Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks

Carmelo scores 35, gets help in Knicks’ win over Lakers

12 Comments

NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony’s record-setting 62-point performance in Friday’s win over the Bobcats was a much-needed infusion of offense into a Knicks team that had looked lifeless over its previous few games.

But considering that output has only been achieved 17 times in the last 40 years, it’s not exactly a sustainable way to go about trying to structure a stretch of winning basketball.

Anthony came out firing once again in Sunday’s matinee against the Lakers, but this time, he got some much-needed help from his teammates. Anthony did plenty in finishing with 35 points and five assists, but big games from Raymond Felton and Tim Hardaway Jr. were part of five Knicks scoring in double figures in the 110-103 victory, New York’s second straight.

“Normally when guys score big numbers they’re still sizzling a little but,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said of Anthony’s performance afterward. “I thought he came out early and established himself, and was still shooting the heck out of the ball. And it kind of carried throughout the game. His teammates rallied around him and did their part, and it was a total team effort.”

Anthony scored 10 first quarter points, but was less efficient than he was the other night in needing nine shots to get there. But it was a start, and one he followed up with 10 more in the second, this time on just four shots.

Hardaway provided the energetic spark off the bench in the second half, where he scored 15 of his 18 points over the final two periods. He got open for threes and got loose for dunks, and rightfully received his coach’s praise when it was over.

“I’ve said all along, Tim is ahead of the scale,” Woodson said. “He’s not your typical rookie. He spent some time in college. I think his dad obviously has done a hell of a job in coaching him over the years and working with him on his game. So he’s kind of ahead of the game a little bit in terms of his individual play.

“I think as the years go by and he physically gets a little stronger, he’ll be a much better defensive player,” Woodson continued. “I think he knows all the schemes, but he gets knocked off his path at times because he’s just not as physical. But offensively he’s got all the tools to be a really solid player in this league, I think.”

Felton finished with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with five assists, J.R. Smith played under control with 16 of his own, and Tyson Chandler anchored the defense inside as usual while chipping in 13 points and 14 rebounds.

It was a far cry from Friday, where Anthony turned in an otherworldly scoring effort that isn’t likely to be duplicated anytime soon. And Sunday’s 35 was a mark Anthony has reached only two other times this season. But if his teammates can give a more consistent level of production while Anthony takes on the bulk of the scoring load, obviously that’s going make a huge difference in the team’s future fortunes.

“Last year we had five guys that averaged in double figures, and I’ve always wanted a team where you just didn’t know where it was going to come from,” Woodson said. “We know Melo’s going to get his. But we need everybody to be a part of the offense, and touch the ball and feel good about themselves when they’re touching it and shooting it. The last couple of games, it’s been that way.”

51 Q: Tom Thibodeau can coach, is he ready to run a franchise?

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 12: Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls yells to his players in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Five in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena on May 12, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Bulls 106-101. 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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

The Minnesota Timberwolves were probably not going to get Tom Thibodeau without the promise of organizational control. After his contentious relationship with the Bulls’ front office led to his exit after five seasons in Chicago, he took a year-long sabbatical from coaching and observed how other organizations run their operations from both a coaching and a front-office standpoint. He was in high demand as a coaching free agent and could essentially name his price, and if he wanted personnel control too, he could have it. That’s what ended up happening in Minnesota, and Thibodeau will be the latest test case in whether the two-in-one model works. Thibodeau’s coaching ability is indisputable. How he’ll fare as an executive is a different question entirely.

The Timberwolves had a solid offseason after a rumored draft-night trade for Jimmy Butler fell apart. Given Thibodeau’s history of stubbornness and intractability, it was a valid fear that he’d take the same approach to roster-building as his former mentor Doc Rivers has in Los Angeles, simply bringing back all of his old mainstays from the Bulls days. With Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Pau Gasol and Kirk Hinrich on the market, the opportunity was there to get the band back together, spending too much money in the process and hindering the development of maybe the most promising young core in the NBA in the name of more wins in the short term.

