Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching Jimmy Fallon and Anne Hathaway do Broadway versions of hip-hop classics….
Timofey Mozgov, Denver Nuggets. It’s not just that Mozgov had a monster night — 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, plus a career high 29 rebounds — it’s that he did it against one of the better defensive centers in the NBA in Andrew Bogut. The real key here was just pure hustle — Mozgov outworked Warriors players for the rebounds. He got his points by working hard off the ball, which led to a quick pass and an easy bucket. The Warriors have played good defense this season but didn’t Thursday night and Mozgov made them pay. That was a career night for the Russian big man.
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets. Mentioned in the Mozgov grade that hustle was winning the day for Denver, so no shock that the Manimal put up 18 points and 17 rebounds. But those numbers are not out of line with what Faried has done the second half of this season — Denver has needed him to score and he has shown off a vastly improved post game (he is shooting 56 percent from the post since the All-Star Game, via Zach Lowe). He’s so confident in his post game that when the Warriors cut off the play designed for a handoff to Randy Foye, Faried just backed his man down and nailed the game winner.
Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs. I am not a fan of the “most improved player” award because it can be nebulous to define. That said, Patty Mills would land on my ballot. All season long he has had to step in when Tony Parker gets the night off, as happened Thursday, and he has played brilliantly — 26 points, including 6-of-11 shooting from three in the win over Dallas. Okay, not the most efficient of nights (9-of-25 shooting) but he’s getting it done for the team that will have the best record in the NBA.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs. If you’ve been watching “Cosmos” you know that certain bodies can bend space-time to their will. Tim Duncan is one of those bodies. He doesn’t seem to age. There was a real scare early in the game — he admitted it scared him, too — when Duncan hyperextended his knee. But soon he was back in the game and finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and threw in a block. Spurs win again. Timeless.
I love the drive by dunk challenge (if you prefer, the #drivebydunkchallenge), it would be the best thing on NBA Twitter this summer, if it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving.
But the best one yet comes from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.
He steals the ball, and the best part is the guy who comes over like he’s going to stop Brown from throwing it down.
The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.
Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.
He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):
We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.
The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.
But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.
Not that Lin cares what I say.
When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.
But there were some great blocks.
Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.
Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.