Author: Kurt Helin

Brandon Jennings

PBT Monday NBA Winners/Losers: Detroit 5-0 since addition by subtraction with Josh Smith


Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while watching every goal (and assist) Cristiano Ronaldo racked up in 2014….

source:  Detroit Pistons. They have won five in a row since the addition by subtraction of waiving Josh Smith — and in the East five wins can put you back in playoff contention. The Pistons are now just four games out of the eight seed and making the playoffs. Think about that for a second. Sunday’s fifth straight win came over the Kings thanks to 35 points from Brandon Jennings who had his jumper going — he was 5-of-5 from the midrange and 5-of-8 from three. That’s emblematic of what is going on, Detroit’s true shooting percentage is up 7.3 points since Smith was traded. Or, look at it this way, in the last five games the Piston’s offense is 13.7 points per 100 possessions better and their defense is 11.7 per 100 better. This is not all about the Smith trade, but the improvement also is not a coincidence.

source:  Sacramento Kings. On the flip side of smart moves by management, there is Sacramento, which canned well-liked coach Mike Malone and have struggled since then. Think it’s not a lot about the coach?

source:  Kobe Bryant. He had 20 points on 14 shots, plus six rebounds and six assists, but all anyone will talk about is the game winner. Kobe had struggled of late with game winners and game tying shots, he’s not what he used to be in terms of explosiveness, but if you let the man get to his spots on the court he will beat you. Like he did knocking down the game winner to beat the Pacers Sunday.

source:  Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade. The two remaining guys of the big three have struggled this season without that third guy in the mix. However, they are still putting up numbers some nights. The pair scored 51 points — or 58 percent of the team’s points — in an 88-84 Miami win over Brooklyn on Sunday. They did that on an efficient 36 shots, too. This was a win the Heat needed, having lost four in a row and about to head out West for a rough road trip. With the pressure on the big guys stepped up.

source:  Rajon Rondo, Tyson Chandler. They are becoming a dangerous pick-and-roll tandem, adding another weapon to one of the league’s best offenses. The kinks are still being worked out having Rondo at the head of the Maverick’s offense, but things are starting to click (Chandler shot 6-of-7 on the night, hitting all six of his attempts at the rim).

source:  Phoenix Suns second quarter. To be fair, they caught a tired Raptors team at the end of a tough West Coast road trip, and frankly even when they’re rested the Toronto defense isn’t impressive. That said, the Suns still dropped 43 on the Raptors in the second quarter on 78.3 percent shooting (and 83.9 true shooting percentage), and that’s impressive. As tends to happen when the Suns get hot it happened when the Suns got out and ran and their guards got hot — Isaiah Thomas had nine points, while Gerald Green and Eric Bledsoe each had eight. The Suns pulled away that quarter and went on to win 125-109.

Kobe Bryant hits game winner, lifts Lakers over Pacers (VIDEO)

Kobe Bryant

There are two parts to defending Kobe Bryant right now. First, don’t bring the double because he’s carving teams up with his passing. Second, you need to be physical with him and not let him get to his comfort zones on the court. Teams that have done that this season have had success against Kobe in game winner or game tying shots situations.

Solomon Hill and the Pacers didn’t do the second part of that with the game on the line Sunday night. Kobe got Hill off balance coming off a pick, got to the elbow area, stepped back then spun into the middle and got right into the middle of the paint. Roy Hibbert didn’t come over and help, staying attached to Carlos Boozer.

So Kobe hit a jump hook that gave the Lakers the win 88-87 win.

The Pacers had 12 seconds to try to get a good shot and the win, but the set they ran shows everything you need to know about their difficulty creating shots without Paul George.

Los Angeles came back from 13 down in the third quarter to pick up the win at home. Bryant finished with 20 points and 6 assists, while Nick Young had 22 to lead LA.

Suns’ Archie Goodwin obliterates Jonas Valanciunas (VIDEO)

Phoenix Suns v Philadelphia 76ers

Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas clearly did not expect that.

That’s Suns’ second year player Archie Goodwin, who hasn’t gotten a lot of run this season but showed he has some serious athleticism with that dunk.

Goodwin had 12 points on 3-of-4 shooting in the Suns 125-109 win in an entertaining game… well, not entertaining if you’re a coach who likes defense. But for us fans on the couch it was fun.

Yes, that’s really Quincy Acy with steal, behind-the-back dribble, throw down on Greek Freak (VIDEO)

New Orleans Pelicans v Sacramento Kings

Knicks’ fans have not had much to cheer of late, Sunday was the 11th consecutive loss for New York. They are just hard to watch right now.

But Knicks fans could cheer this from the always hustling Quincy Acy.

The man with the beard made the steal, went behind the back with the dribble (not exactly smoothly but it was legal) and then threw it down on Giannis Antetokounmpo. It was impressive.

The Bucks won the game 95-82 and remain the team with the much brighter future. But the Knicks fans at least have Acy.

Kobe to play Sunday, take Monday off for Lakers

Kobe Bryant

It’s one of the toughest regular back-to-backs in the NBA — a game at Staples Center one night followed by a more than two-hour late night flight to Portland to take on a good Trail Blazers team on the back end.

The Lakers are doing that, hosting the Pacers Sunday night and playing in Portland Monday.

But Kobe isn’t.

Good choice here, the Lakers at home have a real chance to beat the Pacers (who have played better of late), but with or without Kobe they are not likely to beat Portland on the second night of a back-to-back.

Also good that Kobe and Scott have really started to embrace some rest for Kobe. When he’s fresh, when he’s trusting his teammates as he has since his three games off, he elevates the Lakers offense to the level that they can win some games (just because the offense is good enough to outscore teams, the Lakers still are terrible on defense).