Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while realizing yes, the TSA employees are laughing at your body scans….
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs. The Pelicans are without Jason Smith for the rest of the season and that means New Orleans usually had Greg Stiemsma or Alexi Ajinca on the court — San Antonio got those guys involved as defenders in the pick-and-roll all night long and Tony Parker carved them up like Prime Rib. He finished with 32 points and 9 assists, leading the Spurs to a needed win.
Josh Smith, Detroit Pistons. Tonight’s Josh Smith shot chart (courtesy @CoupNBA) sums up Smith’s night, season and career fairly well. There was too much Smith on the perimeter, not enough Andre Drummond inside.
Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks. It’s been a while since a Buck made the night grades (at least with a passing grade next to their name), but Knight earned it. He finished with 25 points (on 10-of-23 shooting) plus seven assists. He also sank the game-winning three, getting the shot he wanted (even though he’s shooting 31 percent from that spot on the floor this season) and knocking it down over Raymond Felton. It was a big game for Knight.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks. He tried to get a sluggish Knicks team a win — he scored 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter to spark the Knicks comeback to tie the game. Then Brandon Knight drilled a game winner that was a punch to the Knicks gut (or a kick to a spot a little lower than that, if you prefer). Anthony had those 36 points on 25 shots, plus he had 5 boards.
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets. He hustled his way to 28 points and 11 boards on the night, plus did a pretty good job defending Blake Griffin (nobody is really stopping Griffin now, he is on a role). When I say Faried hustled his way to the points I mean he does what he always does — crashes the offensive glass like a beast and makes nice baseline cuts. This may have been the best game I remember Faried playing.
The Chicago Bulls are one of the teams getting a D-League affiliate franchise this season. The Windy City Bulls will play in the suburb of Hoffman Estates, and now they have a head coach: North Carolina State assistant Bobby Lutz.
Via Upside & Motor‘s Chris Reichert:
Lutz was previously linked to the Bulls’ D-League job in July but there was confusion as to whether he would actually get the job. Now, it appears he has. And he has familiarity with the coaching staff, having served as an assistant coach at Iowa State under Fred Hoiberg in 2010-11, prior to going to NC State.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.