Author: Kurt Helin

Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs

Grizzlies top Spurs in triple overtime. Best game of the season. So far.


I cannot wait for the Western Conference playoffs.

We got a taste of what that is going to be like on Wednesday night when in a rockin’ AT&T Center the Memphis Grizzlies would make plays, then the San Antonio Spurs would answer. And so it went for three overtimes of drama and big shots. I mean, look at what it took to just get to overtime — Danny Green looked like he won it for the Spurs, only to have Marc Gasol hit a leaning, banked in three to answer and force the first overtime.

And so it went. In the second overtime it looked like Courtney Lee had won it for Memphis, only to have Tim Duncan answer — and I’m sure he called glass before he shot.

In the third overtime there was finally a miss — the game ended on a particularly ugly Manu Ginobili leaner that was well right of the target — and Memphis beat San Antonio 117-116.

That means the Grizzlies have beaten West leading Golden State and defending champion San Antonio on back-to-back nights. Any more questions about their ability to compete come the playoffs?

Memphis was in charge early — they started on an 8-1 run and dominated a San Antonio team that clearly missed Tony Parker. The Grizzlies led by as many as 23 in the second quarter.

But these are the Spurs, they don’t just roll over. Led by Manu Ginobli the Spurs went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter. In the end the Spurs got 25 points from Danny Green — he was 7-of-13 from three — plus Duncan had 23 points and 16 boards.

Memphis got another big game inside and were led by Gasol who had 26 points, while Zach Randolph had 21 points and 21 rebounds. Those were the guys the Grizzlies went to with everything on the line — Gasol had 13 of his points and Randolph 11 of his in the final five minutes of regulation plus the overtimes.

Bottom line is the Spurs were the Spurs — they executed, they moved the ball, they hit big shots. And Memphis matched them every step of the way. Stride for stride.

And then the Grizzlies pulled away just enough.

I can’t wait until the Western Conference playoffs.


Giannis Antetokounmpo sprains ankle, leaves Bucks game not to return

Milwaukee Bucks v Portland Trail Blazers
1 Comment

Haven’t the injury gods brought enough of their wrath down on the Bucks recently?

On the same day it was announced rookie sensation Jabari Parker was lost for the season with a torn ACL, this happened.

Everyone’s favorite Greek hooper Giannis Antetokounmpo (with all due respect to Kostas Papanikolaou) left the game with a sprained ankle, he did not come out to start the second half and the team announced he would not return.

It looks nasty, the non-contact injuries are often the worst. That said he left the court under his own power.

The Bucks likely will X-ray after the game and do an MRI on Thursday, that’s when we’ll find out just how serious — or hopefully not serious — this is.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 12.2 points a game on an above average .549 true shooting percentage. The Greek Freak has made a leap forward this season in almost every area of his game. He is one of the few must-watch players in the league, hopefully he will not miss much time.

UPDATE: After the game coach Jason Kidd said that Antetokounmpo had re-taped his ankle and might have been able to try and play on it but they decided to be cautious with the young star. Antetokounmpo himself sounded like he might miss a little time but not a ton.

Greg Monroe’s agent says he does not want a trade from Pistons

Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic

Greg Monroe’s name is just about the busiest on the NBA’s trade rumor mill lately. He’s not happy in Detroit. He’s gone at the end of the year and the Pistons would be smart to get something for him on his way out the door. However, the Pistons are asking a lot while the rest of the league knows that and is low-balling the team. Plus he can walk at the end of the season, you don’t have his bird rights in this deal, so if you trade for him you don’t have the advantage in keeping him.

Meanwhile Monroe is denying he wants out. Those denials now include Monroe’s agent.

David Falk told Jeff Zillgett of the USA Today that Monroe wants to stay in Detroit Rock City. For now.

“He made a commitment to Stan (Van Gundy) when he took the qualifying offer that he would work as hard as he could and help the team as best that he could and he would keep his mind open and at the end of the season, he would evaluate all of his options,” Falk said. “That was his plan in July, and that’s his plan in December and that will probably be his plan in February and will be his plan when the season ends.”

