Author: John Krolik

Durant Game 3

NBA Playoffs: Thunder dominate Mavericks, take 3-0 series lead


Here’s the thing about losing close games, like the kind of games the Mavericks got in Game 1 and Game 2 of this series: you don’t get them back. The points don’t carry over.

The 7th-seeded Mavericks came far closer to beating Oklahoma City on their home floor — twice — than anybody expected they would, but they still came into Thursday night’s game down 2-0, and needed a strong performance to stay in the series.

Instead, the defending champs completely rolled over in front of their hometown fans, getting blown out and losing 95-79. It wasn’t that close.

Shawn Marion, who did a good job against Kevin Durant in Games 1 and 2, looked completely exhausted in Game 3, and Durant torched the Mavericks for 31 points on 11-15 shooting while Marion was only able to muster six points on 1-8 shooting from the field.

The news wasn’t much better for the rest of the Mavericks. Derek Fisher, who finished with 10 points, outscored all but 3 Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki shot 6-15 from the field, and even missed three of his eight free throw attempts.

Essentially, this was the game where the Thunder lived up to their billing as the odds-on favorites to win the Western Conference, and the Mavericks looked like an aging title contender who gave up Tyson Chandler for a shot at getting Deron Williams or Dwight Howard next year.

Mavericks fans should probably cherish their memories of the 2011 Playoffs right about now, because Dallas’ chances of repeating are about as slim as it gets right now.

Bosh returns from birth of child, expected to play in Game 3

Chris Bosh

From the AP:

NEW YORK (AP) – Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh returned to New York hours after his wife gave birth and is preparing to play in Game 3 of his team’s Eastern Conference first-round series against the Knicks on Thursday night.

Bosh left the team shortly after it arrived in New York on Wednesday night, taking a private plane back to Miami after getting word that his wife was in labor. His son – the couple’s first child – was born at 3 a.m. Thursday, said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Bosh’s plane touched down in the New York area around 4:30 p.m. Thursday and he was expected to arrive at Madison Square Garden long before the 7 p.m. tipoff.

Bosh hasn’t put up huge numbers since coming to Miami, but he’s been an integral part of the team’s success — only LeBron James had a higher +/- for the Heat this season than Bosh did. Bosh will probably be underslept, but the Heat will almost certainly be thrilled to have him in the lineup for Game 3 regardless.

Obviously, that’s not the most important bit of news here — congratulations to Mr. Bosh and his wife on the birth of their son.

Wall, Irving named to Team USA’s “Select Team”

Cavaliers Irving reacts to making a three point basket in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge game during the NBA All-Star weekend in Orlando

From Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving will have a busy July representing team and country in Las Vegas.

The presumptive NBA Rookie of the Year not only will lead the Cavs’ summer-league squad, but also help prepare the U.S. Olympic basketball club as it readies for the Summer Olympics in London.

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed that Irving will receive an invite to participate on the U.S. Select Team, which acts as a sparring partner for the Olympic team and serves as a pool of talent from which future international sides will be drawn.

Irving averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 assists in his rookie campaign, and shot an impressive 46.9%/39.9% from the field and the 3-point line. Irving, who was born in Australia, will not play for Australia’s Olympic team, because he hopes to represent Team USA in future Olympics and World Championships.

Wall, the 2010 #1 pick, averaged 16.3 points and 8.0 assists last season, but his liability of a jumper is still holding him back, as he shot just 42.3% from the field and an abysmal 0.071% from beyond the 3-point line.

Even with Derrick Rose out for the Olympics with a torn ACL, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul will likely keep both Wall and Irving from making this summer’s Olympic roster, but there’s a good chance one or both of them will make the 2016 team if they keep working on their games.

NBA Playoffs: Grizzlies survive Paul’s 29, even series at 1-1

Los Angeles Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies - Game Two

It wasn’t pretty, but the Memphis Grizzlies were able to bounce back from their heartbreaking Game 1 defeat and even up their 1st-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers before the series goes back to Los Angeles.

Chris Paul was the best player on the floor on Wednesday night, as he was able to record 29 points on 17 shots, six assists, and five steals, but his efforts were for naught against the Grizzlies, who got contributions from a huge number of players and handily won the possession battle.

During the regular season, the Clippers had the 2nd-best turnover rate in the league and 6th-best rebound rate in the league, but they lost on Wednesday night because they were unable to hold onto the ball or haul in rebounds. The Clippers allowed 23 points off turnovers on Wednesday, and only managed four offensive rebounds to Memphis’ 16. That led to Memphis getting eight more field goal attempts and 21 more free throw attempts than the Clippers, who lost despite shooting 57% from the field and 56% from beyond the arc.

Even though the Clippers managed to steal home-court advantage with an incredible comeback, they’ll be coming back to Los Angeles with a lot to worry about. The team isn’t getting balanced contributions, and would have been on the wrong end of two blowouts if the Grizzlies didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal in Game 1 or Chris Paul hadn’t been absolutely on fire in Game 2. Home-court is important, but right now the Grizzlies look bigger, deeper, tougher, and hungrier than the Clippers do, and those are things the Clippers will need to address if they want to make it out of the first round.

Nick Young and Gilbert Arenas maintain strong friendship

Nick Young

From SI’s Chris Mannix, with a tip of the hat to The Basketball Jones and the DC Sports Bog:

Lately, [Young and Arenas] have been seeing each other plenty. In Memphis, the Clippers are staying at a hotel across the street from the arena, the same hotel Arenas moved into when he got to town. Young’s room is just a few floors above Arenas’, not that he spends much time in it. He’s downstairs, with Gilbert.

For hours Arenas and Young hang out, rekindling a friendship that was unceremoniously torn apart. They don’t do much. They watch television. They watch game film. And they talk trash. Arenas feeds Young disinformation (“We’re going to double you here”) and Young (“What do you know? You play like 10 minutes a game”) fires back. When they are hungry, they go eat. When they want to shop, they go to the mall. When they want coffee, they go to Starbucks together.

“Gil is like my family,” Young said. “His sons call me ‘uncle.’ It’s been really good to see him.”

Arenas and Young were, of course, teammates in Washington, which was a team with serious problems both on and off the court — problems which were often caused by Arenas and Young’s behavior, specifically Arenas’ decision to bring guns into the locker room. Now that both players have found their way into the playoffs, they’re putting their past behind them and focusing on their friendship, as well as the task at hand — beating each other’s teams.

Young was an integral part of the Clippers’ epic comeback win in game 1, as he came off the bench to hit 3 three-pointers in exactly one minute to cut the Grizzlies’ lead from 12 points to 3 points with just over a minute remaining. Arenas, who spent most of the season as an unsigned free agent, isn’t as important to his team as Young is, but he’s still being relied upon as a backup option at the point guard spot.

While we all love to see players battling it out on the court like nothing else matters, it’s also good to see stories like this, when we’re reminded that friendships can be more important than uniforms — at least until the opening tip.