DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors. It was far from a perfect game for the Raptors forward as he struggled defensively to contain Joe Johnson, but DeRozan led the Raptors in scoring and hit key free throws down the stretch to make sure they got the win. That said, he showed a diverse offensive repertoire that let him score from anywhere when the Raptors needed it. Toronto got important games from Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson and Landry Fields (who was better than more John Salmons) but without DeRozan’s scoring it all goes to waste.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers. Early on there was too much isolation, but like the rest of the Pacers — particularly George Hill — he found his groove when they needed him. He finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists as part of a Pacers team that found its groove. At least for a half.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards. That was not exactly how coach Randy Wittman wanted the game to go — blowing a 17 point lead and needing overtime — but Bradley Beal was huge when they needed him, with 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and the Wizards have a commanding 2-0 lead over the Bulls heading home. It wasn’t a perfect effort from Beal for sure — his double technical with Kirk Hinrich fired up the Bulls, and Beal missed a free throw and a shot to win it in regulation — but he was a guy they went to in the clutch for a reason. He was making plays.
Nets’ Greivis Vasquez pulls out of Olympics for Venezuela
If you want to know what this means for the Venezuelan team heading into Rio, well, they shot just 23.9 percent in an 80-45 loss to Team USA Friday night in Chicago — and that was by far the USA’s worst performance in the exhibition run-up to the Rio Games.
Vasquez should be getting decent minutes off the bench behind Jeremy Lin in Brooklyn this season. They need him healthy as the team tries to move from “god awful” to just plain “not good” next season.
Report: Monty Williams to accept role on Spurs coaching staff next season
Monty Williams is one of the better assistant coaches in the NBA right now, and he was available (remember he understandably left Oklahoma City last season after the tragic death of his wife). He’s part of Mike Krzyzewski’s staff with USA Basketball this summer — watch him in practices at age 44 and he’s a better defender plenty of players in the league — and he wanted to get back on the bench.
Sources told ESPN that Williams — who left the Oklahoma City Thunder’s bench in February after the tragic death of his wife, Ingrid — has been urged by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to take as much of a role with the organization as he feels comfortable for the 2016-17 campaign.
The specifics of what role Williams would fill and how much time he could commit have not yet been determined, but sources say San Antonio has opened the door to either a coaching and player-development role or a front-office position (or a hybrid), depending on what he prefers.
One source close to Williams told ESPN that the 44-year-old “absolutely” intends to be a head coach in the league again after his expected stint with the Spurs. The source also said numerous teams, including Oklahoma City, have made similar offers to Williams for next season.
Williams will get another shot in the big chair down the line. In the short term, this is a smart move — nothing looks better on a resume than “Spurs” around the league right now.
Team USA has sing-along on plane leaving Chicago. Well, except for ‘Melo.
Like “Stillwater” in Almost Famous, Team USA’s Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Kyrie Irving were leading a sing-along of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” on the team plane out of Chicago to Houston for the USA’s final exhibition game. Hat tip Alysha Tsuji who pulled the snapchats.
How could you hate this team 😂 TEAM USA 🏀 singing A Thousand Miles on the plane: 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
There were a lot of ugly things for Team USA in its exhibition win over Venezuela — the 4-of-25 shooting from three comes to mind. There was more, it was not a strong offensive performance from Team USA.
But like usual, we can overwhelm teams with athleticism, and that means wins and highlights. Like Kyle Lowry‘s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler.