Author: Kurt Helin

Raptors DeRozan and Lowry against Hawks

Kyle Lowry on his game of late: “I’m trash.”

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The Toronto Raptors are 4-5 since the All-Star break and the reason is their offense, which is scoring just 98.3 points per 100 possessions in that time, 24th in the NBA.

What’s wrong with the offense? The head of the snake is in a slump. All-Star starter Kyle Lowry is shooting just 33.3 percent in his last five games and 26.1 percent since he played on the big stage in New York. He’s also been turning the ball over a little more. And it’s not just him, DeMar DeRozan is shooting 36.4 percent since the All-Star break and 16 percent from three.

To their credit, Lowry and DeRozan owned up to their poor play speaking to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.

Asked to describe his game at the moment, Lowry had a quick response: “Me? I’m trash,” Lowry told reporters. “I’m trying to figure it out right now, to be honest with you. I don’t know (how to fix it), that’s why I’m in here, working hard and trying to figure out what to do to get myself back on track.”

DeRozan did not duck away from that assessment of the status of his own game.

“Right next to the trash can (that Lowry’s) is. Both trash,” DeRozan told the Sun, matter-of-factly as he signed merchandise following his media scrum.

Slumps during a season happen to everyone. Toronto is solidly in the playoffs out East and is likely ending up the two or three seed (Chicago isn’t catching them without Derrick Rose), so the first round is at home. This isn’t damaging them.

But if the Raptors are finally going to get out of the first round and making an even deeper playoff run, they need the Lowry that played so well fans voted him an All-Star starter. That he recognizes the problem and is working on it means you can bet it will be solved.

New Derrick Rose Powerade ad is fantastic

Derrick Rose
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I loved this.

Derrick Rose may not be on the court for the rest of the season (this ad clearly was shot before the latest knee injury), but Powerade released this ad and it’s quality.

The voice over is from Tupac’s “The Rose That Grew from Concrete:”

We wouldn’t ask why a rose that grew from the concrete for having damaged petals, in turn, we would all celebrate its tenacity, we would all love its will to reach the sun, well, we are the roses, this is the concrete and these are my damaged petals, dont ask me why, thank god, and ask me how.

Hat tip to Ananth Pandian at Eye on Basketball.

Eric Bledsoe, Russell Westbrook put on a show (VIDEO)

Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len
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The Suns and Thunder played a barn burner on Thursday night, and overtime thriller that would have been worth staying up late for on the East Coast.

If you just look at the stat line, you’d see Russell Westbrook’s triple-double — 39 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists — and think he was the best player on the court. But he was far from efficient, missing his first eight shots of the night and taking 38 to get his 39 points. That said he had 19 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Then there was the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe: 28 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists. One dime short of the triple-double. Then check out his shot chart:

source:

These two guys put on a show.

Kyrie Irving to get MRI on shoulder, did not travel with Cavs to Indianapolis

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
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Kyrie Irving injured his shoulder in the third quarter of the Cavaliers 110-99 win over the Warriors Thursday night, but the in-game report was that he “bumped” his left shoulder and Irving played through it in the fourth.

Turns out it was more than a bump.

Irving did not board the Cavaliers team plane to Indianapolis Thursday night and is listed as doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Pacers, Cleveland announced after Thursday’s win. Instead of shootaround, Irving will spend his Friday morning getting an MRI at the Cleveland Clinic Sports Health Clinic on his left shoulder.

Announcement: ProBasketballTalk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $350,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday’s NBA games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $30,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

While NBA teams can give out MRI’s like candy on Halloween, the fact the Cavs are going through all this with Irving suggests they are at least concerned about something. Hopefully the MRI shows nothing serious, the injury gods have taken a significant enough toll on this NBA season.

Without Irving (who you have to think is going to miss at least Friday), expect a lot more Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova in Indiana. Oh, and I suppose they can give the ball to that LeBron James guy, too. He’s pretty good.

 

Stephen Curry has some sick handles, too

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
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If you thought all Stephen Curry can do is shoot the rock…

You reach, Curry will teach.

Curry talked about this All-Star weekend. When he entered the league he was pigeonholed as a shooter — “his ceiling is the next Ray Allen” — but he knew he had a much more rounded game. Curry put in the time to develop his handles and point guard skills and get them to an NBA level.

All that work — plus getting his ankles healthy — has turned him into one of the game’s best all-around players.