Kurt Helin

Rudy Gobert says he’s knocking down free throws now (and he has in preseason)


Last season, Rudy Gobert shot 56.9 percent from the free throw stripe. For his career, he’s at 58.5 percent. That makes him a prime candidate for hack-a-big.

In Utah’s preseason game the other night against Phoenix, Gobert hit 13-of-14 from the stripe.

It turned heads. Has the Utah big man turned the corner on free throws? He says he has.

We may need to see this over a longer stretch of ground to fully buy in (and he’s not going to hit 90 percent), but maybe the French center has figured it out. If so, he and the Jazz — already everybody’s most likely breakout team this season (even with the Gordon Hayward injury) — just go a little more dangerous.

Derrick Rose testifies in rape trial, says woman was the aggressor

Associated Press

Derrick Rose took the stand Friday in the $21 million civil rape case against him, and he said on the stand what he has said before — he didn’t do anything wrong.

The day before the alleged victim took the stand and gave graphic, emotional testimony about how Rose and two associates got her so drunk and drugged she could not have consented to sex, and that after she was at his home the three men came to her apartment and raped her. Friday it was Rose’s turn to defend himself. He painted an entirely different picture. Via the New York Daily News.

On the stand for the first time in the civil trial, Rose painted the 30-year-old woman as the aggressor, saying she texted him that she was feeling “horny” before coming over to his Beverly Hills mansion and pouncing on him.

“She came into the room and started to try to grab me, started to try to kiss me, and that’s something I’m not used to,” the 28-year-old NBA star said. “I just don’t like being forced into the issue.”

Rose said the woman, with whom he had previously had a relationship (what the defense described as “friends with benefits), had willingly slept with the other co-defendants.

Much of days trial was focused on text messages from the woman to Rose that day, with the defense trying to argue they showed both coherence and consent. The defense noted the woman had asked Rose to pay for a sex toy she had brought to his rented home in Beverly Hills, plus her ride home.

Rose’s attorneys have asked for a mistrial based on a text from the woman to Rose earlier in the day that had not been previously disclosed to the defense (as is required by law). The lurid text involved the woman questioning why Rose didn’t have sex with a friend of hers. The judge is expected to rule on the mistrial on Tuesday when the trial resumes.

Rose will be back on the stand that day. Rose’s attorney had requested he be excused to play in the Knicks’ game Monday night. It seems unlikely New York’s new point guard will participate in that game.

Amy Schumer was hanging out in LeBron’s locker before Cleveland show

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Comedian Amy Schumer and LeBron James are friends — remember he had a supporting role in her movie “Trainwreck.” He deserved an Oscar, he was robbed.

Schumer is on tour, and she was at Quicken Loan Arena for her latest show this week. And she was hanging out in LeBron’s locker. And LeBron was good with that.


(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)

Markieff Morris trying to add three-point touch to physical reputation

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In today’s NBA, the power forward position has largely been replaced with the stretch four. Each season there are fewer and fewer traditional, old-school, physical bangers at the four; more and more they are players who can spread the floor and get out in transition.

The Wizards’ Markieff Morris is a bit of a throwback — he’s physical. He sets hard screens, he bangs inside on defense, he brings a little intimidation to the court.

But he sees the way the NBA is going, so he is trying to be more of a three-point threat, as he told Candace Buckner at the Washington Post.

“It’s kind of like you have no choice now with the way the league is,” Morris said. “You got to be able to make that shot at the four. I’ve been working all summer trying to get better at it, continuing to get better at it.”

Morris shot 30.3 percent from three last season (split between Phoenix and Washington). This season he’s shooting 33 percent in the preseason, although a massive small sample size warning must be applied here. Morris said he feels more comfortable at the arc, we’ll see if that happens as the games get real. But if his footwork is better he will hit more shots.

Morris’ development is one of the many questions around the Wizards that makes them challenging to predict. Does Bradley Beal stay healthy? Do John Wall and Beal find better chemistry? Can Otto Porter take a step forward? How much can Tomas Satoransky contribute? What will Scott Brooks bring to the table?

It’s going to be an interesting season in our nation’s capital — even after the election.

LeBron James, Cavs teammates fire up crowd before Indians’ playoff game

Associated Press
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Maybe a little playoff luck will rub off on the Tribe.

Last June LeBron James ended Cleveland’s 52-year title drought — with a little help from his friends — when the Cavaliers came back from 3-1 down to beat the Golden State Warriors. Now the Indians are at home for their first-round playoff showdown with the Boston Red Sox, and before Game 2 Friday LeBron, J.R. Smith, and a few other Cavaliers came out to fire up the crowd.

LeBron — the hometown kid from Akron, although he has said in the past he’s a Yankee’s fan — and the Cavs had already done a good luck video for the Indians.

So far so good. As of this writing, Cleveland was on the verge of going up 2-0 in the best-of-five series.