Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while reading about teenage sneakerheads….
Nene, Washington Wizards. Chicago’s vaunted big men — Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson — were simply outplayed by the Wizards front line Sunday. Nene was at the heart of that. The Brazilian center finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and while he had officially three assists his passing was brilliant and brought movement and a confidence to the Wizards’ offense. Nene was 4-of-4 inside 8 feet plus hit some jumpers to end up 11-of-17 shooting. He wasn’t alone — Marcin Gortat was fantastic with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Washington’s young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal looked young — combined 7-of-25 shooting — but the big men saved the day for Washington and has them up 1-0.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers. When you talk about the best power forwards in the game, don’t leave him off the list. Aldridge set a Portland record scoring 46 points in the Blazers’ dramatic win over Houston (the old record had been Bonzi Wells at 45). He also had 18 rebounds. He did a lot of his damage late, with 19 points in the fourth quarter and three more in overtime before he fouled out. He also did most of his damage inside, shooting 12-of-16 from inside 8 feet. To be fair, he also knocked down a couple threes from the left corner. He did anything and everything the Trail Blazers needed and they are not up 1-0 without him.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. He was attacking and that led to 31 points on 19 shots. What was best about that was he did it in the fourth quarter and overtime — he had 11 in the fourth quarter and another 5 in overtime, including the game winning free throws. By the way, the last teammates did what Aldridge and Lillard did — one guy scores at leaf 45 the other 30 — was Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. That’s some good company.
LeBron James, Miami Heat. It wasn’t his best day but he had 27 points (on 16 shots) plus 9 rebounds as he helped make sure the Heat were not part of the parade of home losers on Sunday. It was just another day at the office for LeBron, which is still a pretty spectacular thing to watch.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio closed Sunday’s game on a 19-2 run to come from behind and pick up the win — Duncan had 9 of his 27 in that fourth quarter during that run. It was vintage Duncan all night, when the Spurs needed a play Duncan made it. Also, good news that he is apparently fine after banging knees with Monta Ellis.
It’s this simple: The Sacramento Kings are 5-5 when DeMarcus Cousins plays this season, 1-7 when he sits. (And that win number is a big misleading, they looked like they would have beaten Charlotte with him, but when he left with back pain they lost, they could easily be 6-4 with him.)
So it’s good news that Cousins is expected to return to the Sacramento lineup Monday night. Well not good for Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks, but good for the Kings, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea,com.
This season Cousins is averaging 27.9 points and 11.2 rebounds a game, he has a true shooting percentage above the league average (56.3 percent for Cousins) and he has a PER of 27.1 which is sixth best in the league.
Combine him with the numbers Rajon Rondo has put up lately the Kings become much more dangerous. They’d be even scarier if everyone stayed healthy and George Karl would settle on a lineup.
It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.
It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.
In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.
More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.
Stephen Curry acknowledges the Warriors – who are 18-0 and won four straight to end last season – talk about the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins.
But what about another major record Golden State is chasing, 72 wins in a season?
Shooting guard Klay Thompson called it possible. General manager Bob Myers deemed it impossible.
Interim coach Luke Walton would prefer everyone just keep quiet.
Walton, via CSN Bay Area:
“The 72 thing is far, far away,” Walton said. “We shouldn’t be spending any time thinking about that.
“I’ve also said before that we’re not going to coach this season trying to chase that record,” Walton said
“We’re still going to give players nights off on back-to-backs,” he added. “And we’re going to do our best to limit minutes for some of our players. Our main concern is being healthy come playoff time.”
I don’t think Golden State will win 72 games, but prioritizing health won’t necessary stop the Warriors. They’re so deep.
They outscore opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when Curry sits, 5.6 when Draymond Green sits. Those marks would rank seventh among all NBA teams.
Golden State has the luxury of resting players and continuing to win. That’s what makes the chase for 72 realistic. This team is less likely than most to wear down late in a season where it’s pushing to win every game.
Health entering the playoffs is important, but a 72-win season would raise these Warriors to legendary status. If they’re in range late in the season, I think they’ll go for it – even if the top seed is already secured.
But for now, Walton is probably taking the right approach. Plenty of teams start fast (though never this fast) then drift back toward the pack. No point risking Golden State’s health yet.
Kevin Durant once told the media, “You guys really don’t know s—.”
The Thunder star expressed regret, but if he knew how we were going to treat Kobe Bryant, he might have stuck to his guns.
Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
I did idolize Kobe Bryant. I studied him, wanted to be like him. He was our Michael Jordan. I watched Michael towards the end of his career when he was with the Wizards, and I seen that’s what Kobe emerged as the guy for us.
I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys treated him like s—. He’s a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting. It’s time for him to hang it up. You guys treated one of our legends like s—, and I didn’t really like it. So hopefully, now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year. It was sad the way he was getting treated, in my opinion.
But he had just an amazing career, a guy who changed the game for me as a player mentally and physically. Means so much to the game of basketball. Somebody I’m always going to look to for advice, for help, for anything. Just a brilliant, brilliant, intelligent man. And it’s sad to see him go.
Kobe is shooting 20% from the floor and 30% on 3-pointers for a 2-14 team. How else should we describe his season?
Why not bash the person most publicly critical of Kobe? Or the many people around the NBA who recognize how far Kobe has fallen? Or Byron Scott, who has repeatedly intensified discussion of Kobe’s demise?
Why is the media, which is not some monolithic entity anyway, the primary target?
There are writers who fawn over Kobe, writers who criticize him and many more who do both. We don’t all think alike.
If we did, Durant would be bound to treat Kobe like s—, too.