Here is our nightly look at some of the noteworthy things around the NBA, the things you missed while freaking out that there are now cockroaches which can survive a freezing winter just fine…
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers. He looked better. Kobe was more fluid and in part because (as he noted after the game) he got the ball in spots he was more comfortable such as the post and around the elbow. He said he wasn’t as comfortable getting the ball out top and creating there like he once did. He finished with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting plus had just three turnovers. Also, Kobe was an effective screen setter. What he didn’t do well was defend — the Suns backcourt owned the Lakers and Kobe doesn’t have the mobility to stop much of anyone in the open court right now.
Gorin Dragic & Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns. Their quickness, transition play and penetration were the reasons the Suns beat the Lakers Tuesday night. Dragic and Bledsoe combined for 49 points, 14 assists and just four turnovers. Dragic had 31 points and 10 of those came in the first quarter when the Suns jumped out to an early lead that had the Lakers trying to play catch up all night. Bledsoe played strong defense also all night, especially at the start of the second half when a 7-0 run caught the Lakers off balance.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers. That is the Kyrie Irving we’ve been hoping to see all season — 37 points on 23 shots, plus 11 assists. He played some solid defense as well. The real key was he pushed the pace on the slow-footed Knicks, which led to chances for him and teammates in transition. He was attacking, burning people with cross overs, getting to the paint. We’ll see if this game can shake Irving out of his slump to start the season.
The New York Knicks’ defense. They have struggled all season with quick guards and the Cavaliers have one in that guy with the “A” just above this note. The Knicks let the Cavaliers shoot 56 percent overall and rack up an offensive rating of 121 points per 100 possessions on the night. Cleveland got 39 percent of their shots inside 8 feet of the rim and hit 69 percent of them. Cleveland hit 9-of-19 from three. Coach Mike Woodson is supposed to be the defensive specialist coach and losses like this must make his seat very warm.
The Pistons took care of their biggest need by signing Ish Smith to be their backup point guard.
But they were so thin behind Reggie Jackson, they still needed more help at the position.
Enter Ray McCallum.
Michael Scott of Sheridan Hoops:
Detroit also has Lorenzo Brown on an unguaranteed deal. However much McCallum’s contract is guaranteed, the Pistons will likely keep whichever player wins the third point guard job in training camp. They’ve shown they’re not afraid to pay for camp competition and eat a guaranteed deal.
The loser likely heads to Detroit’s D-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive.
McCallum has yet to establish himself as a clear NBA-caliber player in three seasons with the Kings, Spurs and Grizzlies. His dribble-driving and strength are plusses, but he’s not quite there as a scorer or passer — let alone someone who can put it all together.
Perhaps, Stan Van Gundy gets McCallum — who played high school and college basketball in Detroit — on the right track. McCallum taking fewer long 2s would be a good start.
The Trail Blazers have only one point guard behind Damain Lillard:
Shabazz Napier, who hasn’t shown much in the NBA.
Recently extended C.J. McCollum and Evan Turner provide playmaking on the wing, so this isn’t a huge need. But Portland would probably like a third point guard.
How about Tim Quarterman?
Partially guaranteed deals like this are often about waiving a player after training camp and assigning his D-League rights to the NBA’s team’s affiliate. But the Trail Blazers don’t have a D-League affiliate, so this is more likely about giving Quarterman a chance to earn a regular-season roster spot.
Portland has 13 players with guaranteed salaries plus Luis Montero (unguaranteed) and Maurice Harkless (qualifying offer). So, there’s room for Quarterman — at least as the roster stands right now.
The 6-foot-6 Quarterman uses his height well to see the floor and rebound for his position. But he’ll need to improve as a shooter and get stronger. There’s a reason he went undrafted.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Trail Blazers add a more stable veteran guard to compete with Quarterman.
Michael Jordan has been saddled for years with a line he and those around him have denied he ever said, in relation to his involvement in political matters: “Republicans buy shoes too.” (That comment was allegedly a North Carolina Senate race where Jordan actually did donate to the opponent of Jessie Helms, despite what is rumored.)
While that line may not be his, Jordan has rarely used his standing to weigh in on political events, which is why his donation Monday of $2 million — $1 million each to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund — was news. In doing so he said, “…I am saddened and frustrated by the divisive rhetoric and racial tensions that seem to be getting worse as of late. I know this country is better than that, and I can no longer stay silent.”
He didn’t stay silent, but he didn’t pick a side, either. He played it safe and down the middle.
Carmelo Anthony was asked about that and said this, according to J.A. Adande of ESPN.
“I thought it was brilliant…and about time that he stepped up.”
There is the backhanded compliment you’ve been waiting for.
Anthony stood up at the ESPYs with Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade to make a plea both for peace and for athletes to use their voice to speak to the nation in what are turbulent, divided times. Jordan would have a unique standing to do that, he often just chooses a more cautious path. Like he did with this donation, playing it right down the middle.
DeJuan Blair played for the Wizards last season before being traded to the Suns, who waived him.
Now, he’s facing legal trouble.
Las Vegas Metro PD has confirmed … officers were called to Drai’s nightclub at The Cromwell hotel around 1 AM Sunday morning to respond to a report of a man who allegedly got physical with a woman.
The alleged victim told police … she was arguing with Blair over the line into the club when he picked her up and tossed her off to the side. The woman was pissed and retaliated by striking him back — before calling for help.
Sources tell us … when cops arrived they checked security video and decided there was enough evidence to issue a citation to Blair for misdemeanor battery. He was NOT arrested.
However, cops tell TMZ Sports Blair was also issued a “trespassing warning” from the property and told to leave immediately.
The 27-year-old Blair is a free agent. He has played for the Spurs, Mavericks and Wizards in a seven-year NBA career.