Our grades from Monday around the NBA, or what you missed while wearing your $550 sweatpants….
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks. The big German with the soft touch reached an NBA milestone Tuesday — he passed Jerry West to move into 16th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Appropriately he did it with a couple consecutive threes as Dallas was beating Washington. Nowitzki now has 25,197 points after his 19 in the win and at his current pace he could get all the way up to number 10 or 11 this season. Nowitzki is simply the best European player ever in the NBA and a guy who explodes myths — he may be a seven-footer who likes to shoot threes but go ahead and tell me again how he’s soft.
Michael Beasley, Miami Heat. That he is putting up numbers — 19 points on Tuesday against the Bucks — is not the surprise, it’s the fact that he has been efficient doing it that is the new wrinkle. Known as a gunner up to now, he is shooting 65.2 percent on the season, and he has done it by shooting 7-of-8 in the restricted area and 4-of-6 from three. We’re just eight games into the season, but if he can keep this up he becomes a very valuable weapon for Miami when the games really matter.
Los Angeles Lakers bench. In the Lakers four wins this season the bench has scored 76, 48, 54 and Tuesday night 56 points. They outscored the starters in two of those games and in all of the wins the play off the bench from guys such as Nick Young (17 points Tuesday) and Xavier Henry (15) has been key. These guys along with Jordan Farmar are thriving in Mike D’Antoni’s more free flowing system and the nights they are putting it all together is what is keeping the Lakers close to .500 (4-5) without Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash.
Phil Jackson asked Carmelo Anthony whether the star forward wanted to remain with the Knicks.
Apparently, what Anthony said publicly over and over and over and over and over was true.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:
This further proves Anthony’s loyalty to New York.
A trade could’ve sent him to a better team with a more-desirable boss and netted him a $10 million trade bonus. But Anthony enjoys living and playing in New York, even with the tumult – including Jackson – that follows.
Now, it’s on Jackson to improve the roster around Anthony, repair player-coach relations and create a culture where the starting point guard doesn’t go AWOL.
Carmelo Anthony finally got his desired meeting with Knicks president Phil Jackson.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
At turn after turn after turn after turn after turn, Anthony has stated his loyalty to the Knicks. What has he done since to indicate he wants to leave New York?
Jackson, not Anthony, has fostered all this recent controversy.
Jackson built a crummy roster that faced a difficult path to the playoffs. Jackson used the code word “posse.” Jackson publicly critiqued Anthony for being a ball hog. Jackson mouthpiece Charley Rosen wrote “Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York.”
Anthony just wants to play basketball for a good team in the world’s biggest market – not work under a black cloud. Jackson is making it impossible for Anthony to get all his wishes, though.
So, the question falls to Anthony: Would he rather keep playing for the Knicks – and all that comes with it – or waive his no-trade clause to join another team?
For years, he has unequivocally answered that question publicly with devotion to New York. But the act of Jackson asking might invite a different response.
LeBron James said Warriors-Cavaliers isn’t a rivalry.
After Golden State beat Cleveland last night, Draymond Green interrupted a reporter’s question in his urgency to disagree.
Green, via CSN Bay Area:
Yeah, I think it’s a rivalry. So, yeah. Just me, though.
It’s definitely fun, you know? A team that you beat, that’s beat you – it’s definitely fun. I think, if you look at the last two years and this year, we’ve been the top two teams in the league each year. So, I look at it as a rivalry, and it’s definitely a fun game to play in.
But I don’t really care if anyone else see the game the game the way I see it. I see it how I see it, and they can see it how they do. I don’t really care. It’s fun, though.
This is a competitive game, a fun game to play in. And regardless of Bron thinks this a rivalry or not, I know he wants to beat us – and we want to beat them. And that’s enough in itself.
Of course, Warriors-Cavaliers is a rivalry. Green and LeBron have personally fueled it.
Maybe Green was just trying to knock some sense into LeBron last night.
Months into his first and only season with the Kings, Rajon Rondo declared himself to be the first veteran teammate ever respected by DeMarcus Cousins.
As he deals with new problems with the Bulls, Rondo is again trashing his former Sacramento teammates.
Rondo, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:
“It’s just, maybe, the personnel in this situation,” Rondo says in response. “I mean, last year — I hate to keep talking about last year — but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know. I believe so (that his skill set still has value), given the right personnel and the flow of the game.”
Rondo is right: Playing with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade is not ideal, and his passing was an asset to the Kings.
He’s also proving his critics right: He’s too often a jerk.
Rondo has declined significantly overall, particularly on defense. His plus passing is barely enough to make him rotation-worthy. It’s not enough for teams cast aside his hardheadedness.
But is Rondo right that you can’t name three members of the 2015-16 Kings? Take this quiz to find out: