Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is letting his curmudgeonly side out again.
In Toronto to face the Raptors (a game the Spurs later lost) Popovich was asked about the three-point shot and how the use of it more and more in recent years has revolutionized the game. Popovich is not a fan, as reported by James Herbert of CBSSports.com.
“I still hate it,” Popovich said. “I’ll never embrace it. I don’t think it’s basketball. I think it’s kind of like a circus sort of thing. Why don’t we have a 5-point shot? A 7-point shot? You know, where does it stop, that sort of thing. But that’s just me, that’s just old-school. To a certain degree, you better embrace it or you’re going to lose. And every time we’ve won a championship, the 3-point shot was a big part of it. Because it is so powerful and you’ve gotta be able to do it. And nobody does it better than Golden State, and you know where they’re at. So it’s important. You can’t ignore it.”
This year’s Spurs are 23rd in attempted three pointers by a team, taking nearly seven fewer threes a game than last season. With the current roster makeup (read: LaMarcus Aldridge) they are going to shoot more midrange jumpers. The two seasons prior to that (including the 2014 title run) the Spurs were middle of the pack in the league at taking threes. Popovich doesn’t love it but freely admits he needs the shot to succeed.
He also admits that he doesn’t have an answer for the Golden State Warriors and their brand of three-ball inspired offense. Not yet, anyway. He likely has until late May to come up with one.
Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: James Harden with bounce back game
Wednesday was a day with a couple of unexpected outcomes around the NBA — Toronto beating San Antonio, Charlotte easily handling Miami. Here are five things you should know from a busy night around the Association.
1) James Harden drops 42 in Rockets victory over Wizards. Harden was terrible on Tuesday night against Brooklyn, shooting 2-of-9 on his way to 10 points while turning the ball over seven times. He took that performance personally and turned it around Wednesday against the Wizards scoring 42 points on 23 shots, including hitting 5-of-9 from three. He still had seven turnovers, but he dished out seven assists as well. The Rockets have won six-of-eight and can get to .500 with a win over the Lakers Saturday. Are the Rockets back? Well, they are playing a little better and are finally getting healthy, but they have hit a soft patch in the schedule. One of those six wins — Dallas — was against a team currently over .500, and the next four Rockets games are against sub-.500 teams. They can get into the black in wins, they are the eighth seed in the West right now, but the real tests are ahead.
2) Matt Barnes drains ill-advised, half-court game winner for Grizzlies.Teams with winning records have lost three games this season by at least 30 points. The Grizzlies have suffered all three defeats, the latest a 37-point drubbing by the Thunder on Tuesday.
Already down about that, Memphis faced its first two-game losing streak in a month, trailing the Pistons late. So, when Matt Barnes hit his way-too-early halfcourt shot, Marc Gasol had a simple reaction.
“We needed it,” Gasol said.
The Grizzlies nearly didn’t get it.
Memphis coach Dave Joerger clearly called for a 20-second timeout as soon as Barnes grabbed the rebound. Point guard Mike Conley said he, upon seeing Joerger, also requested a timeout.
“Everyone was calling timeout but me,” Barnes said. “But I didn’t see it or hear it. I just went for it.
“Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.”
“The play that we had called if they missed was to dribble three times and shoot it with four seconds on the clock from halfcourt and end the game,” Joerger said. “So, we executed very well.”
3) What team is second in the East behind Cleveland right now? Charlotte. Winners of three in a row and eight-of-10 (after a Nicolas Batum triple-double led a comfortable win over Miami Wednesday), the Charlotte Hornets are the No. 2 seed in the East as you read this. This isn’t some fluke. At +5.4 per 100 possessions, Charlotte has the best net rating (point differential per 100 possessions) in the Eastern Conference. The best. Better than Cleveland, Chicago, Boston and everyone else. Al Jefferson being out — right now with an injury and then with a five-game drug suspension for lighting up like Snoop Dog — won’t hurt too much, their defense is elite and 10 points per 100 possessions better when he is out. That Charlotte is playing this well despite Michael Kidd-Gilchrist being out for the season injured is a surprise.
