Our grades from Sunday around the NBA, or what you missed while watching where in the world people are dropping F-bombs on twitter….
San Antonio Spurs’ starting five. The Spurs starting five of Tony Parker, Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan only played 12 minutes together against the Knicks Sunday, but they shot 72 percent from the floor, hit 5-of-6 from three and accounted for +23 of the Spurs 31-point win. Yes, they did it against a sieve of a defense (without Tyson Chandler) but the fact they attacked and put the game away early was to getting rest late.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. He’s had to carry the load with Russell Westbrook still shaking off the rust (4-of-16) — plus Westbrook got ejected with the Thunder down 10 and just over 3 minutes left. Durant shouldered the load with 33 points on 23 shots, plus he hit the pull up three to send the game to overtime. The Thunder went on to win the game and Durant had four in the overtime.
Phoenix Suns’ defense. While nobody has been watching Jeff Hornacek has his Suns playing good defense — they are sixth in the NBA allowing 96.7 points per 100 possessions, and they held the Pelicans to 97.2. New Orleans shot just 47.7 percent inside 8 feet and 37.5 percent in the midrange (plus 4-of-13 from three). Defense at the NBA level starts with effort and buying into the system and Hornacek’s Suns are doing that and they are 5-2 because of it.
Los Angeles Lakers’ defense. On the top of the Lakers pre-game white board Mike D’Antoni wrote to get back in transition (to force Minnesota into half court sets) and close out on shooters — the Lakers did neither of those. Not even close. They had no energy or commitment to the system. Especially in the first quarter when the Timberwolves shot 76.2 percent overall and hit 7-of-9 from three, plus went on a 27-2 run. For the half Minnesota shot 53.2 percent and added another 10 points at the line. The Lakers escape with a “D-” because they did better in the second half, although much of that seemed to be Minnesota taking its foot off the gas. Ricky Rubio had a triple double (12 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds). The Lakers are 22nd in the NBA in defensive efficiency and their occasionally good bench play can’t bail them out of that.
LeBron James will reportedly star in Space Jam 2.
Space Jam 3? Jeremy Lin already claimed the top role in a very, um, strange video.
Did LeBron James lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2012 and 2013?
If you haven’t already gotten your fix of laughing at children, here’s a kid who guessed that happened:
The question, as you surely know, is who are the Miami Heat?
The Warriors signed Kevin Durant.
The Celtics claimed they finished second for the superstar free agent.
And the bronze medal goes to…
Doc Rivers on The Vertical Podcast with Woj, as transcribed by CSN Bay Area:
And we were in it. We were in the Top 3 at the very end
We asked a simple question, and the first question I asked was, ‘Are we in the Top 3?’ And they said ‘Yes.’ So that made us feel good. My next question was, ‘Are we in the Top 2?’ And we had made the decision if they say ‘No’ then we go, if they say ‘Yes’ we stay. And they said ‘No.’
This is all obviously quite silly. It mostly matters only where Durant plays, not where he came closer to playing. Golden State won. Everyone else lost.
But teams are fighting for perception, trying to send a message to the next superstar free that they’re a legitimate destination.
I just have a hard time believing the Clippers were actually third and ahead of re-signing with the Thunder. The Clippers didn’t have enough cap space to keep Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and give Durant a max contract.
I believe Durant could’ve told the Clippers they ranked third because he liked their pitch and the statement was largely superficial. But if it actually came down to it, would Durant have taken a reduced salary or joined a team depleted by losing one of its stars? Those were the only two options for picking the Clippers.
I have my doubts, but at least Rivers has a narrative he can sell. And sell it he will.
A Malawian newspaper, writing about Michael Jordan’s statement on race, used the Crying Jordan photo accompany the article.
How did that happen?
A page designer who didn’t understand the meme? A joke never fixed before printing? A staff-wide ignorance of the photo’s cultural relevance?
Justin Block of The Huffington Post:
As it turns out, the newspaper is called The Nation, or The Malawi Nation. When reached for comment on Thursday afternoon, The Nation Senior News Analyst Joy Ndovi stated that using the Michael Jordan Crying meme was intentional, and said Sports Editor Garry Chirwa picked the photo.
Chirwa told us that when he read the story, he felt that the emotions packed within Jordan’s quote, “I could no longer keep silent,” were represented in the Michael Jordan Crying meme.
“I just imagined him crying,” Chirwa wrote via WhatsApp.
Ndovi echoed Chirwa’s sentiments:
The article on Jordan reacting to the violence in U.S. was just the perfect one for the meme to be used. It depicts the emotional state of the former NBA star. Though it might seem unconventional, what other photo could be more suitable than the infamous Crying Jordan meme?
I can think of a few.