Our quick look around the association on a busy Wednesday night.
Amar’e Stoudemire, New York Knicks. Stoudemire played 30 minutes. Stoudemire was clutch, hitting a key jumper with less than 3 minutes to go after the Bulls had stormed from 23 points back to tie the game. Stoudemire played good interior defense. Stoudemire showed a real chemistry with Beno Udrih. Stoudemire had 10 points in the Knicks 19-0 second quarter run. Stoudemire had 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Not sure I ever expected to type any of those sentences but he was as key as Carmelo Anthony’s 30 points to the Knicks win.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors. He’s here because he dropped 33 points, 16 in the fourth quarter. And he’s here because he does this:
New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls. That grade is for sucking the beauty out of the game of basketball. Since they won maybe the Knicks get a D-, but neither the win nor the injuries to either side excuse them from subjecting us to what they did to James Naismith’s game.
Jason Smith, New Orleans Hornets. The most unheralded of the Pelicans starters had a big night — 22 points, 16 rebounds — against one of the largest front lines in the league in Detroit (he was matched on Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe. He’s a good pick-and-pop guard (or pick-and-flare to the midrange really) and when they use him that way he’s dangerous (he was 4-of-4 from the midrange on the left side of the court.
Utah Jazz offense. Sacramento didn’t play good defense but give credit where credit is due — Utah just could not miss. Richard Jefferson was 7-of-9, Derrick Favors 6-of-9, Alec Burke 7-of-11 and on down the line. The Jazz shot 53.9 percent, hit 13-of-23 from three and had an offensive rating of 133.2 (points per 100 possessions). After the rough start to the season Utah could use a laugher like this.
Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.
The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.
The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.
Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.
Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.
Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.
“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”
The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.
Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.
LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.
Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?
Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.
LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.
To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.
It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.