“I’m not sitting up here saying it’s Armageddon or anything like that,” James said as the Cavs prepared to host the Milwaukee Bucks. “But we need to play better ball. Until we own that, we won’t get better….
“Coach got on us pretty well, rightfully so, which he should have,” James said of David Blatt. “We spent about 45 minutes in the film room, so [Wednesday] was not a day off. It was a day off from the court but not from us preparing and still getting better….
“He does his job as great as any coach can do in this league,” James said. “It’s up to us to go out and produce.”
Any time LeBron throws praise toward David Blatt, it’s news. Sure, if LeBron wants to run a play/choose a defensive set/coach the team then he will get his way. LeBron has the power in this relationship. But watch the Cavaliers at the end of games this season and they are running more Blatt-like sets than LeBron isolations, and there seems to be an understanding between LeBron and his coach.
That’s one of the things that needs to happen if the Cavaliers are going to contend for a title.
The Rockets point guard was arrested in January after he was pulled over by police in Denver. The cops smelled alcohol and said he had slurred speech … Ty ultimately failed his field sobriety test. Ty pled guilty to driving while ability impaired, as well as failure to drive in a single lane. He faces up to 180 days in jail.
Despite the multiple DUI arrests, I would be surprised if Lawson does any jail time for them, the fact he apologized and went to rehab should keep him a free man. Whether that is fair or not is a very different question. In an overcrowded court system, a guy who looks like he is trying to right the ship gets the benefit of the doubt.
Lawson has struggled in Houston, where he has shot 31.8 percent overall and been part of the problem with the Rockets’ slow start. He is shooting 25.7 percent from three and has not meshed with James Harden at all. New coach J.B. Bickerstaff took Lawson out of the starting lineup on Wednesday, then when Lawson started 1-of-8 shooting benched him for the fourth quarter. He’s going to have to earn his minutes now.
Danny Ainge has already offered Kevin McHale a job in Boston
The Rockets fired McHale on Wednesday, but the sense around the league is he will have another job sooner rather than later. He was a great fit before doing television at NBA TV and other networks and could be back as an analyst as soon as he wants the gig.
“I’ve always tried to get Kevin to come work with me and work with my big guys,” said Celtic president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Herald….
“I told Kevin that today,” said Ainge, who is on the road scouting college games. “We’ve got a spot for him. I know we could figure something out for him in some capacity, but I think he’s just in a wait and see mode.
“He appreciated me reaching out to him, but I think he’s just going to lay low. He’s probably got bigger and better things to do — or more relaxing things to do.
“He’ll have some opportunities in TV, and maybe when the dust settles I can get him out to teach the slippery eel to Kelly [Olynyk] and Sully [Jared Sullinger] and Amir [Johnson],” Ainge added with a laugh, referring to one of his old Celtic teammate’s inside moves.
McHale should work with some of the young centers in Boston and around the league — his footwork as a big man was as good as you will ever see. That said, everyone expects him to slide into a television role, relax for a little while, and then pick his spot if he returns to an NBA team in some capacity.
Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: Turns out Houston players can try
1) Would you look at that: Rockets players’ can play all out after all. If you just looked at the box score, you’d see James Harden went off for 45 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists the day after his coach was fired and teammates called out his effort. From there you could draw the conclusion, “Harden finally played like his old self.” Not really, his jumper was a mess most of the night, but to his credit he started to attack the rim and made some critical plays down the stretch. In that sense, he was more his old self. More importantly, he was trying. Harden said after the game something needed to change, apparently McHale losing his job qualifies. Harden was giving a legitimate effort — and so was the entire team. They played harder on defense, and they got back in transition, they did not give up.
All that said, the reality is the Rockets were more lucky that good to get an overtime win against Portland — Houston was down 15 in the fourth quarter, and nine points with three minutes left. They needed this miracle from Corey Brewer to even get to OT.
