Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching the King of the Hill/True Detective mashup…
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors. Early in the third quarter Houston took an 18 point lead over Golden State and seemed to be in complete control. Then the shots from Warriors backcourt started to fall and they combined for 30 points in the fourth quarter— the pair were 6-of-9 from three and their midrange shots were falling in the final 12 minutes (the pair didn’t get one basket at the rim in the fourth quarter). This is what’s scary about the Warriors in the playoffs, if they can get these looks and knock them down they can beat anybody on a given night. They just need to find some consistency. But when they get in trouble, they can do this.
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans. 40 points and 21 rebounds. That, my friends, is a monster night. Nobody else in the NBA has done that this season. Most importantly he did it down the stretch of a tight game — he hit a couple key shots late in the fourth quarter to help force OT. Then in the extra period he pulled down six boards and owned the glass. Davis is a beast… by the way, it is second year in the league and he is 21 years old. He’s just starting to figure out how good he can be.
Dallas Mavericks’ depth. Monta Ellis struggled (2-of-7 shooting) and Dirk Nowitzki was not special by his standards (17 points on 12 shots). Still the Mavericks started to pull away from the Thunder in the second period and never looked back. Yes, the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook (and Thabo Sefalosha and Kendrick Perkins) but the Kevin Durant led Thunder knocked off a lot of teams without Westbrook. Not this time, it was Dallas’ depth that was the story.
Gerald Green, Phoenix Suns. Phoenix needs wins and to spark a slumping team coach Jeff Hornacek put Eric Bledsoe back in the starting lineup and slid Gerald Green to the bench. Seems to have sparked Green. He knocked down his first five shots and scored 13 points off the bench in the first quarter, then added 10 in the fourth quarter when the Suns pulled away from the Raptors (then the Suns held on for the win). We’ve talked at this site about Green’s long journey — through China — to NBA stardom, but he has found his groove now and is a real weapon for the Suns.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.