But Thibodeau didn’t do that. Instead, he and GM Scott Layden plugged some holes with value deals. Getting Cold Aldrich for three years at $22 million gives them a more than serviceable backup center, and they landed Brandon Rush on a one-year deal for $3.5 million to provide some outside shooting. They didn’t do anything to sacrifice long-term flexibility and didn’t sign anyone that will get in the way of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine getting plenty of playing time.

The idea of a coach making personnel decisions is a dicey one for several reasons, not least of which being that it’s harder to have the emotional detachment to trade a player if you see them every day in practice. But the Chicago team Thibodeau inherited in 2010 was a readymade contender that needed a coaching upgrade. This Minnesota team isn’t there yet, and even his ability to get more wins than expected out of any roster he’s given won’t make them truly competitive in the upper echelon of the Western Conference playoff picture, at least not yet. So far, his moves reflect an understanding of that reality.

The first big roster decision Thibodeau will have to make during the season will be the point guard situation. Thibodeau loves Kris Dunn, whom he drafted at No. 5 overall in June, and Dunn provides shooting that Ricky Rubio does not. If Dunn takes the starting spot in training camp, Thibodeau will have to look long and hard at moving Rubio. Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad could also wind up on the block, depending on how the rotation shakes out, and how Thibodeau fares at getting a return on his trades will be worth monitoring.

With that said, it’s pretty hard to screw up a core that includes Wiggins and Towns, and Thibodeau seems to know what he has in those two. As long as he can put complementary pieces around them and keep their development up to pace on the court, this experiment should prove to be a success.

Julius Randle lacerates hand, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

Julius Randle
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
1 Comment

Julius Randle suffered a season-ending injury in his first NBA game.

His third pro season includes an even earlier setback.

Lakers release:

Lakers forward Julius Randle suffered a laceration to his right hand (webbing between middle and ring fingers) yesterday while practicing. He received seven stitches and will be re-evaluated in approximately 14 days.

Thankfully, this doesn’t sound as major and happened well before training camp. Even if he needs twice as long to heal after his announced reevaluation, he’ll be ready for the preseason.

The key is getting Randle fully recovered. His ball-handling ability for a power forward is a key facet to his game, and a cut in his hand could impede it.

NBA rookies name Kevin Durant their favorite player

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 07:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors poses with his new jersey during the press conference where he was introduced as a member of the Golden State Warriors after they signed him as a free agent on July 7, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
8 Comments

Kevin Durant faced tremendous backlash for leaving the Thunder for the Warriors.

But not from NBA rookies.

In the league’s annual rookie survey, a plurality of first-year players voted Durant their favorite player:

1. Kevin Durant, Golden State — 29.7%

T-2. Carmelo Anthony, New York — 9.4%

LeBron James, Cleveland — 9.4%

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City — 9.4%

T-5. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio — 6.3%

Kobe Bryant (retired) — 6.3%

Paul George, Indiana — 6.3%

Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers — 6.3%

T-9. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota — 4.7%

Others receiving votes: Vince Carter, Memphis; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Marc Gasol, Memphis; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland

This is the third straight year Durant has claimed the top spot, matching LeBron and Kobe for combined wins in the six years this question was asked of rookies:

image

This is further evidence: If you resent Kevin Durant for exercising his right to switch employers after nine years with a company that acquired him by producing an awful product, you’re out of touch. Follow the kids’ lead and get with it.

Jason Terry: Luke Walton ‘utterly declined’ my offer to provide Lakers veteran leadership

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 19:  Guard Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Luke Walton #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on January 19, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  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)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
8 Comments

Before signing with the Bucks, Jason Terry said he reached out to multiple contenders.

He also spoke with the Lakers.

Terry tried to leverage his relationship with Lakers coach Luke Walton, who also played at Arizona (though their time there didn’t overlap).

Terry on SiriusXM NBA Radio.

I called my good friend Luke. I told him if he needed any help, veteran leadership, in that capacity – Lakers – with an ability to coach at the end of my deal, then that was something I would be looking forward to. He utterly declined, and I respect him for that.

Gotta love a guy who announces to the world his pitch of providing veteran leadership was “utterly declined.”

The Lakers should be just fine with Jose Calderon and Luol Deng.