the total opposite. But he gave me my chance.”

Robinson is getting a chance on a team a lot of prognosticators don’t think has much of one (myself included, to be up front). With a coaching change that brings a new system, with Andre Iguodala gone and Danilo Gallinari out until likely December, people see a big step back for a team that won 57 games last season.

Of course, Robinson is brimming with confidence — he likes this team. We should expect nothing less.

“You’ll see by the way we play,” Robinson said. “That’s how we’re going to convince people and other teams, by what we’re doing this season. And you never know, the record might be worse than last year, it might be better than last year. Nobody knows. Nobody knows the future. No matter what our record is, if we’re the last team standing and we’re holding the trophy, and we had this conversation, I’m going to say ‘I told you so.’”

We’ll see. The one thing I know for sure is with Robinson there and getting minutes, Denver is going to put on a show. This is going to be a fun team to watch.

Pistons consider shutting down Reggie Jackson for rest of season

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The Pistons have started Reggie Jackson. They’ve brought him off the bench. They’ve sat him entirely.

No role seems right for the point guard as Detroit has lost four straight and seven of eight.

Now, it seems the Pistons might just shut down Jackson, who missed the start of the season with a knee injury. He’s at least doubtful for tonight’s key game against the Heat.

Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy, via Fox Sports Detroit:

We’ve been thinking about this, actually for a long time, OK? And he’s been playing at — it’s just hard to put a percentage — but probably at about 80 percent. And as we get into this stretch of games in March where we’re playing a lot, the fatigue is just making it worse.

It wasn’t really fair to him. We were running him out there, putting pressure on him. He’s seeing things he should be able to do, and he just can’t do. He’s not feeling pain, but he just can’t make the plays he wants to make. And we’re trying to put him out there.

We were really struggling, and we just need to have guys who are at full energy and the whole thing. And as much as he wants to, he can’t right now. It’s honestly amazing what he’s done.

To his credit, he fought me on it. He wanted to keep going.

He needs some rest. We don’t know how long it will be. But he needs some rest and to be able to try to get his energy back and see if we can get him at full strength.

He’s been a warrior. He’s tried to fight through it. He’s been frustrated, because he sees openings and things on the court that he just hasn’t been able to get to. I think part of it is a confidence thing.

And I think the thing that we really look forward to, and he looks forward to, is getting a fresh start in the offseason and being able to go through the preparation for a season like he did last year. And not only get right physically, but really get his confidence back to be able to attack and make the plays he’s had.

Jackson hasn’t looked right this season, showing only fleeting moments of quality production. It’s unclear whether that’s his knee, confidence, regression to the mean after a breakout season last year, bad luck or some combination.

But it has the Pistons in dire straights. They’re 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position with tonight’s game against eight-place Miami crucial.

Detroit’s offense and defense have hummed better with Ish Smith, but despite the better chemistry he affords, the talent drop from Jackson is also glaring. It’s not as if the Pistons have soared with Smith. And relying on Beno Udrih for backup minutes is its own risk.

Van Gundy is talking a lot about next season when it comes to Jackson, which seems telling. The coach’s compliments seem designed to soften the blow.

The odds are against Detroit making the playoffs, but they might be higher without Jackson. The fact that that’s even considerable is also telling about Jackson’s season.

Joakim Noah says he’s cleared to play, which will allow suspension to begin

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The NBA suspended Joakim Noah 20 games — effective once he’s “physically able to play.”

Noah underwent knee surgery about a month ago, and though it seemed he’d miss the rest of the season, the Knicks said at the time he’d be reevaluated in 3-4 weeks. That gave the team cover to claim his suspension should begin this season.

So, Noah rushed to practice today, and no matter how unlikely he would’ve been to follow this timeline sans suspension, that will seemingly be enough.

Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

New York has eight games remaining, which would leave 12 for Noah to serve at the beginning of next season.

Obviously, the more of his suspension Noah serves during this lost season, the better. The Knicks might be a wreck next season too, but at least there’s a chance they’re ready to win (and a chance Noah can contribute). This year is confirmed hopeless.

 

After fun back-to-back wins, Kings deemphasizing veterans

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Break up the Kings.

No, really.

After consecutive thrilling wins — a historic comeback against the Clippers on Sunday and another one-point win over the Grizzlies, Sacramento coach Dave Joerger’s former team, yesterday — the Kings announced a changing of the guard.

Joerger, via CSN California:

This was maybe our last stand for the year, as far as you’re probably not going to see all those veterans play together the rest of the season.

Darren Collison, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Anthony Tolliver and Ty Lawson played major roles against Memphis. Expect their minutes to be cut down the stretch.

The Kings have “fallen” to the NBA’s eight-worst record. It’s unlikely, but a late-game surge could “drop” them to the league’s 10th-worst record.

That’s unviable for a team that put itself on the tanking track and loses its first-round pick (to the Bulls) if it falls outside the top 10. Sacramento must protect itself from bad lottery luck.

It might not require going full Suns, but the Kings should and will emphasize developing their young players — who, not at all incidentally, are less equipped to help the team win.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.