The Bobcats are a playoff team in the East at the moment, but that position is relatively tenuous.
Every game counts toward that goal, obviously, so willingly sitting down one of your rotation players has to have happened for a good reason.
We don’t yet know exactly what that reason is, but we do know that Gary Neal was held out of Wednesday night’s game against the Wizards for something other than injury.
From Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer:
The Charlotte Bobcats chose not to play recently-acquired shooting guard Gary Neal Wednesday in a road game against the Washington Wizards, saying only this was “an internal team matter.”
Neal, who arrived from Milwaukee along with point guard Luke Ridnour at the trade deadline, was coming off his best game as a Bobcat. He made seven of nine shots (including 3-of-3 from 3-point range) for 19 points in Monday’s home victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Neal was in uniform for Wednesday’s game and sat on the Bobcats’ bench, interacting with teammates. He put up shots in pre-game warmups, so perhaps whatever caused the coaches not to play him was conveyed to him just before tipoff.
Neal has a history of getting into a bit of trouble, most notably in Milwaukee with the team’s poorly-chosen franchise player, Larry Sanders. That led to his being traded, and then having less than kind things to say on his way out of town.
Given Neal’s presence on the sidelines, this may be a relatively minor infraction — missing shootaround, or something of that nature. He’s been an important part of the Bobcats’ rotation since arriving, however, averaging 11.9 points in 25.4 minutes per contest, so hopefully whatever caused the team to react this way will only merit a game’s worth of discipline.
James Harden started Game 4 0-of-7 from the floor, including missing a lay-up. It was an extension of Game 3, and it let the Timberwolves hang around for a half despite their own offensive woes.
Then in the second half the MVP Harden showed up.
Houston started the second half on an 11-0 run that extended all the way to 25-4, and a lot of it was Harden (with a little help from Chris Paul). Harden had 22 points in the third (with 4:30 left in the quarter). After a couple rough games the Timberwolves were going under the pick when Harden had the ball, and suddenly he made them pay.
Or, he was just stepping back.
With all the buckets the Rockets turned a close game into a 25 point lead.
It’s a part of the NBA experience that most fans don’t get to hear — some fans courtside heckling opposing players and coaches, and those guys occasionally firing back. We only tend to hear about it when things cross a line.
Sometimes the interactions are just funny, such as this one passed along by J. Michael of the Indy Star.
Well played, Lue.
Although is Cleveland really a city at the forefront of fashion? Well, I suppose if you went to college in Nebraska…
Last summer the buzz was all over the league: Pelicans GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry were given a “playoffs or bust” mandate by management. If the Pelicans were not in the postseason — and just barely getting in and then blown out in the first round might be good enough — there was going to be a housecleaning.
The Pelicans made the playoffs as the six seed with 48 wins despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles midway through the season.
That alone was good enough to get Gentry another season in New Orleans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
As noted, this happened before the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers out of the first round and into a summer of re-evaluation. This option season is the last of Gentry’s original deal with the Pelicans.
Gentry has the Pelicans playing fast, using the elite defense of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to get stops, and right now Davis is leading an offense that is just getting it done, with guys such as Nikola Mirotic stepping up. Gentry has earned another year, and a shot to integrate Cousins into this style and level of play, to see where that could take New Orleans next season.
It will be interesting to see if Demps can add more shooting and versatility with a capped out roster.
Mike Budenholzer is out (and may be thinking New York). Suns’ interim coach Jay Triano and former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale are still in the mix.
The Suns also have reached out to Jason Kidd — who was let go by the Bucks mid-season — and former Bulls and Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, reports Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic.
This is still early in a lengthy search process, there is a long way to go before anyone gets offered this job.
Kidd now lives in Phoenix. He’s considered a smart coach but one who falls in and out of love with players fast, pushes hard for the players he wants (and against those he doesn’t), and didn’t utilize the talent on the Bucks to its best advantage. The Suns have to ask if he is the right guy for a rebuild. He can coach, he’s going to get another chance, but do the Suns want to give it to him?
Mentioning Del Negro will lead to howls from the Suns’ fanbase, but to be fair he gets a bit of a bad rap as a coach. Del Negro won 53.3 percent of his games as a coach, and only one team he coached ever finished below .500. He’s had some success developing players, starting with Derrick Rose. All that said, there are reasons Suns’ fans are right to howl: simplistic offenses, a heavy reliance on pick-and-roll sets, and remember he broke the confidence of DeAndre Jordan (Doc Rivers had to build it back up).
Phoenix fired Earl Watson just three games into the season and are looking to replace him. The new coach will have a very good young scorer in Devin Booker on the roster and after that a lot of young question marks. This is a development job where the Suns need to hire a guy who can put in a system, then bring in more talent and stay out of the new coach’s way. We’ll see if the Suns can do that.