Charlotte Bobcats v New York Knicks

After ugly blowout loss Sunday, Knicks’ owner sits down with Woodson

23 Comments

It’s never good when the boss calls you into his office.

Especially if you are the coach of a basketball team that just got blown out by 31 points on your home court, with your team falling to 2-4 on the season. A season where the owner expects a title.

But that’s what happened to Knicks coach Mike Woodson — he ended up in owner James Dolan’s office after the Spurs exposed and embarrassed New York Sunday afternoon at the Garden. Frank Isola of the New York Daily News has the story.

Mike Woodson’s horrible day concluded with a meeting with James Dolan and his boss later guaranteeing victory on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks.

Under the circumstances, the sit down and Dolan’s guarantee — spoken on stage during a performance by Dolan’s band JD and the Straight Shot — was not nearly as excruciating for Woodson as watching the Knicks fail to show up against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

There is starting to be speculation about Mike Woodson’s job safety, and there were fans in New York starting a “fire Woodson” chant late in the game. There certainly are things we can question about Woodson’s choices, including his desire to go big with Andrea Bargnani at the four despite how well Carmelo Anthony played in that position last year.

But the mess in New York is not Woodson’s fault.

He didn’t assemble a mismatched roster. Anyone who had watched Bargnani in the past three years knew he was not a guy you count on to be a key player. It’s not Woodson’s fault Tyson Chandler is out, there is no real center depth behind him and there are no other strong defenders on the roster.

This not a well assembled roster. They have the talent to be a good team — 50 wins and a solid playoff seed and they will put up points — but certainly not one that is a contender no matter what Dolan thinks. Woodson has done as much with what he was given as could be expected.

Phil Jackson is not walking through that door. Sorry. And even if he did he couldn’t win it all with this group. The problems are deeper than the coaching.

Heat players past, present throw support behind David Fizdale heading to Memphis

David Fizdale
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.

It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.

Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.

Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.

Watch Kevin Love drop 25 points on Toronto

1 Comment

Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.

Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.

Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?

Cavaliers’ defense foundation for blowout win

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

Cleveland blitzed Toronto from the opening tip.

Literally.

Cleveland cranked up their defensive pressure by getting back to aggressively blitzing Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan every time they came off a pick. Or they would chase DeRozan over the top of the pick and trail him, never letting him get comfortable to pull up from the midrange. Whatever the defensive scheme, the Cavaliers were physical with Lowry and DeRozan — the pair was 4-of-14 shooting in the first half.

From the start, the Cavaliers defense dictated the flow of the game and set the tone for a 38-point blowout win.

It is that defense they will need to close out this series on the road Friday night.

“We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn’t play our defense the right way,” LeBron James said after the game. “We didn’t play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple; we had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That’s the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.”

Defense triggered the offensive runs by the Cavaliers in the first half — Cleveland had eight steals and scored 20 points off turnovers before halftime. Playing with a renewed energy, the Cavs did a fantastic job fighting over screens and disrupting plays, and they closed out on shooters at the arc. It was their best defensive game of the series. It was the polar opposite of how they played in Toronto.

“I think our intensity picked up, our aggressiveness picked up, we were very physical to start the game and it just kind of led to us getting out in transition, us getting steals and getting easy baskets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

“They were locked in, from the start to the finish,” according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey.”The force that they play with is different here and we didn’t meet it.”

Back home and with their backs against the wall, you can expect a very different, very desperate Raptors team. Lowry and DeRozan will shoot better.

But if the Cavaliers pack their defense and take it north of the border this time, they should close out the series.

LeBron James was dunking all over the Raptors (VIDEO)

2 Comments

With their defense creating turnovers to get breaks — and the Raptors’ defense just breaking down — the Cavaliers put on a dunking exhibition against Toronto Wednesday.

LeBron James led the way, with 23 points and plenty of dunks. Here is another.

To change things up, here is an and-1.