Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while mocking the new look Ronald McDonald….
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors. Nobody could slow Stephen Curry on Sunday… well, Joey Crawford did for a possession. But nobody on the Clippers. At the start of the game a distracted Clippers team gave Curry more space than he has seen this postseason, and he knew what to do with it — Curry started 5-of-5 from three. Once he gets going like that it’s over. And it was pretty early for the Clippers. When this Curry shows up the Warriors can beat anybody, the question is will he be there for a now crucial Game 5 Tuesday?
Trevor Ariza, Washington Wizards. The Washington Wizards wanted to make the playoffs and made some moves in recent years that were not about building for the long-term but winning more now. Like trading for veteran Trevor Ariza — he earned a ring with the Lakers in 2009 and had some big postseason games back then. None, however, bigger than Sunday — Ariza dropped 30, shooting 6-of-10 from three, leading the Wizards, who went up 3-1 on the Bulls Sunday. To be fair it wasn’t all Ariza, both John Wall and Bradley Beal had “watch us mature before your eyes” games playing well at both ends. But Ariza was knocking down shots and making plays at both ends. He was huge and the Wizard got a win without Nene.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors. He didn’t put up the most gaudy numbers on the Raptors (that would be DeMar DeRozan, but he struggled in the second half when the Nets trapped him) but Kyle Lowry did it all. He had 22 points, including six in a row in a key stretch late in the third. He has looked good at the point, he has adjusted to playing the two next to Greivis Vasquez. He even helped defend on Joe Johnson on a key possession late. Whatever has been asked of him this series he’s done it and done it well.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers. After struggling in Game 3 he was back and again was destroying the Rockets from the midrange — 6-of-11 from there on his way to 29 points. He did a lot of his damage in the third quarter (13 points) when he sparked the start of the Blazers comeback, which eventually became an overtime win. He continues to be impressive at both ends of the floor. The minus is for those missed free throws late that gave the Rockets hope they wouldn’t otherwise have had.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.
Bill Bridges, a star as a Kansas Jayhawk who went on to have a 12-year NBA career that included being part of the 1975 Golden State Warriors championship team, has passed away, according to the University of Kansas.
Bridges was an undersized power forward at 6’6″ but he was a beast on the boards who averaged 11.9 rebounds a game for his career and more than 13 a game for six straight years at the peak of his career. That 11.9 per game average is still 27th all-time in NBA history.
A New Mexico native, Bridges was a three-time All-Star (all as a member of the Hawks), two-time All-NBA Defensive team, and was part of the 1975 Warriors title team. Besides the Hawks (St. Louis and Atlanta) and Warriors, Bridges played for the Sixers and Lakers.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.