Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while eating a $250 hamburger…
Jarrett Jack, Cleveland Cavaliers. Earlier on Sunday the Atlanta Hawks had lost and so the Knicks had real motivation at the Garden vs. the Cavaliers — win and NY is just two games back of the last playoff spot in the East. And the Knicks were off to a 17 point lead in the second quarter. Then in then second half Jarrett Jack happened — he had 23 of his 31 points in the second half to spark a Cavaliers comeback (he also had 10 assists). That comeback was aided by the Knicks deciding to take poor shots, but Jack took advantage — he crossed guys up, drained long twos, hit floaters in the lane and got to the basket. He also hit the dagger with 24.7 left — a fade away jumper that was a bad shot most nights but fell because he was just hitting everything.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings. Yes, it still counts if it was against the Bucks. Milwaukee simply had no answer for Cousins on Sunday night — Cousins had 32 points (14-of-19 shooting), 12 rebounds and 4 assists. He was a beast. It should be noted that Isaiah Thomas had 30 points on 13 shots and Rudy Gay had 24 points on 16 shots, the Kings key three showed up big. Still, we’ll give Cousins the big shoutout because when he plays like this you realize just what a big star he could become.
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets. Joe Johnson is clutch, he is the guy Brooklyn should get the ball late in close games. If you needed a reminder of that he provided against the Mavericks on Sunday night — he had 10 of his team-high 22 points on the night either at the end of the fourth quarter or overtime. When the Nets needed a bucket to get the game to overtime, they gave the rock to Johnson and cleared out.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors. Early in the fourth quarter the Hawks had a 14 point lead over the Raptors and seemed in control, then everything shifted — Toronto won the fourth quarter 36-15 in large part thanks to Lowry who had 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the quarter. Lowry finished the game with 25 points. DeMar DeRozan added 10 points and the Hawks helped the Raptors out shooting 6-of-22 in the fourth. Still, Lowry was a beast and the symbol of all the Raptors did right in this one.
You can’t make this stuff up.
After being cut by the Spurs during training camp, Jimmer Fredette decided to stay stateside and play in the D-League, looking for a way back into and another chance in the NBA (the banged up Pelicans picked him up for four games but released him again). Fredette put up impressive numbers in his debut with the Westchester Knicks (the New York Knicks affiliate), scoring 37 points on 12-of-17 shooting, hitting a couple of threes and getting to the line a dozen times.
All while boxer Floyd Mayweather looked on from courtside (Mayweather was there to see buddy Jordan Crawford).
If Fredette keeps putting up numbers, maybe he gets a call up. But nothing is seriously going to change for Fredette unless his defense improves markedly — that has always been the big problem, and not always one exploited the same way in the D-League. He is on the low end of the athleticism scale for the NBA (not college) and that has led teams to just target him when he comes in games. There is no mercy in the NBA, and Fredette has been the gazelle outside the herd that becomes the clear target.
But he’s had a good D-League game, it’s a start on a road back.
The Pelicans have needed this.
There is not one simple reason the Pelicans stumbled out of the gate this season and might as well be booking late April tee times now (they will not recover and make the playoffs). It’s a combination of issues. But at the top of any list needs to be injuries, and specifically the injury to Tyreke Evans, who had his knee scoped back in training camp.
Evans will suit up for the Pelicans Tuesday. This had been rumored for a while, but Evans himself confirmed it on Instagram.
The Pelicans desperately need his shot creation. Anthony Davis is an unquestionable beast, but he’s not a guy you can just throw the rock to and watch him create for himself and others out on the wing. Jrue Holiday can’t really do that either. The Pelicans have looked better with Ish Smith at the point of late because he can create a little thanks to his quickness.
Evans is better at this than anyone else they have. Getting him back in the mix helps.
Norris Cole, who played fantastically for the Pelicans last season, also is expected to return to the rotation tonight.
With those two back and the team starting to find a groove, they can become respectable to dangerous. But I just can’t see them climbing out of the hole they are in and find a way into the playoffs.
If you were going to name the Western Conference Coach of the Month for November, there was only one choice to make — the coach of the undefeated Golden State Warriors.
So congratulations Steve Kerr, since he gets the credit for those 19 and counting wins… er, wait.
The NBA announced it has given November Coach of the Month award to Luke Walton, the interim Warriors’ coach who has guided the team while Kerr is recovering from back surgery. The league also announced Cavaliers’ coach David Blatt as the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
As the NBA explained earlier in the day, they see the Warriors as still Kerr’s team — he was the architect who put in the systems and built the foundation, while Walton is just living in the house for a while. Walton is a housesitter. So the fact the team was undefeated under Walton is moot, he gets no credit for the wins, they all go on Kerr’s resume. But Walton can win the Coach of the Month award for guiding the Warriors with their league-best point differential of 15.4 points per game.
This was expected, but now it is official.
He could win it again for December, unless Steve Kerr decides to come back
DeAndre Jordan tied his personal best with 12 made free throws Monday night against the Trail Blazers.
But that’s not what anybody is talking about with Jordan’s trips to the free throw line Tuesday.
So you don’t have to do the math yourself, Jordan hit just 35.3 percent of his free throws. When the Clippers pulled away with a mini-run in the fourth quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts responded with hack-a-Jordan, and Doc Rivers refused to take him out. The result was nine intentional fouls and trips to the free throw line in less than two minutes.
It was ugly to watch.
The purist’s answer here is “if he hits his free throws this never happens, so learn to shoot them.” That’s the camp Adam Silver is in, and it’s his voice (and that of the other owners) that matters. There is no appetite around the league to change the rule, even though more and more players are being subjected to it.
I would argue that fouling intentionally off the ball in the first place is outside the spirit of the game — it’s not playing basketball — and unsportsmanlike. I think it’s bad for the sport, much worse than missed free throws and a dragged out game. I would like to see any time there is an off-the-ball foul the aggrieved team having a choice of free throws or the ball out-of-bounds.
But I’m in the minority. The rule isn’t changing soon. Which means Jordan — or Dwight Howard or Rajon Rondo or someone — is going to get the chance to set a new free throw futility mark soon. That will be fun to watch.