Extra Pass: The other side of LeBron James’ 61-point game

4 Comments

When Carmelo Anthony scored 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats, Bobcats coach Steve Clifford blamed his team.

“We weren’t ready to play,” Clifford said. “We made mistakes that allowed him room. He got going.”

When LeBron James scored 61 points against Charlotte a few weeks later, Clifford credited LeBron.

“Tonight, we did the right things,” Clifford said. “If he’s going to shoot the ball like that from that range, there’s nobody that’s going to beat them.”

The Bobcats became the first team since at least 1963-64, as far back as Basketball-Reference’s record date, to surrender two 60-point games in the same season.* It’s a feat that takes a reasonable mix of poor defense and poor fortune.

*The 1985 New Jersey Nets came close, allowing 60 points to Bernard King (New York Knicks) and 59 to Purvis Short (Golden State Warriors).

Moreover, Charlotte could become just the fifth team since 1963-64 to allow a season’s two highest-scoring games.

2014 Charlotte Bobcats

  • 62 – Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
  • 61 – LeBron James, Miami Heat

2009 New York Knicks

  • 61 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
  • 55 – Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

1998 Golden State Warriors

  • 56 – Karl Malone, Utah Jazz
  • 50 – Tracy Murray, Washington Wizards

1983 Chicago Bulls

  • 57 – Adrian Dantley, Utah Jazz
  • 56 – Kelly Tripucka, Detroit Pistons

1967 Cincinnati Royals

  • 58 – Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers
  • 57 – Rick Barry, San Francisco Warriors

But unlike those other four teams, the Bobcats are actually good defensively. Here’s how each ranked in defensive rating out of the number of teams in the league that year:

  • 2014 CHA: 6/30
  • 2009 NYK: 23/30
  • 1998 GSW: 20/29
  • 1991 DEN: 27/27
  • 1983 CHI: 18/23
  • 1967 CIN: 9/10

The Bobcats are on pace to make just their second playoff appearance ever, and it’s because their defense is carrying them. Playing proud nearly every game, Charlotte just does not fit the profile of a team to get torched twice like this.

However, Charlotte’s biggest strength is grabbing defensive rebounds. When LeBron and Melo aren’t missing, that means only so much.

Report: Pelicans have discussed offering DeMarcus Cousins less than max over 2-3 years

AP Photo/Steve Dykes
Leave a comment

Last month, Anthony Davis said he heard DeMarcus Cousins planned to re-sign with the Pelicans. Cousins was out a torn Achilles, and New Orleans was rolling with Davis playing more center. But New Orleans’ ceiling looked higher with Cousins, and Davis made clear he wanted to keep Cousins – in itself a big deal. More important than keeping Cousins is keeping Davis, which requires keeping Davis happy.

Then, the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers, becoming the lowest seed to sweep a first-round series.

Is everyone still sure Cousins warrants a max contract, which projects to be worth about $176 million over five years?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The Pelicans have broached internally the idea of offering Cousins a two- or three-year deal at less than the max, per sources familiar with the discussions. I would not expect that to go over well with Cousins’ camp. But the Pelicans have the dual leverage of winning without Cousins and a tepid market for him.

Only a half-dozen or so teams have max-level space this season, and most won’t pursue Cousins at that level, sources say.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pelicans leaked this to test the waters. Word will get back to Cousins, and they can gauge how strenuously he objects. If they want, they can deny ever considering this and try to avoid offending Cousins.

But New Orleans has leverage.

It will be a tight market. Many of the teams with significant cap space are young and rebuilding, and they won’t want Cousins’ attitude. Even teams ready to win might not bring him into the locker room. Returning from a torn Achilles – hard for any player – will be especially difficult for the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Cousins.

That said, Cousins has leverage on the Pelicans, too. He’s extremely talented, and players that talented are hard to come by. New Orleans would still essentially be capped out if he walked, left with only the mid-level exception to replace him. Cousins and Davis play well together, and Davis – who can become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 – wants Cousins around.

Confronted with a similar situation with Jrue Holiday last summer – capped out and no mechanism to adequately replace him – the Pelicans spent big. But Holiday wasn’t hurt and didn’t have any fit concerns with Davis.

For New Orleans, it’s clearly worth securing the 27-year-old Cousins for the next couple years. The upside is too high. But, especially given the injury, guaranteeing him money into his 30s is undesirable.

On the flip side, Cousins should want long-term security. This might be his last chance to get it.

So, maybe both the Pelicans and Cousins can meet in the middle. But finding that point is never simple.

Judge grills Suge Knight – facing murder charge – on NBA-champion pick (Rockets)

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Suge Knight is facing a murder, threat and robbery charges in three separate cases.

The former rap mogul was in court yesterday to set a trial date for the murder charge.

Marisa Gerber of the Los Angeles Times:

A few minutes later, during a separate hearing in the criminal threats proceeding, another judge asked Knight to return to his courtroom in May. The judge then turned to Knight, asking who he thought would win the NBA playoffs.

“At this time…” Knight said, before the judge cut him off, saying he wanted a once-and-for-all answer.

“Houston,” Knight responded.

“Alright, Houston. Good pick,” the judge said.

Knight smiled.

What?

Milwaukee taco restaurant releases security footage showing manager greeting Giannis Antetokounmpo

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
2 Comments

Shortly after Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to a Game 4 win over the Celtics on Sunday, someone eating at a Milwaukee taco restaurant tweeted a photo of the Greek Freak waiting for a table. According to the tweeter, nobody helped Antetokounmpo at all.

The picture went viral.

But!

The restaurant claims a manager greeted Antetokounmpo and released surveillance footage to prove it:

636600856935702605-BelAir-Entry-Way-Still.jpg

“We appreciate everyone’s passion for treating Giannis and all customers with great customer service,” Monday’s follow-up read. “It is something we strive to do every day. We reviewed the entryway footage from last night, and we are proud to reaffirm that Giannis was promptly greeted by our manager and told the wait time. Giannis has been a customer many times and he has graciously accepted our apology for not being able to seat him and other customers more quickly last night.  Our focus is now on supporting our team on this playoff run. Go Bucks.”

The release concluded with the hashtag #TacoBoutAMisunderstanding.

TacoBoutAMisunderstanding, indeed.

For his part, Antetokounmpo never griped publicly about the taco restaurant. The wait was longer then he wanted so he went elsewhere.

He has more important issues to focus on – like Game 5 in Boston tonight.

Kevin Durant: Liking anti-Russell Westbrook Instagram comment was ‘total accident’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
2 Comments

Kevin Durant liked an Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook.

Here we go again?

Royce Young of ESPN:

I’m not inside Durant’s mind. He could be lying to cover another burner Instagram snafu.

But I tend to believe him. It’s easy enough to accidentally click like, and the greater context is on his side.

Durant has always tried to downplay a feud with Westbrook. Even at the personal rivalry’s peak, Durant just seemed as if he wanted Westbrook to like him. So, it’s nearly impossible to believe Durant – even for a button-pushing moment – wanted to publicly slight Westbrook.

But maybe Durant wanted quiresultan or some other alter-ego to do so? Maybe, as beaten down as he looked by the controversy over those deleted tweets last summer, Durant didn’t learn his lesson and still uses burner accounts. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.

Again, though, this would be a weird message. Last summer’s deleted tweets praised Westbrook while slamming the rest of the Thunder. Durant was going to have a burner account take the opposite stance now? That doesn’t really add up.