Brian Shaw

Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw unhappy with lack of energy from rotation players following loss to Suns

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PHOENIX — The Suns improved to 4-2 on the young season with a 114-103 win over the Nuggets on Friday, in a contest that saw some extremely wild swings in both score and momentum before the night was through.

The first half was all Phoenix, as they followed up a 35-point first quarter by holding Denver to just 18 in the second, and led by 17 points at intermission. The third quarter began as the first half ended, with the Suns cruising and maintaining their large lead for another couple of minutes before Ty Lawson decided to strike.

Lawson singlehandedly outscored Phoenix 21-20 in the third, and the Nuggets turned an 18-point deficit into an 11-point lead in the span of less than eight minutes. Phoenix fought back to cut the Denver lead to just three heading into the fourth, before the Suns reclaimed momentum and pulled away for the team’s impressive fourth win of the season.

The Nuggets continue to struggle to find any type of cohesiveness, and are now just 1-4 on the season. JaVale McGee and Timofey Mozgov were brutal defensively, to the point where head coach Brian Shaw had no choice but to sit them for the bulk of the night after being woefully ineffective during their short stints on the floor.

“I’m at a loss for words from the lack of energy from some of our guys that are rotation guys,” Shaw said afterward, while discussing his disappointment in his team’s slow start.

“I tried to stick with our normal rotation, but with the speed of their bigs, they spaced out the floor and it just wasn’t a game I thought JaVale or Timo could ever make an impact in,” he said. “Just lapses defensively, not having good court balance and getting back. We take the layups away, and we’re giving up walk-up threes in transition. But what I’m most interested in is the low energy level of some of our guys. We’re deep enough at a few positions where if those guys aren’t going to come with any energy, then I’ll just go down the bench and find the guys that want to play, and their minutes and their opportunities will go down.”

Meanwhile, this Suns team has been a blast to watch in the early going, in part due to young talent like Eric Bledsoe and Miles Plumlee, and a work ethic that makes you want to root for these guys to succeed. Markieff Morris reached a career high for a second straight game off the bench with 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, and while his production outweighs that of Channing Frye in the starting lineup, his presence on the second unit has been far more valuable to the team’s overall success.

Craig Sager to get third bone marrow transplant thanks to anonymous donor

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16:  Legendary TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager talks with Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Sager is on a one game assignment for ESPN. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.

Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.

This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.

Report: With Joffrey Lauvergne trade, Mitch McGary likely done with Thunder

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 16:  Mitch McGary #33 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center on March 16, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.

Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.

McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.

McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.

Dwight Howard is shooting 19-footers to improve his free throw stroke

Dwight Howard
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If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?

Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.

It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.

The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.

The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.

But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.

Report: Veteran big man Jason Thompson agrees to deal in China

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 15:  Jason Thompson # 34 of Sacramento Kings in action during the 2014 NBA Global Games match between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings at MasterCard Center on October 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. 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 Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.

Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.