Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs. It all started with the Spurs defense. Gregg Popovich adapted his offense over the years to let Tony Parker lead it (he borrowed a lot from Mike D’Antoni) and part of that is to let Parker push the ball up and attack the defense early in the clock before it gets set. Let him improvise. Parker did that on Sunday and from the start and just carved up the Mavericks defense. He was getting to the rim at the start of the game, broke Dallas down and they never recovered. Of course, he was getting to the rim when the Mavs were set, too. Parker finished with 32 and the Spurs looked like contenders again.
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets. It’s unfortunate that Joe Johnson’s middle name seems to be “worst contract in the NBA” — it’s mentioned every time he is, it seems — because lost in that is the fact the guy can flat out play. Paul Pierce gets the highlights and headlines with the block, Kevin Garnett did his thing, but Johnson was the best Net player Sunday. He had 11 points straight points in the fourth quarter holding off the Raptors run for a while. Simply, the Nets are home for the summer without him.
Toronto Raptors fans. The fans in Toronto were absolutely amazing… gathering by the thousands outside the arena (something American arenas can’t do anymore because there are always fights/problems). I wanted the Raptors to win for them… and those came so close to getting to see one of the best comebacks in years. Still, the good news is this felt like a year you can build on.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
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 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.
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.
“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.