Nets snap Warriors’ 10-game winning streak (VIDEO)

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The Warriors had a chance to do something no team in NBA history had on Wednesday, and that was end a seven-game road trip with an undefeated record.

But the Nets have a little something going these days, and even without Deron Williams were able to get a hard-fought 102-98 victory that brought Golden State’s league-best 10-game winning streak to an end.

The night certainly didn’t start off looking as though Brooklyn would have a chance. The Warriors came out red-hot, and quickly jumped out to a 16-point lead with less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame. It wouldn’t last, though, as the Nets’ bench quickly erased the lead in the second, and Brooklyn was able to take a seven-point lead of their own into intermission thanks to a 30-foot three-pointer from Mirza Teletovic that banked home to beat the halftime buzzer.

By the time we got to the fourth, the game was once again tight, and neither team was able to shake the other until the game’s final few possessions. Kevin Garnett had maybe his best game in Brooklyn, turning in a dominating fourth quarter performance where he was impactful on both ends of the floor. He scored 11 points in just eight minutes, while grabbing three rebounds and two steals — one of which occurred on a play above the three-point arc with the Warriors in possession and trailing by three with 12 seconds remaining.

Garnett picked off a pass from Stephen Curry, and two free throws from Joe Johnson extended the Nets lead to five with 10 seconds left. The Warriors weren’t quite finished just yet, as Curry made Brooklyn go to the free throw line to seal it twice more before the game was through — first by hitting three free throws after being fouled shooting from beyond the arc, then by making a foot-on-the-line two that forced one more Nets possession.

Curry finished with a sub-par shooting night for the second straight game, and it’s easy to point to fatigue as the reason why. He finished with 34 points, but shot just 11-of-25 from the field and had as many turnovers (7) as assists. The Warriors have no real depth to speak of, and as a result Curry was forced to play more than 45 minutes in this one, the second game of a back-to-back that came at the end of a long seven-game road trip. Klay Thompson similalrly shot poorly and played heavy minutes, so if Golden State believes in its postseason chances, it’ll need to upgrade the roster before the trade deadline passes.

For now, however, the Warriors will be just fine with their recent results. And for the Nets, things are looking up. The team remains undefeated in the new year, and its winning streak of four straight games is now the league’s longest, with the latest victory ensuring that Brooklyn would finish the night in playoff position, now sitting in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Carmelo Anthony on shrinking role with Knicks: ‘I see the writing on the wall… I’m at peace with that’

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Carmelo Anthony scored just nine points on 12 shots in the Knicks loss to the Heat last night — well below his season averages of 22 points on 19 shots per game.

Anthony, via Ian Begley of ESPN:

“I see the writing on the wall. I see what it is,” Anthony said late Wednesday night. “I see what they’re trying to do, and it’s just me accepting that. That’s what puts me at peace. Just knowing and understanding how things work. I’m at peace with that.”

Is Anthony talking about just the Knicks’ final dozen games of this season, when they’re clearly interesting in testing less-proven players? Or is he referring to his entire tenure in New York?

Anthony has said he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Knicks want to rebuild, and they’ll reportedly try again to trade him this offseason. Perhaps, this is Anthony indicating he’s warming up to the idea of allowing a trade.

Anthony’s and Kristaps Porzingis‘ timelines are barely compatible, if at all. It’d make sense for the Knicks to go in a different direction.

Could Anthony be at peace with that?

Dwight Howard’s offensive rebounding defies convention

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Hawks president/coach Mike Budenholzer has the authority to set the Hawks’ priorities.

“Organizationally, fundamentally,” Budenholzer said, “transition D is more important than anything.”

Dwight Howard challenges that daily.

Howard has already built a Hall of Fame résumé:

  • Eight-time All-NBA center, including five-time first teamer
  • Three-time Defensive Player of the Year
  • Five-time rebounding champ

But the big man is doing something he’s never done before: Grab 15.2% of available offensive rebounds.

