Kurt Helin

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George Karl praises Carmelo Anthony’s offense, but says he’s too focused on off-court issues

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George Karl is trying to sell a lot of books.

He says in an interview with New York Magazine that he wants to coach again in the NBA. That bridge looks to be on fire right now.

That interview covers some of the controversies from the book, specifically calling Carmelo Anthony and other players of his generation (and younger) AAU babies and saying that his upbringing without a father, along with those of Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith hurt them. Martin and Smith fired back, as did others, but Anthony took the high road.

Speaking to New York Magazine, Karl tried to clarify his position.

But here’s what I’ll say now: Melo is a hell of a player, the best offensive player I’ve ever coached. I owe him as much as anyone for my having a great record. But there’s a new generation of players interested in personal branding and gaining money and power off the court, and that’s all new to me. There were too many times with Melo when what was going on off the court was more important than what was happening on the court. It bothered me then and it bothers me now. That kind of thing bothered me just the other night.

Some will praise Karl’s old-school stance, to me it shows a guy out of touch. Not just with the modern NBA player but the modern world.

Does Anthony care about his off-the-court brand? Yes. So does LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and I could go on and on — but they don’t let that impact their play on the court. Guys today put in more time on conditioning and off-season work than most did in Karl’s era. Are you telling me Kobe didn’t leave it all out there? Same with Anthony. He has flaws in his game no doubt, but those are not about his shoe line or his clothing lines or his other business collaborations and endorsements. They are about his game, and Anthony unquestionably has put in the work to get his game to the future Hall of Famer level it is.

Karl — and Phil Jackson — came up in an era when players played, many made so little money they had second jobs, and the ones that did have money hired white guys in suits to handle it for them. Endorsements were handled by agents and players just followed along. Today’s players want to control their money, their image, their brand — as they should. That’s just being a good businessman. Karl doesn’t have to like it, but his distaste for it (along with his ego) is part of the reason he rubs so many of his former players the wrong way.

Karl also says in the interview he is an NBA conspiracy theorist on referees. Maybe he’d get along well with Paul George.

 

Steven Adams was dunking and the Heat were not stopping him

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After the Thunder easily handled the Heat Tuesday night, we understandably focused on Russell Westbrook — another triple-double, another dominating performance, it’s impossible to find the right words for how well he is playing right now.

We weren’t the only ones paying attention to Westbrook, so were the Heat defenders, which allowed Steven Adams to roll to the rim free and clear, and he just powered down dunk after dunk on Miami. You can see it in the video above. Adams finished with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, with five of those buckets being at the rim.

One of those dunks was an alley-oop finish over Hassan Whiteside.

Lane opens up for Lakers Timofey Mozgov, he leaps… and blows dunk (VIDEO)

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No need to book Timofey Mozgov‘s spot in the dunk contest.

In the first quarter of the Lakers’ eventual loss to the Jazz, Mozgov got the ball back on a pick-and-roll, the lane opened up for him, so he drove in leaped, and… missed the dunk. Badly. When the Lakers tried to feed him the ball again on that possession, he fumbled it away. It was a future Shaqtin’ sequence.

The Russian big man has had a solid season for the Lakers, being what they expected (or at least should have expected) he would be — a big body in the paint who can defend, rebound, and get a few buckets. But this was not his finest moment.

Utah’s Gordon Hayward drives, absorbs contact, slams over Julius Randle (VIDEO)

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Utah’s Gordon Hayward is the current holder of the “most underrated player in the NBA.” At least by casual fans. This guy can do a little bit of everything, he’s a borderline All-NBA player.

He showed it on this play. As the Lakers’ defense parted like the Red Sea, Hayward attacked the rim with a quick enough move. Julius Randle made the right move and tried to slide over and defend the rim, but Gordon just takes the contact in stride and slams it down over him. The Jazz went on to win the game 102-100 thanks to a Joe Ingles three.

Hayward will exercise his player option this summer and become probably the best player on the free agent market (of guys who teams think they can get, Stephen Curry isn’t leaving Golden State for example). Boston, with Hayward’s college coach Brad Stevens will come calling, but the Jazz will pay whatever it takes to keep him and he likes it in Salt Lake City. It’s going to be an interesting summer in Utah.

