Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers

Sunday night NBA grades: Jason Collins takes the court, Jamal Crawford owns his


Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while getting sucked into the “Reality Bites” power rankings

source:   Jason Collins, Brooklyn Nets. He was brought in to Brooklyn because he has a skill set they need — he can defend the post, he can rebound, and he sets a mean pick (Collins said after the game his favorite part of the night was when Jordan Farmar complained he set an illegal pick). Collins is an NBA player. He also happens to be gay — and yes, that is a story. A good story. A story that a lot of people need to hear. Who he loves and who he is can inspire a lot of people, many young and confused, who need to see they can be true to who they are and still accomplish what they set out to do. It matters. Collins matters. Good to see him back.

source:   Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers. That is swagger. Kevin Durant dropped 42 on the Clippers including a three that put the Thunder up three with 2:40 left, but in the end it was Crawford with the dagger three to put the Clippers up four a minute later, then if that wasn’t the dagger he hit a floater/jumper with: 39 left that kept the Clippers up four. Crawford had 11 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter. He took advantage of a soft Thunder defense (that was what cost OKC the game, not Russell Westbrook’s late shots) but if he plays like this while J.J. Redick is out the Clippers will be just fine.

source:  Isaiah Thomas/Rudy Gay/DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings. Miami has it’s big three, as they put it at SacTown Royalty Sacramento has its “only three” — Thomas/Gay/Cousins accounted for 92 of Sacramento’s 109 points on the night. That’s how it will be for this team, those three have to carry them to win, which they did on Sunday. What really matters is this trio shot 58.1 percent as a group, they were efficient. They also combined for 23 rebounds and 14 assists.

source:  Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. Portland trailed by 18 in the first half to Minnesota, and the only reason it was that close was Lillard’s 13 points in the first quarter. He also had 10 points in third quarter when Portland’s comeback kicked into full gear. He battled foul trouble in the fourth (and his grade fell for it), when Wesley Mathews put up seven points. Still, good game for Lillard who finished with 32 points, and who is about to jump from Adidas (but that is another story).

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

Byron Scott
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The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D'Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.