This showdown of teams with dreams of getting past the first round of the playoffs was shaping up for an exciting ending. For three and a half quarters the teams had traded runs, made some big shots and both sides played some defense. The Warriors had been up 5 with just under 9 minutes left, but then the Raptors went on an 11-0 run. Golden State worked hard and got back into the game to set up that ending.
Then the Warriors shot themselves in the foot.
Down two with three minutes left the Warriors possessions went like this:
• Stephen Curry missed a pull-up three, David Lee got the rebound and kicked it out to a wide-open Klay Thompson who had too much time and missed.
• Curry gets double-teamed 29 feet from the basket and ends up fumbling the ball out of bounds.
• Curry tries to rifle a pass to David Lee down on the low block but it gets tipped and ends up a turnover.
• A bad Andrew Bogut pass becomes a turnover.
It was an eight-point game inside a minute at that point and even a Curry step-back three couldn’t save the Warriors at that point. Toronto had executed better down the stretch — that included DeMar DeRozan capping off his 32-point night with a rainbow long two — and the Raptors got the win, 104-98.
At the end of the game guys who had been quiet all night for Toronto — Amir Johnson and John Salmons — were making plays. Salmons made a nifty pass to set up a Johnson dunk one possession then on the next one, when Andrew Bogut laid back to stop a similar pass, Salmons drained he pull-up jumper off the pick.
Curry had some rough patches — like the second quarter when he was 2-of-8 shooting — but finished with 34 points on 27 shots plus had 7 assists. Klay Thompson had a rough night (4-of-15 shooting) and David Lee had 20 points (on 18 shots) and 11 rebounds).
Golden State is going to look back at games like this and feel a little sick when they see their first-round playoff matchup and know they are starting on the road (they are currently the six seed but need to make up four games on the Clippers and Rockets to get a top four seed, that’s not happening). This was a game they could have won, but they fumbled the ball and the chance away late. The Raptors knew what to do with the gifts.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:
In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.
Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williams – out.
Nicolas Batum, who handled a lot of playmaking with Charlotte’s second units – out.
Julyan Stone, another Hornets backup point guard – out.
The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Julyan Stone has suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. The injury occurred in practice on Sunday, Oct. 22 and he did not travel with the team to Milwaukee. Stone is listed as out for tonight’s game against the Bucks and his expected recovery time is estimated at four to six weeks.
The Hornets have been outscored by an astounding 35.8 points per 100 possessions without starter Kemba Walker, producing an offensive rating of just 61.4. That’s in just 23 minutes, but the problem dates back to last season, when Charlotte was outscored by 7.0 points per 100 possessions with a 100.7 offensive rating sans Walker.
Now, the Hornets have little choice but to turn to rookie Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring guard, but his 6-foot-3 size means he has at least worked on playing point guard. Is he ready to play the position full-time for a team eying the playoffs. Probably not, but he’ll just have to do his best to keep Charlotte afloat in the few minutes Walker rests.
The Suns fired Earl Watson just three games into the season – the second-earliest firing in NBA history.
They didn’t stop there.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Firing assistant coaches during the season has become Phoenix’s m.o. I’m just not sure what it accomplishes.
Were Watson, Nate Bjorkgren, Mehmet Okur and Jason Fraser all so bad at their jobs? If so, why did the Suns figure that out simultaneously?
Were the firings designed to shake up a losing team? If so, wouldn’t ousting Watson have been enough?
Will Phoenix replace those assistants? If not, will the team have the resources to properly train its players?
The Suns are filled with young players who need coaching, particularly skill development. This move looks like it will put them further behind.