In his first game, J.B. Bickerstaff did some smart things — such as making Ty Lawson come off the bench, then when he was an ice-cold 1-of-8 shooting, keeping Lawson out the entire fourth quarter. Bickerstaff got the win and you should expect to see more of that, even though that’s more about timing than coaching. Bickerstaff was given the keys to the team right now for a reason — the Rockets’ schedule gets soft, in addition to Portland they face Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and plenty of other teams still under .500 the next few weeks. Even if they had kept McHale, the Rockets would have won a bunch of those games. But the Rockets made the change, and it worked for a night. And it lit a fire under Harden (which was part of the goal).
2) Sixers become first franchise ever to start 0-12 in consecutive years. The Indiana Pacers took charge of the contest in the second quarter with a 16-4 run and never looked back, picking up the 112-85 win. Philadelphia had zero answers for Paul George, save for trying to play six guys at a time at one point (which remains against the rules and led to a technical.) Then there were the 31 Sixer turnovers on the night (watch them all here):
Trust the process. This loss dropped the Sixers to 0-12 on the season — Philly is now the only franchise in NBA history to start back-to-back seasons with o-12 records or worse (they were 0-14 last season). Trust the process. There are some fans and some minority owners frustrated with the volume of losing, but the only voices that matter are still on board with the process. The thing is right now they have to trust the process — the Sixers very possibly could have two top-five picks next June (their own plus the Lakers’ pick if it is outside the top three), not to mention a couple of others in the first round come June (depending on where teams finish and the protections on the picks). Right now the Sixers need to remain committed to making their picks high ones. But the frustration with losing — 22 in a row if you go back to last season — is mounting in some quarters.
3) Orlando’s Evan Fournier drains game winner to beat Minnesota. Scott Skiles was hired in Orlando to start winning games — and if that means benching young players Nikola Vucevic, Mario Hezonja, and Aaron Gordon for the entire second half, so be it. This isn’t about player development, it’s about wins. And Fournier — who has had an impressive start to the season — gave the Magic a dramatic victory with this shot.
4) Dunking on Rudy Gobert? That’s impressive DeMar DeRozan. This is not fair to Gobert — he had five blocks in this game and was key to Utah getting the win, plus he got the best of DeRozan on most of their encounters in this game. Gobert was the better player. But this still is the highlight everyone will see, and maybe the dunk of the year so far.
5) Russell Westbrook is a beast. I feel like that headline could be a permanent part of the five takeaways every night the Thunder play. Wednesday Westbrook had 43 points on just 25 shots, nine rebounds and eight assists to spark a Thunder victory over a struggling Pelicans squad. Enjoy the highlights, because he is a beast.
Harden, Rockets pull out OT win after firing McHale
HOUSTON (AP) —James Harden scored 45 points, including all nine for Houston in overtime, and the Rockets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 108-103 on Wednesday night after firing Kevin McHale earlier in the day.
Corey Brewer made an off-balance 3-pointer to force overtime and Harden took over from there, finishing with 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals as the Rockets capped off an emotional day at the Toyota Center.
It almost ended with a fifth straight loss before Brewer made his shot with 0.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 99.
Playing just hours after McHale was fired, the Rockets played much of the game with sloppy mistakes and dreadful shooting. Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, son of longtime NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff, served in his first game as head coach.
The Blazers dropped their seventh straight, their worst losing streak since closing 2012-13 on a 13-game skid.
After trailing 22-21 at the end of the first quarter, Portland outscored the Rockets 25-13, bringing the already thin Toyota Center crowd to silence. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander watched from the first row at midcourt as his seemingly uninspired team entered halftime in a 46-35 hole.
The struggles continued and the Rockets ended the third with a 15-point deficit after Marcus Thornton‘s jump shot wedged awkwardly between the rim and the backboard.
Rockets 38-year-old point guard Jason Terry got his first start of the season, replacing struggling guard Ty Lawson, who was acquired from Denver in the offseason. Lawson finished the game with two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Blazers: PF Meyers Leonard missed his fifth consecutive game with a shoulder injury but participated in pregame workouts. . Allen Crabbe scored 15 points off the bench. . The Blazers have lost four straight games that are within one-possession in the final three minutes.
Rockets: Houston scored just 13 points in the second quarter, a season low. . Houston was without PG Patrick Beverley (ankle) for a third straight game. . First-round pick Sam Dekker will have back surgery Friday and is expected to miss three months.