The Chicago Bulls had lost three in a row and were reeling.
Then Monday night the Pistons came to town.
The Pistons had a couple ugly losses themselves leading up to Monday, and that sparked a “players only” meeting before the Chicago game, a meeting where defense and ball movement were stressed. Apparently not stressed enough. The Pistons didn’t do either of those things, and the result was a blowout 113-82 loss to a Bulls team that seemed to find its footing, at least for a night.
Stan Van Gundy went off after the game.
I love it. I’ve been in/you’ve watched so many coach interviews after a game like this where the coach tries to blow off the loss with “we just didn’t have it tonight” or some such talk, but this is what coaches are really thinking at those moments. This was a view inside a coach’s head when he’s being honest.
Van Gundy’s right, players-only meetings rarely lead to a change in behavior by players. Or, you get dramatic swings, like Reggie Jacksons’ decision seemingly pass only and not shoot in the first half Monday.
The Pistons are 12-14 this season, still in the playoff mix in the East, and they have enough talent on the roster that they should make the cut. But talent is only taking a team so far — without some toughness and passion they are going to stall out. They should find that again soon, but this team has been in a funk since Jackson’s return (did they expect him to come in and just carry things?).
The Raptors promoted Jeff Weltman, still working under Masai Ujiri, to general manager last year.
That paid off for Toronto when the Magic hired Weltman as their new president.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
The Magic have their own and the Lakers’ second-round picks next year. Even the lower of those two selections could be somewhat value.
In other words, Weltman’s already-difficult job is getting even harder simply by Orlando hiring him.
LeBron James has discussed chasing Michael Jordan’s “ghost,” motivating himself by trying surpass Jordan as the greatest player in NBA history.
Just 27 points behind Jordan for the all-time playoff scoring lead – a record he could break in Cavaliers-Celtics Game 5 tonight – LeBron is again discussing that pursuit.
LeBron, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“It’s just a personal goal of mine,” James said Thursday before Cavs shootaround in preparation of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. “It has nothing to do with passing the rings, passing the points, passing MVPs. It’s just my personal goal to keep me motivated — that’s all.”
“You guys are going to have the conversations about who is greatest of all time and things of that nature,” James said. “It doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day, it’s so funny that the conversation is always talked about in the NBA about who is the greatest but it’s never talked about in the NFL about who is the greatest quarterback. It’s just like: [Dan] Marino, [John] Elway, [Peyton] Manning and [Tom] Brady. All great quarterbacks, you know — and it should be the same for us.
Jordan or LeBron? Save your hot takes. LeBron just burnt them all.
The greatest quarterback of all time is never debated? Claiming that is now the hottest take in the entire realm of the Jordan-LeBron debate.
BOSTON (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says that Kyrie Irving‘s left ankle is feeling “good” in advance of Cleveland’s Game 5 matchup Thursday night with the Celtics.
Irving was moving around and putting up shots during the Cavs’ morning shootaround.
The All-Star rolled his ankle in the third quarter of Game 4 when he stepped on Terry Rozier‘s foot. Irving was able to stay on the floor and finish the game, scoring a career playoff-high 42 points.
Cleveland leads Boston 3-1 and can wrap up its third straight Eastern Conference title Thursday night.
Several Celtics are also fighting injuries as they try to stave off elimination.
Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable with a right hip pointer. Jae Crowder is probable with a left groin strain, and Amir Johnson is probable with a right shoulder sprain.
LaVar Ball said his son, highly touted draft prospect Lonzo Ball, would work out for only the Lakers.
You thought he was bluffing?
Celtics president Danny Ainge, whose team holds the No. 1 pick, on 98.5 the Sports Hub:
We just tried to get him in for a workout, and they politely said no.
It’s not ideal.
Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. I mean, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them.
Good for Ball. Professional sports teams already hold inordinate power over players entering the workforce. In no other industry are top young employees assigned to a particular company, the worst-performing companies typically getting priority, with no ability to bargain with competitors.
Ball wants to play for the Lakers, who offer proximity to his family and hold the No. 2 pick. He can’t force Boston to pass on him or Los Angeles to pick him. But he can influence decision-making.
It seemed likely the Celtics would draft Markelle Fultz, and though they could still pick Ball, him declining a workout with Boston makes that only less likely. The Lakers will probably draft Ball, but this plan carries risk. If they pass, he could fall once he gets to teams less familiar with him.
Still, Ball deserves to decide for himself how to manage his career – especially in such a closed job market. Not working out for the Celtics is probably his best path to getting where he wans to go.