Dan Feldman

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James Harden breaks single-season turnover record

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James Harden pushed the ball upcourt, threw a pass behind a cutting Sam Dekker and made history.

The ball sailed out of bounds for Harden’s 375th turnover of the season. After the Rockets’ loss to the Jazz last night, Harden now has 376 turnovers and counting this season, breaking the previous record of 374 — set by Harden last season.

Russell Westbrook (348 turnovers) is also on pace to surpass Harden’s previous record.

The full leaderboard:

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Turnovers are the worst offensive outcome. Free-throw attempts lead to efficient scoring for nearly all players. Made shots are points. Even missed shots offer the opportunity for offensive rebounds.

But turnovers end possessions and often lead to high-percentage fastbreaks for the opponent.

That said, individual turnovers can be misleading.

The Rockets put the ball in Harden’s hands a ton — especially in high-leverage situations against the most tenacious defenses. As a result, a disproportionate number of Houston’s turnovers are pinned on Harden. But Harden is the Rocket most capable of protecting the ball in those moments.

Imagine Houston distributed the offensive burden in a more proportional fashion. Players like Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela would have more turnovers — and so would the Rockets. Harden harms his individual turnover numbers by handling the ball so much, but Houston is better for it.

The Rockets, though above league average in turnover rate, aren’t among the NBA’s leaders in percentage of possessions ending in turnover.

Plus, Houston plays at a fairly fast tempo, which increases its number of possessions — and opportunities to rack up turnovers.

Harden has turned the ball over every minute and 33 seconds he has possessed it. Brandon Jennings (a turnover every 1:14 of possession), Deron Williams (1:20) and LeBron James (1:25) turn it over more frequently when they have the ball. They just don’t have the ball as often.

 

And not all turnovers are created equally. Harden often pushes the pace and sometimes makes risky passes. When that works, the Rockets get high-percentage shots and draw fouls. That’s preferable to a slower, more conservative offense — even if fewer turnovers would be a benefit of the scheme.

Would Houston be better if Harden turned the ball over less while playing the same style otherwise? Yes, but some turnovers are inevitable. I doubt Harden can turn the ball over much less while still providing all the other benefits he does. The Rockets appear reasonably close to the optimal balance.

By the way, all these same arguments apply to Westbrook and the Thunder.

Rescheduled Trail Blazers-Timberwolves game adds back-to-back for both teams

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The NBA has emphasized reducing the number of back-to-backs.

Sometimes, moisture intervenes.

The postponed Trail Blazers-at-Timberwolves game has been rescheduled.

NBA release:

The National Basketball Association announced today that the March 6 game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves, which was postponed due to unsafe playing conditions on the arena floor, has been rescheduled for Monday, April 3 at 6 p.m. CT/7 p.m. ET

This gives both teams an additional back-to-back, though the Trail Blazers lost one when the game was postponed. (On the other hand, they still had to travel to Minneapolis before going to Oklahoma City the next night). Portland plays at Utah on April 4. The Timberwolves also begin a four-game road trip at Golden State on April 4.

It’s not much, but this provides a slight edge to the other teams fighting for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference: Nuggets, Mavericks and, I guess, Pelicans.

Brandon Jennings compares Knicks to Wizards, ‘a team that actually plays together’

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The Knicks were so finished with Brandon Jennings, they outright waived him. No buyout, just a straight willingness to pay him to go away.

Now with the Wizards, it doesn’t sound as if Jennings misses New York.

Jennings, via Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“I’m in the same position I was in New York, but just in a better system for me personally and with a team that actually plays together,” he said.

Jeff Hornacek’s system was fine for Jennings until the Knicks re-emphasized the triangle, but that was after Jennings left, anyway.

I’m more interested in Jennings insinuating the Knicks didn’t play together. That definitely appeared to be the case from the outside, but it’s another level when a former insider raises the issue.

New York’s lack of cohesiveness is a shared failure between Carmelo Anthony, Phil Jackson and Jeff Hornacek.

Anthony hasn’t been the type of leader who instills an atmosphere of cooperation. His isolationist offensive style lends itself to separation, and he hasn’t shown an ability to rally his teammates in a way that counteracts that.

Jackson exacerbated those problems by acquiring Derrick Rose and Jennings, two score-first point guards with only limited efficiency. Rose especially has struggled to fit into a cohesive team dynamic as he looks to find his own way post-injury.

And then there’s Kristaps Porzingis, New York’s budding star who’s too talented to fade into the background. He’ll find touches, no matter how much disarray around him.

The Knicks’ divisions are particularly felt on defense, where all five players rarely execute together. It’s seemingly only a matter of time until the unit breaks down. That falls to Hornacek, who has failed to implement a sound defensive system. And, no, assigning defensive duties to Kurt Rambis doesn’t excuse Hornacek. Ultimately, this falls on the head coach.

Jennings hasn’t been shy about criticizing the Knicks — even while playing for them, as Diven tracks. But they’re also 26-39. Criticism is warranted, and Jennings’ appears fair.

Warriors fan makes four 3-pointers in 30 seconds to win car (video)

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This Warriors fan made more 3-pointers in 30 22 seconds (4-for-7) than Golden State did in the final 39 minutes (3-for-23) of its loss to the Celtics..

It’s fun to watch the crowd get increasingly engaged as the contest proceeds:

Stephen Curry points out chattering Jaylen Brown after buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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Stephen Curry, with Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown switched onto him, drained a 3-pointer to beat the third-quarter buzzer.

Curry made sure everyone knew Brown was talking too much.

That was the end of the swagger for Curry (scoreless in five fourth-quarter minutes) and the Warriors (outscored, 27-12, in the final period). Final score: Boston 99, Golden State 86.