Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns

Wednesday night NBA Grades: Phoenix has a couple dangerous backcourt players

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We’re feeling generous so no bad grades out of of action in the NBA on Thanksgiving eve. Here are our grades for the nigh from games you might have missed while trying to smell like DeAndre Jordan

source:   Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns. Portland had an 11-game win streak thanks to their offense, but the Blazers defense was vulnerable. Goran Dragic exposed that to the tune 31 points and 11 assists. The Suns fought back from a rough start in the second quarter then pulled away in the third and in those quarters combined Dragic had 25 points on 11 shots, plus 7 assists. When the Suns get Dragic and Eric Bledsoe going at the same time this team should be fun.

source:   (for the effort) Jason Kidd, Brooklyn Nets coach. We did a whole separate post on this — with no timeouts and his team down two (about to be three) with 8.3 seconds left, Kidd stands near the edge of the court holding a Coke and tells Tyshawn Taylor “hit me” which he does, Kidd spills the drink on the court, then while the ball boys clean up the mess Kidd gathers his team and draws up a play. Paul Pierce missed the shot, but nice effort.

source:   Glen Davis, Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic. Orlando won this game because they got 52 points in the paint and were better inside, and that was due to the Davis/Vucevic combo — 40 points on 19-of-28 shooting, 21 rebounds and four blocks. That will get it done. If he keeps playing like this and shows he is healthy, Davis is upping his trade value.

source:   Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder. Russell Westbrook was just off, 2-of-16 shooting. But Reggie Jackson stepped up with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting off the bench, providing the spark the Thunder needed to get the win and stop the Spurs 11-game winning streak. Let’s put it that way, after the game Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, “Reggie Jackson kicked our ass.” Enough said.

source:   Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics. It was in a losing effort, but Sullinger stood out with 23 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. What matters more is 10 of his points came in the final minutes of the game, leading a furious Celtics comeback that fell just short. Sullinger has become a solid source of production nightly for Boston.

Report: Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead to stay in NBA draft

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Isaiah Whitehead #15 of the Seton Hall Pirates reacts against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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Update 2: Nevermind the nevermind. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

 

Update: Nevermind. Zagoria:

 

Isaiah Whitehead entered the 2016 NBA draft without an agent.

But it doesn’t appear he’ll return to Seton Hall.

Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv:

Isaiah Whitehead will announce his future plans on Thursday, with sources telling SNY.tv he will remain in the NBA Draft.

Whitehead looks like a second-round pick, though more likely to go undrafted than climb into the first round. However, this draft is particularly wide open. It takes just one team to like a player.

A 6-foot-5, 21-year-old score-first guard, Whitehead too often guns himself out of efficiency. He uses his strength and first step well to create separation for his pull-up jumper and has quality range on it. But, despite occasional impressive-looking finishes at the rim, his overall conversion rate in the paint is horrific. He’s not impressive enough outside to offset that.

His size would be a plus at point guard, but he lacks the distributing skills to play that position in the NBA any time soon. I don’t see what separates him as a shooting guard.

Steven Adams fires bullet pass to Andre Roberson for dunk (video)

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This is a heck of a pass from Thunder center pitcher Steven Adams.

Draymond Green trips Enes Kanter (video)

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 24:  Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors looks to rebound against Kevin Durant #35 and Enes Kanter #11 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first half in game four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 24, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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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Draymond Green tripped Enes Kanter.

But did he do it intentionally?

Green – who twice kicked Steven Adams in the groin, didn’t get suspended for it and then declared “I’m never going to be careful” – is back as the center of controversy. This time, it’s for his quick leg lock that sent Kanter to the floor in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

If it were any other player, we probably wouldn’t be discussing this play. Maybe we should be in other circumstances, but it’s a bang-bang play that happens throughout games. It usually, though not always, gets ignored. But Green has lost the benefit of the doubt.

I waffle on whether to sign intent. Yes, Green’s legs come together, but his left foot might have bounced off the floor while gravity brought his right leg. Remember, in any slow-motion replay, a player will appear to have greater control of his body. It doesn’t always play out that way in real speed – especially while a player is falling.

If the NBA assigns Green a flagrant 1 for this play, he’ll be suspended for Game 5. And at this point, he might deserve it. It’s just harder and harder to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Report: Stephen Curry still at 70 percent due to knee injury

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The Oklahoma City Thunder have overwhelmed the Golden State Warriors with their athleticism, their improved defense, and the shot making of stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are doing a lot of things right and have lifted themselves up to an elite status.

But the Warriors have not pushed back against this. Not like we expected the defending champions and a 73-win team would. Draymond Green is a shell of himself, a -72 the last couple games the Thunder have gotten in his head and have him second guessing his every decision.

Then there is Stephen Curry, who is 13-of-37 shooting the past two games, 5-of-21 from three, and a -58. He hasn’t carried the Warriors as he did for stretches this season, and it is lingering issues from his knee injury that are partially holding him back, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Curry has been a shell of himself – missing shots, throwing away passes, losing his dribble, and completely unable to prove that there’s Curry-esque agility in that knee. “He’s playing at 70 percent, at best,” a source close to Curry told The Vertical. Curry refuses to make excuses, but privately the Thunder see something – no explosion, no ability to make the bigs switching onto him pay a price. Twenty points on 19 shots Tuesday night bore no resemblance to the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr dismissed the idea that Curry was injured after the game Tuesday, saying he “had a lousy night.”

Curry missed a couple of weeks of play with a sprained MCL, but returned last round.

There have been flashes of that old Curry since his return — the monster fourth quarter and overtime against Portland in Game 4, or the third quarter of Game 2 against the Thunder — but what made Curry a back-to-back MVP was a sustained level of excellence, and that has gone away. He just can’t flip the switch and change a game right now the way he could for most of the past couple seasons.

You can tell the Thunder sense it — they are going right at him, attacking Curry’s defense knowing he can’t move well enough to handle their athletes. There is no mercy in the NBA and if teams sense a weakness they will exploit it — the Thunder sense that with Curry.

The way the Thunder are playing, a healthy Curry may not have made a difference, but you can bet the last couple games would not have been the same blowouts.