Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching Jimmy Fallon, Idina Menzel (or Adele Dazeem if you prefer) and The Roots sing “Let It Go”…
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder. Tell me again how this team is better off without him? Westbrook had a triple double — 13 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists — in less than 21 minutes. Yes, it was against the hapless 76ers, still. That is the fastest anyone has done that since Jim Tucker did it in 17 minutes in 1955 (hat tip to Royce Young at DailyThunder for that one). Kevin Durant dropped 42 and the Thunder got the blowout win and what Westbrook did was more impressive.
Klay Thomson, Golden State Warriors. Basketball is a game of matchups. Indiana chose to stick Paul George on Stephen Curry and it worked as he shot just 7-of-18 on the night. But that meant George Hill had to cover Klay Thompson — that gave Thompson a five inch advantage and he could get his shot off whenever he wanted and he finished with 25 points, including this little bucket to win the game.
Houston Rockets starting five (Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, Dwight Howard). Houston played a real team game in beating Miami… well a starting five game. Their bench was pretty bad. But the starting five each scored in double figures, plus they did a good job attacking the Heat inside with Howard (22 points) and with point guard Patrick Beverley (19). They exploited the mismatches and they got a couple stops when they needed it (not many, this was not a defensive game) and generally looked like a five that could go somewhere in the playoffs… if they get some help from the bench.
Los Angeles Lakers defense. The Pelicans were on the last day of and eight-day road trip and had lost eight in a row, they are without their starting point guard and their key floor spacing power forward, yet the Lakers let the Pelicans shoot 59.7 percent on their way to 132 points. The Pelicans had an offensive rating of 131 points per 100 possessions. Part of that is the talent (or lack thereof) the Lakers put on the court, part of it is the coaching and the system, but a lot of it is the Lakers just not putting out the effort. It’s good for tanking, I guess. But it’s hard to watch.
Richard Jefferson announced his retirement after the Cavaliers won the 2016 championship, changed his mind, re-signed with Cleveland then played another season there. He played big playoff minutes for the Cavs both years.
But they traded him to the Hawks (who waived him, allowing him to sign with the Nuggets) in a rather abrupt end to his Cleveland tenure.
His exit could have been far more strained.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Then he was nearly traded the summer after the championship because he revealed what the Cavs’ rings looked like on his Snapchat account before the team was ready to release them to the public. Then-GM David Griffin was so ticked that he was ready to ship him out of town, sources told ESPN, before eventually calming down and accepting Jefferson’s apology.
Talk about some petty nonsense. And Griffin was known for soothing tension!
Thankfully for Jefferson – at least if he wanted to stay in Cleveland – he revealed the ring design in September. As a newly signed player, he couldn’t be traded until Dec. 15. That gave Griffin time to cool down.
Carmelo Anthony wanted to be traded to the Houston Rockets. Badly. (Whether that was good for Houston is a different discussion.) His time in New York was over by mutual consent, but now was time to move on, however, thanks to a no-trade clause Phil Jackson gave him, Anthony had leverage. And he wanted to be a Rocket with James Harden and Chris Paul.
It looked at one point like a deal would get done between New York and Houston, then it fell apart. So what happened?
Phil Jackson was booted, that’s what happened, Anthony told Marc Stein the New York Times.
The delay to find a workable trade, in Anthony’s view, stemmed from the fact that Jackson was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips,” while Scott Perry, who became the Knicks’ new general manager after Jackson’s departure, took a harder line in trade talks with Houston and Cleveland that eventually fizzled.
“They went from asking for peanuts to asking for steak,” Anthony said with a laugh.
‘Melo can laugh, he landed in a good spot with Oklahoma City. He’s on a potential contender.
As for his feelings on Jackson and leaving the organization? Still some hard feelings there.
“There was no support from the organization,” he said. “When you feel like you’re on your own and then on top of that you feel like you’re being pushed out …”
Kobe Bryant has been there. He tore his Achilles at an age most players would have said: “that’s it, I’m out.” Not Kobe. He fought through it, came back, and was able to leave the game on his terms — and with a 60-point night.
So when Kobe sends an Instagram recovery message to Gordon Hayward, he knows of what he speaks.
The message was vintage Kobe, all about the drive and steps to recovery. Focus on the next thing, don’t let any obstacles stop you.
Let’s just hope Hayward can take this to heart and make a full recovery.
The buzz of the NBA’s opening night was killed just a 5:15 into the first game when Gordon Hayward went down with what could be a season-ending ankle and leg injury.
What’s next for Boston now? Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports get into that with this latest PBT Podcast.
They also discuss the opening night game between the Celtics and Cavaliers and what we can take away from it, same with the Houston Rockets upset of the Golden State Warriors. The pair also gets into the Nikola Mirotic/Bobby Portis incident in Chicago (this was recorded just before the Portis suspension came down), the LaMarcus Aldridge extension with the Spurs, and if Joel Embiid should be ticked about being on a minutes limit to start the season.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.