Kurt Helin

Another night, another Russell Westbrook triple-double (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook has 16 triple doubles this season after dropping another one Monday night on the Raptors.

That is the most since Magic Johnson’s 17 in 1989 (both Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain have more from a bygone era).  Westbrook may well break that record.

Boy runs out to give Carmelo Anthony hug during game

5 Comments

Maybe it’s just the dad in me, but I think this is cute. Of course if it were my kid I might feel differently.

During the Knicks loss to the Pelicans a young boy ran out on the court to give Carmelo Anthony a hug. He responded calmly, as you hope a father would.

This was the Knicks best highlight of the night.

Russell Westbrook’s 16th triple-double leads Thunder to 8th in a row

Leave a comment

TORONTO (AP) — Russell Westbrook had 26 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in his 16th triple-double of the season, Kevin Durant scored 34 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Toronto Raptors 119-100 on Monday night for their eighth straight victory.

Westbrook has seven triple-doubles in March, the most in a month since Michael Jordan had seven in April, 1989. He has the most in a season since Magic Johnson had 17 in 1988-89.

Oklahoma City has the NBA’s longest current winning streak and the team’s longest since a 10-game run from Jan. 16-31, 2014.

DeMar DeRozan had 19 points and Norman Powell added 18 for the Raptors, who lost at home for just the fourth time in 2016.

The Thunder improved to 16-0 when Westbrook has a triple-double and earned a split of the season series following Toronto’s 103-98 victory in Oklahoma City on Nov. 4.

Oklahoma City raced to a 15-3 lead, getting seven points from both Durant and Westbrook. However, despite shooting just 31.8 percent from the field, Toronto crept back into the contest with eight points from DeRozan, and trailed 27-21 after 12 minutes.

The Raptors went on a 10-0 run at the beginning of the second, taking the lead for the only time in the game with a 3-pointer from Patrick Patterson. But Dion Waiters made that lead short-lived with a 3-pointer of his own, one of three he hit in the quarter, and Westbrook added another 10 points as the Thunder took a 61-48 lead into halftime.

Durant added another 10 points in the third quarter as Oklahoma City opened a 25-point lead at one point before settling for a 97-74 edge to take into the final quarter.

TIP-INS

Thunder: While coach Billy Donovan is happy to see his team on a winning run, he dismissed the importance of peaking going into the playoffs. “If peaking at the right time was an easy solution, then every team would peak at the right time,” he said. “You want to keep getting better, that’s the thing.” . Oklahoma is 43-12 this season when outrebounding its opponent, in this case 53-40. . In the Thunder’s only trip to Toronto this season, Durant passed Canadian icon Steve Nash (17,387 points) for 79th on the NBA’s career scoring list. Additionally, it was the 59th consecutive game that Durant has scored 20-plus points, the longest such streak since Kobe Bryant put together a 63-game run from Dec. 9, 2005, to Nov. 3, 2006. . For the 22nd time this season, Westbrook and Durant finished with at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, extending their NBA single-season record for the most such games by a pair of teammates. The previous high was 20, set by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen 1991-92.

Raptors: Terrence Ross (thumb) missed his third consecutive game. . Asked if the game against Oklahoma City was a litmus test for where his team stacks up in the NBA, coach Dwane Casey said, “I don’t know if it’s a litmus test. It’s a hell of a test, I know that.”

 

Improved 3-point shooting has Hornets thinking playoffs

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Maybe the Charlotte Hornets are catching Curry fever.

The Hornets, who play about 20 miles from where sharpshooter Stephen Curry starred at Davidson College and who employ Stephen’s long-distance shooting father Dell as a broadcaster, are suddenly one of the NBA’s hottest shooting 3-point teams.

The seemingly playoff-bound Hornets (42-31) are averaging 10.6 made 3-pointers per game, second only to Curry’s Golden State Warriors. Behind the improved shooting of fifth-year point guard Kemba Walker and a revamped roster, the Hornets are hitting 36.3 percent from beyond the arc – sixth-best in the league.

