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.
Take that Stephen Curry.
Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.
If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.
Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.
Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.
We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.
This was expected. It still sucks to hear.
Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.
Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.
San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.
In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.
Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.
Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.
Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.
Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.
That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as
Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.
Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.
He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.