John Wall is stepping up his game.
He admitted Friday when speaking to the media before the All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest that in games he holds back — his fear of missing and embarrassing himself makes him go the safe route rather than to show off.
Saturday night he’s in the dunk contest and he is stepping up his game — something LeBron James has never done. Wall called LeBron out on that and questioned his one famed dunk contest win back when LeBron was in high school, as reported by J. Michael at CSNWashington.com.
“I don’t think he is a big dunk contest person. Some people are more in-game dunkers. You look at the McDonald’s game (in 2003), I think LeBron just won it off hype,” Wall said. “Shannon Brown could’ve won that one.
“You tell him, ‘Here, go take a basketball and you got to dunk in front of all these people.’ I’m more of a dunk contest person. In-game, I’m not trying all them because I’m not trying to miss and get taken out of the game or be on (ESPN’s) Not Top 10. In the dunk contest you can miss and say, ‘I’ve got 3 more tries.'”
Wall went on to say JaVale McGee should have beaten Blake Griffin in the 2011 Dunk Contest.
Back in 2011 you could feel the momentum behind Griffin at the game in his host city, but McGee had the better dunks. Griffin’s legendary dunk over a car was theatrical but not the greatest dunk ever.
Second, LeBron James himself told PBT he’s not a dunk contest person a couple years ago. He owned up to it.
Whether or not Wall is really a dunk contest person is something we find out Saturday night.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.