Falk denied all the trade rumors going around, but this is what a smart agent does publicly. Trashing the organization your player is with does not endear him to other organizations that may want to trade for/sign him.

But the talks are real. The Pistons are getting calls from teams interested in trading for Monroe — but the Pistons have set the price high. They reportedly told the Hawks they would want Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver for Monroe. I hope Mike Budenholzer was polite enough to hang up the phone before he burst out laughing in hysterics at that one. The Pistons also have asked for a first rounder in any deal, that likely would have a lot of restrictions and conditions attached.

The Pistons are going to lose Monroe, they need to see if they can get something for him. Anything is better than nothing,  I guess. But with other teams knowing they can just sign Monroe this summer, the offers are not going to be big. Maybe a team out there will be willing to roll the dice with a trade, then be willing to offer Monroe max or near max money next summer thinking they can keep him (however there are no bird rights with the trade so this hypothetical team cannot offer more than other suitors). But those teams are not going to offer that much because he could walk.

Which means Stan Van Gundy may just ride this thing out and not make a deal.

Report: Celtics also shopping Jeff Green, want first round pick

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards

The Boston Celtics are shopping Rajon Rondo for a trade. No, seriously this time. They mean it. They are not Lucy holding the football. Go ahead, run up and try to kick it Charlie Brown.

But that is not the only guy they are shopping, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

Boston has been consistently shopping forward Jeff Green, trying to acquire a package that includes a first-round draft pick, sources said.

They want a first round pick for Green? I want to be sipping a 2005 Château Pétrus with Evangeline Lilly tonight before dinner. So what?

Green has some trade value out there but not first round pick quality, or at least not without a boatload of conditions on it that would keep it close to the end of the first round for years. Green is having the best season of his career at age 28 averaging 19.7 points a game with a good true shooting percentage of .567. He has been more consistent, which was always the big issue with Green. He has one more year on his contract at $9.4 million (it’s a player option but he likely picks it up and hits the market in two years when the salary cap may spike).

This seems like a player more likely to be moved than Rondo, but maybe not at the first price GM Danny Ainge requests. There is going to be some haggling.

Now what for Milwaukee Bucks? For rookie of the year race?

Jabari Parker

The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the fun surprises of the NBA season — the team with the worst record in the NBA last season are 13-12, the six seed in the East and looking like a playoff team. Jason Kidd has got them to play much better defense and helped guys like Giannis Antetokounmpo bloom.

Then there was Jabari Parker. He had averaged 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game, he was their second leading scorer and one of the key parts of their rotation. He was getting it done on both ends of the court pretty well for a rookie (he did a solid job defending Blake Griffin a few nights before in a Bucks win. All of this had

Parker is now lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Now what for the Bucks? And now what for the Rookie of the Year race?

For the Bucks, there is good news and bad news. The good news is they have a couple quality other power forwards in veteran Ersan Ilyasova and young but promising John Henson, both of whom could take on minutes. The bad news is both of those guys are currently injured and are not with the Bucks on their current West Coast road swing. Both could return next week.

Expect to see Kidd try Giannis Antetokounmpo at the four some. That will be fun to watch.

In the short term Kidd may go small, suggests Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.

It could mean more small ball for Kidd, who has used small lineups with success early in the season.

As for the Rookie of the Year race, it is now wide open. Parker was the clear leader at the quarter pole of the season — he was putting up good numbers, doing it efficiently, and was a key part of the rotation on a playoff level team. No other rookie has been near as good this season.

Andrew Wiggins is scoring for Minnesota, 12 points a game and more than that in recent weeks, but is shooting less than 40 percent from the field. Nikola Mirotic has consistently contributed for the Bulls, but his shooting and scoring numbers have dipped recently. K.J. McDaniels shows a lot of promise in Philadelphia but is inconsistent on offense and barely shooting 40 percent on the season. Bojan Bogdanovic was putting up numbers for the Nets and has shown he can shoot the rock.

But the candidates left after Parker are certainly left wanting. Especially for this hyped a draft class.

Like with the Bucks, there just are not good answers for what’s next.