4) The Timberwolves beat the Lakers — but at least the Lakers’ looked like they were developing their young players for a night. Minnesota earned this win, and Karl-Anthony Towns showed why he (not the tall, skinny kid in New York) is the early leader in the Rookie of the Year race — Towns had 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting, plus pulled down 14 boards and was the focal point of much of the Timberwolves attack. Plus he played solid defense inside.
Lakers’ fans, here is why you should feel good about this loss (aside the fact you’re all on team tank now to keep your top three protected pick): Kobe Bryant didn’t play after the third quarter while D’Angelo Russell finally got the chance to close out a game. Russell had a career-high 23 points, which included the shot to tie the game at the end of regulation and force OT. This is what the Lakers should be doing nightly; this is how you bring along young players. Just know it wasn’t all Byron Scott’s idea.
Kobe made it a little easier on Byron tonight by essentially volunteering to sit to let Russell, Randle and Co. roll.
After thrashing the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors improved to 23-0 on the season — the fastest start in NBA history.
And suddenly catching the 1972 Lakers’ streak of 33 straight wins in a season doesn’t seem unreasonable. Even if Klay Thompson has to miss a couple games and Harrison Barnes remains out.
In this PBT Extra I take a look ahead at the NBA schedule and while there are some potential stumbling blocks — Utah gave them a hard time last meeting, of course the Cavaliers on Christmas Day when Cleveland will have Kyrie Irving healthy — jump off the list.
But if the Warriors play the way they have, with the focus they have of late, the Laker record is not out of the question.
Former NBA player Jeff Adrien arrested for stealing car, going for joyride
The alleged car thief is Jeff Adrien — a 29-year-old ex-college stud at UCONN who played 5 seasons in the NBA. In fact, he was a team captain on the UCONN team that made the Final Four in ’09. Law enforcement tells us Adrien — who played with the Minnesota Timberwolves last year — was waiting outside of a popular West Hollywood hotel where he was staying when he saw a guy valet a pretty sick Mercedes.
One source tells us Adrien went on a 6 hour joyride before RETURNING IT back at the hotel.
Someone figured out what happened and informed the owner — and Adrien was later arrested by LAPD for grand theft auto and taken to jail! He was later released on $25k bail.
The owner also allegedly said the car smelled of herb when he got it back. And I don’t mean basil.
In spite of the Ferris Bueller aspect of this, it’s not funny. He reportedly damaged the car and he’s got some court dates ahead of him. If he thought he could slide back into the NBA, this will not help the cause.
Former NBA player Hot Rod Williams on life support battling cancer
Williams is in the intensive care unit of a hospital in the Baton Rouge area. He grew up in nearby Sorrento, La. He always went home after the NBA season…
(His agent Mark) Bartelstein said they thought the health problems started for Williams about six months ago with prostate cancer. But then it spread and spread. He’s 53 and fighting for his life.
“His family is with him,” said Bartelstein, his voice breaking. “It’s a very serious situation.”
Hot Rod was a part of the best Cleveland teams, at least prior to the current edition, the ones that pushed Jordan’s Bulls in the East and featured Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, and others. Williams averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds a game over his career, but he was best known as a shot-blocking defender coming off the bench for those Cavaliers teams. He averaged 1.6 blocks a game in his career.
Williams had a fascinating career, one that started in the minor leagues of the day while he went through a point-shaving trial from his days at Tulane. He was fully acquitted of those charges and went on to make a name for himself in the NBA. He also got a seven-year, $26.5 million contract in 1990, a deal that was front-loaded with $5 million in the first year, making him the highest paid NBA player. It was the outrageous contract of the day, and pundits flipped out. Williams just kept right on being a family man and doing his thing on the court.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.