Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks

Tuesday NBA grades: Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant in a duel


Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while breaking down the science of the three point shot

source:  Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks. It wasn’t perfect — he had 6 turnovers and shot 2-of-8 from three. But when they needed him vintage Dirk Nowitzki showed up for Dallas scoring 7 of his team-high 32 points in overtime to help lead the Mavs to a key win (with it they move back into the eight playoff spot in the West… for now). Nowitzki shot 11-of-23 and also pulled down 10 rebounds, but it was the patented turn-around jumper then a three in overtime that we all will remember. Dallas is going to need more of this Dirk down the stretch if they are going to make the playoffs.

source:  Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. That was the performance of an MVP — 43 points on 15-of-27 shooting, including a key three that might have been the game winner of the Thunder could grab a defensive rebound. Most impressive is those shots are not forced, when the smart basketball play is to move the ball he moves it (and five other Thunder players were in double figures). He’s the MVP this season because he’s played like this more consistently than LeBron James.

source:   New York Knicks. That was the last nail in their playoff coffin. Specifically, the third quarter when the Lakers put up 51 — you read that right, 51 in a quarter, on 19-of-26 shooting. This is a Knicks team playing the weakest link they will see in a five game West Coast road trip, a trip where they needed to go 4-1 to have a shot at catching the Hawks (who have a much softer schedule the rest of the way) and they just don’t give a %$*# when they come out for the second half. Glad Phil Jackson got to see this one in person, just so he knows how much work is ahead of him.

source:   Tobias Harris, Orlando Magic. The Bucks have a potentially fun young front line, but don’t you think they could have used this guy in that mix? Harris had 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Magic showed pretty much anyone can beat the struggling Portland Trail Blazers (it’s going to take more than the return of LaMarcus Aldridge to turn that ship around, but that’s another story). Harris was a matchup nightmare for the Blazers as he was knocking down jumpers and was putting it on the floor and getting to the rim.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.