That’s hard to fathom considering just last season the Hornets finished last in the NBA in 3-point shooting efficiency, making just 31 percent.

But an offseason spent revamping the roster by adding long-distance shooters and players with an ability to penetrate and open up the outside game has paid off.

“We have guys with chips on their shoulders; guys with a lot to prove,” Walker said. “For myself I know I had to get my percentages up.”

He’s done that.

Walker is shooting a career-best 37.9 percent from 3-point range, a marked increase from the 31.7 percent he made during his first four seasons.

Veteran power forward Marvin Williams has also elevated his long-distance game, shooting a career-best 40.2 percent on 3s. Walker, Williams and Nicolas Batum all rank in the top 25 in the league in 3-pointers made.

The Hornets are getting smaller, but still significant contributions from rookie 7-foot power forward Frank Kaminsky, and guards Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb and Courtney Lee, all new to the team this season. Charlotte is assured of a winning season, and they had the sixth-best record in the Eastern Conference entering Monday night.

The additions of Lin and Lamb have helped open up more shots because of their ability to penetrate.

“They can make plays off the dribble and draw defenders and get an open guy the basketball and make an open shot,” Walker said. “And we have guys like Marvin (Williams) and Frank (Kaminsky) who can stretch the floor out. There’s a lot of spacing, so I feel like spacing attributes” to the improved shooting.

Third-year coach Steve Clifford is all for the Hornets letting it fly, although he preaches the importance of his team working inside-out and making sure the ball reaches the paint before any shots go up on most possessions.

When Clifford was an assistant coach under Stan Van Gundy in Orlando, the Magic were known for playing four-in, one-out basketball – and knocking down 3s.

So Clifford is comfortable playing that style.

“I think that worked for Mike D’Antoni, who gets a lot of credit for that, and also Stan,” Clifford said. “Stan is doing that same thing in Detroit. I think a lot of the things that we do are things I learned from them.”

The Hornets haven’t had small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist except for seven games this season.

While they miss his defense, hustle and ability to get to the basket, Kidd-Gilchrist has never been considered a dangerous long-distance shooter. In fact, he didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer in 55 games last season.

With Batum playing the 3-spot and Williams at the four, the Hornets are getting more offensive production from long range. Williams has made 135 3-pointers this season and Batum 133.

But Walker’s improvement is most noticeable.

He’s made 158 3-pointers, 14th-most in the league and by far the most of his budding career. He said he’s shooting the ball with a confidence he hasn’t had since his final year at Connecticut, when he led the Huskies to a national championship.

“Over the last couple of years, as far as consistency, it just hasn’t worked out for me. This year it has,” Walker said. “Just the guys that we have helped as well with spreading the floor out and me seeing the basketball go through the net early in the season has given me confidence. I’m trying to stay confident.”

Kobe Bryant isn’t passing torch to anyone, they are going to have to grab it

Getty Images
6 Comments

Kobe Bryant is not going quietly into that good night.

Sure, he’s smiling more and seemingly enjoying this season — and the accolades of his farewell tour — more than even he expected. But don’t mistake that for the embers of his competitive fire dying out, those are still burning strong.

And if D'Angelo Russell of the Lakers or anyone else wants his torch, they are going to have to pry it from his hands he told Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

“He didn’t pass the torch,” the Los Angeles Lakers icon said of his idol (Michael Jordan) Sunday following the Lakers’ 101-88 loss to the Washington Wizards at Staples Center. “Torches never get passed. You’ve got to earn that.”

So, have any of the young Lakers earned that torch?

“No,” Bryant said. “If you have to ask that question, the answer is already there. Those are things you don’t have to ask. Those things just happen.”

It’s a lot to ask of any rookie to grab the torch of Kobe, but in a couple of seasons that may change. Russell (or Julius Randle, or a future pick/player) may reach those heights, but nobody is there yet. It’s not fair to expect them to be.

But Los Angeles is a star-driven market, and the Laker fan base is one spoiled with success. The Lakers need to find that torch bearer sooner rather than later.