And he’s doing it at age 31 in a league that has increasingly deemphasized offensive rebounding. The NBA will set a record this season for lowest offensive-rebounding percentage for the fourth straight year.

Teams have just figured getting back on defense trumps crashing the offensive glass, the strategy emanating most prominently from the Spurs. Budenholzer, a former San Antonio assistant coach, brought the plan straight to Atlanta. The Hawks ranked 28th, last and last in offensive-rebounding in his first three seasons — in part for philosophical reasons, in part because they’ve lacked the personnel to do better. They’ve also been a below-average defensive-rebounding team each season under Budenholzer.

Then Howard signed and forced Budenholzer to adjust.

Atlanta has become an above-average offensive-rebounding team and far better with Howard on the court – a helpful crutch with ace 3-point shooters Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague traded. The Hawks are ceding more transition opportunities, though they remain very good at defending those.

It’s an obvious tradeoff, says Stan Van Gundy. The Pistons coach who coached Howard with the Magic sees the center in the rare class of players who deserve full autonomy to chase offensive rebounds.

“You don’t limit those guys,” Van Gundy said.

Howard has made the most of his freedom to chase rebounds. His 15.2 offensive-rebounding percentage ranks second to only Kenneth Faried among qualified players.

And, again, Howard is 31. Offensive rebounding tends to be a young man’s game.

Here’s top 10 in offensive rebounding this season, plotted by age:

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Player Team Age Offensive-rebounding percentage
Kenneth Faried DEN 27 16.1
Dwight Howard ATL 31 15.4
Andre Drummond DET 23 15.2
JaVale McGee GSW 29 15
Tarik Black LAL 25 14.8
Tristan Thompson CLE 25 14
Rudy Gobert UTA 24 13.9
Enes Kanter OKC 24 13.9
Kyle O'Quinn NYK 26 13.9
Willy Hernangomez NYK 22 13.8

Howard’s previous career-high offensive-rebounding percentage was 13.8.

The only other players to set career-high offensive-rebounding rates north of 15% after their age-30 season: Dennis Rodman (20.8% at age 33 with the 1994-95 Spurs) and Alan Henderson (15.6% at age 32 with the 2004-05 Mavericks). Both Rodman (Cooke County Junior College and Southeastern Oklahoma State) and Henderson (Indiana) played four years of college basketball, giving them less wear and tear on their bodies and fewer opportunities to post career highs at a young age.

Howard jumped to the NBA straight from high school.

Yet, he’s having a resurgent year in his 13th season. How is he doing it?

“One, I’m not super old,” Howard said earlier this season. “Two, my body feels great. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff to take care of my body.”

Known for eating legendary amounts of candy earlier in his career, perhaps Howard has made a breakthrough. His defensive-rebounding percentage (31.8) is the second-best of his career and ranks fourth in the NBA. That has helped him anchor the league’s fourth-best defense.

Howard has been subject to widespread criticism, and last season with the Rockets was a low point. This year, Howard has recommitted to the basics: Rebounding, defending, scoring inside.

“He’s got a big personality, but I think we all knew that,” Budenholzer said. “But it’s all in the right place. He wants good things, and I’ve really enjoyed coaching him.”

So much so that Budenholzer has compromised a core basketball tenet for Howard.

And it has proved a worthwhile decision.

JaVale McGee misses open dunk (video)

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Shaquille O’Neal said he’d stop talking about JaVale McGee, who has featured prominently on Shaqtin A Fool.

This missed dunk, a low point in the Warriors’ otherwise-impressive win over the Spurs, will test Shaq’s sincerity.

Grizzlies’ James Ennis fouls out then hits half-court shot (video)

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Against the Pacers last night, James Ennis missed all three of his 3-point attempts… that counted. And he makes this one after fouling out?

Mike Conley more than picked up the slack to lead the Grizzlies to victory.