The Pacers have the best record in the league at 20-3, and they’ve gotten there with two All-Stars in the starting lineup and a much-improved bench unit over the one they had last season.
The available talent is about to get even deeper, as Danny Granger is set to return to the team’s lineup by the end of the coming week.
From Scott Agness of Pacers.com:
“I was waiting for the Danny Granger ,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said more than four minutes into a post-practice interview. “I finally have news on Danny Granger.
“We’re going to target next Friday for a hopeful return to see how this week of practice goes.”
Until now, the Pacers stayed away from publicly announcing a timeline after the initial diagnosis. Now, both Vogel and Granger appear giddy about the possibility of him playing Friday when the Houston Rockets are in town. Coincidentally, the game will be nationally televised by ESPN.
Granger was believed to be physically ready to play sooner, but with the team doing so well, there was no need to rush him back. The hope is that with the extra reps practicing while fully healthy, the amount of time needed to get acclimated to the rhythm and speed of the NBA game will be minimized.
The Pacers will be very interested to see how Granger fits into this team, considering that they achieved last season’s success without him for all but five regular season games. If Granger is able to contribute anywhere near the level he played at before the injuries, he could help bolster an offense that ranks just 13th in efficiency to this point in the season.
There’s also the trade angle to consider. Granger is on the books for $14 million this season, but it’s an expiring contract that will leave him as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Teams that are looking to create cap space may be interested in taking on Granger’s deal, and if he’s just OK in his return, the Pacers may consider trading him before the deadline to gain some additional assets.
New York Knicks C Joakim Noah has an awkward jumper and free throw technique, there’s no denying that. His two-handed, horizontal approach to shooting a basketball is ripe for criticism.
DeMarcus Cousins thinks so, at least.
During a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Knicks, Cousins decided to give Noah a little tongue-in-cheek trolling about his form.
Looks about right.
The 1980s were back in Cleveland Friday night. Well, not completely, Bernie Kosar wasn’t leading the Browns to contention (although man, could they use him now).
No, the ’80s were back in the form of the throwback orange Cavaliers uniforms. And to complete the theme, the Cavaliers players dressed up and Rick-rolled the intro video — they did the complete “classic” Rick Astley hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” And it was awesome.
The Cavaliers won the game 114-84 over the Heat behind 28 from Kevin Love, but that was secondary to the intro video.
Second-year forward Sam Dekker is finding a comfort zone in the Mike D’Antoni offense in Houston. Healthy this season, he is coming off the bench for 18 minutes a night, and his game where he is quick and can also hit the three is fitting perfectly with Houston’s system, leading him to 6.7 points a game.
Also, he can run the floor. And finish.
As Enes Kanter found out when he hustled, got back in transition defense, and wasn’t going to stop Dekker from getting to the rim.
That’s a quality dunk.
The Rockets went on to win the game 102-99, despite Russell Westbrook‘s seventh-straight triple-double.
LeBron James has been climbing the NBA’s All-time scoring list fast the past couple years, passing Hakeem Olajuwon last season to move into the top 10.
Friday night LeBron passed another legend, Elvin Hayes, who spent the prime of his career with the Washington Bullets and was an NBA champion, six-time All-NBA and 12-time All-Star from the late 1960s through the early 1980s.
LeBron passed Hayes with a vintage LeBron bucket, bringing the ball up in transition, then just using his quickness and strength to power to the rim.
LeBron’s not done, he should pass Moses Malone in the next week or so. Here is the NBA’s All-time scoring Top 10. (As a side note, if you count ABA scoring in the mix LeBron is 11th because Julius Erving and Dan Issel both pass him. For now.)
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38387
2. Karl Malone 36928
3. Kobe Bryant 33643
4. Michael Jordan 32292
5. Wilt Chamberlain 31419
6. Dirk Nowitzki 29552
7. Shaquille O’Neal 28596
8. Moses Malone 27409
9. LeBron James 27315
10. Elvin Hayes 27313