Three things we learned on Tuesday: I, for one, welcome our new Russell Westbrook overlord

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You were too busy watching people dance in ’90s movies (and maybe trying out a few moves yourself) to watch the four NBA games on Tuesday, but we have you covered. Here’s what you need to know.

1) Russell Westbrook continues to dominate, be NBA’s best player this season, and he reminded us by shredding Miami. On paper, this was the kind of game the Thunder should win — they are a better team than the Heat, particularly defensively, and without Goran Dragic (back issues) Miami’s offense is lifeless. Plus, Steven Adams gives Hassan Whiteside trouble. And all of that did happen. The Thunder started to pull away with a 13-1 run late in the first quarter, led by 22 in the second, and cruised to a 106-94 win.

But the real difference in this game was Russell Westbrook. He was the best player on the court — just like he’s been the most dominant player in the NBA all season long. He controlled the entire game — not just with his scoring (29 points) but the way he carved up the Miami defense and left it in shreds on the floor. He penetrated, passed, and his relentless energy and attacks left the heat in tatters. Westbrook accounted for more than half of the Thunder’s points, via scoring or assist. He got his triple-double (17 rebounds, 11 assists, that makes 15 triple-doubles this season) and did so in just more than 23 minutes of court time (which is insane), but the numbers barely tell the story of how well he is playing.

Westbrook also got some help from a Thunder bench that has been improved of late. Plus, Adams was getting to the rim when he wanted, then hurting them.

The Thunder’s improved bench play, plus the fact Victor Oladipo is expected to return soon from his wrist injury, makes this team that much more dangerous. But it all starts with Westbrook, who continues to amaze. And dominate. I, for one, welcome our new Westbrook overlord.

2) Eight technicals, one ejection, and guys looking for fights postgame — Rockets/Mavericks had some bad blood. This is how tense things got: Trevor Ariza left the Rockets’ locker room and stood outside the Dallas locker room after the game, waiting for to have words — or more — with Dallas center Salah Mejri. Patrick Beverley and James Harden.joined him, and Dallas police were there as well to keep the peace. Ariza believed Mejri said something way out-of-bounds about him and his family (Ariza picked up two technicals and was thrown out when it happened), something Mejri denied according to ESPN. Security kept Mejri in the locker room, Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams talked down the angry Rockets, and eventually, Houston’s players boarded the bus and left without incident.

But that’s what spilled off the court from a physical, nasty game on the court that saw eight technical fouls and a couple of flagrant fouls. The big one happened midway through the second quarter, when Andrew Bogut set a down screen to free up Harrison Barnes, James Harden ran into that screen and went hard to the ground. It looked like Bogut wasn’t set, but slid and leaned into Harden on the play, and the officials called him on it.

The Rockets thought the Mavericks were playing dirty all game.

As Beverley noted, in the end, the Rockets made 17 threes and cruised to a 123-107 win behind 34 points and 11 assists from James Harden. Bogut and Dirk Nowitzki were on minute limits and did not play in the second half.

3) Joe Ingles drained a game-winning three for the Jazz, and the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell couldn’t answer. Joe Ingles is shooting 47.8 percent from three this season — the Lakers’ scouting report was no doubt clear that he was not to be left alone at the arc, under any circumstances. Especially with the game on the line. That’s when Utah’s Quin Snyder borrowed from Steve Kerr (as noted by Nate Duncan on Twitter), running a standard Warriors play where the pick-and-roll out top is almost the distraction while a dangerous three-point shooter sets a down screen, then flares to the corner off another screen (Joe Johnson set it) and usually finds space. Ingles found that space and knocked down the game-winner.

The Lakers tried to answer — Julius Randle got to the line attacking right at Rudy Gobert (Randle did that impressively a couple of times late in the game), but in the end when they needed it D'Angelo Russell threw up an airball. This was one of those learning experience games for the Lakers, and the kind of game good teams like the Jazz find a way to win.

It’s worth watching the final three minutes of this game, it was the most dramatic of the night.