Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while trying to figure out how you could afford the home from “Scarface”….
The Portland Trail Blazers. Yes, they lost. Their season is over. If you think that deserves a low grade I pity you, learn to embrace the joy of the game — and these Blazers were worth embracing. They (and their fans) should look back on this season with pride. The Blazers had one of the best and most entertaining offenses in the NBA. LaMarcus Aldridge can hold his own with any four in the league. Damian Lillard’s star continues to rise. They need to be better on defense, some roster tweaks are coming, but this is a team on the rise in the West — one that was not expected to be this good this season. It was a great run, they should savor it.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs. I don’t really care what you nickname him, if he plays like this you can call him anything you want. When Tony Parker went down he stepped up. Defensively he seemed to be everywhere. He shot 6-of-8 inside eight feet and was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. He had some great dunks. It was an impressive game and him playing like that makes these Spurs better than last year’s version.
LeBron James, Miami Heat. He wasn’t brilliant, but he was good enough — he had 12 points in the fourth quarter and helped spark the 13-3 run to close out the game that gave the Heat the win. He was there making defensive plays in the final seconds. He was the best player in this series, which is exactly what we expect him to be but we shouldn’t take it for granted. He alone can get the Heat to the Finals.
Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. It was a $72 million gamble that has not worked, and left New York with an anchor o a
Tomorrow it will be official he is done for the season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.
During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.
Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.
The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.
Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.
Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. But that is interesting.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)